Unlike previous mainline entries in the series, it appears that Halo 5: Guardians will not carry an “M for Mature” rating when it launches later this year. In a surprising move, the ESRB has decided to grant the title a “T for Teen” instead.
Outside of the strategy-based Halo Wars and top-down shooters Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike, the franchise has always been stuck with Mature ratings. If this Teen rating sticks, it would certainly be a shocker for long time fans of the franchise. The epic battles waged by Master Chief have always been violent affairs, and this go-around appeared to be no different.
Even going to the ESRB page for Halo 5 doesn’t quite answer the question of why it could be rated Teen. In fact, the description doesn’t seem that much different from the previous five main entries.
This is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of a super soldier (Locke) searching for a missing character. Players use pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, and futuristic weapons to kill alien and human enemies in frenetic combat. Battles are highlighted by realistic gunfire, explosions, and occasional blood-splatter effects. Characters can also use “assassinations” to kill characters by snapping their necks, or by stabbing them with bladed weapons. The word “a*s” appears in the dialogue, as well as occasional taunts/insults (e.g., “I have copulated…with your genetic progenitors!”; ‘Your father was a filthy colo and your mother was a hole in the wall!’).
Just from reading that description, I’m not sure I entirely understand how Halo 5 managed to avoid a Mature rating. The phrase “occasional blood-spatter effects” stands out, though, so perhaps Microsoft and 343 Industries made a conscious effort to tone down the gore. However, that line of thinking just opens up even more questions. I suppose we’ll just have to see if either studio comments on the matter.
Halo 5: Guardians is currently set to launch for the Xbox One on October 27.