Halo 5: Guardians Arena multiplayer preview - Spartan Charging Forward

There was something that felt a bit off with Halo 5: Guardians' multiplayer beta. For this writer, it didn't quite feel like the Halo games of old. That concern is starting to dissipate after going hands-on with Arena multiplayer once again, as the new mechanics appear to be smoothing out.


The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta feels like it was ages ago, but it's hard to forget one feeling that I had walking away from it. It didn't feel quite like the Halo experience that I had become so accustomed to over the years. The differences only felt all the more glaring when jumping back and forth between Guardians multiplayer and the varied multiplayer offerings of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

After nine months of 343 Industries reflecting on player feedback, it was time to hit up Halo 5: Guardians' Arena multiplayer once more. And while the eSports atmosphere still loomed overhead, there have been some notable changes that have it feeling much more like a traditional Halo game.

One thing to note is that some of the sillier presentation elements look to have been removed. Red and Blue teams will still come out together, but pomp and circumstance and team logos look to have gone by the wayside. It's a much more straightforward Halo-style presentation, something that feels slightly better, as an older Halo fan.

In terms of map offerings, the neon-styled Crossfire map was present for Breakout mode. For those that didn't get the chance to try out the multiplayer beta, this was the 4v4 elimination mode. However, there was something here that I didn't notice from my time with the beta. There was now a flag in the center of the map, offering an objective and encouraging more confrontations. So if a lone remaining team member spends too much time hiding, the other team can simply capture the flag and win the round. There were also other more classic Halo-style maps, in terms of both visual aesthetic and vertical design.

The other uncertain element of the Halo 5 multiplayer beta was the addition of the new Spartan mechanics. In particular, Spartan Charge, clambering, and ground pounding didn't feel intuitive and often felt cumbersome. However, this time around, something felt noticeably smoother. Spartan Charge felt much more accurate and, in fact, proved to be my best friend throughout my hands-on with Arena mode. Movement felt far more fluid, so I was able to turn corners with unlimited sprint and surprise opponents (and flag-carriers) with a sudden charge and a face full of Assault Rifle. Similarly, ground pounding didn't feel like I was just blindly flying towards a random corner. I was actually able to aim semi-accurately and even score a few kills.

In addition to Breakout, there was also Slayer and Capture the Flag available across most of the available maps. However, those looking for all-out chaos may be slightly disappointed. All of these modes were solely playable with 4v4 teams, so anyone looking for an "every man for himself" shootout will be left wanting. And because all of these modes take place in 4v4 sessions, that raises something of a variety question. While those looking for small 4v4 team sessions can jump into Arena and those looking for massive team battles can hit up Warzone, there doesn't seem to be a happy medium in place.

Regardless, there's still reason to feel more confident in Halo 5's Arena multiplayer. With most of the movement quirks seemingly in the dust, 343 is starting to piece together a nice evolution of traditional Halo multiplayer without overly compromising what made Halo fun to begin with.

Whether Arena can hold long-term interest remains to be seen. Halo fans can start answering that question when Halo 5: Guardians arrives on October 27.

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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