Platforms: Xbox One
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Distributor: Prima Interactive
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: 27 October 2015
Following the events of Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians is set around two main protagonists, The Master Chief, and Spartan Jameson Locke. A mysterious threat has emerged and Master Chief has set out to uncover just what this is, this has caused the UNSC to question his loyalty, and in turn they have dispatched Spartan Locke to hunt the Chief down, and find out what he is up to.
Halo 5: Guardians goes back to the classic Halo 2 days when you swap between two playable character depending on what mission you were on, and this time this means either Spartan Locke or The Master Chief. It kind of swaps out every mission or two, and follows two separate journeys as Master Chief is after the threat, and Spartan Locke is after The Master Chief.
The game’s primary story revolves around The Hunt, which unfortunately falls flat very early in the game as circumstances in the game’s story instantly begin to focus on this bigger threat. This is not a major issue as the story is one of the greatest Halos ever told.
Although short and sweet, the Halo 5: Guardian’s story mode left with an obvious cliff hanger, given that we still have one left to go before the 2nd trilogy wraps up. But the entire experience is exhilarating.
The game’s campaign follows suite with the older Halo games in the series. You face enemies in an open battlefield, well constructed for an explosive showdown, kill them all, and move on to the next part. That is basically what every Halo has been about, but it’s the new suit features in Halo 5: Guardians that really adds a whole new depth to the classic run and gun gameplay.
Plummeting down from above onto a group of expecting enemies with the ground pound, or sprinting and slamming into an enemy with a charge knocking them across the map, makes for an exciting approach to gameplay. You can also now aim down sights, in what Halo is calling the Smart Link. This enables you to view any weapon you wield in a more precise view. Rather than adding any details to the guns, everything is now managed from the helmet, so you see the Smart Link from a UI perspective.
Sure Smart Link is a new way to play, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a better way to play. It has its hiccups, like whenever you are aiming down sights, one shot from a bullet will take the view back to normal as if you were just shooting normally. This forces you to be more careful when you aim, and keeps you on your feet at all times. Saying that, the Smart Link ability is completely up to player choice, there is no forcing the player to make use of it and if you are more prone to play the game old school style, then you can go without it impacting your gameplay.
The campaign spans many planets and locations, there are brand new added vehicles and weapons too, but keeping that in mind, the campaign really does very little to set itself apart form previous titles. Yes, I know that it is Halo and that we love it for being true to its core mechanics, but in today’s times you need to be beyond great, and at times I felt that there was very little that made me feel like it was a new Halo title. That being said, the game runs beautifully in full 1080p, 60FPS, and every single location will take your breath away. The architecture and the magnitude of the game’s locations and settings is really something to behold.
The campaign is now playable with 3 friends, and it’s awesome. It really gives you something to do after you have completed it, and the harder difficulties are easier to manage with a larger team of friends. When not playing online, you are subjected to playing with some rather terrible AI companions . I played through the campaign on Heroic and I began to hate my companions with a passion. You would often die, because it is hard, and most of the time the AI would not know what to do to revive you. This would happen 80% of the time, regardless of you being on the other side of an area, or standing right next to a team-mate. They would just not revive you and there would be nothing you can do about it. You would scream and shout, tap “X” and request help, but they have other intentions, like the intentions to sit and watch you die.
I would not recommend playing offline if you have friends online, as even matchmaking with an online Troll resulted in a smoother campaign experience than putting up with the AI companions. On that note, there is no split screen, so you either play online, or offline alone.
In a nutshell, the Halo 5: Guardians campaign was extremely enjoyable, besides the bad AI. It’s packed with stellar set pieces, explosive action, and a story that will leave you wanting more. It is truly a Halo game, in every way, and although there are a few new added mechanics, none of them feel forced upon you.
What is a Halo game without its biggest feature – multiplayer? And in Halo 5: Guardians the multilayer is bigger and better than ever before. Split into two modes, Arena and Warzone, the entire experience now revolves around gaining points to spend on REQ packs. These REQ packs grant new customisation items for your Spartan and account, and new weapons and vehicles to spawn in Warzone.
Arena is a set playlist of modes that take you back to the classic Halo multiplayer. You will face off in a Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, or Breakout on a good amount of maps. This is as classic as it comes, get a team of friends together, or just head on into the matchmaking and shoot other Spartans. The game modes are great in Arena, Strongholds sees you capture and hold a set area in a map and get extra points for kills depending on how many areas you hold. Slayer is your classic Team Deathmatch, and Breakout sees you fight another team, but you only have one life, so best take care.
As much as I would like to try and complain about something in Arena, I found it hard to find flaws in the gameplay. The new Spartan abilities like Ground Pound, and the Sprint Tackle are all present in the multiplayer, but they rarely are used. You are so busy running around and killing your opposing team, that you forget all bout them. The only thing you actually find yourself using, is the Smart Link, and even that works better only on certain weapons, like the most over-powered weapon in the game, The Magnum.
Warzone is the game’s biggest new mode, and it is rather spectacular. Warzone sees your team of 12 go up against another team of 12 on a massive battlefield that hold different capture points and AI enemies around it.
Warzone is a mixture between a Strongholds, and Elimination, but with weapons and vehicles to aid you in your conquest. There are two points on each map that need to be captured and held, when you have both the opposing team’s core will be opened and you can deal damage to it by entering their base and shooting it. Sound simple enough, but it is much more than that as you need to utilise your weapons that you obtain in the REQ packs to give yourself the upper hand. You cannot just spawn weapons though, you need to first level up your base level which rages from 1 – 10. Each REQ card needs a certain level to activate and when used, your based level will slowly refill back to the level you were on. For example, a walker tank will need 8 out of 10 base points, which means you will not be able to spawn this vehicle till later in the match after you have killed the other team, and the AI enemies that spawn on the map, to level up.
The mode relies heavy on REQs but not so much on PvP. You can be really bad at PvP and rather stick to taking out the enemies and ultra-bosses that spawn at different times on the map. This way you will be aiding your team by levelling up the bases rank, and earning points to help win the match.
In a nutshell Warzone is all about points and everything you do earns you points that goes towards being able to summon REQs, and winning the match. You can purchase new REQ packs using the currency you earn in-game, on both Arena and Warzone, and there are over 1600 customisations, weapons, and vehicle REQs to unlock in the game, which will definitely keep you coming back for more.
Halo 5: Guardians is a breath of fresh air with its Warzone mode, and its campaign will leave you speechless and counting down the days till we finally wrap up the story. It’s a fine package with hours upon hours of multiplayer content, and the campaign’s co-op will surely make you play through it a few times with friends. It is truly one of the greatest Halos ever told.