Come see some raw, uncut ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ campaign footage

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Halo 5: Guardians’ is good fun, but it’s better with friends.

In just over a month, Halo fans will finally get to see what happened to Master Chief following the events of Halo 4. If you like experimentation, then this is one of the best times to be a fan of online shooters.Call of Duty no longer has a stranglehold on the genre, and developers are testing out new ideas in order to appeal to a broader audience.Today, 343 Industries released the cinematic to the second mission in Halo 5: Guardians – “Blue Team” – that introduces players to the titular squad of elite Spartan-II’s as they board a derelict Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) research facility to ensure its contents do not fall into the hands of a renegade faction of Covenant zealots. The goal is to turn the Halo on our television screens into the vibrant, sci-fi epic it’s been for years to those willing to dive deep into the franchise’s novels and comic books.

Led by the legendary Master Chief, Blue Team grew up together through trials and tribulations of the Spartan-II training program as children, and have become a “family” through the course of countless battles – including Fredric-104, Kelly-087, Linda-058, and John-117. This is not an attempt to extrapolate a review out of my exceptionally limited time with the game, just an observation of what’s working and what’s not.

Whether you’re playing offline with three AI companions or over the Internet with a group of close friends, you’re never alone throughout the campaign of Halo 5. There’s a huge amount of story lore to know about Halo at this point — and, perhaps more importantly, the fifth game in a series probably assumes some gameplay and story knowledge on the part of participants. You’ll need your teammates to help you up when you take too much damage, and subsequently, you can’t rush off into the middle of a battle, guns blazing, or you’ll risk everyone dying on their way to revive you. This puts 343i in an interesting position, having to preserve the inherent power fantasy of militaristic shooter games while crafting a narrative about flawed and struggling human beings.

Just as important as the alteration to our collective play style is the fresh dynamic between the characters themselves. and games of its ilk often have to resort to cutscenes away from the action or conversations over some sort of communication device while the hero powers his way through the forces of evil. I jumped right in with Master Chief and Blue Team in mission two, and then followed that up by getting my first look at Jameson Locke and his team in the game’s tenth mission. There are certain things we’re not allowed to talk about or show you, but we do have these two self-captured videos featuring some of the campaign’s action. The Master Chief mission was set deep in a cold, dark, and generally unfriendly space station, complete with the obligatory (but beautiful) views out the windows of the desolation and emptiness of space. Your mission is to try and reclaim the station, but things go awry and instead you’re forced to activate a nuclear reactor and blow the place to smithereens.

The Locke mission takes place in an entirely different environment; the goal being to take out a massive spaceship called the Kraken that’s laying siege to the rocky, sun-baked canyons and mountains of the planet you’ve landed on. Halo 5 is the biggest game that Microsoft has coming this fall, and it’s going to be the main reason why gamers will choose the Xbox One over the Sony PlayStation 4. (See our interview with Xbox chief Phil Spencer about that).

The Halo universe is complicated, almost byzantine, and I had no real sense of what each character’s motivations were at any point aside from “don’t die.” That said, it doesn’t seem fair to judge a game’s story elements when you’re not playing from the beginning. Everything about Guardians’ two set-piece-heavy story missions I played, totaling about two hours of play time on normal difficulty, were designed to take full advantage of four soldiers working together in expansive environments.

You can feel it as you shove a shotgun in a Grunt’s face and pull the trigger, or use the new charging melee attack to break through a destructible wall. The title is also a big chance for Microsoft’s 343 Industries (the studio formed to handle the Halo franchise after original creator Bungie spun out to make another first-person shooter, Destiny) to show what it can do with huge investment of time and money. Yes, it might be hard to jump right into the universe if you’re new to the series, but from a gameplay perspective, Halo remains as tight a first-person shooter experience as you can get.

This new feature combined with wide-open levels creates a playground for combat as players can experiment with different tactics to take down the Covenant. Master Chief can direct the Blue Team to focus their fire on a squad of foes atop a staircase and this will distract them while the player flanks them adversaries from behind. Once reserved to Halo’s novels and comics, Blue Team is now front and center and players can assume the role of either the Chief or one of three other famed Spartans.

Players will also switch between the Chief and Fireteam Osiris, led by newly minted Spartan Jameson Locke who hunts the Chief after he’s deemed AWOL. Overall, though, the missions weren’t exactly memorable — even a day later, I had a hard time trying to remember exactly what I was trying to accomplish. The gameplay was refreshingly varied, though: Both episodes featured plenty of first-person shooting, but there was also some fun (and challenging) vehicle-based sections that did a great job of breaking up wave after wave of enemies. There are multiple pathways and innumerable aerial vantage points to create firefights that feel more realistic than the standard hallway mazes of older titles.

In the first mission, while playing as the Chief, we snuck deep inside a covenant ship, set its reactor to meltdown mode, diffused some defenses with aerial Banshee combat, and escaped a giant explosion. Notably, you do not have to play this mode with other live humans. 343i has crafted a more intelligent and responsive AI system for the campaign that lets you direct your teammates with combat and location orders.

There’s a lot of action happening above and below you, making it extra-challenging to know where to train your attention while clearing out a part of the map. But even though the majority of the missions involved mowing down hordes of Covenant Grunts, Elites, Jackals and Hunters, they felt significantly less repetitive than those in Destiny, which is perhaps the most obvious point of comparison. You play as the familiar Master Chief, carrying an assault rifle and grenades that haven’t changed since the very first Halo game, way back in 2001. When you’re playing by yourself, Halo 5’s AI controls the other three members of your team; at no point did I ever really feel those companions were much of a help or a hinderance. The experience was a reminder of what makes the tried and true Halo formula so great: giving players a variety of different avenues to tackle a giant problem.

The rest of the mission took me through a scenario where the squad boarded Banshees and engaged in a dogfight with other Covenant while shooting at vents. The squad mechanic is helpful here, too, because players can tell their team of Spartans in Banshees (nothing is scarier to aliens than that) to target foes. There were at least two sections where our team battled several massive Hunters as well as hordes of more standard enemies, and we had to be far more cautious and deliberate than in the single-player campaign. I felt the same pang of character-driven connection when, in my campaign play-through of Guardians, the Chief has a surreal vision of where he thinks Blue Team must travel next. Based on the what I saw of the single-player preview, probably not — this title will most likely appeal to the (large) group of hardcore fans out there, and will probably sell a bunch of Xbox Ones to those who haven’t come on board yet.

As for a noob like me, playing with friends made me realize that multiplayer — and in particular, this new co-op mode — is the way to best enjoy Halo. The locale this time around was a desert planet, with temples built into the hillsides almost like the Petra in Jordan. (It’s the resting place of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.) The team will have to fight Covenant lurking about. There are, of course, skulls, but in addition to that, players can find Intel that gives background to the story. “Enemy Lines” seemed to highlight Halo 5’s level design and the Spartans expanded move list. We stayed in touch with the UNSC Infinity, which dispatched new instructions for how to proceed with the attack on the Covenant and the defense of the Argent Moon.

You’ll get to keep your current user name (as long as it doesn’t contain invalid characters, in which case you’ll have to go through a few extra steps to make the transfer), and all your old comments will eventually (not immediately) migrate with you. MULTIPLE PATHS AND MULTIPLE SOLUTIONS: After the first firefight, players jump on Ghosts and they can rush past Grunts or take them on in the shadow of a Kraken, an enormous Covenant battlestation.

That concept of exploring and finding ways past obstacles plays an important role in the next major section which pits Fireteam Osiris against a contingent of Covenant blocking the entrance to a temple. That’s all fertile ground for the story.” As for Holmes, who has been working on the title for almost four years, he said about the fans, “I hope they’ll be surprised.

That leads to the final section of “Enemy Lines.” Fireteam Osiris recovers a Forerunner artifact, but they’ll have to fend off Forerunner security.

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