In the Fall of 2009, around the time Halo 3: ODST was released, I started serving my one year of mandatory military service as a guard in The Royal Norwegian Air Force.
(I swear this is going to be relevant.)
After two months of an introductory boot camp, they assigned me to a base outside a city in the cold north of Norway.
But before I could start doing my job there, I had to take an additional one month long guard course.
This course turned out to be the hardest course they could send someone to involuntarily. Courses taken to become an officer was harder, but that was something you had to sign up for.
It was so bad there that there was a rumour going around that our course was also a course for the officers. That the officers there were being trained in how to act like assholes to their subordinates.
After a few weeks there, I started to feel a deep need to play some video games.
Games have always helped me relax and decompress during stressful times.
The first two months of no gaming at recruit school had been no problem. But now I really needed a psychological boost.
So I had my parents mail me my Xbox 360.
After I picked it up at the base post-office, I excitedly ran back to the barracks. Partly because we were not allowed to walk.
After asking if the others were ok with it, I connected my 360 to the common room TV.
Now, I had played a lot of Halo games before this point. So I proudly let the others know of my skills as I was booting up the game.
Soon after waking up in New Mombasa as the Rookie, I stumbled on to some familiar enemies – Grunts.
I ran towards them, like I would have in any other Halo game, ready to kick their ass.
They summarily executed me.
I tried that same tactic a few more times, as it had always worked well for me when playing as Master Chief. But the Grunts killed me every time, to increasing mockery from my fellow soldiers.
This is the first teaching moment of the game.
It was trying to let me know that I was not going to be as powerful as I had been in the previous games. That even minor enemies would prove more challenging.
I’m not sure if I was too exhausted to pick up on it immediately, or if the game could have done a better job of conveying this.
It is also entirely possible that the power-level of the new player-character
was not quite as much lower as I thought it was.
It could be that this was simply exacerbated by my own body’s lack of power.
It may have taken some getting used to, but as soon as I was over this initial hurdle, I had a great time with the game.
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