The Master Chief has, for as long as I can remember, been synonymous with gaming on Xbox. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to ensure their platform mascot remained at the company after the departure of creators and developers Bungie, and it eventually resulted in the formation of 343 Industries. They, in turn, put out Halo 4 – a truly remarkable game that squeezed every drop of performance the Xbox 360 had to give, delivering a powerful and intimate story with extremely enjoyable additions to the Halo gunplay.

Halo 5 is their first shot at a Halo sequel, and it’s a little all over place.

In many ways, Halo 5 mirrors what Halo 2 was for Bungie. Back then Halo was a huge franchise already, shipping Xbox consoles like no other and promising to deliver another chapter in the engrossing saga of Master Chief. Since then, the idea of narrative-heavy shooters has become something of a staple, and Halo has always strived to deliver an excellent (if convoluted) story with each title. Halo 5 attempts to stay on the same page, but undercooks so many ideas in the grand scheme of things.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 1

This is meant to be the Empire Strikes Back of the Reclamation trilogy, and it’s apparent in the first few hours into the campaign. Story details are so wafer-thin though that I begged the game to actually start a few hours in – even though I had already completed close to half it’s mission count. The first two missions set up what is supposed to be the main arc of the tale – specifically the hunt for Master Chief 117 from the view of new protagonist Agent Locke – but it never carries any real emotional weight or consequence. Locke’s Osiris team blindly hunt a hero, and never really question why with real vindication.

This is reciprocated by a blatantly confusing stance that the Chief himself takes in his three missions (that’s out of the total 15), keeping information that would otherwise easily resolve the hunt to himself rather than getting everyone on his side. It’s difficult to explain why Halo 5’s tale is so bland and boring without giving it away (tempting given how insignificant it all felt), but it’s an unfocused, uninteresting tale that swaps years of character building for a plot that really finishes before it even gets going. But hey, sequel!

Halo 5: Guardians Review 2

Memorable only for the amount of disappointment it set in after it’s meagre six-hour long campaign, which brought to mind memories of Chief’s infamous “Finish the Fight” ender in Halo 2.

The campaign – and through extension the game itself – features otherwise exceptional gunplay. As is tradition with the franchise, you rarely end a mission with the tools you start them with, and the way Halo 5 forces you to switch your arsenal on the fly is both engaging and functionally sound. The weapons themselves are all now imbued with Smart Link, which is a form of aiming down the sights only halted by direct enemy fire. It gives Halo 5 a more modern feel, but without encroaching on the tried and test gameplay that has kept the series charging forward.

Even better is the way movement and Spartan abilities have been streamlined. Each character you can take control of in either Osiris or Blue squads features the exact same abilities, meaning everyone can do little boost dashes in any direction, mantle up on ledges with the jump button and eventually hit some air and slam into the ground with an almighty fist. Halo has never felt this smooth, and the added sense of mobility allows 343 to get really inventive with level layouts and designs.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 3

Most of the fun when playing alone is wielded from the many set-pieces Halo 5 throws at you, but it’s unfortunately dampened by some less than exciting AI behaviour. Teammates do peculiar things, but always manage to do their best to revive you when you’re down in battle. That’s fine in practice, but the true genius of Halo 5’s campaign shines when you’re playing with up to three other friends.

Dynamic moments such as smacking Covenant in the face while a friend of yours is covering you with turret fire can only happen in co-op, and it’s truly satisfying in execution. Sadly there’s no split-screen, and playing online means connecting to Microsoft’s Azure servers (of which there aren’t any locally). That means there’s the slightest delay in tossing grenades and hitting melee attacks, but thankfully the netcode manages to keep things more than playable. Much like Titanfall before it.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 4

Thankfully the same can be said for the proverbial other patty in this double stuffed meal. Halo has held fast, precise and, well, fun multiplayer to heart for years, and Halo 5 is just another step in the right direction. Taking all of the fluidity from the reworked movement and the verticality tied around with in the campaign, Halo 5’s multiplayer is the best the series has achieved so far. All the while being stable enough for play during early (and limited) play before launch (we’ll be testing it out more during launch week, and may update the review to reflect any disparities).

On offer before launch were only two modes, although 343 has promised that all the standard fan favourites will make a return once the game goes live. This includes game modes such as Slayer and Capture the Flag, as well as new ones such as Breakout (a cramped take on capture the flag with single lives, which I adored during beta). A mix and match of these make up Arena – an 4v4 team based mode that cycles through competitive playlists and maps. It’s fun and easy to jump into, but always a little better when you’re going in with a Fireteam of three friends behind you.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 5

The other is Halo 5’s newest and most intriguing multiplayer addition – Warzone. Taking hints from MOBAs such as DOTA 2 and the like, Warzone drops at least 18 players into a single, massive map littered with objectives. Completing these objectives grants your team points, as does taking out AI controlled grunts and other human players. A match is won when a single team reaches 1000 points, but also if one team manages to take the others’ Power Core out – a central structure that players will have to actively attack and defend.

What keeps Warzone different is the way in which it incorporates Halo 5’s other biggest addition, simply known as Requisition Packs. Playing through multiplayer earns you in-game currency that you can spend on Gold, Silver or Bronze packs. Within are customisation options for your Spartan; weapons, vehicles and ability boost that you can use primarily in Warzone. Simply strolling up to a station in a match will let you equip any cards you have, granted you’ve earned enough energy during the match by earning kills or completing objectives. It’s like a Store in any MOBA you’ve ever played, except that your inventory is procured before the match even begins.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 6

REQ points can be purchased with real-world money if you want to boost your arsenal fast. It’s hard not to say it won’t make a difference in a match (having a near infinite supply of special Sniper Rifles and Rocket Launchers is never a bad thing), but it’s not intrusive enough to be a problem, especially since Warzone isn’t exactly where the bulk of Halo5’s competitive multiplayer rests. What might be irksome is that you’re potentially spending money to play Halo 5’s REQ Slot machine – which can easily spit up more duplicates than you’ll ever care for.

Halo 5: Guardians Review 7

And while it doesn’t bear the exact same shortfalls, Halo 5: Guardians struggles to shake off the shackles of feeling like an exact twin of the middle child from Bungie’s own trilogy. The second part in the Reclaimer saga is sadly a disappointing one, making nearly no progress in the overall narrative arc while simultaneously failing to entertain in what has been billed for months as a clash of Spartan Titans. The multiplayer and vastly improved gameplay keep the entire package intact as an unmissable one for Halo veterans, but it’s hard not to feel slightly disappointed by what could’ve been – as far as the story goes, anyway.

In the wake of the Master Chief Collection’s poor post-release performance, this is a provisional score that will be updated as more of the game goes live.

Last Updated: October 26, 2015

Halo 5: Guardians
A short, disappointing tale makes nearly no progress in 343’s trilogy, and offers nothing that lives up to the billing of a tense showdown between Halo 5’s two protagonists. Thankfully the improved gameplay and consistently great multiplayer shine in Halo's uneven debut on the Xbox One. The multiplayer is fantastic, and the co-op is magical. Bring friends.
7.9
Halo 5: Guardians was reviewed on Xbox One
84 / 100

91 Comments

  1. So the flagship title for Microsoft is not a Destiny killer after all.

    Reply

    • Ray Lera

      October 26, 2015 at 09:13

      Why would you compare those two?
      They are not even close to the same type of game.

      Reply

      • oVg

        October 26, 2015 at 09:18

        I actually thought those were Destiny screens. I suppose Bungie were allowed to keep everything that they designed for Halo before 343 took over. The ammo count, the guns, the shiny sci fi graphics.

        But Halo has a kick ass HUD. Reminds me of Metroid Prime.

        I was hoping that HALO would be a Destiny killer especially considering that Destiny had a very shallow lore in the SP on-line only portion.

        Still too early to tell but I think the hardcore FPS gamers have already invested too much money and Bungie have had a 1 yer head start with those adopters.

        Will wait and see.

        Reply

        • Ray Lera

          October 27, 2015 at 09:33

          The games are not even close to the same. Why would one kill the other?
          Ones a co-op, mmo grindy game and the other is pvp multiplayer shooter.

          Reply

          • oVg

            October 27, 2015 at 10:51

            I realize that now. Microsoft could have easily thrown $500 million at the game and stole the entire work model of Destiny for a massive long term goal.

            I suppose we will have to settle for the fact that Halo is indeed in competition with Crysis and nowhere near the AAA GIANT of what is Destiny.

            I still cant believe that Destiny single player game with non existent lore got higher praise than the new flagship title from Microsoft.

            Go Microsoft, I suppose Lara Croft is there only system seller now.

      • Hammersteyn

        October 26, 2015 at 09:21

        Clearly

        Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      October 26, 2015 at 09:21

      Did anyone think it would?

      Reply

      • oVg

        October 26, 2015 at 09:27

        It should have. It is Microsofts Trump card and the way that they have been doing damage control since the launch you would think they would throw some money at it. Like Destinys 500 million.

        I wonder if that fan base from all the breaking news articles of 1 week queues outside the stores for the HALO 3 launch have moved on.

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          October 26, 2015 at 09:29

          If the multiplayer is good and I mean really really good it might just be the trump card they need. It’s all about PVP these days. I think more and more people don’t even bother with the COD campaign

          Reply

        • Ray Lera

          October 27, 2015 at 11:27

          Gamings gone digital. Thats the main reason most dont que up for games.

          Reply

          • oVg

            October 27, 2015 at 11:33

            True, especially in America where a 17gig patch is downloaded in 30minutes. Over here in South Africa it takes a week on a 2mb line. If there is no power cut lol. I wish I was an American, things like 24hour DRM check in would not effect my hobby what so ever.

            Still, nice to know all those trees used for maps and manuals, plastic molds and CD prints while being shipped and ported from the harbor to the middle man at retail is CHEAPER than a digital copy. My mind boggles.

      • 40 Insane Frogs

        October 26, 2015 at 10:40

        I kind of hoped that it would, while I love living under the SONY SUPREMACY regime, they need at least some competition.

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          October 26, 2015 at 10:43

          Indeed, but rather competition from Nintendo

          Reply

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            October 26, 2015 at 10:47

            I don’t know about that, as a new owner of a Wii U, Splatoon is pretty kak. Only thing, I’ve enjoyed so far is Mario Maker and Bayonetta 2.

    • Nikola

      October 26, 2015 at 10:26

      It wouldn’t have been they just too different games, you can sink so many hours into a game like Destiny with Halo you can finish the campaign and then what play the multiplayer arena constantly and that get’s boring quite fast! You don’t have the coop sense like you get in Destiny with strikes and raid’s!

      Reply

      • oVg

        October 26, 2015 at 10:46

        Everybody should have copied the Borderlands 2 formula. That game will always stand the test of time.

        Reply

        • 40 Insane Frogs

          October 26, 2015 at 10:49

          Decades from now, I will create the Church of Borderlands 2, and all my followers will know the truth. Salvation can only be achieved through Claptrap! Oh and fear stairs…

          Reply

        • Nikola

          October 26, 2015 at 10:50

          SO true though, I finished that game 3 times now:)

          Reply

          • 40 Insane Frogs

            October 26, 2015 at 10:53

            You should finish it at least 5 times more. Get on it Nikola, you dirty slacker!!

          • Nikola

            October 26, 2015 at 10:57

            I wish actually haha have all the DLC to finish as well done the Oasis stuff only, I just wish my backlog was not sooo large then I can jump back into BL2 buut holdays are coming:)

          • RinceThis

            October 26, 2015 at 16:45

            Slacker!

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      October 26, 2015 at 10:38

      Ironically, Destiny killed Destiny!

      Reply

    • Guest

      October 26, 2015 at 16:30

      By the looks of your comments on this thread you’re just a Halo hater anyway… Only would play Metro for an FPS, not a Destiny killer, lower on metacritic than AC Syndicate….

      If you don’t like something that’s fine, but damn man….why you gotta shit on everyone else’s parade?

      Reply

      • oVg

        October 26, 2015 at 16:38

        Haters going to hate. To be serious I had high hopes for Halo 5, I thought they would be competing with Destiny and as a 1st party studio they would want to convert those Destiny fans. I don’t hate it. I’m just disappointed that Microsoft did not throw all their eggs into one basket.

        Reply

        • RinceThis

          October 26, 2015 at 16:45

          They did, they just broke 🙂 hehehe

          Reply

          • oVg

            October 26, 2015 at 16:50

            lol

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    October 26, 2015 at 09:08

    So if it wasn’t for MP this game would be kak.

    Reply

    • oVg

      October 26, 2015 at 09:10

      Ya, worse than the new Assassins Greed according to Metaritic.

      RUNS

      Reply

      • Ray Lera

        October 26, 2015 at 09:13

        How is 83 worse than 76?

        Reply

        • oVg

          October 26, 2015 at 09:14

          Still RUNNING 😛

          Reply

          • RinceThis

            October 26, 2015 at 16:46

            trolling you mean hahaha

  3. Geoffrey Tim

    October 26, 2015 at 09:11

    https://t.co/t9mMSYk7oS Video if you’re unable to click the link.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      October 26, 2015 at 09:22

      Cheers!

      Reply

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      October 26, 2015 at 09:30

      YOU DA REAL MVP

      Reply

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      October 26, 2015 at 10:51

      I don’t watch youtube videos, youtube videos watch me… (that sounded so epic in my head, and now that I’ve written it dow, it comes across as being so lame… so lolcow worthy…)

      Reply

  4. Francois Knoetze

    October 26, 2015 at 09:13

    well this is kind of disappointing:( been following hunt the truth like mad. Quick question: wouldn’t the story make more sense if you covered all the mediums and not just the game itself? basically: hunt the truth(which actually gives a lot of backstory) , nightfall(probably not this though) and the game itself?

    Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      October 26, 2015 at 09:24

      I don’t think so, because all the setup for the hunt is in the game itself. It might enhance it a little, but the game does nearly nothing to invest you in the turmoil of it all

      Reply

  5. (Umar) Must be Cipher

    October 26, 2015 at 09:15

    Weren’t they like teasing an epic story with Halo 5? Seems like they’re just pushing out another MP shooter, which I guess is the appeal of Halo.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      October 26, 2015 at 09:21

      COD : Halo

      Reply

    • oVg

      October 26, 2015 at 09:23

      I think the successful work model for Destiny has changed the Industry. 343 probably did not even want an SP campaign but because its an old IP thay had to keep it oldschool. Kids these days do not want story, they just want to shoot their school friends like Titan Fall.

      Reply

      • Guild

        October 26, 2015 at 09:29

        So when you joining us for some Destiny? 😛

        Reply

        • oVg

          October 26, 2015 at 09:29

          When its free 😉

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            October 26, 2015 at 09:30

            Rince cant keep his mouth shut XD

          • oVg

            October 26, 2015 at 09:31

            Thank goodness for The Wither 3 otherwise he would be owning all of you in Destiny… 24/7… Ya, the 24/7 part like me is what he is afraid of.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            October 26, 2015 at 09:35

            With what? His face-to-foot style?

          • oVg

            October 26, 2015 at 09:36

            lol

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            October 26, 2015 at 09:38

            Speaking of Witcher 3 – played a bit on Sat & a Fallen Knight’s battle cry was “I live. I die. I live again!” Mad Max FTW.

          • RinceThis

            October 26, 2015 at 16:47

            I’ll put my foot to your face!

          • RinceThis

            October 26, 2015 at 16:46

            HAHAAH! True…

      • Ir0nseraph

        October 26, 2015 at 09:53

        If kids only want MP, why did CoD of games go out and pour more content into SP ?

        Reply

        • Nikola

          October 26, 2015 at 10:27

          Honestly though I am glad they did, I want a good SP campaign to be back for FPS games! I miss that fuck the PvP shit!

          Reply

  6. Hammersteyn

    October 26, 2015 at 09:21

    MEHlo

    Reply

    • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

      October 26, 2015 at 09:31

      LOOOL

      Reply

    • oVg

      October 26, 2015 at 09:35

      Does not matter how hard you try, Trevor will come out with a gem. 😛 The bugger.

      Reply

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      October 26, 2015 at 10:58

      Milo?

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        October 26, 2015 at 11:05

        haha

        Reply

  7. Guild

    October 26, 2015 at 09:36

    The Black Ops 3 campaign is longer than Halo 5?

    Reply

    • oVg

      October 26, 2015 at 09:47

      good point, 15hours and all chapters unlocked from the start for the whack a moll ADD kids.
      1080p/60fps… but, If im going to force myself to play an FPS game it would be METRO.

      Reply

      • Guild

        October 26, 2015 at 09:49

        343 basically created a CoD game by the sounds of it

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          October 26, 2015 at 11:12

          But with space marines!

          Reply

    • Nikola

      October 26, 2015 at 10:22

      Very true! Also COD campaign you know what you getting a fun story nothing spectacular but this game was sold on the hope that it will have an amazing SP campaign!

      Reply

  8. Allykhat

    October 26, 2015 at 10:10

    This article makes me a very sad panda…. :'( Considering I will be buying an Xbone JUST for this game…

    I think it’s safe to say that 343 have turned this frankly amazing franchise into Call of Duty: Halo edition. Lackluster story tacked onto an addictive multiplayer element.

    Tis a dark day indeed… </3

    Reply

    • Nikola

      October 26, 2015 at 10:28

      THey need to bring SP campaigns back to first person shooter and stop focusing soooo much on multiplayer!

      Reply

  9. Xack Jackson

    October 26, 2015 at 10:12

    Take a gander at our review, http://www.doyouevengamebro.net/halo-5-guardians-campaign-review/
    I personally can’t wait to play it.

    Reply

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      October 26, 2015 at 10:54

      Ok, but first, you need to visit my website…. 😛

      Reply

  10. Xcalibersa

    October 26, 2015 at 10:22

    Why are you playing Halo? Go and review Just dance 2016

    Reply

    • oVg

      October 26, 2015 at 10:48

      BURN 😛

      Reply

    • 40 Insane Frogs

      October 26, 2015 at 10:54

      Brutal!!!

      Reply

    • Xcalibersa

      October 26, 2015 at 11:05

      Wait ……

      I was being serious. …..

      I want a Just dance 2016 review.

      Was not being rude

      Reply

      • Geoffrey Tim

        October 26, 2015 at 12:16

        We don;t have the game, but I’m making a plan – and will see if we can have a review up.

        Reply

        • Xcalibersa

          October 26, 2015 at 15:32

          Never a good sign when you dont get a review copy

          Reply

  11. Nikola

    October 26, 2015 at 10:24

    Honestly it is sad to hear even though I would NEVER touch an Xbox, I use to enjoy my FPS linear games that had a good single player campaigns not I guess every FPS they focus on multiplayer! I’ve been playing thought the SP campaign of COD Advance Warfare at the moment and I must admit I am presently surprised it’s not bad at all LOT of fun and the story is good!

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      October 26, 2015 at 11:10

      Lies! You touched a XBOX at Rage. Twice

      Reply

      • Nikola

        October 26, 2015 at 11:12

        Dammit why are you exposing me:(

        I did and then I really realized how crap it is..

        Reply

      • Grand Admiral Chief SpaceNinja

        October 26, 2015 at 11:14

        Ewwwwwwwwwww

        Reply

  12. 40 Insane Frogs

    October 26, 2015 at 10:39

    That sucks buckets…. Damnit Sandy, for a moment there I almost thought of buying Halo 5… :/

    Reply

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      October 26, 2015 at 10:40

      It’s still a great game though! Just yeah, that story :/

      Reply

      • 40 Insane Frogs

        October 26, 2015 at 10:41

        So, second-hand bin, then? I might still spoil myself later this year, Fallout 4 and Halo 5.

        Reply

        • oVg

          October 26, 2015 at 10:47

          The Halo 5 story is probably just a tutorial for the on-line play.

          Reply

  13. 40 Insane Frogs

    October 26, 2015 at 10:52

    So in a nutshell, Master Chief is Agent Locke’s father?

    Reply

  14. Orl?anž

    October 26, 2015 at 11:14

    Played the campaign from beginning to end. Halo fans, this is actually worst than Halo 4. The ending tho, feels so rushed and unsatisfying. Not a Destiny killer, not a cod killer, and definitely won’t get GOTY (unless MS paid for it)

    Reply

  15. Billy Beefcaked

    October 26, 2015 at 13:32

    7.9…..what a douche! Seriously though you praise the hell out of the game, point out a few flaws….then give it 7.9. Clearly you are looking for click bait douchey boy.

    This is the last time I’ll ever come to this awful website. Your reviews are completely null and void.

    Reply

    • Sageville

      October 26, 2015 at 13:47

      Ain’t nobody got time for your bollocks.

      Reply

  16. Geoff Carlin

    October 26, 2015 at 13:36

    Personally I liked the story for the most part…. the end was a bit meh

    Reply

  17. Megaru

    October 26, 2015 at 23:25

    A good review nice 🙂

    Reply

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