Let me preface this by saying I love the Halo franchise. Not just the games but the books, comics, live action series; everything. I have enjoyed every Halo game to different extents, but I truly believe that they have all been, at the minimum, good games. When the franchise was handed over to 343 Industries, I wasn’t too worried with longtime Bungie veteran Frank O’Connor taking a leadership role.
Fast forward to the announcement of the Master Chief Collection and I was ecstatic. Being able to natively play all four mainline games on one system with all of the original multiplayer intact for each was exciting. Unfortunately, there were too many different hands involved with the production and the final product suffered (and continues to). Honestly this major speed bump to what should have been a flawless release of Microsoft’s most iconic exclusive worried me. While the Halo 5 beta came and went (with what seemed to be a largely positive response) the release date of the full game has finally been announced for October 27, 2015.
343 has some work to do to get back in the good graces of Halo fans. Below are four aspects needed for Halo 5: Guardians.
A narrative that is immediately accessible, yet deep in the lore
Let’s be honest, if you were a fan of the Halo Expanded Universe and the lore, Halo 4 was pretty great. If you delved into the Terminals in Halo 3 or read the first two books of the Forerunner trilogy, Cryptum and Primordium, the inclusion of the Didact and Librarian were awesome. However, if you weren’t up on the lore, you probably had some questions. Where did these Forerunners come from? Aren’t we done fighting the Covenant?
The most frustrating part of Bungie’s stint was their unwillingness to take advantage of obvious opportunities to integrate lore in a fantastic way (see Halo: Reach). 343 needs to accomplish a better balance in terms of the story that they present and its dependence on external material. Sure, as a fan of the Halo Universe I love it and want the Expanded Universe to ooze out of every aspect of Halo 5, but for those who just play the games, the story needs to still feel satisfying and not alienate them. It is a delicate situation for sure but one that I believe 343 can overcome.
2. A more imaginative arsenal
While the Prometheans added a different challenge for players to overcome from a
strategic perspective, the weapon variety was disappointing. From a gameplay design
perspective, yes having the Promethean weapons be analogues to UNSC and Covenant
weaponry makes sense, but branching out with some more interesting ideas would be
Has anyone else noticed how the Needler is the one crazy unique weapon the series
has had? Everything else feels relatively standard on all sides. An example of this, the
Assault Rifle, Plasma Rifle and Promethean Suppressor are all fast automatic weapons
that largely behave the same way. Sure there were some interesting alternate firing
methods for Promethean weaponry, but with the introduction of a new enemy, the design
choice could have branched out in a fresh way that 343 did not take advantage of. Much
like the narrative, new weapons are a balancing act all their own.
3. Less CoD, more Halo
Halo is the reason why multiplayer first-person shooters are popular on consoles with the
revelation and innovation that was Halo 2. I’m not usually a fan of competitive shooters,
but Halo was one that I could always go back to. However with Halo 4, 343 took
inspiration from Call of Duty with a loadout system and increased gameplay speed with
Sprint now being default across the board. They even paid homage to killstreaks with
Because of this, Halo 4’s multiplayer wasn’t as loved as its predecessors. It felt less
Halo-like. While the argument of whether or not Sprint belongs will last forever, (I think it
makes sense for super-soldiers to be able to run) the Spartan Abilities look interesting.
Armor Abilities, as a whole, were not incredibly useful in previous games and 343 looks
to be reimagining them. There were eight different Spartan Abilities in the beta which
already look to be useful unlike their spiritual predecessors. As long as 343 takes away
loadouts and does not turn Halo into a twitch shooter where opponents can only take a
bullet or two, the multiplayer looks to be a breath of fresh air for the series.
4. A rock solid launch
Halo 5: Guardians needs to work out of the gate. What happened with the Master Chief
Collection was massively disappointing and made some Halo fans question what 343 is
capable of. There cannot be server issues, or input lag or crashes. Massive games have
achieved this such as Call of Duty and Destiny. Out of these four major ways for Halo 5
to succeed, this is by far the most critical.
I’m hyped for Halo 5 and I truly believe it has the potential to be the best in the series. The marketing is fantastic as always with the live action TV ads as well as the #HuntTheTruth audio log series detailing a reporter’s journey into the history of the Master Chief. Let us know what you want from the next iteration within the Reclaimer Saga below!