‘Halo 5: Guardians’ Early Impressions — Finally A Spartan That Feels Like One

If there is a moment that has defined my Halo 5: Guardians experience thus far, it would have to be when Master Chief and Blue Team bash through a wall and slide down a steel ramp, all the while shooting at the Covenant in front of them. This is something that was teased in the Halo 5: Guardians cinematic released a few weeks back, where we see Buck and Locke running, jumping, and doing extravagant acrobatics while taking out Covenant forces. I remember watching that and thinking to myself: “This is great, but it won’t translate to gameplay.”

It totally does, to a degree.

No, you aren’t hopping and skipping all over the battlefield in Halo 5, causing acrobatic mayhem to your enemies. However, the upgraded mobility in Halo 5 is greatly appreciated, and as a result Master Chief, and Spartan Locke by extension, finally feels like the Super Soldier he has been purported to be. It’s never sat well with me that the seven-foot-tall, genetically-altered Chief could never run in a Halo game. Halo 4 fixed this, and while many feel as though the updated movement mechanics in Halo 5: Guardians are bringing the series closer to Call of Duty, the game still feels like a Halo, albeit at a much needed faster pace. As a result of the added mobility, the massive set-piece battles in Halo 5: Guardians feel bigger, faster, and thankfully, even more enjoyable.

The faster motion can also be attributed to 343 Industries’ decision to bring Halo 5: Guardians into the modern gaming world and give it the boost to 60 frames-per-second. This framerate feels constant and has been proven so on older code thanks to Digital Foundry. This framerate bump gives Halo 5 a distinct feel, even after going through the last four games (and Halo: ODST) in Halo: The Master Chief Collection recently. It really does add to the overall experience, and this added mobility works better as a result of the framerate increase. Had the game been at 30fps, I’m not so sure that Chief and Locke would feel as solid as they do in this current build.

Halo 5 Guardians Campaign Blue Team
Taking out a few of these guys proved to be a challenge even for Blue Team in Halo 5.

Another great addition to Chief’s arsenal isn’t actually a weapon, but rather how he uses them. Halo has always portrayed the Chief as a “run-and-gun” sort of guy. Only a few weapons had any sort of “iron sights” or “scope” to speak of, so oftentimes you were simply “firing from the hip” per se. With Halo 5: Guardians, we saw a glimpse of what 343 was bringing to bear in the Beta last January, with the iconic assault rifle having an “aim” mode. It seems as though that was iterated on with every weapon, from Human to Covenant and even Forerunner having an “iron sights” mode. Let’s be clear about this: It does not increase the weapon’s accuracy at all to use this, but to me it feels as though I have much more control over what I’m seeing and how I’m firing my weapon. Plus, jumping in the air and “aiming” your weapon gives you a momentary burst from your suits jump-pack, allowing you to float suspended in mid-air while you shoot. It’s a brief thing, and one that took a moment to realize, but once I did, I instantly found myself chaining short bursts from my rifle into Ground Pounds to finish off those pesky Elites. That tiny bit of extra control over your weapon in Halo 5 adds a whole lot more to Chief’s arsenal than the few new weapons in the game have.

All in all, the first few missions (I’ve only played up to the end of Halo 5’s third campaign mission) feel distinctly Halo, yet the addition of added mobility really helps set up Halo 5 as the most unique feeling of the series. While it might be perceived as Call of Duty-ifiying the game, it is done in a way that simply fleshes out Master Chief’s skill set, making him finally feel like the Super Soldier he’s always been.

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[Images via Microsoft]