New kinds of maps
When you start a map, an announcer will point out the key locations in a map where weapons or ammo are stored.
We played a map called Truth in Slayer mode. It’s a homage to the classic Halo arena map, Midship, with multiple levels and lots of spots for sniping at enemies who are farther away. In Slayer, the team that racks up 50 kills first wins.
You’ll hear voice chatter, where you’ll hear other players saying things like “enemy in the house,” warning other players of what’s happening. You can also hear announcements such as “ten seconds until sniper,” which means that a new sniper rifle will appear in an appointed spot on the map in ten seconds.
Empire is a map that takes place in a skyscraper in a city under siege during an insurrection battle.
In both maps, I found it challenging to stay alive. I had an easier time playing run-and-gun, shooting from the hip. So I tried to stay in the short corridors instead of running out into the open, where a long-shot player would be able to take me out more easily.
New competitive mode
The Breakout mode will be interesting for the e-sports crowd. In this mode, four Spartans vault into an arena with various structures, buildings, and barriers. It’s a computer-simulated world where Spartans can train. No lives are at stake, which heightens the feeling that you’re at a sporting event. You only get one life, and the round is over when one side kills off the other. The first team that wins five rounds will win the whole match.
The mode comes with voice chatter. Some of that is automated, as actors give voice to the battle. But you can also just talk with your friends over a headset, even if you’re dead. Since a dead player can spectate over the shoulder of any surviving player, the dead player can give guidance to the survivors about where the enemies are. Cover is a lot more important in this mode, and you can’t go running around like crazy.
The whole mode is meant to get people talking to each other. So many matches are played in silence. But Holmes said the aim was to get everybody talking about tactics in a game. Teams that communicate can naturally get the upper hand on rivals.
I really enjoyed this mode, as a lot of the matches were cliffhangers. It came down to two Spartans dueling with each other, dodging, shooting, doing special moves, and moving. Everybody shouted when the round was over. And the end screen shows the winning Spartan team swaggering and doing victory moves.
“We’re intentionally going after skill-based combat in the arena mode,” said Longo. “One of the cool things about Halo, though, is the world-class matchmaking. That’s the key. In a demo situation like this, you guys are all playing together with different skill levels, but when the game comes out you’ll be matched with people of similar skill who are learning those abilities at the same time you are. The experts will be matched with people on that same level.”
The beta has an XP-based progression system. You can unlock cosmetic armor sets, helmets, and visors. You can unlock some by watching the Halo: Nightfall digital video show, and you can also unlock some achievements for Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer by doing things in the Halo: Master Chief Collection.
You competitive skill rating (CSR) will be a meta rating that allows you to compare yourself against other players. As you play more matches, your CSR will go up.
343 Industries has done a good job changing the way you fight in Halo 5: Guardians. The Spartan Abilities put a lot of emphasis on learning what your Spartan can do, which brings a lot of fresh gameplay possibilities without adding a ton of new weapons or other things. Your Spartan has always been a mighty super soldier, and now you can finally make use of those powers in multiplayer combat. I think both the Halo die-hard fans and the e-sports players are going to like it.
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