Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Chris Scott0
One Hour In: Halo 5: Guardians
Halo is, without a doubt, Microsoft’s biggest franchise. Last year, the series hit a something of a snag with the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Okay: calling what happened a snag is an understatement. The Master Chief Collection was supposed to be a celebration of the Halo legacy, bringing all of the core Halo titles to the Xbox One in one nice package of campaign, co-op, and competitive play, all the while getting fans excited for the next Halo installment. What fans got was a Halo-sized nightmare. Competitive multiplayer was broken for months after release. And online co-op was unreliable, and by some reports still is. There were even reports that the campaigns had game killing issues that prevented fans from enjoying them. The Master Chief Collection achieved the exact opposite of what it intended. If anything the put people on edge about the prospects of Halo 5. Could developer 343 Industries right the ship?
The new release is out now and, having played a bit of Halo 5: Guardians, I have some thoughts.
- Halo 5: Guardians is pretty. Really pretty. Arguably the best looking game on the Xbox One.
- The campaign kicks off with a super action packed cutscene of Team Osiris jumping out of a drop ship into the middle of a battlefield. There is a lot of sliding and jumping and shooting and stuff. It’s all really cool looking, but eye candy is all the scene really is.
- Once you gain control of the game, you’ll take over as Spartan Locke. He plays like you’d expect a character in Halo to play, which is to say much slower than anything from that cutscene.
To be fair, the characters in Halo 5 do feel a bit different from previous iterations thanks to their Spartan abilities. There is more weight to their movements than there has been in past games. I felt powerful. Nothing demonstrates this power more than the new charge functionality. While sprinting as a Spartan you can now activate the melee attack and it will perform a thruster boosted shoulder tackle. I hit a jackal off a ledge using it and boy, was it satisfying. Of course that charge comes with some pitfalls of its own. After learning how to use the charge, I died trying to charge an elite on the edge of a cliff and missing completely.
- The first mission, with Locke’s Team Osiris and the second mission, with the Master Chief’s Blue Team, play like traditional Halo levels. You won’t be doing anything out of the ordinary here: engage enemies in open combat arenas that offer multiple vectors of approach, press X to open doors to corridors that tie things together until the next arena.
- The cool thing about the arenas this time around are their verticality. The clamber ability allows for the Spartans to reach previously unreachable areas which allowed results in levels with a sense of height to them. Enemies are now in higher or lower locations than ever before and the clamber allows you to maneuver to in response to them strategically.
- Additionally, because you are always part of a squad, the game seemingly throws more enemies at you than it ever has in the past. It makes the open encounters far more chaotic than they have been in the past.
- Competitive Multiplayer (called Arena) is decidedly Halo. Yes, abilities like sprint, boost, aim down sights, ground pound, and clamber all get pulled into multiplayer. But the multiplayer also has a more traditional Halo feel to the combat than either Reach or Halo 4. This is all because the game has returned to the map control and power weapons approach of Halo pre-Reach. Teamwork is once again the biggest key to success.
- The game is a bit soft on the playlist front, with just Team Arena (a grab bag of modes), Slayer, Breakout (the new one-life per round approach), Capture the Flag, and Swat. Not having a team objective playlist with Oddball and King of the Hill is a bit weird.
- The maps seem well designed but unlike Guardian (Halo 3), Swordbase (Reach), or Haven (Halo 4), nothing immediately jumped out to me as being super cool. That said, I haven’t played on all of the maps yet so that map could still be out there.
- Playing will grant you experience points towards your Spartan Rank and req points to be spent on Requisition packs. Req packs are packs of cards that contain customization options for your Spartan and consumable unlocks for the big new mode Warzone.
- Speaking of Warzone, it is pretty cool. The mode takes place on a huge map and teams are tasked with capturing strategic points on the map, protecting their base, eliminating AI enemy that will spawn in, and taking out the other team. As you play you’ll “rank up” in the mode and be able to access your req cards dropping in a warthog or a rocket launcher to be used against the other team but they are also doing the same thing to you. So you’ll want to use your cards smartly and strategically. It’s not the Titanfall meets Halo thing I thought it would be: it’s far more expansive. At least on first glance.
Those are my first thoughts on Halo 5: Guardians. Look for our full review from Tony in the coming weeks.