For the longest time Halo multiplayer had an identity crisis.
Was it a small, tight arena shooter like Quake? Was it a large scale warzone with vehicle combat like Battlefield?
Porque no los dos?
Why not both? That always seemed to be the attitude of Bungie and (later) 343 Industries. That the smaller, competitive Halo could coexist with large-scale multiplayer Halo and everything would be a-okay. On some level that worked, but as times moved on it started to become pretty clear: Halo's once dominant multiplayer needed a divorce.
Halo's reputation as a competitive game was suffering. But its ability to provide those 'wow' moments, to compete with the scale of games like Battlefield, was also in decline. Worse — finding a way to make both work in tandem with the other was leaving both experiences bloated and inconsistent.
Halo 5's solution, for my money, is a good one.
That solution is Warzone. A large scale multiplayer mode that throws all caution to the wind. It takes Big Team Battle and pumps it full of adrenaline, pushing it to a tremendous scale. To use an burnt out video game phrase, it's 'epic'. But epic in ways that Halo's old Big Team Battle modes couldn't be. Warzone is like Big Team Battle with the shackles of multiplayer removed. NPCs get involved, every vehicle you can imagine gets involved. It evokes the scale of — say — a Battlefield or even a Battlefront but does so in a way that makes sense within the Halo universe.
Best of all, it allows Halo's traditional mode to evolve into something that makes sense in today's climate: a proper eSport. Back in the day Halo was probably the premiere console game on the eSports scene. As an eSport Halo peaked around Halo 2 or Halo 3 but has been in decline ever since. Removing the Big Team Battle aspect, and placing it into its own brand new basket with Warzone, allows Halo's traditional multiplayer to become the core eSport it was always destined to be.
As someone who loved the competitive aspect of Halo's multiplayer and simply tolerated the other stuff, Warzone is the solution to my ongoing issues with Halo's multiplayer. These two game modes, they're happier apart. They don't belong together. Slowly each has been stretching the other in strange directions. Now they've finally split into two distinct things and it's the best idea ever.
We're already seeing the result of the switch. Halo's multiplayer beta was ages ago but back then I was a little confused — in a good way. I was surprised at how focused the game was on the competitive, eSports side of things. Everything seemed geared towards the type of Halo that I wanted to play. 343 were saying the right things, they had hired a team of ex-pros to help guide the process. It was the Halo of my dreams and I was happy with the switch, but curious: what about the other stuff?
Warzone is the 'other stuff'. When I saw the trailer for Warzone I understood instantly: this is not my thing. Warzone is not for me, but it's here to protect my interests and serve that group of Halo fans who like the other Halo. The 'Capture The Flag with all vehicles on Blood Gulch' Halo. I'm more of a 4v4 with Battle Rifle starts on Lockout guy.
Thankfully, with Halo 5, it looks like we're going to get the best of both worlds.