At the time of blogging, only a very few weapons of Halo 4 have been announced. The confirmed weapons are: the DMR, Battle Rifle, Assault Rifle (yes, the MA5C is back), Covenant Carbine, Forerunner Lightrifle, Forerunner Scattershot, and the "Grenade Pistol" (although its inclusion is subject to change). So, what other weapons will be included and what combat roles will they fulfill?
We can already guess at the combat roles of the AR, BR and DMR. The Assault Rifle is, as usual, a general close- to medium-range assault weapon, a simple but effective rifle for general combat. (As an aside, how the hell do you aim that thing without a HUD? There's no iron sights...) The Battle Rifle and DMR both fill the role of a mid-range marksman's weapon. However, they fill the same niche in combat; how, then, will that be incorporated? Halo games have a long history of not including unnecessary or redundant assets, including weapons. The grenade pistol, or whatever its official name will be, appears to be a short-range direct-fire munitions launcher, similar to Halo Reach's Grenade Launcher. In fact, it appears to be almost identical to the Grenade Launcher. Has the old GL been scrapped in favor of the pistol, or will they fill the same niche? All very confusing.
We can guess at some of the other weapons to be included. A "Railgun" has been hinted at, and will allegedly work like the Splaser, requiring a charge time. Will this be a UNSC, Covie, or Forerunner weapon? The UNSC certainly has the technology to create a hand-held magnetic weapon; the Gauss turret used on some Warthog variants has demonstrated that it is small enough to be vehicle-mounted. Indeed, SgtMaj. Johnson used a MAC sniper rifle, the M99, to assassinate a member of the Insurrection on Harvest. The Plasma Rifle and Pistol are likely to be included, as they have appeared in every Halo game to date. The Plasma Repeater may make an appearance, as may the M7 SMG. Halo 4 is shaping up to be the most weapons-saturated game in the series. (Honestly, I really hope that some variant of the SMG returns; I had so much fun turning enemy Grunts and even Spartans into meat for the grinder with that thing. The silenced variant in ODST was a God-weapon.) The shotgun is almost guaranteed to come back, as is the sniper rifle; however, the Shotgun may be being challenged by the Forerunner Scattershot. With luck, the Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer (also known as "God's miniature anti-son-of-a-bitch machine") will return. Needle-based firearms will likely return, as they are staples of the series.
Now how about Forerunner weapons? We've already seen the Lightrifle and Scattershot, which appear to be advanced forms of DMR and shotguns. Will the Forerunner have other weapons filling the same niche as UNSC and Covenant weapons? Time will tell.
The question, however, still remains. It appears that there are several weapons filling identical combat niches; why is this the case? Halo games in the past have never included redundant weapons. Each weapon had its place on the battlefield; this is what separated Halo from lesser franchises like Call of Duty, which absolutely saturate every conceivable combat role with an arsenal of firearms. I recognize that this is 343's game, not Bungie's, and this may just be one of the design changes that 343 is making. I recognize that 343, like the college student on his first day in the dorm, is confused and unsure of itself as a developer, and that it is still trying to find its feet even as it tries to live up to the pressure and hype surrounding a Halo game; the pressure is multiplied tenfold for an untested, almost totally green developer like 343, which although it certainly has talent (many of its employees worked at Bungie), still has yet to prove itself.