First impressions of Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer from HaloFest

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.

Jonathan Dollison
  • * checks rating * nope.
  • ?
  • Too young
  • What?
  • Looks amazing. Can't wait to play. Seems like an evolution of what made Halo 2/3 'Halo'.
  • Pretty much! Can't think of a better way to describe it
  • It looks like a faster halo, and it good to me
  • Why is it all about Xbox? Why are we not Xbonecentral?
  • Nope we're called Windows Central because we cover everything that runs Windows including Xbox. Also the Windows and Windows Phone (or should I say Microsoft Lumia) front have been slow as of late. Hope you enjoyed the article :)
  • This is the busy season for Xbox One, so a lot of news and review opportunities come in during this time.
  • Keep it all coming!  I love coming here and getting all my my windows fix.  I rarely visit any other site outside of mobile nations.  Across the board, mobile nations set a standard... espcially windowscentral.  I believe i will be buying my first Halo game... outside of the mobile version.  I have had no time to play any of the new releases... This will more than do as I have full campaigns to play alone or co-op. 
  • We really appreciate the support, man. The readers are one of my favorite things about working here. :)
  • Maybe you can provide Windows Phone news to Windows Central... No, you can't, just don't click on articles you don't like.
  • I personally love the Microsoft general news.
  • On February you're gonna say the opposite why isn't there any news on Xbox so much WP.
  • That hardly happens ;)
  • Combat Evolved, Reach and ODST are what made Halo, Halo.  back when Bungie had free reign. 
  • If you enjoyed this games (ODST is my second favorite halo game) you will definitely enjoy this.
  • No, Reach is a joke to fans, and ODST... Well, good to know that you enjoyed it.
  • Yea ODST wasn't for everyone but I tend to enjoy darker games and a darker Halo was right up my alley lol
  • I thought ODST was fantastic. :P
  • ODST had one of the best campaigns of the Halo games. Additionally Firefight mode was a great addition as well, much better than Spartan Ops. 
  • ODST is good, but i have to agree that Reach is joke to anyone who reads the books... I have lost all respect for Bungie because of it... was so happy 343 took over... Mainly because the book "The Fall of Reach" was great and everything built off that... the game Reach stamped all over the book... The list is way too long to write here but Reach was a game Bungie didn't want to make or didn't care for... so so so much was ignored in the story, and i wouldn't mind but it wouldn't of taken much to change it slightly an have it perfect... If there is a remake coming i want it changed...
  • Fall of reach came after halo 2. Of course Bungie build another storyline around reachs' fall. The ending is the same tho. Reach got glassed . Just a different team . I loved reaches storyline and the level design a lot.
  • The book was so great and they could have easily used its amazing storyline for Reach. It would have been the best Halo, had they used the Fall of Reach arc
  • I know you said there's too much to list but I'd like to know! It's been a while since I've read the book. Thanks
  • As a few basics go Spartan 3s are NOT spartan 2s, So much so they physically can't opperate S2 armour... They have their own armour, with active Camo... Just before the Pillar of Autum left was when John 117 got shielding tech on his armour... How do the S3s have it in Reach? let alone the heavily modded armour... all "current" S3s are under 18 except for 2, both of which aren't in Reach Its mentioned in every halo book that only the Covy can have ships in atmo until the new set of frigets that have anti grav... so how is the Pillar of Autum on the ground? Why is Keys on it? He meets the ship in space in the book.... when there in no covy on the ground... Dr H didn't know about the underground site until after Reach was under attack... and i wouldn't mind as much but its not like there is an actual shortage of Spartans... there is but not in terms of charictors for games... I'm gona stop there before i get carried away
  • Thanks man, you've made me want to re read the book! :)
  • Same ! Odst was a great Game ! Still wasn't able to finish it cause that game makes me high ><
    And reach was perfect in every possible way :) maybe not good as halo 2 ( campaign) but it was a great game tho and loved the story and enjoyed 1000s of hours in forge world xD
  • Can't tell if serious.
  • Looks like they may have taken some inspiration from counter-strike. Especially with the map.
  • I'd say more inspiration from paintballing itself. Even the game type is inspired from it.
  • Looks fun looks like halo
  • I just want an option to play in a more classic style as well.
  • This is definitely getting back to its classic roots
  • Graphics looked just ok? That trailer tho
  • That map doesn't do the graphics justice at all. The lighting and graphics on other maps are jaw dropping though.
  • Battlefield bad company 3?
  • Wish that were true lol but I meant bad company 2! Thanks for the heads up :)
  • Not a problem hopefully there will be a bad company 3 one day
  • Can't wait to test the beta, didn't get to play 3 & 4 to the fullest, so reliving the experience to the max week be awesome with 5 in the mix. Was watching "Foreward Unto Dawn" and thought of playing MCC with a VR viser... Oh.. The epicness...
  • I love Halo, but I must say, I don't live the sound of these changes as a whole. "Everyone is doing it," is a bad defense for unlimited sprint, as out is against the basic logic that you can't physically sprint forever. Mantling (not sure why you chose the term, "clamber") is fine, but I hope it won't be easily done over every surface, or it will seem awkward. The offering of a universal Thruster Pack is ridiculous, as it follows the nasty trend of handing everyone things that started as preferential abilities, like how sprint started as an ability with Reach, and how CoD has constantly added a billion more toys without sacrifice. You end up with a wild mess where too many things are given out, and pure skill takes a back seat to gimmicks. The Breakout game type sounds cool though, and I look forward to some real, firsthand experience with the beta in 6 weeks.
  • Clambering is what 343i calls it. It even states it as that on the controls. But yea I was very skeptical with all the new changes, but once I got my hands on it I thoroughly enjoyed it
  • Enjoyed the crowd cheering for you. I sometimes forget that you guys at windowscentral are human too. I should refrain from thinking that you are omnipotent.
  • Yep the reach way of armor abilities was the beat yet
  • I really don't like who it looks like with the zoom sight. It's too much like CoD.
  • Spartans now look actually like how spartans are supposed to look (as opposed to halo 4) but a Smart Scope? like aiming down your sights? you know like Call of Duty? Done, I'm soooooo done. ugh
  • Shouldn't you at least try it before being done??
  • "Next, we have unlimited sprinting. I don't see what the problem is with this as every game has it now."  The problem is that every game has it now. Beyond robbing us of variety in the genre it also makes Halo a trend follower and not a trend setter, something that Halo shouldn't be. That being said I do like the implementation in Halo 5, it's literally just a fast travel tool for people without attention spans. The control scheme is unwelcome, it changes the focus of game play away from the classic style. I don't get why 343's competitive team was asking for zoom, the best way to fight is aking it a CoD-scheme, especially since descope is back. Any masterful pro knows that you don't scope in because if you get hit, you get knocked out of zoom, and your aim is completely messed up, the other guy is almost certainly going to win at that point.