As an update preview member for the Xbox One, I was lucky enough to be given early access to the Halo 5 multiplayer beta. Happy days! I must admit that I’m not the biggest Halo fan to ever play a Microsoft console – but I have owned all three Microsoft consoles so far and, on those consoles, I have played the occasional Halo game. I very much enjoyed Halo 3, but since then I’ve not really got back in to the series. After playing the Halo 5 multiplayer beta, however, I get the feeling that this is going to change.
I made sure that I played as much of the beta as possible in the time that I had off (Friday night and today, being Saturday). There was only one game mode available on the beta, Slayer, but that was more than enough for me to sink my teeth into. Sure, it would have been nice to have a couple of game modes to choose from, but I’m not greedy! On the plus side, there were a variety of different maps, all of which were well designed and perfectly suited for Halo’s pace of play.
The game mode itself, Slayer, was quite interesting in concept. You basically had the usual team-deathmatch set up, but to keep things fresh there was the ability to pick up ‘power weapons’. These weapons were set to timers, and they were slightly more powerful than the present arsenal. The Spartan Sword and the Heavy Sniper Rifle were the two weapons that I managed to have a go with. Basically, they give the team in control of the power weapon an advantage on the field. Obviously, they aren’t guarantees of success as much of it is down to the skill of your team (as it’s, at heart, a team-deathmatch) as well as the skill of the person who’s wielding the weapon. Still, it did give you that little extra firepower, which was important in tight contests.
New additions to the game (as far as I could tell), include the use of the ‘B’ button to dash and the ability to hover when aiming during jumping or falling. The dash button added a whole new level to Halo multiplayer – one which I quite enjoyed. The multiplayer has been a little stagnant of late, so it’s nice to get a bit of variation! The dash meant that I could get away from combat pretty quickly, and allow my guy to regenerate his shields and health. It also makes traversing the map a bit more exciting, as you can zip between platforms and different levels. Plus, when you combine this with the hover aim ability, it makes combat a whole new beast. Another big change is the fact that you can now aim down the scopes of most weapons (though correct me if that was already possible). I’m a little hesitant to say ‘all’ weapons, just because I didn’t get to use many of the weapons that will be featured in the game. Still, from what I played, aiming down the sights was a key component – which did change the feel of the game somewhat. It’s a big change for Halo multiplayer, but one that might well have been needed.
In all, it kind of feels like Halo has been revamped to keep pace with that other popular FPS that people seem to like… Call of Duty, I think it’s called. Just like the exo-suits of Advanced Warfare have made the Call of Duty multiplayer more layered, and exciting, so too have the dash, aim and hover aim of Halo 5. I think Halo did need a bit of a spruce, especially after so many similar games in the franchise. But how will the die-hard fans react? Probably not favourably, but it would be nice to be proved wrong.