Halo 5: Guardians is easily one of the most anticipated games of the year. The Xbox One exclusive is Microsoft’s first new entry in their flagship series since Halo 4 debuted on the Xbox 360. With an all-new experience that is built from the ground up for Xbox One, fans have been waiting to see how well the game turned out. We have played through the first few missions of the single player campaign, and can easily say that it is looking very good for Xbox One and Halo fans.
In the video below, which will contain some minor Halo 5 spoilers and major Halo 4 spoilers, Will and I go over our histories with Halo, and then discuss my impressions of Halo 5: Guardians so far. I’m a huge Halo fan, with my shelves adorned by various Halo collectibles, including the Halo 3 cat helmet that is always used as our Christmas tree topper. Going into Halo 5 gave me mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation.
Halo 4 had a pretty stellar single player campaign, but as 343’s rookie entry in the series, it had some problems that could have grown into a disaster. Smaller, less complex enemy engagement, bullet-sponge enemies, and an over-emphasis on plot that requires knowledge from outside sources took a bit of sheen off of Halo 4’s luster.
Luckily, it seems that 343 has really started listening to the fans. We saw it earlier with the Halo 5 Arena Multiplayer Beta, which gave fans the arena-style shooter experience they felt Halo 4 hadn’t delivered. And now we see it with these first few missions of the campaign.
Two of the three problems that I had with Halo 4 were almost immediately resolved. Large, sweeping landscapes have returned to Halo, with the power of the Xbox One allowing the classic enemy engagements that we have come to expect from the series. The Prometheans, easily the most annoying enemies from Halo 4, have had a complete redesign. Knights in particular have been changed, going from massive time and bullet sinks, to semi-boss level characters, that require a lot of strategy to take down. They sort of act like altered Hunters for the Prometheans.
The one thing that has lingered, at least for these first few missions, is the feeling that the casual Halo fan will be lost in the story. Halo has always had a sprawling universe, full of back story and mystery. However, the games kept to their self-contained story rather well, allowing the other media formats to keep that story going. 343 has taken a different tactic, with the games referencing material from the books, and other sources of Halo lore, including Halo 4’s Spartan Ops (which I apparently need to go back and finish). There is a main thread, which can be followed rather easily, but if you want to know who Agent Locke just killed in that epic cutscene, you better be up on your Halo lore.
There’s so much more to talk about, even with just these first few missions under my belt, but I’ll save that for our final review, which should arrive just before the game launches on October 27th. For now, check out the video below to get our full thoughts.