Halo 5: Guardians — The Right Direction?

4 min readSep 5, 2020

Halo 5 was the last major sixty dollar multiplayer player game I bought. Since then I’ve stuck with single player games, save for a brief period of Fortnite craze and the occasional Halo MCC session. A lot of people hated the latest installment of the Halo series and wouldn’t be surprised that Halo 5 marked the end of my multiplayer gaming career. However I believe this had more to do with my moving to college and the personal changes that come with that rather than the direction the series was going in. In a lot of ways Halo 5 could be considered the best multiplayer experience I’ve ever had on my Xbox One.

Like most titles that are mainly bought for competitive online play, Halo 5’s single player campaign was underwhelming. Unfortunately it also has the added problem of having a completely incomprehensible storyline. It’s a shame, as the premise of an elite squad of new Spartans hunting down a rogue Master Chief is certainly a captivating one filled with potential, but is ultimately squandered. I’ve played all of the mainline Halo games so I’m pretty familiar with the story and lore, but Halo 5 references subjects from all corners of the Halo universe such as the books (of which there are at least 3 pretty long ones) and the Halo Wars games, so unless you are a Halo super fan, certain things will fly over your head just like they did for me. The plot was one of the few things that made Halo campaigns worth playing through. If it weren’t for my “gamer pride” or whatever you might call it, I wouldn’t have had any reason to beat the campaign.

The addition of advanced movement options and the ability to aim down sights garnered a lot of hate amongst long time Halo fans who felt their franchise was becoming just another run of the mill modern first person shooter. They’re right in a lot of ways, as Halo 5 did feel a lot more like Call of Duty than past Halos. But as a former COD player I actually appreciated this. With a shorter time to kill (I might be wrong about this, but TTK felt a lot shorter to me in this game) Halo becomes less about your gun skills and more about how you move around the map. Getting the drop on someone will usually lead to a kill, whereas in past games the enemy would have a chance to turn around and take me out. There’s still certainly more gun skill involved in Halo 5 than a game like COD, but you can easily tell the emphasis is being shifted. A lot will argue that intense, drawn out gun fights are what make Halo a unique FPS but I find the twitchy, three rounds your dead style of COD to be more enjoyable. I’m not sure if Halo is going in the right direction, but I can at least say it’s going in a more fun direction. For me at least.

I’m not sure how the game looks now, as it has been a year or two since I last played it, but the game did have a lack of content upon its initial release, like many Triple A games do nowadays. Halo 5 also had a loot box mechanic, but it was mainly used for the Warzone mode which I barely played (probably because of the loot box mechanic) so it was mostly a non-issue for me. I do take issue with the lack of game modes available. Most, if not all my matches were either team death match, domination, or capture the flag which gets old after a few dozen games. The game adds new modes every couple of weeks or so but they’re only available for a limited time. The map selection was also pretty small. I actually liked the map layouts, I just wished 343 put a little more effort into the aesthetics of some of these areas. The maps look generic, like your taking part in some futuristic tactical simulation rather than just fighting in a real place.

I had a lot of fond memories playing Halo 5. Rounding up three friends after school, shouting callouts over the mic, scheming up strategies that actually work somehow, all very fond memories indeed. But when I look at the lack of coherence in the campaign, the lack of multiplayer options, and the lazy map design, I can’t help but give Halo 5 a lower score than the Master Chief Collection, despite Halo 5 having arguably the smoothest multiplayer gameplay in the series.