Game Preview: Halo 5

looks ahead to the next instalment in Microsoft’s sci-fi shooter series

Image: Brian

Image: Brian

Having the exclusive Halo series has always been a big selling point for the Xbox, from Combat Evolved on the original console right on through to Halo 4 on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. A couple of years ago at E3 2013, Microsoft announced that this extensive series would be expanded further with the addition of Halo 5, which is currently being developed by 343 Industries and will be released on October 27th.

The hype that has surrounded Halo 5 has been kept going by a strong marketing campaign, that makes the most of the mystery surrounding the Master Chief. The Hunt the Truth podcast series features comedian Keegan-Michael Key as the voice of a journalist aiming to uncover the true story of the Master Chief. The series was massively successful, so much so that a second season has been confirmed by Microsoft.

What can we expect from Halo 5? More of the same – well balanced first-person-shooter mechanics that have been perfected over the years. It’s also been revealed that the game will be locked at 60 frames per second, and that this will be achieved with the help of a dynamic resolution. This basically means that the resolution will decrease during the most intense scenes, so that the game can still run smoothly. This was implemented in a demo version, shown at Gamescom earlier this year – according to the journalists given special access to this demo, the dynamic resolution works well and keeps the game running smoothly.

343 Industries have also been working on a new game engine for Halo 5, which is the one of the reasons for the long wait. The new engine has been built with the Xbox One in mind, with better light-rendering technology being just one of the improvements that are being talked about. The story is split between two groups of Spartan soldiers, one of which is headed by the series’ protagonist Master Chief, the other by the character Spartan Locke. Not much has been given away in terms of story – all we know for certain is that Locke is on a quest to track down the Master Chief.

We also know that the character of Buck (the protagonist of Halo ODST) is set to return, this time as a hard-as-nails Spartan. A few weeks ago, Halo 5’s opening cinematic was revealed, showing a team of Spartans lead by Locke, jumping out the back end of a plane and then freefalling onto the surface of an alien planet, before tearing a whole army of enemies to shreds. The visuals were frankly stunning, especially those of the character models, which looked virtually real at some points in the video.

While there have been many positive developments, not everyone is satisfied. The cynics out there will feel vindicated by the lack of split screen multiplayer, which will no doubt feel like a betrayal to anyone who has ever played it in previous editions. Previously, you could always rely on Halo for the best split screen action, allowing a group of friends to goof around in all manner of ways. Developer 343 Industries claims that the decision to remove split screen was part of an effort to deliver a true next-gen experience, although why split-screen could be holding them back from achieving that goal remains unclear.

Nevertheless, as the series’ first proper outing on the Xbox One, Halo 5 is shaping up to be yet another exciting outing for Master Chief. There is no doubt that this latest title will be the best looking Halo so far and will probably quench the fans’ thirst for interplanetary conflict for a few years at least.

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