Halo 5 took a unique route to post-launch content for the series, forgoing a traditional map pack season and instead has been adding in monthly updates with free content, supported by real-money purchases of the REQ packs. Yesterday we got the December update, bringing with it the addition of Forge – Halo‘s map editor that has always been a fan favorite – along with a few new maps and REQ items.
I haven’t really dug into Forge enough to give that part a final thought. Forge has consistently been more and more in depth with each iteration, so I know that there’s a ton to really get into. What I did play was each of the new arena maps and the new social playlist. Warzone didn’t cooperate with me to put the new map on, so that’ll wait until I get that map to come up in the rotation too. What I will say is that if 343 can keep up their track record with these monthly updates, Halo 5 could be exactly what the franchise needs to bounce back from Master Chief Collection.
Those new arena maps though, boy howdy are they varied. Overgrown, the new 4v4 map, is so dense it’s almost impossible to get a grasp on it in one game. There’s so much in such a small map that games are pure chaos from the outset. The map is definitely skewed around close quarters – the railgun, shotgun and energy sword are all on the map as power weapons, along with an active camo pickup. Combine that with the layout of the map, and you’re going to have a lot of quick kills from around corners. You’re going to see plenty of corner crouch camping – or as I call it, douchey play. It’s a twisting, mazelike set of corridors, with an actual good mix of verticality. Do I think it’s going to be a new Halo classic? Probably not – it’s almost too complicated for that. But it’s a pretty damn fun map for sure.
The other two new maps are big team battle maps – Entombed and Antifreeze. Entombed is set on an asteroid or other space rock, and is basically a big valley with a few big buildings that act as bases. Of course, the power weapons here are what really dictate map flow – there’s the new SPNKr rocket launcher, a binary rifle, a wraith, warthog, over shield and active camo all over the map. Grab them and get up high, and you’ll be in a really good position to pull ahead. Antifreeze, on the other hand, is a bit more straight-forward. It’s a big valley, but map flow definitely is more based around the structures. The actual structure stretches across the whole map, with different points that act as the bases for CTF or Strongholds. You’ve got binary rifles and incineration cannons as power weapons, and ghosts as vehicles. It’s a bit more intense action since it tends to focus up around the middle of the map.
All in all, I think the new arena maps are all really good, in different ways. They show that Halo works at long, medium and short ranges. It’s just what the matchmaking needed to keep it fresh, and I hope that 343 continues it moving forward.