Halo 5: Guardians is an upcoming Halo game announced during Microsoft’s E3 2013 presentation as the second chapter in theJohn-117 storyline of the Reclaimer Saga and the sequel to Halo 4. It is scheduled to be released on October 27, 2015.
Halo 5: Guardians was formally announced on May 16, 2014 by 343 Industries General Manager Bonnie Ross. Ross describes Halo 5: Guardians as a bigger effort than the preceding Halo 4 in terms of the content and scope of the game as well as the technology underpinning it. The game’s engine is said to have been completely retooled to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem; according to Frank O’Connor, the engine is all-new apart from a number of core features retained from the previous one. Ross states that Halo 5 will incorporate lessons the 343 Industries team learned from Halo 4 with regard to technology, performance, aesthetics, and scale in response to feedback received from the fan community. She also mentioned that the game will run at 60 frames per second and will feature dedicated servers.
Since the development of Halo 4, the 343 Industries team has undergone several internal changes. Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier has replaced Kenneth Scott as senior art director, although Scott has been stated to continue serving in an advisory role. Josh Holmes has also been replaced by Tim Longo (known for his previous work on Star Wars: Republic Commando and the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot) as creative director. Christopher Schlerf has been supplanted by Brian Reed as Halo franchise lead writer after Schlerf’s departure from 343 Industries. Most of the game’s soundtrack is to be composed by Kazuma Jinnouchi, replacing Halo 4‘s Neil Davidge as the principal composer.
On April 28, 2015 the final cover art was revealed.
“Peace is shattered when colony worlds are unexpectedly attacked. And when humanity’s greatest hero goes missing, Spartan Locke is tasked with hunting the Master Chief and solving a mystery that threatens the entire galaxy.“
Story and Characters
Halo 5: Guardians is set to feature the largest ensemble cast of characters in any Halo game yet, with both new and returning characters. The storytelling is part of a longer, more delicate process of weaving in the elements of the expanded Halo universe. The goal is to turn the Halo on our television screens into the vibrant, sci-fi epic it’s been for years to those willing to dive deep into the franchise’s novels and comic books. Microsoft and Bungie, Halo’s original creator, split back in 2007. And since then, in-house studio 343i has set out to prove Halo is more than a vapid shooting game.
343 INDUSTRIES IS OUT TO PROVE HALO
IS MORE THAN A VAPID SHOOTING GAME
Doing that has meant putting Master Chief in a position of weakness, and Guardians only intensifies the characterization. Chief is still silently suffering from the death of Cortana, his one true (and artificial) companion, in Halo 4. His teammates worry he’s now falling into depressive breaks from reality marked by an unending hunger for battle. This puts 343i in an interesting position, having to preserve the inherent power fantasy of militaristic shooter games while crafting a narrative about flawed and struggling human beings.
After all, one of Halo’s defining traits has been its creators’ refusal to tie titles to gaming’s annual churn, like that of Call of Duty. Instead, the aim has always been creating a story and a universe that both feel alive. This time, however, the focus is on breathing life into the seemingly lifeless Master Chie
SOLDIERS AREN’T MACHINES. WE’RE JUST PEOPLE.
Playing Guardians, I’m reminded of the most poignant moment of Halo 4, found in a sliver of dialogue in its ending. The game concludes not with a victory celebration, but a chilling realization that something about Master Chief is profoundly broken after 30-plus years of combat.
“You don’t talk much, do ya?” asks Commander Thomas Lasky in the game’s closing cinematic, after a UNSC rescue team finds the Chief floating, alone, in the middle of space after Cortana’s death. “Chief, I won’t pretend to know how you feel and I’ve lost people I care about, but never anything like what you’re going through.”
“Our duty as soldiers is to protect humanity, whatever the cost,” Master Chief replies.
“You say that like soldiers and humanity are too different things,” Lasky fires back. “Soldiers aren’t machines. We’re just people.” The Chief remembers hearing the same lecture from Cortana. It’s one of the rare moments in Halo when you realize that there’s more to it than pulling the trigger and blowing stuff up.
MASTER CHIEF IS NO LONGER A ONE-MAN ARMY,
BUT A FUNCTIONAL PART OF A UNIT
Environments now seem bigger and more varied than in any Halo game to date. There are multiple pathways and innumerable aerial vantage points to create firefights that feel more realistic than the standard hallway mazes of older titles. In the first mission, while playing as the Chief, we snuck deep inside a covenant ship, set its reactor to meltdown mode, diffused some defenses with aerial Banshee combat, and escaped a giant explosion.
Notably, you do not have to play this mode with other live humans. 343i has crafted a more intelligent and responsive AI system for the campaign that lets you direct your teammates with combat and location orders. You can also ask for help when you’re downed by enemy fire. The revival system, new with Guardians, adds an interesting dynamic to team play, as enemies make it increasingly difficult to bring teammates back.
Finding weapons was never an issue, though. After five minutes into the game, the field was littered with guns, energy swords, and usable grenades to a near ridiculous degree.
THERE WAS ALWAYS SOME SHINY PREOWNED
WEAPON LYING ON THE BATTLEFIELD
343i is dedicated to making us care about the Halo universe, even if we’ll only play the Guardians campaign once or twice before placing our attention on multiplayer afterwards. We haven’t yet had a chance to sit down and play through the campaign mode in its entirety. But the game, more than any other title in the franchise, appears focused on exploring Master Chief as a human being. And that’s a step in the right direction.