So, for those of you who don't know, the Halo 5 beta servers went up a few hours ago. I know this because I forced myself to get up at some stupid hour of the morning (I live in Australia, differing time zones etc) to have a decent whack at what we've been given to play with. Well. what do those of you have have played it think? Good? Bad? Horrendous? Let me know, I want to hear your opinions on this, just like how I'm going to yell mine at yours for the next half-dozen paragraphs and give you all the rundown of whats new and whats been changed for those who don't have access or are skeptical.
Simply put: It feels like a Halo game.
Halo: CE was the first game I ever owned and played, way back in 2001, and I feel confident in saying that, at its core, Halo 5 feels like a Halo game, which is a much desired improvement over H4. Movement, weaponry and shields all feel very Halo 3/4/Reach-ey, and the new spartan abilities, which are a flat replacement of armour abilities, adds fourth leg to the holy Halo trinity of guns, grenades and melee. But lets start with easily the most controversial new ability: Smart Scope.
What is Smart Scope?
Visually this 'Smart Scope' Looks like ADS, which i despise across any title, and it immediately thwarted my hopes in 343i to produce a good Halo game in the future. But after a little research and experimentation with the new system I have discovered it is indeed not ADS, and here's why: It's been in the game since Halo 1. Remember that zoom function the seemingly scope-less pistol had? Basically 'Smart Scope' applies that concept the every weapon in H5, but using a more realistic visual effect. As for the negative effects of Smart Scoping, there don't seem to be any major flaws besides increased recoil to balance the heightened accuracy. There's no penalty to movement speed and hip fire spread remains untouched as 343i have expressed multiple times when explaining how the system works, and if you're hit while aiming you're descoped, just like the older Halo games, excluding Halo 4. But, as much as I try to defend it, it is just a different reworked concept of iron sights. Although, playing with the base controls i felt like i was playing CoD or Destiny, as I was spending 80% of my engagements aiming until I was descoped. But, changing the control scheme to a more H4-ish version where the scope was on the right stick click as opposed the the left trigger, I just never used it.
Changes to mobility.
Sprint is now indefinite, meaning your 8 foot tall supersoldier doesn't run out of breath power walking at a brisk pace for a few seconds. But to balance this, there's a small 3rd bar above your shield and health meters that winds down after taking damage to let you know when your shields will start recharging. But this bar wont tick down if you keep running around like a headless chicken, necessitating thought and cautiousness after a close fight while you're recovering. Ledge grabs, for whatever reason, are a thing. Simply put if you jump for a ledge and miss you can press A last second to 'Clamber' yourself up and continue of your merry way. I'm not particularly aboard this warthog just yet, as a big part of Halo multiplayer were the skill jumps, and this eliminates some of that subtle skill. That being said, the maps are designed with this mechanic in mind but there are plenty of impossible looking jumps to make.
Every player now has a permanent booster pack strapped to their metal plated buttocks which functions much like the thruster armour ability in H4 did. Bound to the B button, this dash ability lets you burst a few meters forward in any direction except up, and suffers from a 3 or 4 second cooldown to balance. Strikingly similar to CoD:AW, and as much as I hate to make this comparison, it's essentially the same concept just less spammable. "Smart Scoping' in midair also activates this jetpack and holds you in place for a few seconds to line up the shot. There are also two incredibly hard but satisfying maneuvers to pull off; the melee charge and ground pound. The charge is simple, at peak sprinting velocity pressing the melee bumper allows you to Goldberg spear whatever is unlucky enough to be in front of you. While its not and instant kill, it will pop shields and disorient whoever you hit. Alternatively at this terminal velocity pressing crouch will launch you into a slide maneuver useful for getting to cover quickly. Lastly, the ground pound, and as silly as it sounds it is extremely satisfying to land. Basically, if you jump from a height taller than your Spartan and click the right stick a reticle appears on the ground as the ability charges, and releasing it rockets you into the ground and deals a large amount of damage in a very concentrated area, killing anyone you land it on. Although devastating, the charge time makes you a sitting duck in midair, so it has a very big risk/reward factor.
Weaponry and equipment.
The guns are good, each has it's own distinct role and are balanced fairly well. These are the ones present in the beta that I've been able to use so far:
Assault Rifle: Fundamental weapon of any Halo game, the AR feels more like Reach's AR in time to kill (although I feel as though is should be reduced by 1 or 2 shots the compete with the BR and DMR) and RoF, but also has a small accuracy buff for firing in in full auto.
Magnum: While sadly not the H:CE 3 shot death gun, the magnum holds it's own against the other precision weaponry, popping shields in 4 or 5 shots and capable of headshots.
Battle Rifle: If you can get past the silly looking red dot sight, the BR functions the same way it has in the last few halo games, capable of 4 shot headshot kills if the full burst hits what you're shooting at.
Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR): I hate this gun. It felt useless to me in Reach and 4 and it feels useless to me now, it's probably just me but i can never use this gun properly. But hey, it sounds nice.
SMG: This gun absolutely rips people apart in CQC, but that's all it can do. Still sporting the colossal 60 round mag and RoF through the roof, the SMG seemingly pops shields in 1/3rd of the magazine but beyond 10-15m, the thing is completely useless, even while Smart Scoping.
Sniper Rifle: Nothing new or changed here, 4 round mag, 5-10x zoom, 2 shot body kills and insta killing headshots. Sounds deadly, too.
Grenades: Now on the level of not entirely neglected as opposed to completely useless, the grenades AoE has been buffed and does some serious damage. Frags bounce and arc around corners more effectively and plasma 'nades are still funny to see stuck to someones big dumb head.
Spartan Callouts: Although not really equipment, the other Spartans on your team relay crucial feedback to you through in-game callouts much the same way soldiers in Battlefield do, which adds a heightened level of battle awareness that is extremely useful. Examples include: "He's
low finish him off!" when a teammate pops an enemies shields and he escapes, "He's got a sword, watch out!" is pretty self explanatory etc.
I haven't been able to get a hold of anything else, the map rotation only holds the weapons listed above.
Even though it's a beta the game is gorgeous, the lighting and particle effects are superb and is silky smooth running at 60fps, and I don;t think I've experienced a framerate drop yet. Yes it's only 720p, but I really don't care, I cant see the difference between that and 1080p anyway, although the full game is supposed to run at 1080p on release, whether or not it is going to be upscaled or native is unclear (I have no idea what that means). At this point getting the gameplay right is higher on the priority list than looking nice.
+It feels like Halo
+Controls are snappy and responsive
+Smart Scope is balanced and not entirely necessary, hip fire unaffected
+Spartan abilities are useful in turning fights around, well balanced cooldowns
+Guns handle much like their predecessors
+Grenades actually work
+Matchmaking is efficient
+Charge and Ground Pound are satisfying if pulled off correctly
+Unlimited Sprint balancing will make CoD fags rage
+In-game callouts are a nice touch
-Time to kill seems very short, AR seems to have a weaker DPS compared to other weapons
-Smart Scope aim with some weapons seems to throw off accuracy
-Controls are a little awkward to get used to
-Smart scope seems to be used too much or too little as a result of the control schemes
-Clamber is silly
-Why is the Prophets Bane glowing so damn much. Seriously, it fogs up the screen
-No Oceanic servers
-General beta issues(crashes, bugs, texture issues, expected but annoying nonetheless)
Well, that's what I think anyway, what about you guys? Let me know, I'm interested, and if there's any questions I'll answer them to the best of my ability.
If you want to add my XBL and play I'll sticky a comment with my GT.
Thanks for reading!