Without a doubt Halo 5: Guardians is one of the biggest games of the newest console generation. Whether you’ve been there since the original or jumped into the series with a recent title, 343’s second Halo experience was designed to blow us all away with an amazing campaign, solid multiplayer, and more.
Like any game of this magnitude, learning everything there is to know about Halo 5 can prove tricky as you dig through countless articles and pages online. Instead of dealing with that, we’ve assembled a source to hopefully answer all your questions. We’ve even provided a brief history of the series, including some of the problems Halo 4 had and how Halo 5 fixes them.
About the Halo series
History of Halo
While Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians were developed by 343i, Master Chief was actually birthed and brought to fame by Bungie. The studio had been working on the original Halo since 1998 but was not announced until Macworld Conference & Expo by none other than Steve Jobs. In June of 2000, Bungie Studios was acquired by Microsoft, which meant it would serve as an exclusive launch title for their first video game console: the Xbox.
Halo: Combat Evolved released on November 15, 2001 to critical acclaim for its engrossing Sci-Fi story, innovative gameplay, and fun multiplayer. Setting a new bar for the first-person shooter genre, other developers would try for years to outdo Master Chief’s adventure and, in doing so, earn the name “Halo Killer”. Halo: Combat Evolved kept the crown by serving as the top selling Xbox game for the next four years.
Video Link: Halo Combat Evolved
Considering the success of the first game, Bungie quickly went to work on what would be Halo 2, which was officially announced in 2002 and released two years later. The new game had a split storyline between the Master Chief and Arbiter, which caused a lot of players to dislike the campaign. A cliffhanger ending also left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Even so, Halo 2 received critical acclaim for its system link and online multiplayer via Xbox Live.
Learning valuable lessons from Halo 2’s reception, Bungie once again went to work on another entry in the now-dominant franchise– this time, for the new Xbox 360. Fans were blown away in 2007 by the vast number of weapons and vehicles they could use during the expansive storyline mode complete with bigger, breathtaking areas to fight through. The multiplayer, which for some is still considered the pinnacle of the entire series, was also well-received.
Video Link: Halo 3 Official Trailer
The next Halo game fans would get was not a first-person shooter but an RTS developed by Ensemble studios. 2009’s Halo Wars garnered positive reviews for making good use of the Halo universe and developing an RTS that felt good without a keyboard and mouse. A couple months later Bungie would release Halo 3: ODST, a spin-off that put players in the hands of other soldiers instead of Master Chief. Critics didn’t like the full price for what felt like an expansion but still appreciated the enticing story, visuals, and gameplay.
In 2010 Bungie released their last Halo game, Halo: Reach, which made more than $200 million on launch day and was highly praised by players and critics alike. Afterwards, Halo would then be in the hands of 343i, who was tasked with remaking the first title to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the series. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary released November 11, 2014.
Halo 4 would release one year later to gross more than $300 million in its opening week. All worries of Halo being in control of anyone other than Bungie melted away as critics praised 343i’s attempt at introducing fresh elements while retaining the classic Halo feel. However, the multiplayer would fail to retain the same numbers as previous entries in the series.
Video Link: Halo 4 in 117 Seconds
A couple of spin-off titles would release to ease the wait between Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, including a complete collection of almost every title leading up to it. These titles are Halo: Spartan Assault, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and Halo: Spartan Strike.
- Halo: Combat Evolved – 2001
- Halo 2 – 2004
- Halo 3 – 2007
- Halo 4 – 2012
- Halo 5: Guardians – 2015
Spin-Offs, Remakes, & Collections
- Halo 3: ODST – 2009
- Halo: Reach – 2010
- Halo :Combat Evolved Anniversary – 2011
- Halo: Spartan Assault – 2013
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection – 2014
- Halo: Spartan Strike – 2015
- Halo Wars 2 – 2016
Impact of Halo (How Halo changed first person shooters)
As hard as it is to believe, especially for people who grew up with Call of Duty, there was a time when no one believed it possible to have a good console first-person shooter. This changed when a now-classic N64 title by the name of GoldenEye 007 released, which at the time was considered the first and only FPS to feel good with a gamepad instead of mouse and keyboard.
Bungie would build on that Rare title and create one of the most commercially and critically successful video game franchises of all time. Since Halo: Combat Evolved, every main entry in the series has received overall positive reviews and sold a tremendous number of copies. Few games have had such a cultural impact, won countless awards, and remained relevant despite nearly two decades of existence.
“We want to find our own voice, and we want to push things forward…give ourselves the freedom to take risks. And so in a lot of ways, Halo 4 is a reinvention of Halo.” – Josh Holmes, Creative Director
The success of Halo 4
There was immense pressure on 343i as they took the reigns of a successful and beloved franchise. After all, how can they be expected to outdo the original creators and long-time keepers of the Halo universe? While Halo 4 being considered the best in the series is arguable, few can deny how much better it was than most people expected.
Upon release, Halo 4 outdid every previous entry in terms of launch day by grossing $220 million in the first 24 hours. 343’s title also won several awards and received near-perfect scores from almost every notable publication. Halo 4 also debuted as #1 on the UK Video Game Chart and still remains in the top 20 best game launched ever in the United Kingdom.
Most of the praise was toward the gorgeous visuals and AI that pushed the Xbox 360 farther than any previous title. Also lauded was the well-paced campaign, intriguing story, great sound design, and multiplayer that, despite its problems, still offered an addicting competitive experience.
The issues with Halo 4 (campaign)
Of course, the anticipated first entry in the new Halo trilogy isn’t without its shortcomings. While the storyline received mostly praise for the strong focus on the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana, many felt that the ending was uninspired and disappointing. Additionally, players entirely new to the Halo series often find the plot difficult to follow and even convoluted at times, while everyone felt the campaign itself was too short.
Some also see Halo 4 as a step backwards in terms of scale and gameplay variability. Where Halo 3 and even Halo: Reach offered large places and multiple ways to approach, Halo 4’s levels suffer from a lot of narrow locations that limit the options a player can take with enemy encounters.
The failures of Halo 4 (multiplayer)
Where Halo 4 failed to impress was with its multiplayer, which actually got off to an amazing start. In fact, more than one million players jumped in to play Halo 4’s online multiplayer within the first day of release. Critics also were initially impressed by the new changes to the multiplayer, including more armor abilities, impressive scoring system, and new Dominion mode.
Despite all the good things said at launch, within weeks Halo 4’s online multiplayer numbers began to drop much faster than any previous entry in the series. One of the reasons was the criticism concerning the removal of Firefight in exchange for Spartan Oops, a story-driven episodic game mode where players fought alongside each other in various scenarios tied to the game’s main story. While it sounds like a cool concept, the episodes were unfortunately very repetitive in terms of both gameplay and environments.
However, what received the most scrutiny was the competitive multiplayer. Among the many complaints were the limited starting maps, unreliable killcam, and severely unbalanced weapons at first. Most Halo veterans also hated the luck factor added by the new Ordinance Drops. The fact that one player can get better options than another for no reason whatsoever was unwelcomed in a series whose multiplayer always emphasized skill with little room for luck.
Halo 5 vs. Halo 4
How 343i is fixing what was wrong in Halo 4 with Halo 5
Even though Halo 4 sold numbers that most other developers dream of, the leaders of 343i knew there was much room for improvement. “It wasn’t flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but by most objective criteria, it was a resounding success, “said Frank O’Connor, franchise director of the company.
O’Connor, during an interview a few months before Halo 5’s release, addressed the concern people had with Halo 4’s campaign length. Despite a few Halo titles before it having shorter storylines, fans of the series felt that Halo 4’s campaign didn’t give them enough bang for their buck. Knowing that people were once again cautious about the campaign, O’Connor made sure to give fans peace by revealing that Halo 5 would be much bigger.
“It’s definitely, definitely bigger. And for some of the players in this audience, the games do seem to be getting shorter, but that’s because you’re getting much, much, much better at the game as well. And if you’re like me, you’re going to grab a Warthog and drive it places it’s not supposed to go,” said O’Connor.
343i also made several references to Halo 4’s multiplayer leading up to Halo 5’s release and how one of their top priorities was not making the same mistake. They understand that to many, the heart of Halo is its multiplayer and so they worked hard to deliver a satisfying experience this time around.
The success of the Halo 5 beta
Video Link: How Halo 5 Plans to Advance Halo Multiplayer
Their hard work became visible to Halo fans across the world during the highly-anticipated Halo 5 beta. Instead of being the complete mess that was the Halo: The Master Chief Collection multiplayer, fans were given a smooth experience while getting a taste of the new Halo 5 multiplayer.
Most players were astounded by just how accurate 343i was at addressing all the concerns of Halo 4 and even Halo: Reach. This included more cohesive gunplay, a retooling of the Sprint mechanic, and a better selection of weapons that all felt balanced. New features like the Ground Pound, Spartan Charge, and Stabilizer also received positive comments by beta players.
“I think everybody was nervous and excited to see how fans would react to a lot of the new mechanics, the new ideas, the new modes” – Josh Holmes on the beta’s reception
Biggest changes between Halo 4 and Halo 5
One of the most notable differences between Halo 4 and Halo 5 is the disappearance of loadouts and armor abilities. Instead, every player can make use of a number of abilities, including: Smart Scope Sights, Spartan Slide, Ground Pound, Spartan Charge, Thruster Pack, Clamber, and Stabilizers. Sprint is also available to everyone and unlimited, but it also prevents your shields recharge timer from restarting.
Other changes include new multiplayer maps, weapons, vehicles, and more.
The Halo 5 single player campaign
First time ever in Halo series – 4 player co-op
One of the best things about Halo has always been the ability to play the campaigns cooperatively in split screen mode. While Halo 5 will be the first to not have any split screen co-op, it is the first in the franchise’s history to feature four-player co-op. The decision was made because 343i felt only allowing two players to tackle the storyline together would not do the game justice.
“I think co-op has always been a big part of Halo’s campaign, but in the past it’s sort of been treated as a completely separate experience, where you just have three other clones of the Master Chief running side by side,” said Josh Holmes in the October 2015 issue of Official Xbox Magazine. “The narrative breaks down. One of the big creative goals that we had for Halo 5 was to bring that into focus and support it through the story.”
First time ever in Halo series – Blue Team (Master Chief and friends)
Video: Halo 5: Guardians – Blue Team Opening Cinematic
Blue Team plays a pivotal role in Halo 5: Guardians both in terms of gameplay and story. The squad consists of Master Chief along with three SPARTAN-II soldiers almost as legendary as himself.
Blue Team, along with Master Chief, are being hunted down by Fireteam Osiris after being declared AWOL.
Players going through the campaign solo will have Blue Team accompanying them throughout the Master Chief half of the storyline. Each one of the Chief’s allies has their own visor HUD design and loadouts that will give them unique combat abilities to serve the team with their own strengths. Blue Team will also serve as the selectable characters when going through the campaign cooperatively with friends.
First time ever in Halo series – Fireteam Osiris
Fireteam Osiris consists of four deadly Spartan-IV supersoldiers and is lead by Jameson Locke, an expert in tracking and assassination missions. After Master Chief and Blue Team went AWOL, Locke and three other Spartans are outfitted with the most advanced and latest technology before setting off to hunt Blue Team down. Among the team are:
- Olympia Vale
- Holly Tanaka
- Edward Buck (fan favorite from Halo ODST)
Players going through the campaign take on the role of Locke and his squad during the Fireteam Osiris parts of the story. They boast better technology than Blue Team and also each have their own unique loadouts and visor HUDs just like Blue Team.
First time ever in Halo series – 60 frames per second
Video: Halo 5 Opening Cinematic
Halo 5 is the first to consistently run at 60 frames per second, and according to Josh Holmes, it was no easy task:
“From the beginning, we set ourselves the goal of delivering consistent 60 FPS gameplay across all modes of play,” said Holmes. “Delivering on this goal meant re-engineering the gameplay systems at the core of our engine.”
The game is able to maintain 60 FPS thanks to what 343i calls a “progressive resolution system” that scales the game’s resolution according to what the screen is displaying.
“This enables us to deploy resources where they have most impact across a diverse series of experiences throughout the game while delivering the most visually stunning Halo game ever,” Holmes added.
Halo 5 campaign length – Twice as long as the previous Halo campaigns
As we mentioned in our “Halo 5 vs. Halo 4” section, Halo 5: Guardians was designed to offer a campaign much bigger and better than its predecessor. Despite all the positive feedback Halo 4’s campaign received, many fans admitted to feeling that the story felt short and areas were too constrained.
343i made sure to give players what they wanted by delivering a much lengthier campaign that not only features bigger areas but also puts you in the role of two different Spartan teams.
Halo 5 Multiplayer (Arena)
Why people hated Halo 4 Arena
As 343i found out in a number of ways with Halo 4, pleasing everyone is never easy. Fans of the franchise’s addicting multiplayer felt especially let down via the heavy emphasis on loadouts and a perk system that borrowed from Call of Duty. Instead of players heavily relying on their shooting skills like in Halo 3 and (arguably) even Halo: Reach, now players could get the upper hand based on a lucky Ordinance Drop.
Players were overall not too happy with other things about Arena as well, including an unsatisfying progression system, toned down Armor Abilities and grenades, and lack of weapon variety. 343i also failed to offer multiplayer maps that were particularly memorable nor did the new DLC maps deliver anything unique enough to feel worth their price.
Why people love Halo 4 Arena
Of course, not everyone hated Halo 4’s Arena multiplayer. Many players did appreciate that the Armor Abilities no longer played a big role in determining certain encounters, which they saw as a problem in Halo: Reach. The introduction of Ordinance Drops also made the multiplayer more approachable to people who weren’t familiar with Halo or first-person shooters in general.
The varied selection of game modes was also praised. Ten different modes were eventually available, including Grifball, King of the Hill, and the well-received new Dominion. Fans also liked the impressive number of playlists as well as the addition of classic favorites like Team Snipers and SWAT.
Everything right with Halo 5 Arena
From great maps and awesome new abilities to the solid, skill-based gunplay, there’s plenty to like about Halo 5 Arena. Other things people are praising include a good variety of weapons, removal of Ordinance Drops, dedicated servers, Seasons with great rewards, and more.
Halo 5 Arena is also great for its ability to fill players with a genuine sense of accomplishment– something Halo 4 failed to do with its easy, unsatisfying progression system. This is done via the introduction of on-screen medal announcements complete with a voice that together motivate and excites players after they accomplish something notable in action.
343i also heard the negative feedback concerning how easy it was to rank up in Halo 4, which is why Halo 5 leans more toward Halo 3. This means that players only rank up by winning and can also go down in rank by losing. There are seven ranks: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Onyx, and Champion.
Video: Halo 5 Arena Gameplay from Ready Up Live
Halo 5 Arena and eSports
343i made clear the importance of the growing eSports scene to them leading up to Halo 5: Guardians’ release. That is why they added a new and improved Spectator Mode that lets people easily broadcast live matches while providing commentary.
“When you think about Halo, it’s such a tailor-made experience for eSports, especially with that competitive edge, getting back to the level playing field and everything, so we put a lot of focus on surrounding features.” – Josh Holmes, Executive Producer of 343i
Microsoft and 343i are so serious about making Halo 5: Guardians the premier eSports game that they set up a the first ever Halo World Championships. The event will let players compete for a share of the $1 million prize pool.
Video Link: Halo World Championship Announcement
Halo 5 Forge
What is Forge
Forge is a mode that allows players to create their own multiplayer maps. This includes fully customizing their maps with hundreds of objects to play on either locally or sharing them on an online Custom Game playlist for other players to check out. Forge has been featured in every Halo game since Halo 3, with Halo 5 offering the best version so far in just about every area.
What makes Forge so fun
Whether it’s trying to make the best multiplayer map ever or one that’s perfect for a specific game mode, there’s just something about creating your own maps that other players love. Forge allows us to tap into our creativity to make maps that other players can enjoy. More importantly, players have a blast testing and tweaking their own creations until they are left satisfied with their work.
Video: Building the Biggest Forge Yet – Halo 5: Guardians
Even though Forge was a popular mode in Halo 4, the community felt that 343i failed to make it a vast improvement in the same way that Halo: Reach’s Forge mode was a huge leap forward compared to Halo 3. And once again 343i clearly listened to what Forge fans had to say by making Halo 5’s Forge mode arguably the biggest and best Halo editor we’ve seen so far.
The most obvious improvement is the vast number of objects and tools to use. There is now more than a whopping 1,600 objects for players to use, including things like FX emitters, invisible blockers, decals, chroma screens, map intro and outro objects, and more. It is possible to manipulate 64 objects at one time, and more if they are in a group.
Making a group is new to Halo 5’s Forge, which involves combining several objects into one selection. These objects can be connected together so they serve as one object, making them easier to manipulate. Now users can create an entire base, make it all into a group, then rotate or mirror it to design their own symmetrical maps.
Editing itself is also easier than ever thanks to an improved control scheme and HUD. Users can Right-click an object to orbit around it as well as change the control helper from Basic to Advanced to see a list of every button and its use. Objects also don’t snap automatically like before; instead, lines are shown first to indicate where they will go when released.
It is now easier than ever to view how much memory you have used. Instead of a confusing economy budget system, players can simply pop up a screen that shows how many objects they have so far (the max is 1024) as well as perfect values of memory, VFX, and more.
The latest Forge mode also boasts a new and improved lighting system. Users can light objects with specific setting such as type of light, distance, color, and fall off as well as prevent shadows from getting too dark by placing fixtures such as lamps. More than 100 colors are available for objects, each of which can be fine-tuned to your liking.
Halo 5 Multiplayer (Warzone)
What is Warzone
Warzone is a new multiplayer mode that borrows from the MOBA genre (multiplayer online battle arena) to deliver the most intense competitive Halo experience yet. 24 players are divided into two teams of 12 and placed on maps that are four times larger than any other Halo multiplayer map so far.
The main Warzone game type involves the two teams competing to capture a certain number of bases controlled by AI enemies. Teams that capture a base will gain friendly AI defenders and a requisition station. Note that claiming a base that was already taken by another player team requires killing both any AI and human defenders.
Obtaining requisition stations allows a team to use victory points to obtain better weapons and vehicles such as rocket launchers and Banshees. Victory points are awarded for capturing bases as well as for killing players and AI enemies. One way to turn the tide and gain a serious amount of points is by defeating one of the AI bosses that spawn on a map. Each map even has its own unique set of bosses.
Victory is achieved by either reaching 1000 victory points or controlling every base on the map. The latter allows you to instantly win by destroying the enemy’s core, even if the other team has a higher victory points total. If the time limit ends before any team reaches 1000 victory points or destroys the opponent’s core, the team with the highest total wins.
Video: Halo 5 Warzone gameplay from Ready Up Live
What makes Warzone so fun
Warzone is an approachable player-vs-player mode for people who love the Halo campaigns but can’t get into the other straightforward multiplayer modes. From killing players and defending bases to hunting down powerful AI bosses, the number of ways you can help your team during a Warzone match is incredibly exciting. It’s also a nice change of pace that requires more teamwork, planning, and cooperation when compared to other modes where victory is still possible with everyone doing their own thing.
Industry/Media reaction to Warzone
The Halo franchise was born out of a single-player campaign, but it matured thanks to its multiplayer. With over a decade’s worth of competitive modes in Halo, Warzone is a promising addition to multiplayer…” – GameSpot
Critics and fans alike were intrigued by Microsoft’s E3 2015 announcement of a 24-player mode with AI-controlled enemies, massive maps, and more. Of course, there was also some skepticism concerning if all the promised elements would actually combine together well to deliver a satisfying and unique multiplayer experience.
Fans breathed a sigh of relief as almost everyone who got the chance to jump into a Warzone match before release had mostly good things to say. Warzone serves as another fantastic evolution to Halo multiplayer and a pleasant surprise for players who aren’t attracted to the classic PVP modes.
REQ Packs and Customization
What are REQ Packs
Halo 5: Guardians introduces the Requisition System (REQ), a feature that gives players a way to unlock cosmetic and in-game bonuses for both Arena and Warzone multiplayer. These bonuses, called Requisitions, are obtained by unlocking Requisition Packs.
REQ packs can be bought with the Requisition points earned from completing Warzone and Arena Matches. Players can also exchange real currency for REQ Packs via the microtransaction system. A REQ Pack is also awarded each time you raise your Spartan Rank or complete Commendations in multiplayer.
Video: Halo 5 REQ Packs EXPLAINED by Ready Up Live
Where can you use REQ Packs
There are two types of Requisitions:
Unlimited-use requisitions are cosmetic items like armor permutations, assassination animations, and weapon skins. Since they don’t necessarily affect gameplay, they can be used in both Arena and Warzone.
Single-use requisitions offer in-game advantages in the form of vehicles and power weapons. Since 343i wants to keep Arena multiplayer balanced, single-use requisitions cannot be used in Arena– only cosmetic items.
A notable difference between the two types is that in Warzone single-use requisitions can only be used if the player meets the REQ level requirement. Players can raise their REQ level by killing other players and AI bosses roaming the map. There is also an Energy system that controls how many single-use requisitions can be used at a time. These requisitions consume energy, which recovers over time, and higher REQ levels allow players to have more energy at one time.
A look at Halo 5 customization (Armor, weapon skins, loadouts, emblems, assassinations, etc.)
Video Link: HALO 5 | ALL CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS
The following are the eight types of Unlimited-Use REQ cards usable in both Warzone and Arena:
- Weapon Skins
The following are the seven types of Single-Use items obtainable from REQ packs in Warzone:
- Power Ups
- Armor Mods
- Loadout Weapons
- Power Weapons
- Random Weapon/Vehicle
These are the different level types of REQ Packs in the game:
- Bronze Pack (1,000 REQ points): Contains mostly common single use REQ and sometimes one permanent REQ.
- Silver Pack (5,000 REQ points / $1.99 USD): Contain Uncommon and Rare REQs as well as one or two new permanent REQs.
- Gold Pack (10,000 REQ points / $2.99 USD): Contain several REQs ranging from Uncommon to Legendary, including two new permanent REQs.
- Spartan Rank Pack: Obtained by increasing your Spartan Rank through XP earned in Arena and Warzone. A higher Spartan Rank means better REQ Pack rewards.
- Commendation Pack: Awarded to players for completing specific challenges in Warzone and Arena. These packs contain emblems and single-use REQs.
- Featured Pack: Offered in the REQ Store for a limited time.
- Premium/Warzone REQ Bundle: Give players a larger number of REQs with a better chance at receiving higher levels of rarity and more permanent REQs, if available. They are one of the highest-value packs players can earn in the system.
- Supply Pack: Gained by buying select Halo licensed products From the Xbox store. They are offered in three levels: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
- Promotional Pack: Offered during different promotions and usually contain predetermined rewards. For example, pre-ordering Halo 5: Guardians gets you two variants: Promotional and Advanced Promotional.
Halo 5 Freebies
Not only did Halo 5 launch with 20 multiplayer maps but 343i has also promised 15 new DLC maps at no additional cost. This is to eliminate the problem that other games with paid DLC maps have: divided player bases:
“When you have paid map packs and content, you divide the player base into two groups: the haves and the have-nots,” said Josh Holmes to Game Informer. “The people that have the map pack can play together but the people who don’t cannot. That to us is a real problem. So we’re delivering all the maps to all players free so everybody will be able to play together. That, we feel, is really important to having a great multiplayer ecosystem.”
343i has promised to release all 15 free DLC maps by June of 2016.
More REQ Packs
343i is offering several interesting ways to earn free REQ packs. One way is by visiting the new Halo 5 website and watching the brief videos featuring Spartan Locke and Master Chief.
Players will also get a free REQ pack for joining a Company. To do so, visit the Waypoint website.
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