We all have that one special game that got us hooked. Halo 2 hooked me into multiplayer gaming – and as much as I enjoyed Halo 3 and 4, nothing compared to the fun I had back on my original Xbox. 343 Industries have been at the helm of the franchise for some time now but Halo 5: Guardians is their first step into new-gen. OK, so there is Halo: The Master Chief Collection… but Halo 5: Guardians is truly our first real glimpse at 343i’s vision for the series on Xbox One.
From December 19th to the 21st, Xbox One Preview Program members, select gamers, and members of the press have been given a special treat – early access to the beta’s first week content, which goes live for everyone else on December 29th. This includes two maps: Truth (a remake of Halo 2’s Midship) and Empire; both playable in 4v4 Slayer.
The first thing I was happy to see was the removal of Spartan abilities. For me, these took away the essence of Halo and frustrated me more than empowering my gameplay. You can still sprint (which may still bother some purists) but it certainly helps to speed up the pace of the game. Spartans also have jet packs that can be used to boost in any direction (think Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare). The only real ‘ability’ is the ground punch but I found this rather tricky to pull off – and even when I did, I found it nigh impossible to take someone out.
It can be said that Call of Duty took a lot of inspiration from Halo. Titanfall took inspiration from Call of Duty, and Destiny tried to make a niche for itself and establish a foothold Bungie once commanded in the competitive multiplayer scene. With this in mind, it has to be said that Halo 5: Guardians owes its inspiration to all of the above – and their influence is evident right from the presentation of the game and team introductions, all the way through to the combat. The classic Halo weapons make a return and instantly feel familiar, yet somehow strangely alien.
Halo 5: Guardians feels much like meeting up with an old friend you used to know really well but haven’t seen in 10 years – they’re still the same person but ever so slightly different. They talk and act with more maturity – and for their age they look great. This pretty much sums up how I feel about Halo 5: Guardians. It looks brilliant, plays with more maturity – but underneath it all, the same old friend is still there.
Communication has been an issue in gaming ever since party chat killed off in-game chat. Halo 5 helps with this problem to some extent. Your team’s Spartans call out when weapons spawn, what they’ve picked up, when they’re reloading, and the locations of enemies. They even thank you for your assistance and call out the names of map areas, which certainly helps with teamwork and coordinating an attack when nobody is actually communicating!
The only real niggles I had were that the shields seem to take a while to recharge and grenades aren’t as easy to get kills with. Timing is everything, so grenade spammers need not apply.
Overall, I feel that Halo 5: Guardians retains the essence of why I loved Halo 2’s multiplayer – and although it may come loaded with all the mod cons of many other shooters on the market: zoomable weapons, kill cams, jet pack boosts and the ability to mantle objects, it still feels distinctively Halo – tea bagging included!
Thanks to Xbox for supplying TiX with a download code