After Halo 4, questions were raised about if 343 Industries could really hone in on what made Halo multiplayer special.
In Halo 4, the multiplayer community disappeared quickly, and was followed by The Master Chief Collection which was plagued with multiplayer issues early on.
Now, 343 is trying again with Halo 5: Guardians. This time, the developers have hit strong notes with the multiplayer, and have an enjoyable campaign as well, even if the story can get bogged down.
The campaign doesn’t start with Master Chief. Instead, you take control of former ONI assassin Jameson Locke and Fireteam Osiris. The team is tasked with rescuing Dr. Halsey, who created the Spartan program, while Master Chief and the Blue Team is trying to secure a ship from the Covenant.
The plot quickly goes off tangent, though, when the Chief goes on his own mission to follow a cryptic vision, and Locke is tasked with bringing him back in. While it may not have as confusing a plot as Halo 4, there will be times where you’re trying to keep up with some of the plot.
What tries to help keep you up to speed are the portions of the game where there is no action. Instead, there’s just areas to walk around and talk to people. These portions serve no purpose other than advance the plot, but the extra little tidbits of story you can get are nice.
Without getting too into the plot, the game brings back memories of Halo 2. The game is more of a cliffhanger similar to that title, with Halo 6 being the big title wrapping everything up. Still, there are some wow points in the campaign, just few and far between sometimes.
It’s also worth noting that the campaign seems to be more aligned toward co-op. With both Locke and Chief having teams, the drop-in, drop-out online co-op seems a lot more fluid. (As a quick aside, it is disappointing that there’s no local splitscreen anymore, but it doesn’t detract from the game).
While the AI is sometimes ok, healing you if you get downed or targeting enemies you pick with the D-pad, other times they forgot what they should be doing and just wander around. With human partners, though, you can strategize against bosses and figure out ways to take on enemy encampments.
What makes the campaign even more enjoyable is some of the small tweaks 343 made to the controls. The Spartans move faster now, and can dash short distances and in midair. Running Spartans can also shoulder-charge to cause massive damage to enemies or break some walls. While in the air, you can charge and land a ground-pound attack, or hold the iron-sight button (every weapon can now zoom in) to hover and do some precision aiming in midair.
Overall, the campaign will take about 8-10 hours to beat. Now, let’s talk about the big part of Halo 5, multiplayer. There are two main multiplayer modes: Arena and Warzone, and I’ll be starting with Arena mode.
Gone are weapon and ability loadouts, being replaced with everyone starting with the same weapons. This brings back the key fights over weapon placements to get the respawning sniper or rocket launcher. For those that can’t remember where power weapons are, don’t fret, as the game shows a countdown timer and location to where the next big weapon will appear.
In Arena, you’ll find your standard fares, like Slayer, Objective and Swat. New this time is Breakout. Breakout tasks two teams of four on maps that look like virtual battlefields to either take out the other team or grab a flag in the middle and return it to your base. Everyone has one life, and the first to take five rounds wins the game.
Personally, as new modes get added, I’m hoping a few of my favorites (snipers and zombies) get added. The latter would especially help in getting quick credits for the new Requisition packs.
The packs are the small way 343 has introduced microtransactions, and most people will never spend a cent on them (or on maps, as 343 will be bringing free maps to the game next year). The packs can all be bought with points earned in matches, so as long as you keep playing multiplayer, you won’t have a problem finding and unlocking everything.
Requisition packs contain temporary use cards, such as credit boosts, weapons and vehicle cards to use in Warzone, permanent cards, so as making it easier to get some cards or giving Warzone boosters that can be used round after round, and armor and emblems to equip to your Spartan.
While Spartan Ops may be gone from the last game, Warzone should be a good replacement for most players for longer team-based battles. Teams of up to 12 players get dropped into an area full of enemies and three bases. Both teams try to control all bases, as controlling all three opens up the enemies core to destroy it and win. Otherwise, the first team to hit 1,000 points is declared the winner.
As you play through a match and rack up kills, you’ll also get requisition points that can be used to play cards. So, if your team starts falling behind, you can play a tank card or fuel rod cannon to try and even the odds out and take the lead again.
Graphically, the levels pop throughout the game, both in campaign and multiplayer. This is by far the best looking Halo to date, running smooth at 60 FPS.
While some may say the campaign is a weak point in Halo 5, considering how much fun it is, that just shows how great 343 Industries did with Guardians. After a few missteps early on, 343 seems to be on the right track now. If you have an Xbox One, this is definitely a title worth adding to your collection.
Final Score: 9.0