Hi there! Now that I’ve put some more time into Halo 5’s multiplayer, I figured I’d share my thoughts so far. Buckle up!
Hard to believe it has already almost been a year since we played the Halo 5 Beta right? Well, during that time, 343 has been busy listening to our feedback and implementing necessary changes. So, how’d they do? Keep on reading to find out!
Before we go any further, I should answer the burning questions due to Halo MCC’s rough launch. Does it work? Is matchmaking functional? Are there dedicated servers? In short, yes to everything. Matchmaking works, it is really fast, and it has dedicated servers, so there is virtually no lag. It is wonderful.
In Halo 5, there are two basic multiplayer experiences: Arena and Warzone. However, I’ll be splitting this post into three categories by including the new game mode, Breakout, as its own category because I think it is different enough from the other modes to warrant its own category. Let’s get started.
This is Halo 5’s take on the traditional Halo multiplayer experience. Small teams, weapons on the map, equal starts, and competitive ranks can all be found here. As of right now, these are the playlists available in Arena:
- Team Arena – A mix of Slayer and Objective modes. Halo 5’s premier competitive playlist.
- Team Slayer – It’s Slayer. What else do you need to know?
- Breakout – A brand new game mode (more on this later)
- Free-For-All – Every Spartan for him/herself
- SWAT – Aim for the head!
- Weekend Social – a weekend-only playlist based on community voting (this weekend it’s Shotty Snipers)
Now, you may be thinking, “This list is kinda short…”, and I agree to an extent. Halo 5 launched with a very small selection of Arena playlists to choose from. However, 343 is already working on adding more playlists and maps into the rotation. November will see the addition of Big Team Battle, as well as maps specifically made for it. The fact that we’re about 2.5 weeks into Halo 5’s release and we’re already getting more maps and playlists gives me good reason to believe that 343 will be adding maps and playlists quite frequently. More maps and playlists are always a good thing.
As for the gameplay itself, I think 343 nailed it. It feels like a natural evolution of Halo 2 or Halo 3 multiplayer. 343 seemed to take criticisms of Halo 4’s multiplayer to heart, and they delivered a rock-solid experience. The weapons are balanced, the maps play well, and the Spartan Abilities add a fun new twist on Halo’s well-known foundation.
All game modes in Arena start players with an Assault Rifle and a Magnum. I think that AR/Magnum starts works very well in Halo 5 because while it encourages players to pick up other weapons such as a Battle Rifle, DMR, or power weapon, they can still easily hold their own against almost any other weapon out there. The Magnum is especially fun to use because it greatly rewards a player with good aim. I’d say that Halo 5’s Magnum is the best Halo has seen since its well known Halo CE counterpart.
The maps in Arena are, for the most part, pretty good. Here is a list of all the maps available now (NOTE: Orion was recently removed due to player feedback):
- Regret (Remix of Truth)
- Eden (Remix of Empire)
- The Rig
- Pegasus (made in Forge)
Again, not a very big list, but I’m confident that 343 will add more maps sooner rather than later. I think that what makes it a bit worse is the fact that some of the maps all have a very similar appearance to them. Empire, Eden, Fathom, and The Rig are all UNSC-themed maps, and share many of the same pieces. That doesn’t mean that I think those maps are bad; they just all kind of look the same is all. I’d like to see more Covenant-themed maps like Truth or more Forerunner-themed maps like Coliseum, or even some maps with natural structures instead of man-made structures.
If I had to pick an early favorite map of mine, I’d have to go with either Truth or The Rig, although Plaza isn’t too far behind either. Oh, remember during the beta when I said that Pegasus was awful? Well, 343 made improvements to it, but I still don’t like it. Just wanted to put that out there.
Spartan Abilities are the new additions to Arena, and they all work well and are very balanced. I’ll briefly share my thoughts on them:
- Thruster Pack – very useful for evading damage, juking out opponents, or traversing the map
- Charge – a fun new way to smash your enemies to pieces
- Ground Pound – see above, but it’s more difficult to pull off
- Slide – I don’t use it very much, but its alright, I guess
- Clamber – adds more ways to get around the map, and can be combined with crouch jumping too
- Sprint – Balanced quite well and works as you’d expect (just don’t sprint while your shields are recharging)
- Smart-Link – I know I said that I hated it in the Beta, but it’s grown on me, and I’m okay with it
I also wanted to briefly touch on the ranking system, or CSR as it’s called. It functions pretty similarly to how it functioned in the Beta, but the ranks were changed a bit. Now, the ranks are as follows, from lowest to highest: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Onyx, and Champion. Play ten placement matches in a playlist, and you’ll be placed into one of these divisions based on your performance. After that, only winning will increase your CSR in that playlist, while losing will decrease it. However, you will never drop a division, so if you get to Onyx tier, you’re there until the season ends and the ranks reset.
For the most part, CSR seems to work pretty well. I was placed in Platinum in Team Arena and Team Slayer, and I’d say that it is the appropriate division for me because most of the matches I played following were fair and competitive. However, in Free-For-All, I placed in Onyx, despite coming in 1st place only once, and finishing in the Top 3 only three times in my ten placement matches. I was definitely not expecting to be placed all the way in Onyx. Other than that, I like CSR.
In short, if you’re looking for fierce competition centered around balanced, even gameplay, Arena is what you are looking for.
Breakout is a brand new game mode in Halo 5. It is a round-based, elimination mode where players are tasked with taking a flag in the center of the map and bringing it to the enemy base, all while avoiding getting eliminated. You only get one life per round, so you have to be cautious. To make it more intense, in Breakout, players have no shields and slightly less health, and everyone starts with an SMG and a Magnum. Breakout also has maps custom-made for it.
Now, I was never a big fan of those ‘one life per round’ game modes. I hated Search and Destroy in Call of Duty, and Counterstrike never appealed to me, so you’d think I hate Breakout too, right? Not quite. I like it once in a while as a change of pace, but I couldn’t play it all the time. I will say that I’m always on edge while playing, since one wrong move could mean I’m waiting for the next round to start. Teamwork and communication are critical here.
While I’m not much of a fan of single-life game modes, I still enjoy Breakout, and you will to if you’re into that sort of thing. Even if you’re not, give it a try.
Warzone is a mix of PvP and PvE with 24 players fighting it out on very large maps. The goal is to capture and defend bases, kill the PvE bosses, and kill enemy Spartans. So, there is something for everyone to do? You suck at shooting? Well you can focus on capturing bases! You’re a single player aficionado? You’re probably best suited for dealing with the bosses. Are you a seasoned multiplayer vet? You know the drill: kill other players!
A big feature of Warzone is the Requisition system. Instead of having me go into detail about it with boring words, here’s an informative video on the matter for your viewing pleasure.
People seem to think that Req Packs make Warzone Pay 2 Win because you can use real money to buy packs. I don’t get that. You get plenty of Req Points to buy Req Packs without having to pay with real money. Plus, you still have to unlock the gear in Warzone before you can use it. And on top of that, most Req Cards are only available in Warzone, so if you hate them that much, you can play Arena since only cosmetic Req Cards are available in Arena.
The only criticism I can think of for Warzone right now is that the maps are all laid out very similarly. Each map has two home bases, an East Armory, a West Armory, and a base in the middle of the map, and each base on each map looks pretty much the same. If there were more variety in the bases, I think that it would be very beneficial to the variety of the Warzone maps, especially since there are only three right now.
That being said Warzone is still very fun. If you want to try something new with a big emphasis on lots of carnage, Warzone is the place for you.
Overall, I think that Halo 5’s multiplayer really shines. There is a bit of something for everyone, and the gameplay is top-notch. As long as 343 consistently adds more maps and game modes, I can see Halo 5’s multiplayer having a long, healthy life cycle.
And with that, I’m done typing for now. Until next time.