‘Halo 5’ First Not To Earn ‘M’ Rating Despite Obscene Covenant Taunt

Every mainline game in the Halo franchise has been rated “M” for Mature by the ESRB since the first released on the original Xbox in 2001. While Halo 5: Guardians is attempting a return to traditional style of play, the ESRB has not bestowed the usual rating upon it. The first-person shooter is the first in the series to receive a “T” for Teen.

In its description of Halo 5, the ESRB notes that its contents include “Blood, Mild Language, and Violence.” It then dives into a rating summary to explain the reasoning behind the rating and spoils a couple of humorous one-liners.

“This is a first-person shooter in which players assume the role of a super soldier (Locke) searching for a missing character. Players use pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, and futuristic weapons to kill alien and human enemies in frenetic combat. Battles are highlighted by realistic gunfire, explosions, and occasional blood-splatter effects. Characters can also use ‘assassinations’ to kill characters by snapping their necks, or by stabbing them with bladed weapons. The word “a*s” appears in the dialogue, as well as occasional taunts/insults (e.g., ‘I have copulated…with your genetic progenitors!’; ‘Your father was a filthy colo and your mother was a hole in the wall!’).”

Clearly, the “I have copulated…with your genetic progenitors” line is not meant for young Sanghelli (Elite) ears, so I don’t know how the ESRB managed to let Halo 5 slip down to a T rating.

In all seriousness, it was always fascinating to me that the Halo series was rated in the “M” category along the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Manhunter, and others. Yes, it could be violent at times and show some blood, but it never felt more violent than many of the PG-13 films released over the past decade. For example, Liam Neeson’s Taken has a ludicrous body count and sex slave trading while The Joker’s disappearing pencil trick in The Dark Knight still gives me more willies than any assassination move in Halo.

Halo 5 Guardians (Xbox One)

Is it possible that the ESRB has relaxed its standards? It’s certainly up for debate when you compare the content descriptors for all the mainline Halo games.

  • Halo: Combat Evolved: “Blood and Gore, Violence”
  • Halo 2: “Blood and Gore, Language, Violence”
  • Halo 3: “Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Violence”
  • Halo 3: ODST: “Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Violence”
  • Halo Reach: “Blood, Violence”
  • Halo 4: “Blood, Violence”
  • Halo 5: “Blood, Mild Language, Violence”

We can point to “gore” in the first four releases as the most likely reason that those games earned an “M” rating. However, Halo: Reach and Halo 4 both lack gore and still earned the mature label.

Whatever the reason, this may turn out to be a boon for 343 Industries and the Xbox One. This opens Halo 5 to a broader audience than it previously had. There are still parents out there who block their kids from playing Halo games due to the “M” rating, believe it or not.

Halo 5 Guardians - Warzone (Xbox One)

What do you think of Halo 5 getting a “T” rating instead of an “M”? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images via Xbox]