Despite some connection issues last week, Halo 5: Guardians is shaping up to be one of the most interesting multiplayer games this year. Again, connection issues are a normal aspect of betas, but they’re important to note nonetheless. This weeks update to the beta included the addition of a new gametype and three new maps.
Breakout is the newest addition to the Halo franchise and a welcome one indeed. The game pits two teams of four against eachother in an enclosed arena named after the gametype. No shields, and one life, last team standing wins. Breakout encourages players to work together as a team and communicate. Like seriously, communicate. Take the time to call out enemy locations. Coordinate with your teammates to make the most of grenade throws. Take a few seconds to plan assault patterns with comrades on the fly. You’ll be better off for it.
At the start of every round, both teams are launched into a small, symmetrical map via man-cannon. Most of the obstacles on the map are no larger than waist-level and reminiscent of real life paintball/speedball maps. Overall, the gametype fits well into the Halo franchise. The risk of being eliminated from the round forces the usual run and gun players to play more tactically, considering alternate paths to their destination. This single life adjustment may be difficult for longtime fans of the series to adjust to, but overall, the change in pace of gameplay is welcome and fun.
That being said, the introduction of the new gametype led to the discovery of yet another method of ground traversal – the slide. While running, crouch when you’re at full speed and your spartan will slide across the floor putting you into the perfect position to deliver the killing melee blow or spurt of magnum fire. It’s one of those things you don’t realize is missing until you’ve experienced it once. Sliding into cover, sliding into a weapon swap, or sliding into a melee finisher simply feels good.
Speaking of mechanics, this weeks update changed the starting loadout for the worse. Here me out: spawning with a battle rifle in slayer matchmaking is one of the worst ideas for Halo 5. It worked in every Halo game thus far, but for some reason, it just doesn’t for Guardians. It disincentives players to move around the map, rather, players tend to camp the power weapons. Among all the Halo games in the past, Halo 5′s feel surprisingly empty. Sure, there are occasional human weapons strewn about the map. But map flow just feels sort of, well–off.
The other two maps introduced into the beta for this week are: Eden and Regret. Eden is set in an industrial metropolis at night. Large open areas at ground level and walkways above connect smaller research-like rooms. The asymmetrical space leads to some interesting firefights, but overall, the aesthetics of Eden are forgettable.
Regret on the other hand, is a return to form for Halo map design. Set on a crashed Covenant ship in the woods, players wage war on three different levels. Regret also introduces a new power weapon to the beta – the Hydra. A mufti-missile launcher that sends out a flurry of missiles wildly, however, should you aim down the sights the launcher locks onto its target and kills without prejudice. The colorful palette of the map is oddly cheerful amongst the killing fields. The ominous Covenant technology adds a nice touch of mystery to an overall straightforward map.
All in all, week two is a significant improvement over the first. Connection issues aside, 343 Industries appears to have a winner on their hands. 343 Industries has decided to allow players to select one part of the week three line-up. You can vote here.