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Halo 5 multiplayer a true return to form
Nov 17, 2015
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
This review is dedicated solely to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer. To view G4 Canada's review of the Halo 5: Guardians campaign, you can check it out right here.
Halo: Combat Evolved helped revolutionize first person shooters on home consoles back in 2001, but that success was a double-edged sword. It helped spawn countless other games in the genre in the following years, and although still popular, the series is now playing second fiddle to Call of Duty as the FPS of choice for console gamers.
There's no doubt that Halo 5 has been influenced by the changing tastes of gamers in 2015, but it's still a game that has its own distinct feel. The multiplayer portion is still a work in progress, but considering how solid the game is at launch, that may actually be a good thing.
Halo 5 multiplayer feels both old-school and completely fresh all at the same time. The main reason it feels fresh is because of a specific game type developer 343 Industries has been touting for months leading up to Halo 5's launch - Warzone.
At its most basic level, Warzone is a superb mix of deathmatch, big team battle, and objective games, all at once. Two teams of 12 fight on massive maps, accumulating points by capturing bases, defeating bosses, taking out Spartans, and more.
While the push-pull mechanic harkens back to Halo: Reach's Invasion mode, there's a lot more to Warzone. Besides the obvious increase in players, there isn't just one objective at a time, and teams aren't simply attacking or defending.
While every match starts out with you clearing out your base of enemy AI, things quickly branch out, and tactics take a front seat to simply shooting countless enemies with your assault rifle.
One moment you and a half dozen friendlies are pushing to take over an enemy base, and the next, a boss enters the battlefield, and offers a tantalizing number of points for your team. Do you go after the enemy and risk losing one of your bases? Or do you leave the boss for the other team to mop up, and go on the offensive yourself?
It's a wonderfully balanced mode, and although I was often frustrated at the lack of communication - strategizing with teammates helps immensely in Warzone - that's not the fault of the developers. They've laid the groundwork for months of intense battles.
It doesn't end there. Adding a whole other layer to Warzone are requisition packs, or REQs. These are essentially cards you earn by levelling up (or simply using real money if you feel so inclined) in multiplayer. These cards, which can be used exclusively in Warzone, allow for better weapons, power-ups such as active camo and increased speed, vehicles, and much more.
As the match progresses and you do better, new REQ levels open up. A scorpion tank, for instance, won't be available at level 1. You'll have to wait until a much higher level later in the match to open that up.
Many REQs are one-time use only, so you'll have to really think about when you want to cash one in.
In a brilliant move, you can still earn REQs by playing non-Warzone game modes, which puts the player in an addictive cycle that goes something like this: play Warzone/use REQs/run out of REQs/play Arena and earn more REQs/return to Warzone.
That aforementioned Arena, meanwhile, is the stuff Halo fans have loved for years. It's a mix of four very addictive game types - Slayer, Capture the Flag, Strongholds, and Breakout. Every Halo fan is sure to be plenty familiar with Slayer and CTF, but the King of the Hill variant Strongholds is a welcome addition, even if it lacks in originality.
Breakout, meanwhile, is the most refreshing take on old-school Halo. Teams of four play on maps that are only featured in this game type, and win by either eliminating the other team, or taking the flag in the middle of the map to the other team's spawn point.
There are no respawns or radar, so despite the small teams and maps, players are forced to really take their time and learn how to beat the other team. Each match ends once one team earns five wins.
It's thrilling to be down by three or four games, only to come back after learning the other team's habits. There are a few powerups sprinkled throughout the map as well, which adds more strategy to each game.
There isn't a lot beyond those game modes right now, but considering how tight everything is, it feels like a delicious appetizer to something even better. Things like Forge mode - where players can create their own game types - and Big Team Battle are on their way, as well as numerous maps to complement the already robust amount of offerings already available.
My only significant complaint is that after more than a few matches, an error message would pop up on my screen, and I'd lose all the XP I had just earned. I was still connected to the Internet, and was already loading up a new game, but the XP simply wouldn't accumulate. It's disheartening to say the least, but it's hopefully something 343 Industries sorts out sooner rather than later.
Halo 5's multiplayer is a glorious return to form for the series, and proves 343 Industries has a proverbial finger to the pulse of Halo fans. Personally, I can't wait for what's in store in the coming months.
Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.