The Halo series, in many ways, in symbiotic to the Xbox brand. In the way that faces like Crash Bandicoot, Nathan Drake and, at one point, Solid Snake were systemic to the PlayStation brand, Master Chief has been there since the start. It’s easy to consider the franchise stale – but 343 Industries are making big strides to create a series that’s not only faithful, but completely their own in every way. Warzone is a perfect example of that work coming together.
Warzone is a brand new mode for the upcoming exclusive shooter, which mixes in a little bit of this, a little bit of that and provides a whole lot of everything for every team member to do. The core of the idea is to reach a score of 1000 points before the enemy team does. This is achieved in standard ways. Skilful kills, merciless backstabs and unapologetic rage Ghost riding all slowly tick the score counter forward – however it’s only the first thin layer to this club like sandwich.
Warzone ultimately feels like a game of Conquest, where teams fight for control of three strategic points across the map. The map, however, is scarcely populated with AI controlled grunts – not too unlike the ones you’d see sometimes aimlessly running about in Titanfall. These enemies put up little fight, but create a sense of density during the entire conflict. Dashing into a room with a handful of these and a single player-controlled enemy presents a fair share of problems, and overall the experience is enriched by their inclusion.
Control points aren’t the only way to score points either, making them just one of many different objectives around the expansive map. Should teams control certain ones, special areas of the map start opening up. Control all three, and the enemy’s “boss” become exposed – allowing you to hunt it down and score a massive chunk of points in the process. These automatically controlled enemies take on the form of powerful Elites and sometime even massive hulking Hunters – making their execution while staving off the rest of the team a challenge well worth the reward.
Smaller versions of these enemies also light up the map from time to time, creating strategic hotspots that draw placers together for momentary encounters. They also provide a means for a struggling team to get back in the game, quickly closing large point gaps should one almost too big for Conquesting alone arise. There’s a finely tuned balance at play here, and it kept the 15 minute or so match surprisingly tight during each second.
Players also gain far more control over their Spartan loadout in Warzone too. Strolling up to a weapons terminal or simply selecting when dead, you can burn regenerating credits to gain access to powerful weapon tiers from all three races. Spawning with a rocket launcher in tow instead of a pistol drastically changes the effect you can have on the tide of the game, but also forces you to pick with caution. Short and reckless lives will leave you with standard loadouts for several minutes, giving you an undeniable disadvantage to those with more savvy spending patterns.
It’s an engrossing multiplayer mode that stands in contrast with the second to second action of the more eSports focused competitive multiplayer present in the beta. Warzone is serious, but I felt like I was having more fun than in Arena, eating dirt every thirty seconds thanks to that one ass running around with a needler. Having branching objectives gives more purpose to those not suited to good one-on-one firefights, and it’s a mode I desperately want to play more of soon.
Last Updated: June 19, 2015