We are 14 years now after the release of Combat Evolved. The series would be changed the most it had in a long time. 343 would try to make a brand new sort of mainline Halo game. I’m very mixed on this game from the start as it does the opposite of Halo 4. It maintains a strong multiplayer and community, while sacrificing on a strong narrative.
Halo 5 Guardians was released 27th October 2015. It would still very much be a game about the Master Chief’s adventures in space. However straight after a dramatic cut-scene we are put into the role of Spartan Locke and Osiris squad. Bit of shock to a casual viewer I know. Locke had been introduced in a TV type thing beforehand I think. I’m not exactly sure myself but I do enjoy him as a character. He’s easy to understand he has clear goals. Part of his squad is a familiar face, Nathan Fillion’s character Buck from ODST. He’s as charming as ever and is still as lovable as he was in ODST.
The story is pretty easy to understand on paper as well. Chief is essentially carrying out work with his squad Blue team (from the books) and finds hope that Cortana is well and alive. He then goes rogue from the UNSC in hope to find her. Osiris squad is sent to bring him in for questioning, bringing a squad v squad nature to our main heroes. I just wanna take a moment to talk about the advertising of the game. With all the trailers and TV spots before release, we were shown clips of an epic fight between Chief and Locke, with the tag line “Hunt the Truth” which just sounded awesome. Unfortunately we really just got a 2 minute fist fight before they became allies, which substantially changes the overall goal for Locke.
I don’t hate the story at all, I just found my self more confused than I should have. The game played out as if everyone was a hardcore fan and doesn’t try to introduce who these characters are to a casual viewer. We also have the game ending from Locke’s point of view and the main man himself Chief is pushed to the sidelines. Also bringing back Cortana immediately after the last game feels like it crushes everything Halo 4 achieved with its storytelling. The stakes were dropped and everything just felt like it was done for nothing. It doesn’t end with much information either as I was sat expecting another cut-scene to explain things for me.
Guardians changes a lot about the slow paced action from the Bungie era and really speeds things up big time. Aim down sights is now a thing for the series and fits a lot more than you think it would. Multiplayer combat is made much more competitive in its nature with the introduction of some new modes like breakout. Breakout is a 1 life game mode with a flag capture objective for both teams. Damage is high and you are limited to the weapons you find on the field to enhance your survival. I really enjoy breakout as a mode and was the first time I felt really intense from a Halo match before.
Armour customisation would also be back with hundreds of options to choose form, you can get these by purchasing packs with in game currency or real money. Yeah Micro-transactions would make an appearance for Halo, but it’s for cosmetic items really, and doesn’t provide the player with items they can use to gain an advantage. As a bargain 343 would make all future content free, meaning you wouldn’t need to pick up a season pass for new multiplayer maps and items. In these packs you could also unlock something called REQs which are essentially weapons that you can summon in certain game modes. In the packs you can unlock versions of existing weapons with certain stat boosts, however you would have a limited amount and would need to use it when appropriate.
Forge and Customs also make their way into Guardians with more tools than ever. The Forge library is opened up to a range of different environments all with hundreds of items and effects to choose from. For the first time you were able to place sound queues and music effects to add some character into your maps. Unfortunately 5 suffers from the same mistakes as 4 in the sense that the community I was used to had all grown out of Halo games, meaning I really only had one friend interested in playing 5. However I feel like there is a push on discovering creations and making friends again in the way Halo 3 did which is always good to see. 343 certainty wants to make a good game for fans and communicates regularly and supplies content to keep them hungry.
I feel a lot happier with 5 as a product compared to 4, but I don’t have a lot to say as I only began playing it a few months ago, but so far it holds my interest in the multiplayer and makes for a fun, competitive experience. I only hope that with Halo 6 343 is able to find the balance between 4’s story and 5’s multiplayer. Only with this can Halo start to feel great again for a final entry in the Master Chief saga. The soundtrack also feels a lot more epic this time around with Kazuma Jinnouchi at the front.
Halo 5 gets a 7/10 for the same reasons as 4, unfortunately it just needs bringing up with it’s narrative.