Since 2013, Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console has felt like a device in waiting. New games come to the console all the time – many of them very entertaining. Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider arrived just in the last month. Early on, there was Titanfall and Ryse: Son of Rome. Even still, there wasn’t a clear go-to title, no single exclusive game that some could point to as a must-have. Halo 5: Guardians became that must-play title for the Xbox One when it arrived in October. A new Halo 5 update arriving on everyone’s consoles today makes that even clearer.
Called Cartographer’s Gift, this new Halo 5 update delivers on every part of the vision that developer 343 Industries communicated early on. As a title update, the new features are completely free. What’s more, there’s a new mode included that underscores 343’s promise to treat Halo 5: Guardians as an ever-evolving service rather than a game with paid content that’ll be forgotten about as it moves on to the next major project.
The Cartographer’s Gift Halo 5 Update has arrived. Here’s what new in the free upgrade for Xbox One owners.
What’s New in the December Halo 5 Update: Forge Mode
Halo 3, Halo 4 & Halo Reach all launched with a sandbox that let players create whatever they wanted using map development tools very similar to what developers use. Everyone thought that was going to be the case with Halo 5: Guardians too, but in early October 343 Industries dropped a bomb shell on excited fans. For the first time since its introduction a Halo game wouldn’t launch with Forge. Instead, a Halo 5 update would deliver the feature sometime in December.
Disappointing though it was, 343 Industries kept its word. The December Halo 5 Update rolling out this week includes Forge Mode. Now crafty owners of the game can make their own maps and modes. Cartographer’s Gift contains 1,700 different set pieces that players can place in Forge Mode. There are new tools for selecting multiple set pieces and editing things faster. Grouping, let’s Forge Mode creators easily change lots of items without deconstructing them. Interior and exterior lighting sources can be changed. Additionally, there are lights available to compliment every type of creation.
Anyone can create something in Forge Mode. It’s available from menu screen after players have successfully downloaded today’s Halo 5 update.
What’s New in the December Halo 5 Update: REQ Cards
Updates to Halo 5: Guardians are free in some part because of REQ Cards. Digital trading cards, opening packs of them gets players fresh weapons variants, power-ups and new cosmetic items to use in Warzone, Halo 5’s online battle mode.
Cartographer’s Gift includes a single new weapon with some upgraded variants: the M41 Rocket Launcher that’s some call SPNKr. There four versions of this heavy weapon ranging from a loud basic model to models that track enemies and fire faster. The SPNKr ranges from Rare to Ultra Rare.
Two new Assassinations, Nice Try and Oh Snap let players brutally take out their enemies. There’s also the Mark IV armor that’s inspired by the armor that Master Chief John 117 wore in a previous game.
What’s New in the December Halo 5 Update: Maps
Part of treating Halo 5: Guardians as a service is delivering new maps and locations at a steady pace, without charging players. This week’s Halo 5: Guardians update further delivers on that promise. There are four maps new to the game, Overgrowth, Entombed and Antifreeze
Entombed and Antifreeze are specifically for Big Team Battle. They are both huge, with themed scenery and all. Overgrowth is for Arena multiplayer and made specifically for team focused battles. In a sense, Overgrowth is like Valhalla from Halo 3’s multiplayer experience. There are matching bases with attack and territory control being the main highlights.
Battle of Noctus is made specifically for Halo 5: Guardians players tired of the three Warzone maps that come with the game. This new map puts the focus on vehicles early on, with a monument in the center that’s key to being successful on the level.
What’s New in the December Halo 5 Update: Controller Changes
There are smaller changes tucked in Cartographer’s Gift. Service records and commendations are now available for Spartan Company’s within the game itself. Members of a Spartan Company also get an exclusive armor and helmet set. There are REQ packs to be earned and leveling bonuses available to members of a Spartan Company too.
Spartan Companies are rosters of players with a name and crest created by community members. They are specifically for Warzone and Arena multiplayer. Speaking of multiplayer, Halo 5: Guardians’ Arena multiplayer now has Seasons. Players can build up their position within a season, before leaderboards reset after Season ends. Big Team Battle has 8 players on each team.
New advanced controller settings detailed on Halo Waypoint give players finer control over their character. This is a title update too, meaning there are big fixes and tiny updates scattered across the game. REQ cards now show how rare they are.
Cartographer’s Gift for Halo 5: Guardians is available to download for free today. The entire update measures around 4GB. Those with their Xbox One configured with Always On connectivity will find that there console already has the update the next time they start the game. Users who turn their console off completely will need to manually install the update the next time they open the game.