Community Review: Halo 5: Guardians

Community Review: Halo 5: Guardians

Spending the last week in Melbourne in the lead up to PAX Australia was great.

Only negative: I haven’t played anywhere near enough Halo 5: Guardians.

Full disclosure: I’m a big Halo fan. Have been since the original and I’ve been extremely heartened by the direction of Halo 5, particularly with regards to its interpretation of competitive multiplayer. The single player stuff? I care a little less about that, but I’ve played through all previous entries and I don’t see myself making an exception with Guardians.

But I’m basically looking for a competitive experience that rights the wrongs of Halo 4. My experience with the beta was super positive and that’s left me extremely confident that 343 Industries was on the right track.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts. There’s a lot to talk about — the single player content, the arena multiplayer and the new Warzone mode. How did you enjoy it?

Let us know below!


  • Where’s that annoying Halo fanboy? That freak that always post in Halo articles about his annoying opinions? Urgh, I can read his comments already…

  • I’m only part of the way through the campaign, haven’t touched the multiplayer yet. With this in mind…

    I’m loving it so far! The cutscenes are super slick, the story is up to this point straightforward and easy to follow while still being peppered with stuff for fans of the books/podcasts etc. The extra bits of voice over from the optional intel pickups has been relatively interesting too.

    Optimising for frame rate is the best thing 343 could have done in my opinion. It’s buttery smooth and responsive. The extra movement options (boost and clamber) combine really well with the focus fire squad mechanics – flanking is something you can do almost anytime and the environments have seemingly been built to encourage it.

    Even the apparently game-changing stuff like iron sights and mid-air hovering have a high risk associated with them – getting hit throws you out of sights, and hovering makes you a sitting duck. It’s all really well balanced.

    Playing it on Heroic feels about right, especially with the squad support. I feel like Normal might be a cakewalk. Can’t wait to play more!

  • A few of my friends ran through the campaign with apparently no interest in the multiplayer since they’re all going to flock back to Destiny. I personally haven’t bothered since I’m going to get stuck into Fallout 4 next week.

    By all accounts the campaign isn’t great, but it apparently dispenses without prejudice a bunch of the questionable parts of the Halo 4 plot in favour of rehumanising the cast. It apparently looks really good and tells the story well, if you happen to care about these things.

    I think the main think holding me back is that I just found the Halo 4 story dull, repetitive, uninspired and could not connect with the friendly NPCs at all. The enemies were so boring to fight that I didn’t care about the motivations of the Chief/Cortana. For this reason I prefer to accept that the story ended when Chief finished the fight in Halo 3 and leave it there rather than trying to invest myself in another Halo game, especially since I know I won’t enjoy the multiplayer.

    So anyway, apparently Halo 5 is an improvement over Halo 4.

    • What sucks about the NPCs is that the writing is acting like you’ve already been chuming around with these guys and girls for a while.

      • I had the same issue with Dinklebot in Destiny. His dialogue wasn’t bad, really, it just falls flat because the game assumes a rapport between you and Ghost by that point in the story, but it never really happens.

        Thinknig back to earlier Halo games, you start off taking orders from your CO and helpful advice/updates from Cortana. You feel the rapport build over the game. By the end you really get this legit “we’re in this together!” vibe, and it’s awesome. That obviously continues in Halo 2 and 3, with the inclusion of some NPCs (who still primarily bark orders at you) and the Arbiter, who the Chief has a strained but respectful relationship with.

        In 4 you roll up in the jungle on a planet the UNSC apparently beat you to and Spudface #1 and his band of forgettable drones start chitchatting with you like you surviving and turning up here isn’t the most amazing goddamn thing that ever happened in their stupid miserable life.

  • I already posted this in the Kotaku Review but here seems more fitting:

    You know, I’m actually enjoying this round of Halo, at least more than I did than Halo 4 (and I had read the Forerunner and Kilo-5 trilogies and new what was going on beforehand). The mechanics of Halo 5 feel much smoother and fleshed-out with the new moves like the shoulder-charge and directional boost. The weapons somehow feel better too. Not sure how half of them gain anything with iron-sights that only zoom in a cast a pretty hologram on the display (looking at you, Fuelrod Gun), but it helps with others like the Forerunner Shattergun, which tightens the spread over distance, and the Covy Concussion Rifle, which charges the shot and sticks it to enemies like Plasma Grenades. That said, the aesthetic of the weapons feels like more thought has been put into the design, such as the way the Forerunner guns’ sights split open to surround the player’s view as if the pieces are generating a suspended hard-light magnification lens between them.

    I’m not minding the plot too much, though the levels feel shorter and there are a few too many large open areas that are little more than stopovers in the journey to fight a few waves of Forerunners or Covies before proceeding.

    The lasting gripe that I have, though, is this: No other Halo game really had any big cutscenes beyond Chief or Arby running for their lives from the flood or a huge plasma beam, or falling into a bottomless pit, or whooshing out of an airlock, or just conversing as a new Halo ring rises from the fog. You know, things that were either too mundane or different to wedge gameplay mechanics into, or were simply beyond the ability of the console at the time. Halo 5 changes all that and presents us with stunning cutscenes like our two protagonists duking it out and then dashing across collapsing platforms over lava, and all I can think as the controller sits unused in my hands is, “Wow! That looks amazing. I WISH I WAS DOING IT!”

  • It’s pretty good. The campaigns story is a bit meh, kind of half a story, but it’s still great fun to play. I mean it’s still a Halo campaign. Played through solo and am replaying with friends online in co-op.

    Also having a lot of fun with Warzone and don’t feel like its pay to win. I’ve bought several (5 or so) of the gold packs with in game currency and haven’t used 1 packs worth of cards yet. It’s good enough to hold me over till they add traditional and objective based BTB.

    Haven’t played enough Arena yet to really get a proper impression… seems tight and responsive to me though.

  • I will give my review here of what I have played so far:

    I am only part way through the campaign and have not touched Multiplayer, so that should be kept in mind. MOST IMPORTANTLY – This is my first Halo game that I have played, so I have no particular bias.

    – Graphics run smooth, even in heavy fire fights
    – Graphics look slick
    – Audio in general is pretty good
    – Can be challenging enough to make you work harder, but not so much as to annoy you.
    – Nice array of weapons and vehicles
    – Map navigation of foot is easy and fluid, possibly some of the smoothest in an FPS I have played in a while.
    – When using the sights on the gun, damage will actually knock that around a bit, which is a small detail I like oddly enough

    – Squad and Enemy AI can be iffy at times, especially in vehicles
    – Squad rarely follows directions (eg attack that guy or go there), but when they do they do it well
    – The general combat is pretty standard fare not bad and not great
    – The back story seems to be easy enough to pick up on, but obviously without playing the others, there are a lot of references I wont get.
    – Cut scenes make the characters seem able to do more than they actually can when playing (for example they constantly use the boosters in the cut scenes, but there is actually a fair bit of a delay in the actual game) – I didn’t put this in as a negative because I can appreciate that they do it for story purposes.

    – Underwhelming voice acting
    – A lot of the guns are underpowered (or at least feel underpowered)
    – A lot of the guns sound weak – the guns don’t have that satisfying sound guns in other shooters have which lowers my actual enjoyment when using them
    – The driving mechanics feel weird (but I am not familiar with the other Halos so I can’t really say if it is normal).
    – The main characters seem bland, while the sub characters and NPCs seem more interesting.

    That is my take on it so far.

  • Played a few hours for the first time last night. Got up to chapter 6 in the campaign. So far I’m not thrilled by it.

    It’s the most unHalo Halo game I’ve played. The gameplay doesn’t feel like Halo. You’ve got aiming down sights (even if it just is an aesthetic), sprint, dashes, climbing, groundpounds, a focus on regularly switching out weapons (which really sucks because so many of the weapons you find laying around are Promethean and they’re somehow less enjoyable than they were in 4), massive hordes of enemies to fight and 3 NPCs with sort of bad AI helping you take everything out.

    Even worse than not feeling like Halo though it just doesn’t feel fun. I just haven’t enjoyed shooting anything yet. Compared to earlier Halo games, or Destiny, or even something like Call of Duty, it just doesn’t hold up. When I’m fighting things I’m not enjoying the experience, but just waiting for it to be over so I can find out what happens next in the story.

    The aesthetics are another reason the game doesn’t feel like Halo. Enemies feel overly designed and forgettable. All the classic guns from past games have all these little attachments or glowy things stuch to them, and they all have Call of Duty feeling skins. Some of the classic guns aren’t even there anymore. It’s the same with the vehicles. From what I’ve played so far, I haven’t found a single thing that looked like Halo. I know it’s sort of cliche to say, but if I hadn’t known I was playing Halo I probably wouldn’t have been able to guess I was playing Halo and not a new IP. Even the Spartan armour design looks off.

    The story isn’t great. Osiris team is sort of boring, and there’s also not enough of Blue team. Why they decided to make Locke the protagonist is beyond me, because so far he’s just come off as really bland and forgettable. The story is also going in a direction that I can’t say I really like.

    Another major problem with the story is that it’s just ignoring so many major things. This major bombshell regarding a character is revealed near the start, and it’s sort of just handwaved away as a common occurence. One character is now missing an arm with no explanation how or why that happened. The galaxy seems to be in massive upheaval, and the game sort of assumes you already know all the details as to how and why. At one point some characters are shooting some rapid fire dialogue at each other that is lacking in much context, and another character interupts them, and it feels like we’re finally going to get an explanation about what’s happening, but then the scene just suddenly ends.

    Graphic wise the game looks find and runs fairly smooth. Enemies will occasionally start stuttering around the place though.

    Haven’t played the multiplayer yet but apparantly that’s the game’s saving grace, so fingers crossed that’s good.

    • This is what happens when plots expand beyond their original medium: you get lost context. For those missing points, look into the Kilo-5 book trilogy (also on audiobook), the Spartan Ops from Halo 4, the Initiation and Escalation comics/trade paperbacks, and the Terminal videos from Halo 2 Remastered (Master Chief Collection), which can otherwise be watched on the Halo channel. That will fill in much missing context. Unfortunately, the alternative is either providing a massive flashback at some point (or several throughout), or, every time characters make a reference to some missing context, they try to shoehorn the context into the conversation, which comes across as very forced.

      • The problem there is that players shouldn’t have to read/consume all this other material in order to appreciate and enjoy the Halo 5 story. The narrative seems to hurl all these abstract terms and names at you and does a poor job (in my opion) of explaining them and why they should matter to you.

  • 5 solo campaign missions in, 8 Warzone matches and about 10 Arena matches…having a blast.

    After the initial frustration of not being able to download the patch, I’m finding I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would, specifically Warzone. Already thinking about new maps though, so hopefully they don’t take forever to arrive.

    Need to spend more time with Arena to appreciate it more, still a bit rusty so I’m getting more frustration than I am enjoyment out of it currently. 😛

  • Before I saw anything, I actually tried this game, both in beta and in release. After playing for two days, I returned the game and deleted all of its install data and saves on my Xbox One console.

    Now, I played ALL of the Halo games, 1-3, ODST, Wars, Reach, 4 and 5 and now I can honestly say that the new trilogy of Halo games is to Halo as to what the Prequel films are to Star Wars fans. This is the worst Halo in the entire franchise right next to 4. Worst story, worst multiplayer; pretty much a slab of stink in a disk.

    Halo has always been known to tell interesting and in-depth science-fiction stories that pull us into its vast war-torn universe. Unfortunately, 5 suffers from a lack of that Halo charm that made it so popular. Locke and Osiris are very uninteresting and bland at best. Even Buck, one of ODST’s most memorable characters, is underdeveloped and boring. His persona is drowned out by useless dialogue, dumb Michael Bay-like setpieces and enough plot holes to sink a battleship. Even Chief is soooo underdeveloped that even the most hardcore Halo fans wouldn’t know what the hell was going on nor would they care after the very forgettable campaign. It’s mediocre, big, dumb and loud and it doesn’t fit the Halo persona at all. In fact, this might as well be a new IP rather than a new Halo.

    What also sucks is that the multiplayer tosses out nearly everything that made Halo a challenge to play and replaced it with gimmicky attachments, fun-spoiling game features and Call of Duty-style speed and twitch gameplay. Halo did have quickscoping, but not to the extent of CoD’s quickscoping habits and tricks. Much of the skill gap that used to be in Halo is HEAVILY reduced thanks to the new SMART LINK system or whatever it’s called. Weapons that once required careful use can now be used recklessly. The AR can now be fully automatically shot at ridiculous ranges that other Halo ARs could not. It may sound good at first, but remember the older games? The only weapons you could spray n pray in those games were turrets, Ghost guns or SMGs. Here, strategic use of weapons is non-existent, not unless you use the DMR, which is the gun you don’t wanna be stuck with AT ALL.

    Halo 5 isn’t for Halo fans who expect its rightful return back to the old Halo charm that it once had before 4. 343 is incapable of creating a new Halo game that still feels like Halo and still retains the charm of its characters, story, sound and sights like in older games. Gone are the days of real skill in multiplayer and the charm of the old games. If you love Halo, don’t play 5 like I did. Play the Master Chief Collection instead to get your pure Halo fix.

    • Each to their own, but so far 5 is miles ahead of ODST, Reach and 4 to me. Some of the additions are questionable but I haven’t enjoyed a Halo game this much since 3.

      Now if only they fixed the spawns and added social playlists..

    • It’s worth pointing out the the smart scope in automatic weapons is purely aesthetic and doesn’t increase accuracy whatsoever. It is functionally identical to shooting from the hip, it just decreases your FoV. The smart scope in precision weapons is identical to zoom in previous games with a different animation.

      The assault rifle is definitely more useful than it used to be in previous games (where it was useless) but is still easily out classed by anyone competent with a BR or DMR or even pistol.

      Also “If you love Halo, don’t play 5 like I did” sounds an awful lot like a “No true Scotsman” argument. Halo fan since 2001 and I’m having the most fun I’ve had since Halo 3.

  • Just got up to (but have yet to finish) the final campaign mission. Without going into spoilers, the story makes no sense. The things the antagonists do, and the way they do them, are given no real explanation. Equally as bad, in a game with 13 combat missions (there are two others, but they are non-combat missions that can be finished in 5 minutes tops), only 3 of them let you play as the Chief and Blue team. I did not buy Halo 5 because I was at all interested in Spartan Locke and Fireteam Osiris. I was expecting at least a 50/50 split between Osiris and Blue Team.

    The most annoying thing for me personally is the game constantly telling me to hurry up. I’ll be hunting around trying to find the intel collectibles, and it seems like every 60 seconds one of the characters will tell me to hurry up and move on to the next objective. I know we have find Halsey, just shut up and let me find this intel first! At least the Blue Team reminders are less obnoxious.

    Descoping is the most annoying thing ever. I hate it.

    If you’re thinking about getting Halo primarily for the campaign like me, do yourself a favour. Wait till the price drops. You’re not missing anything worthwhile.

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