Halo 5: Guardians is the second Halo game in the series developed by 343 Industries. After years of waiting for a Halo game on the Xbox One, the game is finally here and the expectations are quite high. Following the launch of Halo 4, many are skeptical if the next game from 343 Industries, which is Halo 5: Guardians, will have something new to the series that fans haven’t seen before. Since Bungie left the Halo universe, the franchise still follows the shadows of Bungie. Fortunately, 343 Industries did its very best with Halo 5: Guardians as some of the things in the game are new and fresh for fans of the series.
The story of Halo 5: Guardians follows two protagonists; our beloved Master Chief and a spartan soldier named Jameson Locke. In the fifteen lengthy missions of the campaign mode, you will be playing as Spartan Locke mostly in the game as you are going to help him find Master Chief as he goes AWOL to find Cortana. Out of the fifteen missions, only three of these are dedicated to the Master Chief. While it’s good to have both Spartan Locke and Master Chief as the main focus of the story, it’s quite saddening that their focus to Master Chief isn’t a priority to them. In the twelve missions where Spartan Locke is the main star, I would say that him as a protagonist is quite stale as it’s not that interesting. Sure the action with Fireteam Osiris is intense but that’s all there’s to i t- he has no charisma to entice fans.
Without spoiling much of the story, I would say that the story of Halo 5: Guardians is so-so. Several familiar faces from past titles will make a return, in which they’ll contribute to the bigger plot set to reveal in the game. The story starts off good but it all slows down in the mid-chapter. If this is your first time playing a Halo game, it’s disappointing to say that you will get lost with the story as the lore told in this game requires prior knowledge to the series. Unlike past games, Halo 5 has a lot of dialogue when playing as Spartan Locke. It’s not a bad thing but for someone who hasn’t played a single game in the series before will tend to get confused as to what they are talking about. As for its ending, it hints a sequel is coming, so Halo fans can look forward to Halo 6 in the near future.
The changes in Halo 5: Guardians can be seen in its gameplay. When playing the campaign, both Spartan Locke and Master Chief will have their own teams that will assist you in the fifteen missions of the game. During a mission, three members of the Fireteam Osiris of Spartan Locke and Blue Team of Master Chief will be following you around helping you gun down enemies and revive you if you ask them to. One of the things I like the most in having a squad in this game is I can tell them what to do – I can have focus an attack on an enemy, ride a Banshee, and more. Fortunately, the AIs of the three members of each team are quite decent.
In past Halo games, it can be annoying at times where you can’t use the iron sight of the guns as it’s hard to aim at enemies. Luckily, 343 Industries changed that and now added the ability to aim at your enemies. All of the classic weapons and new ones can now use the iron sights, which makes the combat much better. It’s not for everyone but I personally like it as it’s feel more like traditional first person shooter games that I’ve played in the past.
Another new change added in Halo 5: Guardians is the thruster pack. During an intense firefight, you can use the thruster pack every couple of seconds to gain speed boost in any given direction. It’s quite useful in dodging heavy gunfire but the one thing that I find useful is that you can use it to thrust into an enemy and knock them down. Along with the thurster pack, you can now also use Ground Slam. If at some point you are above an enemy, you can jump on them and slam into the ground. The more enemies on the ground, the better to use the Ground Slam as the range is quite wide.
Slow pacing in Halo games are long gone in Halo 5. Unlike the slow movements in past Halo games, Spartan Locke and Master Chief move a lot faster now. In my experience with the game for the past two weeks, Halo 5: Guardians feels more fast-paced now and it’s quite similar to Call of Duty games in terms of pacing. The movements are rather quick and yes, you can now sprint across the field this time around.
When it comes to visuals, it’s quite pretty. The environment is much bigger compared to past games in the series. Character models look a lot better and the enemies like the Covenants look prettier compared to Halo 4. Thanks to the power of the Xbox One, everything runs smoothly. When it comes to lag, I never noticed any slow downs in the middle of an intense firefight. The 60 frame rate per second is very apparent and it makes every movement to be a lot more fluid.
Unlike in past Halo games where the levels are small and linear, Halo 5: Guardians tackles it in a different way. Every level in the game is quite big with more than one path that you can take. Having multiple paths is a lot better as you can attack from different routes available. The levels are still quite linear at times but not as much as the old games where you are forced to just take a single path. Add classic vehicles like the Warthog in the game and this games exploring the levels a lot more enjoyable.
Along with the single-player campaign, there’s a co-op mode where you can team up with another player in finishing the campaign mode. If you were to play in Legendary difficulty, it’s highly recommended that you will play it with someone as the AI itself can’t handle the intensity of the firefight. The drop in/drop co-op works really well in Halo 5: Guardians as it makes it easier for anyone to join your game at any time. It is also worth mentioning that co-op is online only. There is no split-screen gameplay available in this game at all.
In addition to the single-player and co-op mode, the main meat of the Halo 5: Guardians is the multiplayer mode. If you have played past Halo games, one of the reasons you probably loved the series is the fun multiplayer mode it offers and with Halo 5: Guardians, prepare to experience that enjoyment once again.
There are a total of two multiplayer modes in Halo 5: Guardians: Arena and Warzone. In the Arena mode, it’s your typical four against four team match where it features classic modes like Capture the Flag, Slayer, Breakout and Stronghold. What you will get will be randomly generated and fans of the series who played past Halo games would enjoy this mode. Combine the classic modes with the new gameplay additions from the single-player campaign to make taking down other players a lot more intense and enjoyable.
As for Warzone, it’s a lot different than the Arena mode as it’s more large-scale. The mode requires a minimum of eighteen players and takes place on a much larger map. The objective varies from defending your base, killing NPCs or taking down your rival’s base. The match runs at least 20-30 minutes with breaks in between at six minutes and at the end of each match, you will get gift cards through the REQ system. For every match that you finish, you get points that you use to buy cards and that does different things like unlocking weapons and enhancements that you can use in matches. Pretty much, Warzone is the most worthy addition in Halo 5: Guardians and it’s the main highlight of the game.
In the end, Halo 5: Guardians is a must-have title Halo fans have been waiting for. The multiplayer-portion is the main selling point of the game as it offers addictive modes that are no offered in many other games. Unfortunately, the campaign isn’t that strong compared to past Halo games as focusing on Spartan Locke doesn’t have that same appeal as opposed to Master Chief. Don’t get me wrong – the campaign still offers a fun experience due to several new gameplay additions. However, it falls short thanks to a weak storyline that never really kicks off.
[Editor’s Note: Halo 5 Guardians was reviewed on a Xbox One platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Halo 5: Guardians Review,