The last week has been a pretty busy gaming week, with my Xbox One being back to working order. Between catching up on Destiny, playing Fallout 4 finally and hopping back into Halo 5: Guardians with my college buddies, it’s been a lot of different style games. Now that I’ve gotten a good chunk of play time under my belt with Halo, I thought I’d talk a little about how I see the game shaping up over time.
I talked way back at launch about the new Warzone mode, which features 24 players on the biggest maps in the game. Since I’ve gotten my Xbox back, I’ve been able to play a good amount of the other new game mode – Breakout. Breakout is a new competitive mode, based heavily on the paintball game of speedball. You have one life per round, and it’s first to five rounds gets the win. Weapons are a little different than normal Arena play, with you spawning with a SMG and Pistol. With no shields on the characters, finding the precision weapons on the maps becomes a pretty important part of playing. More than normal modes, I think communication is much more imperative in Breakout. You don’t have a particularly large margin of error – a good player can drop you in just a few headshots from the pistol. You need to make your initial pushes smart, and as the game progresses, evolve your tactics depending on the situation. It’s a lot like SWAT, just with a little more health, and the obvious different game type.
Map-wise, the selection of Breakout maps are all pretty similar. They’re all Forge maps that take place in a virtual reality arena. The pieces are modular, so they all look just about the same, it’s just the layout that changes. That said, they do take a little more to learn because of the nature of the game mode. You don’t have the luxury to learn the map as you play, because one wrong move could get you killed. To me, Breakout is the mode that requires the most mental focus – even over SWAT. You have to be thinking about your placement in relation with your team, as well as trying to predict the enemies tactics. Playing a team that does the same thing every round turns the game into an execution game, while playing one that changes based on previous rounds keeps each round as tense as possible. It’s also the mode that almost requires you to have a full team of four to really succeed. Solo-queue play is a great way to get frustrated fast, since you have to slow down on the start of a round to see what the rest of your team is doing.
In general, I think Halo 5 is the best game in the series since Reach on the multiplayer front. Warzone is a blast, and the more competitive modes actually feel really well matched. Sure you’ll still run into an Onyx ranked player while you’re a Platinum, but it’s a lot less frequent than previous games. What I think 343 did really well this time around was make all of the weapons feel right. The Battle Rifle hasn’t felt as good as it does now in ages. The other precision weapons feel accurate, while having the right range and rate of fire. My only real concerns online right now are spawn issues – which are typical this early on in a game’s life; and the vehicles can be a little wonky, albeit not as game swinging as they used to be. If you were turned off of Halo in the last couple years, this is absolutely the game that could bring you back in.