What you consider what we’re learning in about Microsoft’s Halo 5: Guardians game from impressions from journalists, it’s almost silly to think that there was some worry Microsoft would simply not change up its formula. In all fairness, Halo 4, the last game in the series didn’t set the bar terrible high. A lack of exciting new mechanics and a twisted confusing plot left many wondering whether developer 343 Industries could do anything to make a sequel exciting.
Here are some of the shocking things we’re learning about Halo 5 thanks to playtests and articles from those who’ve played the game ahead of Microsoft’s E3 2015 Media briefing. Before continuing know that some of this information contains story material.
You Take Command of Your Fire Team
When 343 Industries made it’s first Halo 5 teaser available, it seemed as if the company was preparing for a game very similar to what we had in the series before. We saw Master Chief John 117 standing in the open, draped in a cloak. Most assumed it’d be another single player, story driven linear experience focusing on John’s quest to save humanity from covenant forces.
Later we learned that Agent Jameson Locke would feature heavily in Halo 5: Guardians, and that players would get to be him for at least some of the game. Quickly we concluded that 343 Industries was aiming for something similar to the switch Bungie pulled in Halo 2 with John 117 and the Arbiter.
Thanks to The Guardian we’re learning more about how combat in the game works. We all assumed correctly, it appears we will get to play as both Locke and John 117. What we were wrong about is the single player experience. Even when only one person is playing they’ll be accompanied by a fireteam, 3 other Spartans who’ll assist them through the game. In a GameInformer report out yesterday Microsoft confirmed that these fire team members have a dedicated artificial intelligence. The Guardian, who had hands-on time with the game recently say that players can give members of their fire team specific instructions,
“In single-player mode, the Fireteam is run by AI and allows the player to give simple orders to the squad: go here, attack that, revive, drive vehicle – it’s intuitive and not over-complicated and does not divorce gamers from the action as some AI controlled squad-based shooters can do.”
Unfortunately, we don’t know yet if 343 Industries issue those commands with the Kinect sensor or mandate a controller. Hopefully, there’ll be some hybrid of both for gamers with a Kinect sensor.
Built-In Seamless Co-Op With On-Demand Respawning
343 Industries says that it added the fire teams because it wanted it to be easy for players to team up with their friends and go through the game’s story together. Called co-op, Microsoft has offered players the ability to team up with their friends in past games, but it could hardly be considered seamless.
Past games in the serious allowed to players to play with each other in the story mode, but if both players died the mission had to be restarted from the last checkpoint. If just one of you died the other had to stay out of harms way long enough for the system to automatically respawn them.
That same report from The Guardian indicates that Microsoft has scrapped at least part of that system. Halo 5: Guardians playing along with someone else will simply need to press a button to revive enemies. It’s a first for the series, but other games have offered this kind of respawn system for years. You can play alongside three other actual humans. The game scales in difficulty, meaning it won’t necessarily be easier to finish a level with four players than just one or two. If you’re killed by explosives or you die instantly.
Cortana is Back & So Is The Arbiter
Both Cortana and The Arbiter are back, according to ReadyUpLive.
How they’re back takes different forms. Cortana surfaces early in the game a memory, haunting John 117 and reminding him of is terrible loss. Polygon is reporting that The Arbiter, who factored heavily into Halo 2 is back for this game.
Earlier this week Microsoft confirmed that Buck, who’d previously been one of the more prominent members of a team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers in ODST, would be a member of Fire team Osiris.
There are other tidbits and both accounts of play. Including information about a new multiplayer map compete with space whales, space batters hopefully like the level in Halo Reach and more. For its part, Microsoft still remains pretty quiet on the game. The important thing to take away from these first play throughs is that 343 Industries is going out of its way to free Halo from that same stale blueprint we saw in Halo 4. No doubt the company will have more information to share during its E3 2015 Media briefing on Monday.
Halo 5: Guardians arrives on the Xbox One October 27th on Xbox One.