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Halo 5: Guardians BETA Impressions

Awww yis!
Awww yis!

As soon as I heard that the BETA release was coming up, I went through the entire Halo saga (Excluding only ODST and Reach) in order to prep myself for this moment. I wanted to accurately recall the old style of Halo gameplay to more accurately review and asses the BETA version. So without further yammering, lets get to it.

Right of the bat, the first thing I've noticed is that 343 has taken into account what the fans have been telling them, but they still try to make the gameplay fresh with some interesting tweaks. If you ask me, 343 is trying to find the perfect balance to the fairness the old halo games provided, while simultaneously appealing to the modern, fast paced shooter fans. However, before I proceed, I'd like to mention a few things. The previous Halo games, if you are unaware, were much more methodical and fair in comparison to Reach and Halo 4 (that's not to say that Halo 4 or Reach were bad games, because I absolutely love both). But around Halo 3, we were already departing to the more fast-paced style of gameplay, but that was all well and good, since you never really felt that someone had some sort of advantage over you. However, what really kind of put the gameplay evolution on a hiatus was the elimination of this "fairness" and balance. Personally, I feel like the addition of loudouts and armor perks is what essentially alienated the fans, because some, as I just said, may have felt that other players gained unfair advantages. Now that's not to say that these perks were bad, but they were huge departures from made Halo...well, Halo. I don't want to make it sound as if these changes broke the game, but they were just sudden and big changes.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand. After playing the BETA for hours, I personally feel that 343 has done a wonderful job. They have found what looks to be the perfect way to appeal to both halo fans and newcomers. Everyone, from start to finish, is on equal grounds, and who wins and loses is dependent on how you play the game, and there is no perk or ability that allows you to one-up other players. The loudouts and armor abilities have been completely removed (well..kind of, but I'll get to that in a bit). From start to finish, all the players have the similar abilities and weaponry. Not to worry though, you can, of course, find and discover new weapons as you explore the map, but essentially, whether you kill someone or not depends on well you can play, and not what weapon you have. I wanted to make extra sure that there weren't many cheap shots, so I watched a few other people play the game (in live, I mean). My friend, who's a huge Halo fan and a great FPS player, came over to day and played several matches. Suffice to say, He basically demolished every other player on the majority of the matches. During my time with the BETA I did pretty okay, and every time I died, it was my own fault. If I made a fluke, I paid for it. Same goes for my cousin, who did slightly better than I did. (Yeah yeah, I know, but I'm out of practice, okay?)

So suffice to say, the gameplay is pretty damn balanced and fair, no arguments there. Now on to the more interesting parts...

343 has added a plethora of new tweaks that changes how you approach the gameplay, but the beauty of is that these abilities are neither unique or overpowered:

New Abilities

  • Sprint/Shield Regeneration- Yes, ladies and gentlemen, 343 has decided to keep the sprit as a common ability. However, they found a good way to counter-balance this ability in order to force players into using their wit. In halo 4, despite the fun and good gameplay, what really bothered me was the fact that I had the option to really weasel out of trouble. If I realized in time that I had that someone was owning me in a confrontation, I had the option to run off. You cannot imagine how many times this saved me. This is pretty common in shooters, but it's now something Halo should have IMO, since it gives you the choice to run off,instead of out-skilling your opponent. So this time around, you can't really do that since your amour doesn't regenerate during the time you sprint. So, at best, you can quickly take cover to catch your breath and think of some way to fight back, but try to run of and you'll be exposed and defenseless against pretty much everyone else in the game. I would know, I tried running, and I died...a lot.
  • Zoom/Iron-Sights(?) - Hey, wow wow cowboy! Chill! Let me finish first! This isn't what you think, honest. Sure, it may look like Halo has incorporated Iron sights, but it really hasn't. Sure, visually it looks that way, but the mechanic is pretty damn similar to what it use to be. You zoom in, and you lose your sight just as soon as you are shot, much like every other Halo game, so it's basically a re-skin, nothing more. But the way you zoom in has changed, however. Instead of using the lower/ right analog stick(or in older games, the analog stick in general), you can only activate zoom through LT button, which, despite being different, is understandable, since both analog sticks have taken up different functions. Speaking of which...
  • Ground Pound - Remember that Titan ability from Destiny? Where you basically can kill 6 people at the same time once you activate this ability? You do? Well, this is totally not like that. The idea is sort of the same, but unlike Destiny, Halo doesn't overpower this ability. In fact, it's very difficult to use. Basically, you can't just press one button and expect everything to explode. For starters, you have to be a certain distance from the ground once you jump of a platform. When in air, you have to press the lower analog stick and try to mark a SPECIFIC guy to attack, and the just let go. I've played the game some time, and I have only been able to use this ability once. Yeah, if that isn't fair man, I don't know what is. it takes extra damn skill to the this right.
  • Slide - Another use for the analog stick is that it allows you to slide. If you are sprinting, all you have to do is bush the left stick and that's about it. Seems like a simple change but it actually allows you more mobility and opportunities to fight off your opponents. Since running is not longer a valid option, you gotta find new ways to attack right?
  • Spartan Charge - Here's interesting tweak that involves sprinting. Have an unexpected foe appear out of nowhere? Not to worry, just press that melee button and charge away! But seriously though, this is kind of a personal favorite, and it kind of fits in well with the fast paced combat. Though I can't wrap my head around this one. There were times where I managed to quickly kill my enemies with this one, and there were times when they didn't die from one hit. The hit makes a big bang so it's hard to tell sometimes I've you've actually hit your enemy or not. Can't say for sure, but it seems just a matter of precision, but I guess we'll see in the final result. In either case, I wouldn't mind if this was a one hit kill, since actually hitting someone with this charge attack is difficult enough, and if you do hit them and they don't die, then basically say goodbye since they will most likely kill you right there on the spot.
  • Dash - Don't confuse this with the super dash you had in Reach where you could cover 5 km in a second, twice. The dash is actually a very useful and LIMITED ability. You can use it once, and when you do, it takes a few second( something you don't have) to recharge. This, yet again, changes how you approach the battlefield. It's fine to keep track of when and how to use this ability. You can use it reach a far away platform, quickly take over, or get out of the line of fire to to gain a momentary advantage. (Plus, it's nice to have another way around getting impaled by a energy swords.)
  • Climbing platforms -Now this is more a personal reflection rather than an analysis, but I am soooooo glad they added this. If there is ONE thing I disliked about halo, it's the fact that every time I made a SMALL mis-step I fell, even if I was VERY close to the platform, which resulted in many unfortunate deaths. And since that's out of the way, lets talk about how this changes the game. For better or worse, this makes you way more attentive whether you like it or not, because instead of two designated entrances, there are multiple ways some jackass may approach you. I actually like this, since it always keeps you alert and on your toes.

Breakout Mode

I'm actually enjoying this mode more than the slayer to be quite honest, not because it's better, but because it's more unforgivable. Breakout is completely oriented around skill, and I think it actually helps the player improve a lot, since it's far more focused and slow. That's not to say that the Slayer is any less focused on the players ability to play the game, but when you first view the slayer it's easy to misjudge it for being "twitch-shooter" like COD or Destiny, but with slayer it's easier to see how slow things can really get.

For thous who don't know, Breakout is a new mode where 4 players are pitted in arena like maps, where they only get one chance to show how useful they are. Yes, that means that if you die once, you won't be able to respwan until an new match begins. This led to some extremely intense moments. Imagine all of your teammate getting killed off and being left alone against two other players. Did I mention that you don't have a map here? Yeah, that's important too, since you won't be able to see where the attack is coming from.

I personally feel like this will lead to a lot of collaborative matches. I can imagine myself chatting with my friends and giving them tips on where the enemy player is residing or attacking from, since, you'll be able to monitor your team members once you die.

All in all, I'm having a blast with this.


What can I say that I haven't said up until this point? Halo 5 seems to be the bridge between Halo fans and thous who enjoy the more fast-paced/modern day shooters, which, if you ask me, is actually a fantastic thing. They kept the elements that made Halo so fair and unique, but didn't forget thous newcomers who have the desire to give Halo a shot. I personally believe that a series should evolve and build new things on the very ground it has established, and after playing the BETA myself, I have to say that it seems as if 343 are making all the right steps.

Can't wait for more Halo 5 news! thanks for reading!