There are very few games that demand more hype than Halo, and with good reason. It is the series that really brought online console gaming to the masses, and there is no denying the impact the series has had on the genre and video games in general. So it should come as no surprise that the first Halo to hit our brand new Xbox One is a pretty big deal.
On Friday, for a select few, the Halo 5: Guardians beta is playable. It is our first look at what 343 Industries is bringing to the table with their latest installment of the flagship franchise.
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that this is by all accounts a beta. Halo 5: Guardians is still very far off, and this isn’t just a reason to let everyone play the game. This is for 343 to address problems and see how their servers are running. So bugs and hiccups are to be completely expected and should not be indicative of the final product when it’s released next year.
[blockquote]I am absolutely foaming at the mouth right now to get my hands on the finished product[/blockquote]Since this is the first week of the beta we only have access to one game mode and two maps. The game mode being Slayer and the two new maps being Truth and Empire. This is the slayer that your familiar with, but with a few added touches. It is currently a 4 v 4 affair with “Power weapons” spawning across the maps for teams to acquire. These power weapons from what I have seen so far tend to be either the “Prophets Bane” sword or the sniper rifle. The maps are pretty standard for what you would expect from a Halo game. Truth is a remake of the Halo 2 map Midship, while Empire is what appears to be the top floor of a skyscraper building. Neither of the maps stand out as spectacular, but they are good maps even if a bit typical for the series.
There are a few things you immediately notice when jumping into Halo 5, and that is that a lot has changed. This game undoubtably feels like Halo, but 343 has made a lot of changes that bring the series into a more modern era of the FPS genre. You can now aim down the sights with every weapon, not to mention every single weapon has been redone. The games speed has also seen quite a boost, Halo 5 in a much faster game than the entries before it. These changes do an excellent job of moving the series forward in some very notable ways. While there may some Halo purist that will disagree with 343‘s willingness to conform to certain FPS standards, they do it in a way that feels very right for the series. For example, getting shot knocks you of your zoom like Halo has always done. It appears as though careful consideration has gone into all of these new elements.
Another new element to Halo 5 is the ability to boost on the ground or in the air, similar to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Admittedly the boost mechanics are a little different, but boosting adds a new dynamic to chasing and/or escaping enemies. It isn’t something you are going to continuously spam and run around with though, as the range is very limited, and after you use it there is a slight cool down of a couple of seconds before you can use it again. It’s just another example of how they are bringing what has become standard FPS mechanics into the series while still making it feel very balanced and much like a natural progression for Halo.
As I mentioned earlier all the guns have been revamped, as to be expected considering you can now aim down the sights with all the weapons. On both maps the load out has you equipping assault rifles and magnums with weapon pick ups throughout the map. Among the map pick ups were the DRM, Battle Rifle, Sniper Rifle, and the SMG. All these weapons retain the similar feel they are known for, but with obvious tweaks and changes to each. The weapons just tend to have more impact this time around. To go with all these fancy new weapons the beta comes in locked at a silky smooth 60 fps which really helps with the games blazing fast speeds and endless sprinting.
When 343 Industries took over the reigns of Halo from Bungie they played it mostly safe, Halo 4 was an extension of what made Bungie and their Halo games so popular. Halo 5: Guardians feels like 343 is coming into their own and making the game they wanna make, not what anyone else wants them to make. They may make some enemies along the way as I am sure a lot of fans wont approve of all the changes, but these changes are good and they are moving the series forward. What I have played so far of Halo 5 is an extremely small slice of what I am sure will be a huge game, and I am impressed. They are no longer playing it safe, and they are making changes to a formula that has worked for so long. I am absolutely foaming at the mouth right now to get my hands on the finished product, if only I didn’t have to wait so long.
Stick with us here at The Game Fanatics for impressions on the rest of the beta as 343 Industries continues to roll out weekly updates to add more content, because there will be plenty to talk about from here on out.