I had my first experience with the Halo 5 multiplayer beta last night. I had planned to try it out the night before, the 29th, but when I opened it up.I quickly learned that I would first have to download 10GB of data before I could play. I new I would not be playing that evening. I have a slow internet connection. It took four or five days to download the MCC. After work yesterday I got on the old XB1 and settled in for some new Halo goodness. I was happy because it didn’t take but just a few minutes to get into a party and then onto the battlefield. My first round was on the map “Truth”. This map, one of the two that are currently up for the beta, is a very Covenant style map. It looks like you are fighting inside a Covenant ship. It reminds me a lot of the mission on Halo: Reach where Noble 6 and George are fighting inside the hangar of a Covenant ship. The graphics look pretty good. You can easily tell that it is still a work in progress but it looks promising. Game play was nice and smooth, though I did have just a hint of lag. I’m sure that was the fault of my internet connection.
One of the new features I like is that everone has a thruster pack. It is just like the one on Halo 4, just a quick burst of speed to help get you out of a tight spot. That, combined with sprint helps you get around the map quickly and makes for a fast paced match. I do like the “clambering” feature. You can now run towards a ledge or a wall that is too tall to jump onto, and press the jump button twice and your Spartan will grab the ledge and pull himself up onto the next level up.
The default control layout has changed a little from Halo 4. Grenades are now on LB instead of LT, zoom is now on LT. I really like the feel of the zoom being on the trigger instead of having to click the right stick. It feels a lot smoother and a lot quicker. Crouch is now a click on the right stick instead of the B button. The thruster pack is on the B button. Most of the other buttons stayed as they were in Halo 4. Of coarse there is always the option to change your controller settings to whatever configuration works best for you. I typically use the default setting.
Just a little off topic, one feature that I love about the MCC is that you can set your controller how you like it and just press X to set it that way for all four Halo titles. I have always been very frustrated when I would switch from one Halo title to another and get killed or do something stupid like turn on my flashlight when I was trying to melee someone, just because the button layout had changed. So, thumbs up from me for that feature.
The weapon selection for the beta is very limited so far. I have seen the AR, the BR, the DMR, the sniper rifle, the SMG and the Magnum. They seem to be the weapons we have all come to know and love. Graphically they look much the same as they always have with the exception of the SMG. The SMG is now a much shorter weapon. It looks to me like they have removed the silencer from it. It seems to have a slightly higher rate of fire also.
There is also the addition of a zoom function to the AR. It isn’t much of a zoom, more of an aim assist than a zoom really, but it helps. The AR doesn’t feel as powerful as it did in Halo 4 and the audio isn’t as “snappy”. I love the feel and the sound of the AR in Halo 4. The sound has so much to do with how a weapon feels. I was playing Halo 3 just before I started writing this and the AR on it feels like you are shooting a fully automatic BB gun. I think that this is because it sounds like you are shooting a fully automatic BB gun. Of coarse we won’t know what the weapons are going to sound like in the finished product until much closer to launch day.
The BR and DMR feel pretty much the same. I haven’t got my hands on the sniper and survived long enough with it to know how it feels yet.
Assassinations are still in of coarse. I didn’t notice anything different with them.
I really haven’t been able to do much with the Spartan Abilities yet. I have been too busy trying to stay alive. I will be glad for an opportunity to get in to custom games or Forge to play around with the new abilities and figure out how best to employ them in combat.
The second map on the beta is Empire. I like it a lot more than Truth. This map reminds me of Complex from Halo 4. Complex is one of my favorite Halo4 maps. I did much better on Empire than I did on Truth. I haven’t done very well on either map. I think my K/D spread is something like -5 right now. I’m not the best Halo player by a long shot, but I’m usually better than that.
I made the mistake of going onto a forum after I played, just to see what others were thinking about the beta so far. Of coarse it was mostly negative. There was a lot of “343 has ruined Halo”, “Everything in the beta is wrong”, “I’m never playing Halo again”‘ etc. I hate readying crap like that. I am a Halo fan-boy no matter what. I have been with this franchise for too many years to bail out now. I am more of a campaign/story guy than a multiplayer guy though. So as long as they get the story right I will be happy. I will work with whatever tools they give me and I will keep going on this journey through this wonderful universe as long as it is around.
In conclusion, I am happy with what I have seen so far. We have only seen two maps, a few weapons and one game type so far. No one has enough information at this point to say it is going to be good or bad. The bottom line for me is that I got on my Xbox, I played some Halo and I had fun. Some of the matches were really intense. There was a lot of close quarters goodness. I can’t wait to see what it is going to be like on some bigger maps with vehicles and some more powerful weapons. Yes, I think things are going to be just fine in the Halo universe.