My Impressions of the Halo 5 Beta

First Impressions
I’ll admit, I didn’t like the Beta one bit when I first started playing. It felt clunky, unbalanced, disorienting, and a little cheesy. However, after spending a few hours playing around and getting used to the “new” set-up, I am extremely happy with where Halo is headed and feel 343i has (finally!) got it right.

Extensive “what I think” list to follow:

Pros

  • Map Design is amazing, symmetrical, and well balanced. I really enjoy Midship (however, the basements of Midship could use some re-working. It’s very hard to tell where you’re at) and Empire.
  • Both maps play very well with the new Spartan Abilities, movement is unhindered, and line-of-sight for firefights are incredible.
  • The sound effects are crisp, clear, and game immersive. I even appreciate the Spartan “call-outs” during gameplay—it adds a layer that I didn’t appreciate until I actually started experiencing it. Don’t change a thing!
  • All of the new Spartan Abilities work wonderfully. Sprint, Ground Pound, Clamber, Thrusters, etc. are well balanced and don’t take away from the Halo “experience” at all. I really like how shields don’t recharge if you’re sprinting, or that Ground Pound isn’t abused, or that the Thruster-Punch is a little difficult to pull-off. Keep this stuff as is.
  • The Spartan Abilities are great and work very well. Don’t listen to the Nay-Sayers here.
  • The BR is back! Keep the game revolved around power weapons and map control. 343i has done a very good job of keeping the Arena Style element intact, even with all the new Abilities and faster gameplay.
  • At first, I didn’t like the Announcer constantly calling-out medals, Power Weapon re-spawns, and such. However, I’ve really grown to like it. However, I’d prefer a maximum of two Power Weapon call-outs (one at 15 seconds, the other when they drop).
  • Right now, kill times seem very appropriate—not too fast and not too slow. Fits well with the new Abilities and map size.
  • This game is straight-up team work oriented. I feel elements from Halo 2 and Halo: Reach have merged to make a beautiful baby Guardian. I really enjoy having to work with my team, rather than Love Wolfing it.
  • The sound it makes when you get a headshot… My God! So addicting to hear! I love it!
  • To add to this, all the little sounds (shield recharging, landing a shot, etc.) are amazing and should stay as is.
  • The Sniper is amazing. The Sword is great. Very excited to try the other Power Weapons.
  • Grenades work very well as is (even though I hate dying by them).

Cons

  • Still a few bugs and glitches that need to get worked-out (which I’m sure they will). Here are a few I’ve noticed (there are more not listed):
  • When I’m in a party, only the Party Leader can see if we’re “Searching” for a game or not. Very strange.
  • Game Search times-out quite a bit after you’ve completed a match and have let the “Intermission” countdown go on its own.
  • Armor customization seems broken and Armor color doesn’t change.
  • There’s no way to turn off controller vibration.
  • When Party Leader backs-out of a search, he doesn’t take everyone with him.
  • Lots of UI issues here (no real “Lobby” for the Party to sit-in before searching for a game, can’t see the Post Carnage Report after backing-out, can’t see medals in Post Carnage Report, etc.).
  • When there is a Power Weapon call-out on Empire, both Sniper and “Power Weapons” are announced. Seems redundant when Sniper is the only Power Weapon on the map.
  • In-game Player models and Weapons are way too dark and are hard to see during gameplay. I found myself wondering where I’m getting shot from, only to see the Blue Team standing in a shadow, almost invisible. Finding a BR or SMG is difficult if you don’t know exactly where to look. Either the player models need to “pop” out of the map more, or the darkness of the map needs to be toned down/fixed. Weapons should be much easier to see as well.
  • I’m more neutral in this area, but the Intro and Outro cut scenes are very cheesy and gimmicky. I hope these are removed or changed, but don’t think it affects how much I enjoy the game. Again, I’m neutral here and this is more of a personal preference.
  • The AR is ridiculous. Seriously, it needs some major tweaking.
  • The SMG fills the “spray and pray” void and works well as a weapon pick-up. The SMG is what the AR should be.
  • Personally, I think 343i should just get rid of AR starts (replaced with SMGs instead) and/or make the AR a weapon pick-up.
  • The DMR is another useless weapon (those sights are awful…) and seems painfully redundant on maps that already have a BR pick-up. Remove the DMR completely, there’s no point (personally, I think Bungie should never have introduced this weapon).
  • I feel weapon placement on Empire could use some changing. Maybe take-out Snipers and add a Rocket Launcher and Shotgun. Snipers seem out-of-place on that map—as there are no real good line-of-sights.
  • For some reason, aiming seems a bit “off” and unreliable. I found myself wondering where my shots were going if I actually wasn’t hitting anything.
  • Flinch adds nothing to the game. Get rid of it.
  • There’s no indicator (visual or through sound) on whether or not I’ve picked-up ammo or not. Very strange.

Overall
I couldn’t be happier with where 343i is taking Halo. The new Spartan Abilities, level design, ranking system, and fast(er)-paced gameplay are brilliant and a great addition to the Halo legacy.

Bravo, 343i! Bravo!