Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta: hands-on impressions

Shacknews recently had a chance to experience the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta on two fronts. Check out my impressions, along with a second (video) opinion from Joe.

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection is set to release on Tuesday, bringing out the very best in Master Chief's previous adventures. It also celebrates the past 15 years of Halo multiplayer, showing its gradual evolution from game to game. Microsoft and 343 Industries are roughly a year away from the next major chapter in the Halo saga, meaning multiplayer is about to take another step forward with 2015's Halo 5: Guardians.

Shacknews recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with the multiplayer beta for Halo 5: Guardians, which is set to begin at the end of this year. There were certainly expectations for it to be more akin to previous Halo multiplayer experiences. At the end of the day, it proved to be something quite different.

Past Halo games were somewhat modest with their presentation. Many of the games were simply about jumping into a game, grabbing an assault rifle and firing away at anything that moved. Menus, UI, and the overall aesthetic have been pretty simple.

By comparison, Halo 5's multiplayer is anything but simple. There's far more fanfare and bombast to be found this time around. Team games start off with what feels like an eSports introduction. A loud music sting greets players, followed by each team being introduced with their logo in the background. The camera will scroll across the map, revealing points of interest. The match will then begin, with Spartan teams bantering with one another and offering dialogue hints that warn of enemy locations and incoming frags. Judging by these additions, Halo 5 doesn't appear to be going for the no-frills approach anymore.

With a spruced-up presentation comes some new abilities never before seen in a Halo game. One of the most notable additions is the 'clamber' ability, which gives players a ledge grab. It's a minor addition on the surface, but it proves to be a big deal in practice, allowing players to climb up to higher areas and also add some pivotal platforming options that weren't there in previous games. This combines nicely with the addition of thruster packs, which allow Spartans to perform a double jump, dodge to the side, or ground pound.

Another addition may prove to be more controversial. Players now have unlimited sprint, which allows them to continuously run across large maps or escape hails of gunfire. This adds a few attack options, as well, when combined with the thruster pack. A charge maneuver has been added, allowing players to barrel into an opponent and immediately take their shields down to zero. Charging at an opponent from behind will score an assassination. Sprint is a major upgrade, but the trade-off is that a player cannot recover shields until he or she is fully stopped.

Slayer is back, of course, but the other game mode that the Halo 5 beta includes is a new 4v4 elimination mode called Breakout. Teams must work together to stay alive, as rounds continue until one side has been completely eliminated. The first team to reach seven wins takes the whole thing.

After playing through Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo 5: Guardians feels certainly feels like something new and different. It's too early to tell whether it's going to necessarily be better, though. The fundamental issue is that while a lot of bells and whistles have been added, it's hard to tell whether it still feels like Halo. Even maps like Truth and Crossfire feel distinctly different from the previous Halo visual aesthetic, opting more for a space age-y, futuristic vibe.

Of course, this is just the beginning and there's still plenty for 343 Industries to bring out in the coming year. Time will tell how Halo 5: Guardians will continue to evolve the franchise.

A Second Opinion

For a second opinion, Shacknews turns to another seasoned Halo veteran. Joe Tirado recently had his own opportunity to check out the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. You can check out what he thinks, along with some of the multiplayer action, in the video below.

Halo 5: Guardians will begin on December 29 and run until January 18. It will be available to anyone that purchases Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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