‘Halo 5: Guardians’ — What The First Three Levels Have Taught Us

Halo 5 Guardians Blue Team

If you’ve been following Halo 5: Guardians, you likely have noticed that sites and streamers alike have begun posting the first wave of preview content. With a rather generous and long review period, 343 Industries and Microsoft are showing supreme confidence in the game, allowing reviewers to post content pertaining to the first three missions as well as Mission 8: Swords of Sanghelios (since this has already been revealed by Microsoft before). Here’s what we’ve learned about Halo 5: Guardians by playing those levels. Oh, and before you read further, small Halo 5: Guardians spoilers may be discussed below.

343 Have Learned from Halo 4

Many people praised 343 Industries for their stark change in the direction of the Halo series when they took it over from Halo creator Bungie (who is now working on Destiny). The darker story, the exploration of the Master Chief and Cortana as individual characters and their relationship, as well as the game’s art direction — all of these elements cemented Halo 4 as a unique entry in the series. However, many critics lamented that Halo 4 was constrained, always in a closed environment and didn’t provide the large, open battlefields that the previous Halo games were famous for.

As seen in the first three levels of Halo 5: Guardians, we can already tell that 343 has learned from that criticism, and Halo 5‘s first levels show a varied approach to the game’s environment. From fighting both Covenant and Forerunner enemies on an open planet, to the closed ONI station of Argent Moon in level two, 343 has given Halo 5 the environmental approach from games past. And, as a result, Halo 5 actually feels like both a blast from the past as well as a breath of fresh air all at the same time.

Halo 5 Guardians Xbox One 343 Industries

Fireteam And Blue Team Aren’t Just There for Co-op

While you can clearly see the inclusion of Master Chief’s Blue Team and Locke’s Fireteam Osiris as being shoehorned in for co-op purposes, the inclusion of the additional Spartans also adds a new element to the gameplay. Normally, in Halo games past, the minute you were shot down, you restarted from the last checkpoint. Now, you go down to a knee and can call over a Spartan to essentially “recharge” your armor and get you back into the fight. That’s not to say that you can’t be killed instantly; many times during the first level I found myself on the opposite end of a Forerunner Light Rifle, watching Locke’s body dissolve in a wave of particles.

The addition of the Spartans in Halo 5 also helps to develop the story of each character, as seen in both Locke’s and Chief’s scenes in levels one and two, respectively. It’s a little weird to have Chief, who has typically been surrounded by characters such as Cortana and Sergeant Major Johnson, feel like a bit of a lone wolf. The inclusion of Blue Team — which I recommend fans read Halo: The Fall of Reach or watch the upcoming animated series to become acclimated with the characters — helps to give another layer to Master Chief in the opening scenes of Halo 5.

Halo 5 Brings In All Its Marketing To Tell Its Story

To elaborate on the above heading, Halo 5: Guardians has seen one of the largest marketing pushes in Halo history. From the Halo: Nightfall series, which introduces Spartan (then Agent) Locke, to the incredible Hunt The Truth audio series, Halo 5 explores the interplay between the UEG and the outer colonies like no other game before. Instead of the story being just about the war between the Humans and the Covenant, or the impending doom thanks to uncovering Forerunner technology, we see at the beginning of Halo 5’s third mission, “Glassed,” that inter-human politics could also be a part of the story. To what end remains to be seen, but the early pieces are in motion for Halo 5: Guardians to add another layer to the Halo story.

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[Images courtesy of Microsoft]