Halo 5: Guardians Preview

Warzone takes online multiplayer to dizzying new heights!

It seemed apparent to me that Master Chief wasn't really dead at the end of Halo 3, but that didn't stop countless fans from thinking the worst. Much to everyone's delight, the mighty hero returned in Halo 4, and now he's back in Halo 5: Guardians. Fortunately, this sequel goes way beyond a mere upgrade of visuals and new locations because it was built from the ground up specifically for the Xbox One. Not only has the campaign been augmented, but there are some serious additions to online multiplayer as well.

When Master Chief goes AWOL during a mission, the USNC sends Fireteam Osiris to track him down and bring him back to explain his actions. Players get to control both Master Chief leading Fireteam Blue as well as Spartan Locke leading Fireteam Osiris in an epic story that spans three worlds. During the world-hopping adventure, players will uncover and deal with a seemingly unstoppable threat to the galaxy. This campaign was designed to be played cooperatively with seamless drop-in/drop-out mechanics, so the maps have been greatly enlarged to offer a variety of ways to tackle each area.

Of course, the campaign can also be undertaken solo, which gives it a more strategic feel. This is due to the new feature that lets players issue orders, such as "attack this target" and "revive this teammate." When there are no real-world teammates to coordinate with, giving orders at the right time can mean the difference between completing a mission and attending a Fireteam funeral. Having basic control over teammates also sets up new strategies like sending them in as tanks to take damage while the squad leader picks enemies off from afar or letting them distract lesser enemies while the player takes on more serious threats. I'm excited to fight with an actual Fireteam in the Halo universe and have them provide assistance instead of being mere cannon fodder.

Even more impressive is the new Warzone online multiplayer mode that pits two teams of twelve against each other on massive maps filled with complex terrain, numerous buildings, and AI-controlled enemies. Each team begins the match by clearing out their own HQ, and then it's time to mount an assault on the real enemy. Adding even more chaos to this mode is the inclusion of giant boss characters that drop into the world ready for battle. Killing these mighty creatures adds a plethora of points to the team that succeeds, and this creates enough incentive to go after them ASAP. With both teams vying for the kill, players will have to decide whether to go after the boss right away or slaughter the opposing team beforehand.

It seemed like music to my ears when I heard that weapons and vehicles in Warzone mode are requisitioned rather than spawned at certain points on the map. One of my least favorite aspects of Halo is the weapon-spawn locations because it encourages camping out near the areas where the best ones appear. Players begin each match at level one and raise this level by getting kills, taking over areas, and performing other important functions on the battlefield. Each new level opens up a new set of weapons and vehicles that can be spawned specifically for the player to use. How cool is that?

Over twenty multiplayer maps for various modes will be included with Halo 5: Guardians, and 15 more will become available over the subsequent eight months. In addition, players will gain access to community-created maps and a continuous rotation of multiplayer game modes during this time. In addition, a wide variety of weapons, visors, skins, emblems, and unique armor sets will become available after the game is launched. Needless to say, the dev team plans on supporting Halo 5: Guardians for years to come!