The Halo franchise will always have a special place in my heart, not just for being the first console game I ever played but for perfectly combining an uncomplicated story with a simple style of FPS gameplay to provide an easily accessible experience for even the most novice gamer.
However as times have changed, and gamers’ tastes have evolved so has Halo. The franchise’s latest release, Halo 5, promises to give players a more in depth story than any previous games. It also provides fan service by reintroducing favourite characters only previously seen in the tie-in books and films.
Halo 5 centres around the previously incorruptible and unstoppably heroic figure of the Master Chief going rogue, causing widespread destruction following the death of his AI companion Cortana from the previous games. In order to fix this, the military send fellow Spartan, Locke, to hunt and ultimately kill him. Although the campaign is perfectly fun to play, and the introduction of squad-based gameplay is certainly refreshing, the story ends up falling short. The developer, 343 Industries bragged about an average campaign length of eight to twelve hours, however this figure ends up being closer to five. Although five hours is not the shortest story ever, it doesn’t help that the story is very bare bones, with very little time for character development and an ultimately mediocre conclusion.
Halo 5’s saving grace ends up being the multiplayer. Again marking a significant departure from the previous games, Halo 5 offers brand new game types and an all new competitive ranking system. The new Warzone game type puts two teams of Spartans against each other and AI opponents, with the overall goal being the outscoring the enemy. For faster-paced gameplay, arena modes offer a much quicker and smaller scale game. These are almost perfectly balanced and result in a fun, very competitive game that provide much more longevity, something the campaign falls dreadfully short of. It is also vital to mention that 343 seemed to have learned their lesson from the disastrous launch of last year’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and have had almost no issues as of the writing of this article.
Another new entry to the Halo franchise in this game is the REQ system, a collection of randomly unlockable upgrades and vehicles to use in Warzone. You can acquire these packs either through progressing through the game gathering points as you go (which takes roughly four games per gold pack), or by buying with real money which amounts to the rather steep price of £2.39 per gold pack. As many people are opposed to micro-transactions they will typically find little to complain about here, as this is one of if not the best use of micro-transactions to date. They are entirely skippable but easily bought.
Overall, Halo 5 is still an easy game to recommend to most people but die-hard Halo fans will undoubtedly find the campaign lacklustre, as they should. However, the game’s multiplayer is so well made, so fun and so competitive, it is easy to move past the disappointing campaign. The REQ system is very well implemented and does nothing to otherwise detract from an incredibly entertaining game.