Halo 5 has been out for a few months now, and after spending literal days of my life playing arena and warzone, I can confirm that what I said in my review still holds true – this is the best multiplayer Halo has ever had. Here’s why.
Balance is key
The most frustrating part about any online game (aside from lag & server issues) is balancing. If a game is not properly balanced, it can often feel unfair to play a certain way (on the giving or receiving end). For example, in Star Wars Battlefront (2015), if you do not use the jetpack option as a soldier in deathmatch or walker assault game types your character feels slow, vulnerable, and clunky. Players who do use it fly around the map with ease, get the drop on you, and ultimately play better.
In Halo 5, whether you are playing warzone or arena, the game is expertly balanced where no matter what gun you are using or what armor abilities you use (or don’t use), you have an equal chance of killing your opponent. I have frequently killed enemies with ‘superior’ weapons such as a DMR or a Fuel Rod Cannon with simple weapons like a Plasma Rifle or even a Boltshot. The bottom line is in Halo 5 the most important factor when it comes to winning games or playing well does not rely on the player playing a certain way or a certain style, but rather their individual skills… the way every game should strive to have their gameplay like.
Map design is on point
If you remember playing Halo 2 and Halo 3’s multiplayer, you probably remember a handful of great maps that everyone always voted to play on. Midship, Valhalla, Sandtrap, Coagulation, Zanzibar… in Halo 5 every map feels like this. I cannot think of a single map that I dread to play, and I can think of every map in the game when I think of maps I like to play on. I have my favorites, sure, but in Halo 5 it no longer feels like you are waiting for that ‘perfect’ map to show up in rotation – rather you simply enjoy each map to its fullest thanks to the brilliant design.
This is one of the big distinctions between Halo 4 and Halo 5… Halo 4’s maps were contracted out to an outside studio while 343i worked on Halo 4’s campaign and mechanics due to budget and time constraints. You could immediately tell in Halo 4 that map design was not one of their priorities and the game suffered from it. Halo 5 does not have that problem, and I am confident in 343’s map design team to deliver with future map updates and Halo 6 (expected 2018).
It’s not quite the triumphant return of firefight I was hoping for, but Warzone continues to surprise me every time I play it and it is quickly becoming a staple of Halo multiplayer. Consider Halo 6 not having Warzone (or an evolution of it)… Warzone has become as integral to Halo as Capture the Flag. The REQ system is an ingenious way of gaining post-purchase revenue that does not divide the player base like map packs and DLC does. REQ is only useful in Warzone, and even then it is only as useful as the player using it. I have destroyed countless Wraiths and Scorpions in Warzone because the game was so hectic the driver did not notice me sprinting up behind them to plant a grenade up their tailpipe. Equally, I have played an entire Warzone game on a single Sword Ghost (extra armor) without anyone stopping me. The power is in the player, not the weapon (notice a theme here?).
Halo 5 had a flawless launch, and its post-launch has never given me any problems server-wise. Huge games of Warzone and small games of Doubles are found within the minute every single time. Not only that, games simply do not disconnect which is a problem that every game has from time to time.
Best Forge Ever
Cherry on top – Halo 5’s forge mode is equally incredible. Check out this article Kotaku put out highlighting some of the awesome things made so far.
Halo 5 has a major update every month with new maps, weapons, REQs, a new “season” of ranks, tournaments, and more to entice players to keep coming back and it has been working. Halo 5 has a seemingly never-ending stream of content and it looks like it will continue this way until at least E3. Not only that, it’s all free! I think a big part of Halo 5 having the best player retention rate since Halo 3 ) is that they are treating Halo 5 “as a service” as quoted by representatives of 343i. Halo 5 is not a game that you start and stop playing, but rather a service that you keep playing because it is always evolving and because the core game is so fun.
So please, if you haven’t already, give Halo 5 a try if for nothing else other than the multiplayer. I just beat the campaign for the third time (this time solo on Legendary) and I am starting to appreciate what they were trying to do with the story, but Halo 5’s multiplayer is the real reason why I keep coming back. Whatever game I start to play, I always think to myself “I’d rather be playing Halo 5” because the game is just so much fun online and it constantly rewards you.
If you want someone to jump online with, hit me up at Mk Anthony on Xbox Live. I’ll be playing this game for a very long time, like the great Halo’s before it.
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