Published on October 5th, 2015 | by Dakoda Barker

Halo 5: Guardians (EB Expo 2015 hands on)

The Halo series is one that has helped define my life. Weekends with friends involved as many Xboxes and TVs as we could wrangle, system-linked together for maximum multiplayer action. We created our own game types and had very short-lived dreams of a Grifball team.

The disappearance of local multiplayer is one of a number of changes being made in Halo 5: Guardians. It’s a shame—especially knowing that kids today won’t grow up with the same fond memories that I have. But, at the same time, it’s clear that Halo is evolving to keep up with the current gaming climate and isn’t trapped in nostalgia. So that’s good news.

The other, most interesting change is the addition of Warzone, the new multiplayer game type that we got hands on with. Warzone adopts some of the MOBA-like elements present in Titanfall and blends them with other objective-based mechanics. Each side has ordinary soldiers, there are bases to be captured which provide additional respawn points, weapons and vehicles can be requisitioned with constantly replenishing energy, and—perhaps most notable of all—the presence of stronger, neutral, AI-controlled enemies that can provide bonus points upon defeat.


In practice, Warzone is incredibly hectic. Twelve-person teams mean the action is spread out across a wide area but still busy; you can go to any point and still have to engage a few different opponents. The one map we played—named Escape From A.R.C.—was hectic and enjoyable, though it took a while to re-familiarise myself with the controls and then pick up the new strategies and mechanics.

Having to requisition the stronger weapons and equipment is an odd change that I think will make the mode much more accessible to new players. Figuring out how to requisition items is initially confusing, and the game doesn’t tell you whether or not the required energy is solely yours or shared among teammates—spending all of the energy on a banshee that I smashed into the ground thanks to default controls being set to non-inverted caused quite a bit of guilt and panic. Fortunately, it was only my personal supply of energy that was wasted.

Warzone—and Halo 5: Guardians generally—certainly feels different. Making a judgement call without playing more, especially without different maps as a reference point, would be flawed. After all, my issues with space feeling underused might be unique to Escape From A.R.C. and not Warzone and it will take some time for players to acquaint themselves with this new mode. But with the brief time I have spent with Halo 5: Guardians, my assessment is one of cautious excitement: these changes might just work out as successfully as the Spartan abilities introduced in Halo: Reach. I am eagerly awaiting Halo 5‘s expected release date, October 27 this year, and any fans of the series—or fans of multiplayer shooters in general—should do the same.

About the Author'

Dakoda is a doctoral student researching the intersection between videogames and chronic health conditions. He plays, critiques, and makes games. Other hobbies include eating too much sushi. His Twitter is @JiroJames.

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