The battle looks chaotic in the background as Covenant and Forerunners battle it out on the land and sky. I reload my clip while surveying the scene, listening to Fireteam Osiris member Edward Buck mention to Commander Locke the location of our objective:
Dr Halsey was last seen in the caves up ahead.
We sprint from the view of the battlefield and engage in a closer firefight of the two races. I switch out the standard pistol for a Forerunner Suppressor (it feels like a Covenant Needler) and take a higher ground. I’m able to command my squad of three to take position closer to the battle while I position myself to survey the battleground.
Taking fire, we’re weapons free and start eliminating the enemies one by one. I notice a quick opening of three Promethean Crawlers grouping below trying to flank my team. I quickly sprint off the cliff from my position and utilize the new Spartan ability to ground pound the enemies in an area. They are obliterated in the crash. However, I’m left exposed when a Promethean sniper picks me off and downs me… but not out. I’m able to call on my team to try and review me before I’m down for good. Osiris member Tanaka patches me up and I want revenge. I quickly sprint past enemies, leading the team through and Spartan Charging through enemies, knocking them out of my way as I reach another ledge to where a fallen sniper’s weapon lay. I clamber up the ledge… I switch out the weapon… I line up my shot… and pull the trigger.
That was my first impressions of 343 Industries and Xbox One exclusive take on Halo 5: Guardians. Right out of the gate, Halo not only brings the action to a faster pace, but still continues to tell a story that, since I’ve played back at the first Halo, always impresses me.
Picking up after the events of Halo 4 and the story arc of the comic series Halo: Escalation “The Next 72 Hours”, Halo 5 continues to follow the legendary Master Chief John-117 as he begins a quest in search of answers of a missing Cortana. However, in doing so, him and his “Blue Team” of Spartans disregard UNSC orders and in doing so, are regarded as fugitives. This prompts newcomer and secondary protagonist Spartan Agent Locke and his “Fireteam Osiris” to go on a manhunt for the Master Chief.
The re-introduction of two playable protagonists in the Halo series is a welcoming factor in my eyes. Adding a narrative that displays “both sides” fully encompasses and integrates the players to follow the plot and keeps them wanting more. This is what I loved from the campaigns when I initially played the first Halo, seeing the view points of both Master Chief and the Arbiter allowed me to understand not only what was going on during the game but to digest the background stories, character developments and full plot in-depth without requiring massive time commitments since it was shown to you while you played. The game also strikes a well balanced format between the action and the cut scenes that, while the latter does have some long parts, is very well executed to keep people entertained.
Though I’m a solo player the majority of the time, and the Halo series does a magnificent job on improving the single player aspect within a team environment with greatly improved A.I. and command fields, I love playing the Halo campaign series with others which is an extremely rare function for these type of games nowadays. Though sadly the local multiplayer campaign function is not available in this Halo, an online 4-player campaign function does allow players to take functions of Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team in Campaign, if you can get your crew online. Each member of the team has specific abilities that does keep the action interesting when you join in and switch characters, which is another bonus for this field.
Overall, the additions of abilities improve, what I and many others thought were lacking, areas that previous Halo installments did not bother to include. The introduction of Locke is welcomed and his character in the story breathes more versatility to the game that does not take away the spotlight from the already popular Master Chief but rather brightens the game as a whole.
As this is the first Halo to exclusively debut on Xbox One, you can expect some phenominal graphics on a much grander scale. The battles are even more epic, fully immersing you into intense fire fights and realistic environments. The visuals are utterly stunning and a fantastic representation of next-gen capabilities.
There are a number of new abilities to explore in Halo 5:
- Clamber: We can finally climb up ledges! We now have the abilities to actually climb up ledges and platforms, rather than just space jump from one to the other (though that is still in affect and I can see this being combined very creatively in the near future)
- Smart-Link system: This is essentially the ability to look down sights for all weapons now. However, vet Halo players can still hip fire any gun and not really lose accuracy…to a degree. 343 has explained that there are trade offs for Smart-Link in that every time you are shot while in down-sights, you de-scope. So far there isn’t too much of a notice for regular players but super vet competitive players will hammer on this one down the road.
- Infinite Run: Sprint as long as you want. The downside here is that shields do not recharge while you run. So basically, don’t run with scissors.
- Ground Slide and Spartan Charge: An ol’ favorite, typical dash and slide into cover. Or use your infinite run to charge up and melee at the same time to unleash a thrustered educed shoulder smash on opponents. Pretty sick additions if you ask me.
- Spartan Charge and Stabilizers: Jump from a ledge and charge a ground smash attack that clears a small area.Or take a fancier route and jump off the ledge, aim down the sights and hover fire from the air for a short amount of time. Gets the feel of being a next-gen Spartan.
- Team Command: The ally A.I. has improved but to help it along, protagonists Locke and Master Chief can issue general commands to Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team respectively. Choose firing positions, pick up weapons, get into vehicles, review allies or yourself. Everything about this ran very smooth so this function is an excellent addition to the arsenal.
And the multiple improvements to multiplayer; Arena, Warzone, REQ packs, the forge mode. Everyone knows this is what it is about and will continue to be. I have heard some murmured dislikes from some players that feel that Halo is turning more into a twitch style shooter like COD, and I can see how that can be but I disagree to an extent. The principle feeling of the multiplayer still feels like a Halo game to me and frankly, I really cannot see them faltering away from that.
I’ll see you in the Warzone. J.L. Out.
We’ll be streaming Halo 5: Guardians campaign mode tonight (Oct 26) at 8pm EST and Warzone multiplayer at midnight! Be sure to follow J. Lucious on Twitch to tune in and chat!