HaloFest Stage

Yesterday, Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched on Xbox One all around the world. We've just published our in-depth review that explains just why Master Chief Collection is such a big deal.

And yet, many gamers are already looking forward to Halo 5: Guardians. The game won't arrive until next year, but its beta is due out on December 29. We know many of you are dying to get your hands on it, so we traveled to Halo Fest on Monday to give it a test run. Here are our hands on impressions of the Halo 5: Guardians Beta.

First things first. Halo 5 feels a lot different from recent Halos. It probably feels closer to Halo 2 more than anything. But, I suspect that similarity is due to the new control scheme. It took me about three or four rounds before I became fully adjusted to the controls. I didn't spend enough time with it to say whether or not the current controls are the best layout possible for the game.

Crouching is now done by pressing in the right stick; the left bumper button throws grenades. My favorite aspects of the new controls are the thruster pack and clambering. The thruster packs allow you to get out of harm's way with ease. By holding the B button and moving the left stick in any direction, you'll thrust a couple of feet in that direction. Clambering is super simple as well. When jumping near a ledge, hold the A button to climb or clamber the ledge. This makes getting around super easy and eliminates the need to "crouch-jump."

Halo 5 Controls

Now to acknowledge the elephant in the room: "Aim Down Sights." On paper it sounds bad, but it's not. In Halo 5 this style of aiming is called Smart Scope, and every weapon has its own variant of it. In my opinion Smart Scope doesn't take away from the aesthetic of what is Halo. If anything it only adds to the immersion of the game.

Next, we have unlimited sprinting. I don't see what the problem is with this as every game has it now. Sprinting in first-person shooters is about important as melee-ing.

Once getting through the shock of the new control scheme, I began to realize how familiar this game feels. I felt like I went back in time and was playing Halo 2. It feels way more competitive and team based. Perhaps that's due to the developer's goal of making Halo a huge name in eSports once again.

Halo 5 captures the competitive intensity of fighting through corridors, sliding back and forth from behind a wall to catch your enemy as he reloads. Throwing the perfect frag at someone's foot and finishing him off with your Battle Rifle. Man, it has been too long.

Once again, Halo multiplayer feels simple and yet so complex. It boils down to map control, weapon control, and team communication. Any team lacking in any of these areas are destined for failure. My favorite multiplayer games have encouraged the same tactics as Halo 5. You know, like Halo 2, Gears of War 1 and 2, and Battlefield Bad Company 2.

HaloFest wall

The game type I played was the new Breakout mode. Breakout is a nod to competitive paintball. The game consists of five rounds. Each round you have one life, and whichever team has surviving members at the end of the round gains a point. What makes Breakout so intense is the fact that nobody has the upper hand abilities-wise. Halo 5 drops the loadouts concept that appeared in Halo 4.

I wasn't able to try out some of Halo 5's mechanics due to my short playtime (and my team getting skunked). For example, the new ground pound is awesome (I happily died from it a couple of times), but I never was able to pull it off myself.

Now that I've experienced Halo 5: Guardians for myself, I'm pretty sure that people are going to be pleasantly surprised at the intensity of its multiplayer. I keep flashing back to those intense matches. Sure, being on stage and having the crowd cheer you on while playing added to the excitement, but most of it definitely came from the game itself. I suppose the faster pace created by the unlimited sprinting, clambering and thruster packs also helped.

All in all, I can't wait for the beta to go live in December so that you all get to experience it for yourselves. As the saying goes, don't knock it until you try it. My experience with Halo 5: Guardians was a blast.