Read Our Early Halo 5 Impressions While You Wait For The Full Review

by Matt Miller on Oct 26, 2015 at 08:05 AM

We’ve spent the last several days digging into 343 Industries’ latest Halo effort, and it’s already clear that the developer has opted for some major changes and advancements to the structure and gameplay of the long-running series. We’ve already played all the way through the campaign and explored multiple difficulties. We’ve also tried out the online cooperative functionality. On the competitive front, we’ve tried several Arena and Warzone matches. So where’s our review?

Multiplayer has only been available for limited windows of time over the course of just a few days. We simply haven’t played enough or advanced far enough through the progression system to offer a definitive opinion. In addition, we’re waiting to confirm that matchmaking and stability issues hold up to the large number of players that will arrive on launch day. 

In the meantime, we can share that Halo 5: Guardians is a worthwhile new entry in the series, but that it may take some getting used to for veteran players. The campaign features a greatly revamped approach to speed and movement. Particularly on the first three difficulty settings, this sense of mobility makes your Spartan feel like a superhero. Limited ammunition forces you to change weapons all the time, which can lend either a sense of frantic excitement or frustration, depending on what type of player you are. 

The story is told through beautifully crafted cutscenes filled with action and impactful character moments. Also, for the first time, Halo 5 seems to fully tap the potential of its fiction and characters from its own expanded universe of comics and books. As such, the science fiction narrative feels deeper – but also may be more confusing for players who haven’t been following along closely. For those players who have been charting the Halo story across all its mediums, the Halo 5 campaign brings some profound changes to the way we understand some of the main characters. I suspect there may be a good bit of debate about the direction and decisions made by some of the leads.

The matches I’ve played in Arena and the new large-team Warzone are fast and highly twitch skill based. Variant arena game modes promise lots of variety, and the maps I’ve seen so far are flexible for your chosen playstyle, whether that’s ranged sightlines or close-quarters throwdowns. Warzone is a complicated mode that seems to draw on everything from MOBAs to games like Battlefield for inspiration. My early games have tended towards landslide victories for one side or the other; it should be interesting to see if that problem persists once more players are in the mix. 

We’ll have a final verdict on Halo 5: Guardians in the coming days. In the meantime, if you’re still trying to make up your mind about a purchase, you can be safe in knowing that Halo 5 is polished and intense, with some epic approaches to both campaign storytelling and multiplayer. However, go in with the knowledge that Halo 5 feels more distinct and separate from any of the Halo games that have come before, which may come as great news to many, and a disappointment to some others.