Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Preview

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If you own an Xbox One and are into first person shooters then I dare say that you have had Halo 5: Guardians on your radar for quite some time. The latest chapter in Master Chief’s grand saga is being brought to us in full later this year but we all know that Halo is truly about the multiplayer experience, so as a little end of 2014-start of 2015 present Microsoft and 343 Industries have given us a little taste in what’s to come with the epic Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

While the beta is still ongoing, and with more content being added for its last week, we thought we would tell you some of the things we experienced during my many (more than I’d like to admit) playthrough of the beta. Now be forewarned, I am not a Halo expert so I don’t really know all of the subtle nuances and changes that the game has gone through since Halo 4, but I can say right here and right now that I have had a blast.

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First thing’s first: from a technical standpoint Halo 5 is shaping up to be a masterpiece, but it isn’t quite there yet. The locales and lighting are highlights of the visuals but they still don’t match up to some of the recently released hardware-pushing games. At present, the game is running at 720p (although who knows if this will change by the time the full game drops later this year) and is a silky smooth 60fps. While nobody in the WORLD would have expected anything less from a competitive shooter like Halo, it is still a dream to play. It is clear that 343 are opting to get the gameplay down pat first before working on the look of the game which I’m sure many of you are thrilled to hear.

One thing that I immediately noticed about Halo 5 was that it now features an “aim down the barrel” function that is present in almost every other FPS ever. I was (and admittedly) still am a little cautious as to this new feature; it increases your accuracy and lowers bullet spread but at the cost of your peripheral vision meaning it is easy to be flanked while lining up that perfect shot. I’m not opposed to the concept in other FPS titles and often welcome it, but it just feels so foreign in a Halo game. To me Halo has always been a fast paced and frantic “shoot from the hip” kind of game, so I am legitimately interested to see how the competitive Halo players out there will adapt to this new system.

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While not an experienced Halo player, I did feel like the movement was fined tuned from previous games, being more responsive and quicker than ever before. The slicker movement style of the game made it a lot easier to get into and felt less clunky all around.

While fine tuning elements is one thing, it is important to note the things that have been taken AWAY from the franchise. Armor abilities and load-outs have been done away with, meaning every single Spartan in the arena starts off on equal footing (well, aside from vast differences in skill level). I’m not sure how I feel about this change; armor abilities could offer some really interesting changes in gameplay and allow you to specialise yourself into a certain role on a team. Although I admit that I have never been a big lover of load-outs in competitive multiplayer games so I am happy to see them gone.

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Unlike most beta tests, Microsoft and 343 have been running the Guardians multiplayer beta in a semi-episodic format. Running for three weeks, each week brings with it new content like game modes, maps and other tid bits for you to try out. Many of these are long-time favourites like Team Slayer mode from the beta’s first week. Although it is the week 2 game mode; Breakout that I have really been loving.

Featuring 4v4 team combat on a sparsely populated map, Breakout is all about the competition. Each player only has one life each, and with no radar or objectives to complete it is a game that ends with the destruction of the opposition team. Breakout games are fast-paced, frantinc and feel like a true test of skill. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of Breakout after the game launches (I know I’ll be playing it).

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It is hard to be 100% impartial when it comes to talking about Halo because quite frankly I’ve never been all that into the franchise. I have enjoyed a few games with friends at college here and there but it was never enough to hold my attention for very long. Halo 5 however looks like it is shaping up to be an amazing game and one that I might actually go out of my way to purchase it when it launches later this year.

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