As some of you may have heard there was an early access for Halo 5’s beta for those part of Xbox Live Update Preview program. This was a great opportunity to pick apart aspects such as the game play and the general direction of the franchise in general.
New Controls For A New Era
The beta still plays a lot like the Halo we know and love. This is not a bad thing, but I’d be lying if I said games like CoD and Battlefield didn’t have some kind of influence on Halo 5. This is something that clearly stuck out to me when it came to playing my first match.
Prior to playing the beta I had been playing a ton of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, so I was a bit jarred by the new control scheme. The first biggest notable difference was the inclusion of Iron sights and scopes on every weapon which are toggled by pressing the left trigger. This is something that will feel familiar to anyone who has played modern shooters like CoD and Battlefield. However it’s not something that I was expecting when playing Halo. Don’t get me wrong: the inclusion is very useful and I was pleasantly surprised that I could pick off players from the other side of the map with nothing but an assault rifle.
The ‘X’ button has gone back to being the reload/action button instead of the the right bumper. Grenades are now thrown with the left bumper. Melee is now the right bumper instead of ‘B’. Of coarse sprint is making its return from Halo 4. One thing that is unclear though is whether or not boost is now integrated with the controls or if it’s just an armor. Or are armor abilities coming back? Regardless, the boost button added a new dynamic for quickly dodging or attacking your opponents. I wish I had played around with the boost button a little more in order to see what it could do.
A Shiny New Presentation
The HUD is very much like what you would expect from Halo, just a bit more sleeker. The health/shield bar is still centered at the top of the screen but it appears thinner than it has been. Most of the other changes are subtle and cosmetic at most. For the most part Halo veterans should feel right at home with the HUD.
This build of the beta featured two maps: Truth and Empire. Truth was oddly familiar to me when I was playing the beta because it was a remake of the Midship, a classic map that is familiar to many Halo fans. Truth expands on Midship by adding a few new places to hide for cover.
The other map Empire was a bit more original. Empire takes place in a more terrestrial setting with an expansive metropolis in the back ground. The level featured both indoor and outdoor environments. This map was small enough for 4v4 slayer but big enough for sniping to be effective.
While this build of the beta was relatively small and brief, the next stage will prove to be a bit more robust, with 7 maps total and 3 new game types.
One thing I enjoyed was that Halo 5 adopted voice tracks for multiplayer in the same way that the Battlefield series has. This does two things. First it adds a sense of realism, because let’s face it, if you’re in a team of soldiers no one is going to remain silent during an intense firefight. Second, it proves useful when your team is refusing to use their mics to communicate with others as the voice tracks shout out enemy positions. While we’re on the subject of sound I cannot stress how obnoxious the dramatic kill cam music is.
343 Industries Is Taking Care of Fans
Recently Bonnie Ross, the head of 343, addressed some issues regarding match making in the Master Chief Collection and offered up a sincere thank you to the community. Ross had stated that there are plenty of goodies coming our way for these hiccups. I know I’m stoked to revisit Halo 3:ODST (which features the voice and likeness of Adam Baldwin). 343 Industries has proven to be a more than capable successor to Bungie in regards to Halo.
One thing that stuck out is that 343 Industries wants to make the best game they possibly can and will be taking community feedback seriously. The vibe that I’m getting from them is a very positive one and perhaps other developers could learn a thing or two from their actions.
With that being said, not everyone is going to love the changes. Some people might hate that Halo has borrowed some game mechanics from CoD and Battlefield, but now is your chance to try it out. The public beta begins on 12/29/14 and ends on 1/10/15. It’s included with the Master Chief Collection.