Halo 5: Guardians Campaign Preview – E3 2015

June 23, 2015

Halo 5: Guardians marks the sci-fi franchise’s story debut on Xbox One, and both Microsoft and developer 343 Industries are pulling out all the stops for the continuation of Master Chief’s adventure. During the course of E3, I was able to experience a behind-closed-door presentation of the campaign and an exclusive hands-on session with the game’s brand new multiplayer mode, Warzone.


HaloHeader2Halo 5: Guardians continues the story of Master Chief, with the game starting 8 months after the conclusion of Halo 4. Removed from his usual partner Cortana, Master Chief has reunited with his former – and only surviving – Spartan II comrades, Blue Team. Although familiar to readers of the Halo universe fiction, the title marks the in-game introduction of the legendary Spartan team, consisting of Fred, Kelly and Linda. 343 Industries Studio Head Josh Holmes believes that Blue Team was the natural choice for filling the void in Chief’s life left by his former AI companion Cortana.

Near the start of the game, the formidable team is deployed to an abandoned ONI research station in space captured by the Covenant. In this introductory level, titled Argent Moon, the ONI brass have sent Chief and Blue Team to investigate why the alien race are so interested in the vessel. Holmes presented a cutscene showing the four Spartans dropping from the back of a Pelican, and knifing in textbook Spartan formation through open space. Running at 60 frames per second, the graphics were jaw-droppingly gorgeous, setting a new benchmark for the level of visual detail in a Halo game.

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The level continued with Blue Teaming shoot out a window before landing in perfect formation in a room filled with alien enemies. The Covenant, again speaking the human tongue, announced their displeasure for the unwanted arrivals, but were quickly sucked out into space through the shattered window. Blue Team, meanwhile, saved from the vacuum thanks to their Spartan Armour, begin exploring the facility. Though brief, the scene expertly demonstrated the skill of Chief’s squad and injected a greater sense of urgency into what 343 Industries believe is the largest Halo adventure to date.

Next, Creative Director Timothy Longo, who’s pedigree of titles includes Tomb Raider and Star Wars: Commando, explained how 343 Industries are building a game that shall have the biggest impact on the Halo universe yet. A number of familiar faces, including the Arbiter, Doctor Halsey and Lasky are returning, while players shall be experiencing the story from two perspectives – Master Cheif and Blue Team, and newcomer Agent Locke, introduced in Halo Nightfall, and his accompanying Fireteam Osiris. Fan favourite Edward Buck, voiced by Nathan Fillion in Halo 3: ODST, also returns as a newly commissioned Spartan in Fireteam Osiris.

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Longo says that Halo 5: Guardians is still very much a continuation of Chief’s saga, but playing as Locke allows the player to look examine Chief in a whole new light. Longo could not be drawn on placing a percentage of which parts of the game are experienced as Chief versus Locke, but he did state that the story has been very deliberately crafted with playing as both Spartans in mind.

In the presentation, Longo and Holmes’ then demonstrated the four-player co-operative system. Taking place in Battle of Sunaion, the level showed at Microsoft’s E3 briefing, Fireteam Osiris continued their search for Master Chief on Sanghelios, homeworld of the Arbiter’s Sangheili race. This planet has never been seen in a Halo game before, and exemplifies how 343 Industries intend to deliver on their promise of making Halo 5 the largest game to date. The campaign allows up to four players to team together in a seamless drop-in and drop-out system. The in-game AI can also assume the role of a human player in either Blue Team or Fireteam Osiris.

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Longo said he wanted to give Halo 5 a tactical focus, and showed that – similarly to his previous Republic Commando – you can direct the squad to complete a number of actions on the fly. Orders include directing your Spartan team to focus fire on a particular enemy and reviving a downed team member. During the level, Locke and Fireteam Osiris encountered two new enemies, the flying Promethean Phaeton Gunship and the tough new Promethean Soldier. Longo finally explained that players can also take a number of alternate routes throughout each level.

My brief demonstration of Halo 5: Guardians‘ campaign communicated that 343 Industries are indeed delivering the goods in the series’ proper debut on Xbox One hardware. The tease of a Promethean Guardian terrorising the universe, an overwhelming sense of grandeur and graphical fidelity look to culminate in a masterful journey for all fans when Halo 5: Guardians releases on October 27.

Stay tuned to Rocket Chainsaw for my Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer hands-on impressions!