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First Impressions: Halo 5

Halo 5 has launched, finally. Without ANY spoilers, here are my first impressions of campaign, mechanics, and multiplayer for the biggest game this year for Xbox.

Campaign:

The campaign is surprisingly short, despite having so many missions (think Halo 2). This isn’t a bad thing, but it did leave me wanting more (also like Halo 2). The squad dynamics are not as refined as they could be, but the AI work well enough and know to stay close and support your movements. Also, the story is a little convoluted especially if you are not fluent in the Halo universe’s lore. Again, this can be seen as a good or a bad thing. They could have provided more insight into each of the Spartans on both teams, and a little more context for what actually is happening in the game. Overall, I did really like this campaign, but I would put it on the lower end when comparing it to other Halo campaigns. Remember that Halo campaigns are always stellar, so me (and other media outlets) saying that other Halo campaigns are better is not saying this campaign is bad, it is me saying it is still a great campaign. Great when comparing it to the rest of the industry, good campaign when comparing it to the rest of the Halo campaigns.

On a side note, there are a ton of awesome big sandboxes to play in during the campaign. Rarely do you feel like you are constrained on one single path or that you are stuck in a small building. Rather, every battlefield is an opportunity for the player to experience it in their own way. I can see this flourishing in co-op, which I haven’t experienced yet.

Mechanics:

The mechanics and gameplay design of Halo 5 is fantastic. Never has a Halo game felt this good since Halo 2. You can really tell that this game was rebuilt and made from the ground-up for the Xbox One. All the new Spartan Abilities are useful and when using them in tandem with others they become even more dynamic. Gunplay is as good as it has ever been, and I would say that the arsenal in this game is more refined than any other Halo game. I haven’t used a bad gun yet – they all have their place and all can be justified as good weapons. This is the best feeling Halo game ever.

Multiplayer:

Halo 5’s multiplayer has really impressed me. This is the best server-side launch in years with no issues on my end or anyone I know. Games are lag-free, quick to get into, and disconnects are non-existent. Of the maps I have played on so far, they are all very well designed. Arena multiplayer feels as good as Halo 2 competitive multiplayer felt, if not better. Warzone is a shining light in this game – the mode is the best console multiplayer mode in any game, on any console. I haven’t had as much fun with an online multiplayer mode since Firefight. 12 vs 12 vs AI is a brilliant move. The REQ system also is balanced, meaning that you can pay for more REQ packs but you won’t be able to use them until late-game anyways. Also, you will only be matched against players who also purchases packs… so there is an even playing field. For those who don’t spend real-world money on those packs like myself, I never find the other team having an unfair advantage in terms of vehicles or weapons they have that my team doesn’t have – i.e., if the other team calls in 2 scorpion tanks mid game, my team usually has a banshee and a wraith on the other side, as well as a rocket or two. Also, since there are so many players it is easier than ever to lose your powerful vehicle. Hijacks are awesome.

Overall:

This game is a must-own for Xbox One owners, and a must-play for anyone who is on the fence. This could be the game that makes those holding on to their Xbox 360 or PS3 jump ship to current-gen and get an Xbox One. Campaign is interesting and bold, mechanics are near-perfect, and multiplayer is an absolute gem.

Expect a full-on review in a weeks time, as I want more time to fully digest the multiplayer and campaign.

In general, know that this game is getting a lot of bad-rep on other sites and for a lot of good reasons – but in no way is this game bad. In fact, it is one of the best in the series. The game’s extremely high expectations did not help its Metacritic score, but in a vacuum this game is stellar.

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