Call me a heretic, but for most of my life, I never cared for the Halo series. Sure, my friends and I set up our fair share of LAN parties and wasted tons of weekends playing the multiplayer, but the campaigns never interested me, and I was especially bored by the character of Master Chief. Although nothing much was revealed about the story during our hands-on preview, I can say that I was surprised by the amount of work put into retooling the multiplayer for Halo 5: Guardians and I’m genuinely looking forward to diving back into it once it’s released.
Microsoft spared no expense on this preview, giving players a pair of Hololens glasses that allowed us to watch a short briefing from a hologram captain as she explained how the new Warzone multiplayer worked. It was a neat trick, but unfortunately the glasses were incorporated into the actual gameplay.
Once our two teams of twelve were separated and ready to play, we began on opposite ends of a large arena. Separated by multiple buildings, including garages and our own bases, each team was tasked with either destroying the other team’s base or racking up 1,000 points by scoring kills. Each base is filled with a horde of AI-controlled baddies, and you must clear them out before being granted access to the rest of the battlefield.
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Although killing an opposing player will give you a few points, the true value lies in AI-controlled boss characters that appear randomly on the map. These bosses are hulking bullet-sponges, and killing them grants your team a huge amount of points. Of course, like Quidditch (nerd alert), the opposing team could have 998 points and you can still come back for a win by destroying their base first. It’s a great mechanic that balances all-out warfare with strategic thinking and approaches, and it finally makes Halo’s multiplayer feel fresh again.
Requisition points are placed throughout captured bases, which can be used to order vehicles and weapons, although these can only be accessed in bases that your team controls. This system works infinitely better than choosing which vehicles would be available from the start and then never being able to change them until the next game. I was constantly ordering Ghosts and Warthogs for my team and driving off to wreak havoc within seconds.
Needless to say, Halo 5: Guardians will control absolutely beautifully. One fault I could never level at the series is a lack of polish, and based off of the short multiplayer experience given at E3, this title will be the polished gem that could potentially make up for the disastrous release of The Master Chief Collection. Jumps are just as floaty but controlled as usual, and weapons fire with satisfying results. The environment we played on wasn’t the most eye-catching level on display, but it certainly lived up to the Xbox One’s high standards.
I went into the demo unconvinced that I would be drawn back into the series, but I left my time with the title excited to see what else Halo 5: Guardians will bring to the table. With the developers finally realizing that it’s time to offer something new for fans growing tired of the same routine, this is a release that’s geared up to be a new favorite in the expansive series.