It’s been just about three years since Halo 4 released for the Xbox 360 representing the first core Halo game made entirely at 343 Industries – the developer who took the franchise over from Bungie. And while Bungie has moved on to building the Destiny universe, 343 is tasked with bringing Halo to the current console generation and they’re off to a great start. Halo 5: Guardians is now finally available exclusively on the Xbox One and if you have the console, you should get the game.
Simply put, Halo 5 is one of the best competitive multiplayer first-person shooters on the current-gen consoles. It makes up for nearly all of the notable issues the last few series installments had, but it’s not perfect.
Halo 5: Guardians excels in its online feature set, delivering both a variety of classic 4 vs. 4 competitive modes in its Arena suite, and introducing a 24-player option featuring additional A.I. units in Warzone, but it inexplicably fails to support local play. There’s no way to play with a partner split screen or to system link consoles over a LAN like players could on both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 with every other Halo ever. Gone are the days of tournaments at a friend’s place and classic couch co-op. Fail.
But don’t let that deter you. Multiplayer is what longtime Halo fans will be returning for and 343 delivers in a big way with what is easily the most comprehensive online multiplayer suite and the best competitive play I’ve seen from a first-person shooter in years. And it even extends to the game’s hefty story campaign which boasts four-player drop-in/drop-out co-op.
Halo 5’s Story Campaign Is Co-op Focused
Halo 5’s story is longer than Halo 4’s and is clearly designed with co-op as the focus. Friendly AI when playing solo is laughable at best and the one available order command to make friendly units move or attack doesn’t really function as intended. This is especially problematic in the boss fights which sees players fighting the same big bad repeatedly.
But, like the overall package and systems, it all looks gorgeous and polished, runs silky smooth at 60fps, and has Hollywood blockbuster-worthy cutscenes brought to life with a memorable cast headlined by Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Nathan Fillion (Castle) who help make Halo 5’s story the first I’ve been able to get invested in. The campaign features two teams of characters, as players bounce back and forth playing as Agent Locke’s (Colter) Fireteam Osiris chasing Master Chief’s Blue Team but doesn’t quite give a fair shake to its leads.
Most of the campaign sees players play as Locke, a man of few words, while Master Chief’s team is barely showcased at all, making his actions oftentimes inexplicable. The conflict and set pieces advertised in the big #HUNTtheTRUTH cinematic trailers actually are not in the game and we can only assume that has something to do with the game’s narrative not really feeling complete, even if it is grand in scale. Halo 5: Guardians is The Empire Strikes Back of the Reclaimer Saga (the second trilogy of core Halo titles all from 343 Industries) so we knew it was’t going to feel entirely conclusive but the memorable moments are sometimes held back by the lackluster and predictable main plot.
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