2015 signifies the fourteenth year Halo has been a part of our lives, for better or for worse. While the series has fallen slightly since the massive increase of first person shooter competition, from Call of Duty to Battlefield, it’s still Microsoft’s biggest and most fruitful franchise. With Bungie struggling to provide a diversified content in Destiny, 343 Industries has stepped up to hopefully fill the void with Halo 5: Guardians. While we weren’t able to play any of the main campaign during E3, we were privy to lengthy game sessions of Halo 5’s new multiplayer mode, Warzone, putting teams of twelve against one another.
Warzone is more or less team deathmatch with a couple of alterations to the formula. For one, there are A.I. enemies scattered throughout the match, along with mini-bosses you can go up against. Additionally, there is a base element where, instead of just killing your opponents, which is still a valid way to win, you can alternatively capture bases to leave the other team’s core vulnerable for attack. Once one of the two cores are destroyed, or whichever team reaches 1000 first, the match will be over. It’s an interesting twist to the standard team deathmatch mode, especially when you factor in its most important new addition: in-match leveling.
The biggest change in the Halo format is the addition of leveling mid-match. This is a large part a lot of multiplayer games lately and 343 Industries are taking advantage of it with Halo 5: Guardians in a big way. The players themselves won’t unlock strong abilities or anything, but it’s more that they are able to purchase different items that will help them in combat scenarios. As you level up throughout the match, you will receive nodes that will fill up gradually. These nodes are meant to purchase limited weapons and vehicles at a terminal. These include some of the most common pieces of weaponry to overpowered aircrafts. My personal favorite is the mech as it’s easy to maneuver and can really do easy damage to those ground troops and those who don’t know how to use airborne vehicles.
Getting right into the gameplay itself, combat is very similar to what you’ve come to expect with Halo with some alterations. For example, there’s now new aim-down-the-sights mechanic that seems to work fine and far more momentum when running. Besides that, Halo 5 feels very much like a Halo title. Players will have shields that will deplete as they’re shot, leaving them open to a finishing blow, and there’s a large arsenal of weapons to go through, from your traditional assault rifles to more futuristic lasers.
We played a good three matches in Halo 5: Guardians and each one was highly enjoyable. Combat feels tight, but most importantly, the new 12v12 Warzone, while not revolutionizing competitive play, is a fantastic addition that should have fans playing for a long time. The mid-match store and leveling system has been done before, and implemented into a lot of online shooters, but 343 Industries is implementing it in a great way, allowing for hectic combat where the tide can turn at any moment. Whether it’s hunting down the Master Chief with Buck and the crew, or blasting your friends in multiplayer, Halo 5: Guardians is shaping up for its launch on October 27, exclusively for Xbox One.