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Halo 5 Xbox One - UK release date, weapons, story & trailer

Seth Barton
10 Feb 2015
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Everything we know about Halo 5: Guardians, the first Halo game on the Xbox One

Halo 5: Guardians is the latest game in the long-running sci-fi shooter franchise. Following on from games on the Xbox and Xbox 360, the return of the series in its first outing on the Xbox One is hugely anticipated. With Bungie moving onto grindfest Destiny, development is being done by Microsoft-subsidiary 343 Industries. It also created Halo 4, which we rather liked but is divisive among fans. Here's everything we know to date, from practical details, multiplayer beta hands-on impressions, story rumours and a selection of all the latest videos and trailers.

HALO 5 UK RELEASE DATE

Halo 5 is only confirmed to release sometime in 2015. However, we'd bet our favourite hats that it will be released in early November. That's when all the recent Halo games have launched, it's when Call of Duty launches, it's when you launch a game if you want it to be a huge hit for Christmas. It could come earlier we suppose, but we very much doubt, so early November it is.

Microsoft rarely puts out statements denouncing rumours - always using the statement "... do not comment on rumors or speculation". However, back in October it did deny that a tweet from a 343 staff member held any significance. The tweet had the employee standing under a countdown clock at the studio which read '382' doing the maths that puts the release date as November 10th, which is also a Tuesday (games release day in the US). Microsoft can deny it, but that tallies a little too closely with our thoughts. A global release is then likely on that date, presuming Halo doesn't end up backing down to a bigger cross-platform title such as Call of Duty. So we should be playing the game here in the UK on that date too.

If you're keen to play before then, well you may have left it a little late. The beta test for the multiplayer was held in early January and has now ended. That's amazingly early for a game that's not due until much later this year - unless we've got our release date speculation way off, which we doubt given there's been no singleplayer shown to date. The studio head Josh Holmes said last year to IGN: "We currently have no plans for a second multiplayer beta." However, with such a long way until the release and so much more to unveil, we wouldn't bet against it.

HALO 5 BETA - WEAPONS AND MULTIPLAYER

We thought the multiplayer beta was a great success, it's incredibly polished given that the final release date is so far off. There's certainly no shortage of time to develop and balance the gameplay on offer into something truly extraordinary.

We were mainly impressed by the sheer physicality and fluidity of the game. The frame rate is consistently high, achieving an ideal 60fps, however in hectic battles it does drop frames, and this is only with 4 vs 4, so some tinkering will be required before launch if bigger maps and battles are to run smoothly (see below).

Once again Halo's multiplayer stand out for the excellent balancing act between the weapons, grenades and melee attacks. Using grenades to control your opponent's movement, shooting them enough to drop their shield, before nipping in for a meaty rifle butt to the face remains one of gaming's most satisfying kills. A true classic.

There are additions here though, with a new thruster pack allowing for sudden dashes in any direction, even in mid-air. Add to that the ability to mantle low walls and grab ledges and you're soon whipping around the level - jump, thrust, grab - and covering big gaps in a single move.

One downside is that the thruster pack adds a whole new button to the control scheme. While Halo 5 has also added an ability to aim (called Smart Link) to every gun, which generally reduces bullet spread (as in Call of Duty). With more aiming and thrusting the control system is really pushing the limits of the controller. We were forced to adopt a claw-like hand position to reach all the controls we needed at once and even then it took some time before we stopped hitting the wrong button in a panic. We can see the game selling a lot of expensive custom gaming controllers for those wanting an edge - such as http://eu.scufgaming.com/.

One surprising omission from the multiplayer beta was any kind of vehicle or any larger maps. Worry not though, they will make the final game. Speaking to IGN, Josh Holmes said: "We'll have more to discuss on the remainder of our multiplayer suite next year including larger, more vehicle-focused experiences."

We love the scale of Halo and big maps with lots of players and lots of vehicles could be a lot of fun. To date, the studio has made no comment on the size of such maps or the maximum player count - it was all 4 vs 4 arena battles in the beta. However, given the studio is using dedicated servers for all Halo 5 multiplayer games, the number of players is potentially larger than typical peer-to-peer games can manage.

HALO 5 BETA FEEDBACK

Some key gameplay adjustments have already been announced after the beta. For starters Sprint and other Spartan Abilities will have toggle switches so they can be disabled in custom games, this will please some Halo die-hards who feel these have changed the game too much. 

For all games, the following changes are likely to be implemented. Faster base movement speed, faster strafe acceleration, reduced top sprint speed and modified Ground Pound controls (to prevent conflicts with crouch-jumping). Those should largely increase general mobility while trimming back top speed dashes. Weapon adjustments include faster scoping for the sniper rifle, a tweaked scope on the DMR to improve visibility, reduced bonuses (to accuracy?) for auto weapons when using Smart Link and removing mid-air grenade detonation when shot.

343 Industries was very positive about the feedback it received from the beta. It pointed out in a blog post, that unlike many other betas, this one was held (roughly) 11 months before the game's release date and that gives the development team ample time to react the what was learnt. And there's a lot of data to go through with almost 20 million games played and 290 years of total time spent playing but all players.

The developemtn team kept an eye on web forums, reddit, Twitter and Facebook in order to gauge player response. 19,000 players signed up to give formal feedback and based on stats from all trackable Halo games those players have each spent an average of 900 hours playing Halo games. You can still join the feedback programme.


^ There was only a single Killpocalypse performed in the beta - nine kills in a row - and here it is

HALO 5 TRAILER AND STORY

The Halo mythos is now huge and complex, especially when you count in all the extra games (Halo Wars, ODST, Reach, Spartan Assault …) books, graphic novels,animated shorts and the TV series Nightfall. While the core story of Halo 5 has to make sense to those who have simply played the main series - Halo CE, 2, 3 & 4 as covered by the Master Chief Collection - 343 industries is also looking to tie it closely into this wider Halo universe.

Halo 5 will introduce a new main character, Lieutenant Commander Jameson Locke, usually simply referred to as Agent Locke. Locke is the main character of the Halo Nightfall TV series (which you can watch if you have Halo: MCC). It's still unknown if you'll play the whole campaign as Agent Locke, or whether the developer is going to mix in the Master Chief, in much the same way Konami toyed with player expectations with Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2.

What is certain, based on content in Halo: MCC is that Agent Locke is searching/hunting for the Master Chief, who has gone AWOL for reasons unknown. As you can see in the video embedded below.

The Master Chief will certainly feature to some extent then. As the E3 2013 trailer showed, the Master Chief looks to up against the Prometheans again, with the huge robot in the desert sharing the same design cues as the enemies and weapons from Halo 4, see below. Anything beyond that looks to minor details or entirely unsubstantiated rumours.

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