Halo 5: Guardians dropped like a titan on the gaming world has been the talk of the town since it’s huge debut on October 27th. It’s been a controversial reveal, with 343i leading gamer’s on an intricate and polarising path showing images of Master Chief dying, introducing a new character called Spartan Locke and discovering if Cortana is dead.
Well, is Halo 5: Guardians good and/or worth the $60 you’re spending if you already own an Xbox One? We will try and answer that question below (BEWARE SPOILERS):
Right from the get go the story begins with Spartan Locke and his team is tasked with rescuing Captain Halsey as she was captured by the Covenant. The covenant is in a civil war with the Arbiter and for some reason detained Halsey in search of something. Once Captain Halsey is rescued, the story centers around how Cortana, which did not die by the way because she was absorbed into the ‘domain’ and found the so called ‘fountain of youth’ for AI’s, have been running rampant throughout the universe in a power trip releasing ‘Guardians’ that destroy everything in their path.
The Master Chief was also on a mission to investigate a ship that was mysteriously abandoned and all crew strangely killed. During the mission he and Blue Team encounters the Covenant who annexed the ship, and Master Chief has an episode where Cortana contacts him from the ‘domain’ warning him of the oncoming threat of the Guardians. He sets out to be reunited with her and encounters several threats like the Warden Eternal and the Prometheans.
The story is quite filled with lore and can be difficult to follow at some points. Some missions are simple ‘fetch quests’ disguised as a full mission which literally takes 5 minutes to complete. Overall the story is quite interesting with several quirks and sometimes it feels rushed. Needless to say, the campaign is not Halo 5: Guardians’ strong suit and although I found it very interesting, it can be frustrating at times with several forgettable characters and story branches. Unlike previous Halo games, Halo 5 attempts too many things at once, and does not excel at any of them. Master Chief seems distant in this game and you feel like he’s basically going insane. Spartan Locke feels emotionless and cold, almost like a jerk that nobody likes. He also changes his demeanour at a moments notice. One interesting shift I’ve seen was where Spartan Locke suddenly changed from “Hunter” to “attempting to save Master Chief from Cortana”. It’s a jarring change, which shows even the Master Chief talking to them as if certain things didn’t happen.
Halo 5: Guardians does not excel in story telling, but it makes up for it in other areas as talked about below and sometimes you just want to stop the campaign and play the multiplayer instead.
When Halo 5: Guardians was revealed, 343i announced that they will be opting for a 60FPS lock on the game with dynamic resolution scaling. With Halo: The Master Chief Collection running at 60FPS locked, it was only fitting.
But with that, there comes several concessions to the game that will pop up while you’re playing the game. The resolution scales between 810p to 1080p during gameplay, I for one haven’t noticed the dynamic scaling. The framerate was rock solid and I’ve noticed a drop only during loading between certain checkpoints. Overall the game is utterly smooth.
Graphics on this game look spectacular given the above mentioned limitations, and only in a few instances you see some odd texture or pop in. 343i really went all out to make this game beautiful, although it cant compare to the best out there, it certainly remains a feat of developer prowess as to what can be achieved on fixed hardware.
Halo 5: Guardians have always been known for it’s multiplayer aspect, as it popularized the multiplayer shooter back in 2001 when it launched on the original Xbox. Halo 5: Guardians carries the torch gracefully as it brings back the Halo franchise to prominence and shows how multiplayer is done.
343i introduces new gameplay modes like Warzone and Breakout and improves upon the original game modes by adding Spartan Abilities. Breakout remains my favorite game mode in the new game, as it pits 4v4 against each other without shields in a small map. You also get one life per match. It’s a game of skill and team work and I enjoy it the most.
Warzone could probably be a game on it’s own since games like Titanfall and Star Wars Battlefront gets separate releases. Warzone pits 12v12 against each other with AI NPC units filling the huge maps. Each team starts out with a level 1, and you have to battle the opposing team or kill Halo 5 bosses to gain extra points. As you increase your score your Rec Level will increase and you will gain the ability to unlock better weapons, boost packs or vehicles.
One thing I noticed is that if your team is quite good, you will unlock more powerful weapons quicker, and if the other team can’t keep up you will end up losing quite badly since the opposing team gained a rec level higher than your own. It’s a match of pure skill of the players and if you’re not good enough, you will end up losing quite badly. It’s an interesting and fun twist on multiplayer.
Overall the multiplayer remains the strongest part of the Halo 5 experience. Matchmaking and loading screens are near instant and I haven’t encountered many issues with the game during my playthrough although there was a short period of about 10 minutes when I couldn’t open Req packs which was fixed pretty quickly.
Halo 5: Guardians holds its own against previous shooter games and destroys any competition that may be out there. It is the definitive multiplayer shooter this generation so far and nothing can touch it’s smooth and effortless Multiplayer. The campaign leaves a lot to be desired and could have been made more newcomer friendly.
If you’re looking for a game that does not fleece you for content like so many other multiplayer games out there, this game is definitely a buy. For $60 you will receive content for free for a year and the game already holds the most content for any AAA shooter this generation. Definitely worth the money right off the bat.