What’s up everybody! Starting Friday, 343i will changing the map rotation for Team Slayer and they will be adding in the new Breakout game mode. I figured now would be a good time to post my thoughts on Halo 5 so far, so here we go!

The first thing I noticed was how fast paced Halo 5 is. It is really freaking fast. Not only do Sprint and Thruster Pack make it fast, but the kill times seem to be a bit shorter than in previous Halos. I think 343i needs to make kill times slightly longer, as long as it doesn’t affect the precision weapons like the BR, DMR, and the Magnum. The BR should always be a 4-shot kill, the DMR should always be a 5-shot kill, and the Magnum is good the way it is. One way 343i could do this is slightly lower the rate of fire for each weapon. They could also make shields a bit stronger, but only the tiniest bit stronger.

As for the automatic weapons, they seem to finally be useful. The Assault Rifle is a very deadly weapon at close quarters, and can now compete with precision weapons at mid-range. The SMG absolutely melts people at close range, and it can also hold its own at mid-range. Precision weapons will still beat automatics at mid-range 9 times out of 10, but automatics aren’t useless outside of close quarters anymore. I think that this will solve a lot of people’s problems with games either being primarily BR starts or AR starts, since both weapons are useful for once.

Onto the brand new Spartan Abilities, my feelings toward them are a bit mixed. See for yourself.

  • Sprint: Probably the most controversial ability in Halo since it made its debut in Halo: Reach. 343i did an admirable job in trying to balance it as much as they could without making it useless. In Halo 5, sprinting does not let your shields recharge, meaning that if you lose your shields, you can’t just sprint away while they recharge. You are much more likely to get killed if you sprint away with no shields. That being said, I am aware that many people still want Sprint to not be included in Halo 5. I personally do not care what 343i decides to do with Sprint. They can leave it in, they can remove it, or they can further tweak it. Either way, I’m okay with what happens to Sprint.
  • Thruster Pack: I enjoy using the Thruster Pack. It is an excellent way to throw enemies off their aim or to quickly get back into cover if you are in trouble. I wouldn’t mind seeing the thrusting distance decreased a bit, but other than that, I have no issue with Thruster Pack.
  • Clamber: This is the new feature that allows you to climb up a ledge by pressing a button. It basically acts as the new way of crouch jumping, so as you approach a ledge, simply press the jump button and you will climb up the ledge. I have no issue with this ability, but I understand that it basically removes crouch jumps and other skill jumps, and not everyone is okay with that.
  • Ground Pound: A lot of people were worried when they first learned of this ability, but worry not, since Ground Pound is quite balanced and difficult to pull off. Charging it up requires you to hover in the air for a few seconds, completely exposing yourself, and you basically have to get a direct hit on someone in order to get a kill. In my experience, I was only able to get one or two Ground Pound kills while playing. 343i could possibly tweak the distance you can Ground Pound and/or the hit radius, but it is honestly very balanced as it is right now.
  • Charge: Similarly to Ground Pound, I found this ability to be very situational. Charging at a fully shielded enemy will simply remove their shields, so getting kills with Charge basically requires you to use it on a weak enemy. I didn’t use Charge much, so I don’t really think it is good or bad; just not very useful.
  • Slide: This is probably the most useless of the Spartan Abilities. Why slide when I can thrust? I just simply could not find any use for Slide, other than trying it out to see how it works. It isn’t detrimental to Halo or anything, but it just isn’t very useful either.
  • Smart Scope: This is the only Spartan Ability I flat out don’t like. Most of the scopes clutter up the screen, they don’t instantly pop up like the traditional scopes did, and I just don’t think they work as well as traditional scopes. Here is a comparison of the DMR while zoomed in.
    Halo 4 DMR
    Halo 5 DMR
    Halo 5 DMR

    I don’t know about you, but I prefer the scope from the top image by far. It is much easier to see with the traditional zoom. In addition, Smart Scope is available on all weapons, including weapons that never had scopes, like the Assault Rifle. I don’t have much of a problem with that, but just the Smart Scope in general being vastly inferior to the traditional zoom. I hope 343i removes the Smart Scope and brings back the old zoom.

Halo 5 will also have a brand new competitive ranking system, called CSR (Competitive Skill Rating). It is very similar to the ranking system seen in games like League of Legends. I went into further detail about the ranks here. I love the concept of CSR and think that it could work extremely well in Halo 5. However, in the beta, I don’t think it works very well. In my experience, I won about half of my ten placement matches and had a mediocre K/D, but I was placed in Onyx tier. I thought that was too high for me, and as a result, I began getting my ass kicked. Most games I’ve played since then have been complete blowouts, usually with my team getting destroyed. I played a handful of games today, and I lost every single one of them, most of which by a lot. I will just assume that CSR will work much better in the final game, so I am not too worried about this. But it is still frustrating getting destroyed every single game.

I thought both of the maps that we got to play on were good. Truth is a remake of Midship, but with a few tweaks. Empire is a close quarters type map with plenty of ways to maneuver it. My only problem was with Empire. Sniper Rifles don’t work well on the map. There aren’t enough good sight lines for snipers to be very effective. As a result, the map is a bit campy and players just gravitate toward each Sniper Rifle spawn for the whole match. Replace the snipers with some other power weapon, and Empire will play a lot better.

I also have some small, nitpick-y issues with Halo 5, but they aren’t really worth discussing. I wanted this post to be focused primarily on gameplay. Plus, if I did list every single thing I like and don’t like about Halo 5, this post would be published as a novel.

So, with all that being said, how do I feel about Halo 5? I like it so far, but it could be better. I am very impressed with how far along the game seems to be right now, in beta stage. In many ways, Halo 5 feels more like classic Halo than Halo 4 did, but at the same time, Halo 5 feels new and fresh. I am confident that 343i will take player feedback to heart and make the necessary changes to make Halo 5 the best game that it can be.

I’ll be posting my thoughts on the new Team Slayer maps, as well as Breakout mode sometime next week. Be there, or be square!