Halo 5: Guardians – Where the Hype Ends…
If hype were a road, it would of course be a ramp. When hype works, a game launches into glorious flight and a new star is formed in the sky of iconic titles. When it doesn’t, there is this little ‘pfff’ sound and the whole gaming community watches with glee (yes glee – not disappointment) as another title plummets into train-wreckdom.
Halo 5: Guardian‘s long road of hype ends on October 27th. Release day. And, boy, as ramps go, this one is practically vertical. Ever since the first trailer from E3 2013 – you know, where Master Chief plays Obi-Wan in the sand – Halo 5’s cinematic trailers and in-game clips have just been growing in their push towards awesome.
But how much actual awesome is there under the hood of the Halo 5 game?
Bucket loads it turns out.
Through meticulous study of data on millions of plays in the previous Halo games, 343 isolated five types of Halo fans – social players, esports pros, campaign nerds, big team battlers and forgers. Halo 5 won’t try to put all these styles into one game but rather offer separate play modes that cater specifically for each group. This is a bunch of games for a bunch of different players.
Campaign nerds will love the fact that Halo 5 boasts a story twice as long as that of Halo 4, also lead-written by Brian Reed and taking place over three worlds with multiple paths through the levels. Players can choose between two Spartan teams – taking the role of Master Chief or of Locke – and can either employ AI partners for the rest of their team, or co-op online with real life buddies. Oh yes, and two words: Blue Team.
Halo 5’s multiplayer play modes were developed over three years of intensity by a special dev wing in Seattle, and with ongoing design input from Halo esport pros. More than ever, Halo 5’s multiplayer modes will place oodles of focus on team objectives, making co operation more, well… co operative. And a lot of hype has also followed Halo 5’s new ranking system, designed by one of the best in the biz: Josh Menke from Blizzard.
For the esports pros, Halo 5 offers ‘Arena’, a multiplayer mode that permits no character enhancements beyond cosmetic, so the delicate art of being better than someone else is carefully protected.
But the new multiplayer mode that everyone’s talking about is Halo 5’s ‘Warzone’, which offers highly-carnageous (I know, but it should be a word) 12 v12 battles, where anything goes.
Over one thousand REQs will be available on launch day, accessed through cards found at REQ points around the level, or… just sold off to the idle rich. These cards give you all kinds of armor, vehicles, more skins than a rattlesnake with dermatitis and, of course, guns. Glorious guns. The icing on the Warzone cake is a special leveling system that requires playtime investment before you are permitted to use the best of the REQ cards; thereby delivering just a dash of order to the mayhem (and a middle finger to the idle rich).
For the oddballs who enjoy forging their own playscapes, according to the franchise development director, Halo 5’s forge features are ‘significantly improved, as opposed to iteratively.’ This means practically nothing to nearly everyone, but certainly sounds clever.
Oh yes, and all post launch DLC maps will be offered for free – so no need to wait for your buddies to purchase your new favorite playscape.
How about the nitty-gritty on the floor? All signs point to spectacular – in-game clips show off 60fps, beautifully drawn worlds, and sound design so delicious that you will be forgiven for spending whole battles behind a crate listening to your plasma cannon reload. Two new character actions have also been added to the mix: a special dash melee attack and clambering so you can scale obstructions.
So, what is there not to like? Even with so much effort on the part of the devs to appeal to everyone, there will always be a special few who feel they’ve been left by the wayside. Usually because in life they have. The happily married, for example, may frown at the absence of split-screen – making couch co-op a no go; and the more gangly-thumbed of our species may grumble at the inclusion of yet more character actions as it makes gameplay less tactical (yup, and more skillful…).
But, with so much design coming from what all other Halo fans have asked for, it seems highly likely that Halo 5: Guardians‘ long-hyped road to launch is going to be dinky compared to the stellar flight that follows.