The Halo franchise is near and dear to past and current Xbox players. Before 343 Industries there was the beloved Bungie Studios. Since 343 took over for Bungie, we really haven’t seen what the new studio can do for us, and Halo. Halo 4 was a huge success, but the online community jumped ship and went right back to Halo 3. Microsoft needs a game for the Xbox One console that will help slim the gap with Playstation 4.
With the catastrophic release of The Master Chief Collection, Halo 5 releases at a time when the trust in Halo, and Microsoft is at an ego blowing low.
At the beginning of Halo 5, you are introduced to 2 teams, Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris. Blue Team is led by Master Chief and 3 other surviving Spartan team mates. Fireteam Osiris, is led by past ONI assassin Jameson Locke, former ODST Edward Buck, and new characters Olympia Vale and Holly Tanaka. Osiris is sent out on a secret mission to rescue Dr. Halsey, the original creator of the Spartan program. Blue team is dispatched out to secure a derelict research vessel in danger of being obtained by the Covenant. From there Master Chief ignores direct orders and goes off to investigate a message with his team, making them AWOL. Locke and Osiris team are ordered to bring them back by any way necessary.
Halo 5’s story is less confusing and jumbled together than Halo 4’s, but I still was left confused by what exactly I was doing. A lot of the missions seemed to be pointless and were just meant to elongate the story arch.
However, the story doesn’t bomb in every aspect. While Blue Team is underdeveloped and obviously pretty new, Fireteam Osiris is on the other side of the spectrum. They are clean, polished, and crisp in battle. You can also see how close and personal each and every relationship is. You find out why Master Chief’s team is willing to go AWOL and face a virtually suicidal mission for him. Vale and Tanaka are both great characters with spectacular dialogue through both back story and in-game conversations. Buck, voiced by the infamous Nathan Fillion, is the voice in the game that brings quick hit humor and is the human morale that holds the team down. It’s great to see how Osiris has developed over the years.
Levels feel bigger and more intricate than previous games. There are more enemies, more angles to approach, and more places to hide while you wait for your shields to recharge. In previous Halo games, I noticed there were a lot of crammed moments with my co-op team mates due to narrow lanes. Now, this is virtually erased due to the fact that every player can have an enemy to erase, or an objective to chase. You can definitely tell that the campaign is geared towards co-op play. Several enemies, and boss fights, have encounters that require you to synchronize on opposite sides of the enemy.
Halo 5 seems to be a much more forgiving campaign. This is due to the new mechanic on where you can get revived by your team mates. Once your shields are depleted, you fall to your knees. You have a time limit on your revival, but you can get revived as many times necessary. You can also revive your team mates, co-op or AI.
You will definitely die several times on Heroic or Legendary difficulty, but this is in part due to the AI. If you are down your AI team mates will revive you 80% of the time, but the other 20% I see my team mates still shooting at enemies, or just run past me. I also have witnessed them get caught on an object, or get obliterated by enemy fire while running a suicide mission to rescue me.
343 Industries has definitely polished and changed the way Spartans are controlled. Some changes are more subtle than others. Your standard move speed is faster and turning feels easier to coordinate, and even faster than usual. This makes for easy dodging, and getting out of dodge maneuvers. In every mode, online and offline, Spartans can sprint, grab ledges, and pull themselves up. Running Spartans can shoulder charge, or Spartan Charge, with the melee buttons. Holding the melee button down while airborne, charges and initiates a ground pound attack that’s hard to land, but so damn satisfying when you do.
All Halo players know the legacy behind multiplayer. Several people, including myself, have fond memories of setting up LANs to play for hours into the night. One thing to note about the multiplayer, is that there is no split-screen. This didn’t upset me a lot because I don’t split screen as much as I did before. However, I was playing in my living room and my boyfriend walked in and watched me. I asked if he wanted to split screen, but then I realized that I couldn’t. Split screen is one of the things you don’t miss it until it is gone.
Warzone is a new mode in Halo, and it is amazing. It’s one of the modes that I’ve always wanted, but didn’t realize it until I had it. Warzone is a mode with a combined team of AI and human controlled enemies. The objective is to take over the base of the enemy team in a tug-of-war objective with a map size 4 times larger than any other Halo game. Warzone assault is a mode with no AI, but it is still objective based. You either need to defend or destroy the core.
Arena is full of your typical competitive modes of slayer, capture the flag, and others. Though Warzone is much more relaxed. One of the new additions to multiplayer, specifically Warzone, is that you now have Req packs. Req packs work kind of like Titanfall where you can open packs that give you temporary, or permanent, perks. After each game, you earn Req points which can be used to unlock these packs. They can unlock specific power weapons and vehicles that are unavailable. These packs contain scorpions, wraiths, phaetons, and other vehicles. They still cost in-game points, so nobody is able to spam heavy vehicles.
However, killing AI enemies, powerful “hero” call combatants, and mobs also award points to the team that kills them. As your team gains ground and gains points, you will earn requisition points that can be traded at terminals, or on your respawn, for more powerful equipment. This works as an in-match economy and resource management. It creates a new strategy in-game is that is interesting and fun to juggle while dodging bullets.
Throughout my recording, review, and gameplay of Halo 5, I could not say I was extremely disappointed. Yes, the story lacks things that I would have liked to see. However, the main pushing point of Halo is the multiplayer. It has been years since I played Halo online, and I immediately became engulfed again. With the new addition of Warzone, I do not see me putting down my controller anytime soon.
- Large and beautiful campaign maps
- Warzone is new and refreshing
- No online lag, rubber banding, or dropped servers
- Story felt a bit dragged out
- AI seems to be "lost"