How do I put this politely? Halo 4's multiplayer, I believe, systematically routed the strengths of the series, stripping it of its points of difference, leaving nothing but a weird hollow shell behind. But here's the good news: Halo 5 appears to have seriously learned from those mistakes. In a new trailer detailing the upcoming Halo 5 beta, 343 Industries has detailed some of the mindset behind the new multiplayer and it sounds glorious.
That's if you like the kind of Halo multiplayer experience that I like.
— Arena style, competitive 4 v 4. — Small, well balanced maps like Lockout, Guardian, and Midship. — MLG style settings. — A stripped back weapon set that compliments this.
I mean, this is practically what 343 Industries seems to be promising with the Halo 5 beta. Most Halo games have always struggled with that compromise — balancing the Big Team Battles crowd with the competitive folks, but this beta appears to be exclusively tailored to people like me — who enjoy the frenetic, tight MLG style competition play. I think this is a good thing.
Because really, in this day and age, Halo can't compete with Battlefield when it comes to sheer scale. It can't compete with Call of Duty when it comes to the who upgrade/XP/levelling thing. I think it's definitely in Halo's best interest to focus on its point of difference: Halo has always been the strongest competitive experience on console when stripped to its core mechanics. From the above trailer it feels as though 343 Industries has really embraced that philosophy and ran with it.
One can only hope.
343 Industries has employed a number of ex-Halo pros to help with the game's development and I wonder if this has had an impact on that direction? It certainly feels as though Halo 5's multiplayer is headed in that direction.
And even if that type of competitive play isn't you bag, I think it can be argued that it's the best direction for Halo multiplayer as a whole. Halo 4 felt like an attempt to placate fans of other games, an attempt to bring the Call of Duty crowd into the fold. It didn't work. Fans of Halo left quickly, fans of Call of Duty played... Call of Duty. I'm hoping this is a solid return to the roots of Halo multiplayer.