Halo 5 Doesn't Feel Like Halo: Multiplayer Experience From PAX East

I had the opportunity to try out Halo 5 multiplayer at PAX East and now I am skeptical about it's future.

Halo has been a series that I have been heavily involved with for well over a decade. It was a huge jump for multiplayer console shooters and it's very easy to bring back fond old memories whenever someone brought up the name. However, I'm not quite sure I like the direction that the game is going in with its newest installment, Halo 5: Guardians.

On the PAX East show floor, I had the opportunity to try out some Halo 5 multiplayer. The game mode we got to play was a domination match. This means that kills didn't bring much to the table; there were just three points in a small boxed canyon that you needed to control. You got to start with two weapons, the Auto-rifle and Battle Rifle. It was Halo, but there were a few roadblock I was having issues getting over.

Aim Down Sights

This is the staple of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. However, this isn't necessarily a mechanic that fits for Halo. I understand using a scope for the Battle Rifle, Sniper Rifle, or any weapon that has a scope. But the Auto-Rifle just doesn't feel right when you look down its "sights."

It takes away from the run and gun nature of Halo and makes it feel like every other FPS in the genre. Once this mechanic is added to a game it has to be used, otherwise your pretty much gimping yourself by not making your targets larger on your screen.


Something that caught me off guard was the ability to do a slight boost dash to the side. The first time I did this was on accident hitting the X button. Once I learned that this was a game mechanic I started to realise I wasn't playing Halo. I was playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare with a new skin on it. I started to feel less like a Spartan and more like a soldier in an Exo-suit.

It's difficult to figure out ways to make Halo feel new and refreshed without following the footprints set by other games. Maybe it's just my rose-colored nostalgia goggles, but this just didn't feel right.

Everything has a Timer

One of the things that separated the good from the great was knowing spawn timers. For example, knowing when the rocket launcher was going to spawn would give you one of the greatest advantages in the Halo series.

Now your teammates will automatically alert you in the game 30 seconds and 10 seconds before something like the rocket launcher will spawn and when I say teammates, I mean the characters that are being controlled by humans. This is an automated process within the game and doesn't need any input from a player. 

It's Not All Bad Though

I do have a laundry list of issues with Halo 5, but I can't completely disregard the game over them. The visuals were great and the audio felt immersive and had great fidelity. I also never got an opportunity to try out any vehicles or see any campaign, so those could be top-notch. 

For now, I have to remain skeptical. Maybe 343 will show more details on Halo 5 soon, but I won't be going out to pre-order this game just yet.

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Published Mar. 9th 2015
  • topher339
    First off, I'm assuming that you didn't get a chance to play the beta. Second, I assume but Auto-Rifle you are referring to the Assault Rifle.

    Now, the timer issue is double-edged for me. It is a bit of an annoyance and I feel it almost shouldn't be there. That players shouldn't know when the weapon will be spawned. However, at the same time it keeps the weapon from being easily available to any one player. It creates a focal point for the battle. It's almost guaranteed that at least one person of both teams will show up. It creates a battle for the advantage which in my eyes makes sense. It rewards the victor.

    As for the ADS. I'm glad they added it. Yes, most all other FPS have the ability to aim down sights but typically it does make a sizable difference in accuracy. In Guardians it does more to stabilize the rifle than help it's accuracy.

    The jet boosting has been around for a while now. It started in Reach and had a part in Halo 4. In neither game was it given the same potential as in Guardians but this was the next logical step. You can't spam it to dodge everything. It takes skill and timing to use.

    As for Guardians being like COD, I respectfully disagree. Rather it's COD that has always borrowed from Halo. Halo came first. You said that it felt like "I was playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare with a new skin on it. I started to feel less like a Spartan and more like a soldier in an Exo-suit." Well really, if anything COD should feel like Halo as the Exo-suit is really a derivative of a Spartan's armor. It makes a person faster, stronger and capable of taking more punishment, just like a Spartan. And while Halo may be borrowing some from COD's playbook they put their own twist on in. Just because now we have more uable thrust packs doesn't mean it's another Advanced Warfare. In Halo you can only use it after a cool down period. You have to know where and when to use it. In COD you basically just spam it, it takes no skill to use.

    I'm a fan of both COD and Halo but Halo stands head above to me. It does not feel like COD. It's changing, yes. But that's the only way to keep such a series going. Otherwise it becomes stale.
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    Ryan, is this your first time experiencing Halo 5 and seeing the changes? I ask because a lot of what you bring up has either been explained or discussed a fair amount.

    1. They've already said the aim down sights just improves your control of your gun, at the cost of lost HUD and slowed down movement. It doesn't actually impart any bonus other than allowing you to be more precise with your own aiming. The guns don't intentionally get more accurate like they would in Call of Duty.

    2. Jet boosting has basically been a thing since Halo: Reach's dodge roll and jetpack. Halo 4 had similar ideas but integrated them into the fiction as features in the Spartan armor. To be honest, movement systems like these are becoming a thing regardless of the game in the FPS genre. Dying Light has similar aspects as well. Just like vaulting over cover, the idea of dodging just works naturally.

    Now, the whole ground pound aspect needs to be seen more thoroughly explored before whether it can be called a good or bad move. I personally welcome it as they're more heavily emphasizing skill use for melee attacks. For contrast, in Destiny, so many people use the Halo 2-style melee attacks alongside guns that it's almost a melee battle instead of a first person shooter. Here, 343 Industries is trying to hike up the skill requirement, and encouraging further use of environmental navigation. Once again, more like an evolutionary step forward, less a leap as it first appears.

    3. This is being done purely for casual gamers, and we all know it. It is being done for the people who cannot memorize maps, who cannot keep tabs on multiple timers, and who just want to play for thirty minutes. Honestly, it's not bad design as it was shown to work in Titanfall. It may finally get a bunch of the "multiplayer isn't fun because I can't win" crowd to chillout and try to understand the complexities of it.

    I'm not trying to criticize your article, just wanted to say that these issues have been addressed one way or another.

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