Halo 5 Guardians: Warzone to reinvent Halo Multiplayer?
When 343i first unveiled their ambitious Warzone Multiplayer mode i was more intrigued than excited. At first glance it looked like a slightly larger scale version of Titanfall squashed into the Halo Universe to appease fans and broaden its appeal. After watching numerous games on YouTube and reading all the articles it’s clearly more than the simple copy and paste operation it may at first appear to be.
Titanfall was a brilliant slice of Multiplayer Perfection that blended tight, intricate shooter mechanics with a balanced, focused gameplay but its biggest success was enabling the less gifted players to not only contribute to their team’s success but often win it by actually playing the objective or focusing on killing the enemy AI. It’s that layer of accessibility that most modern shooters lack that enabled Titanfall to grow such a dedicated and often very active community. Less skilled players could simply concentrate on taking down enemy AI soldiers to gain points for their team or just capture flags & objectives. You never felt that you were losing games when you struggled but still had those victories to savour when you pull it out of the bag at the last minute. Few games get that right and add in the ability to call in a Titan you really do have a game that caters for all skill levels.
Accessibility is the key to Warzone succeeding in the coming months, if 343 get the balance between winning objectives and slaying then I really think they are onto a winner with Warzone. Another point to consider is the ever popular Big Team Battle playlist that Halo has always had and was always very popular with the community. For those who maybe haven’t experienced BTB it’s pretty much what it says on the tin a large scale 8v8 mode with Vehicles and a sense of almost constant carnage. Warzone is the natural extension of BTB but it has been built from the ground up to provide deeper, more balanced gameplay.
At its very core Warzone is a 24 player large scale, multi objective combat but with several key layers added. You have the Req system (think Titanfall Burn Cards) in game unlockable and for the first time in a Halo game enemy AI to engage. The maps are 4 times larger than anything seen before in a Halo game and will each have multiple objectives and key combat areas to gain control over.
There are 2 game modes at launch 1 includes AI enemies and is a battle to destroy the enemy teams reactor core whilst the other is a straight up 12v12 PVP type affair fought between bases. The objective is to either reach 1000 Victory points, destroy the enemy’s core or having the most VP’s when the time limit is reached. Victory points are awarded for taking down enemy Spartans, capturing objectives and killing the AI and Bosses. Some teams maybe great at getting lots of kills but all out offence is a risky strategy against a well organised team. Leaving your base undefended could spell defeat regardless of the amount of Victory points you have because if the enemy team captures all the bases your precious core is exposed. Destruction of your core is an instant loss so beware kill chasers, Warzone can punish the greedy Spartans
Another key part of the Warzone experience is the completely new addition to the Halo 5 multiplayer Sandbox of Enemy AI & bosses. The bosses provide a healthy means for players who maybe aren’t Spartan killing gods to earn large amounts of points for their team whilst the standard enemies are still worth taking down but offer lesser rewards. The usual array of AI enemies are present including both covenant and Promethean. Soldiers and Knights are common place on the battlefield but it’s the Legendary Bosses that are the real stars of Warzone. These Legendary bosses are Spartan killing monsters that will take the unprepared Spartan down in short order. Defeating these bosses will yield potentially game changing rewards but they are a formidable challenge and will require skill and teamwork to take them down whilst fighting off the enemy attempting to steal your kill.
Req System – One of the key components behind Warzone is the new Req system that is designed from the ground up to provide rewards to players for carrying out pretty much any action within the multiplayer. Nailing head shots, Assassinations, killing sprees, capturing objectives all award Req Points to the player that can be spent at on purchasing Req Packs that contain Req Cards which function like the Burn Card system in Titanfall.
There are three types of Req Cards in Halo 5
Cosmetic – Which includes Armour, animations, and helmets that do not impact the Gameplay experience outside of making you look like a badass of course
Permanent – Load out weapons AR, BR etc. and they can only be used in Warzone and will not show up in Arena
Single Use – Vehicles & power weapons only for use in Warzone.
Spending REQ Points: Req Points are earned during gameplay for pretty much anything whether your killing enemy Spartans or AI, capturing objectives or getting assists. So long as you’re active and participating you will get rewarded. For those that simply can’t wait for more kit you can purchase Req Packs with REAL WORLD MONEYZ. Of course doing so makes you a massive fraud but hey i hope you have fun with that. Even though you paid actual money for an item in a video game you still need to unlock it and reach the required level so still no chance to spawn a Wraith at the beginning of a match.
There are other ways of earning Req points and Req packs that will reward your time spent in Multiplayer as well as some time sensitive challenges.
Spartan Rank: Is designed to measure the amount of time you invest into the Halo 5 multiplayer modes and functions exactly like the standard XP system in other games. Some player will undoubtedly rank up faster than other simply by virtue of time spent as well as skill level but dedicated players will soon find their way to levelling up and earning those Req packs when they do.
Supply & Promotional Packs: These REQ Packs can be unlocked through codes included with select Halo licensed products at retail, and through various promotions.
Commendations: Were first introduced in Halo Reach and are an incremental counter for various tasks or challenges that need to be completed. Once that challenge is complete you receive XP and once you complete Tier 3 of each challenge you get a Req Pack and unique Emblem to show off. On Day 1 there will be a considerable number but over the course of Halo 5 more and more will be available. Some of the initial Commendations include:
Scorpion Gunner – Kill enemy Spartans with a Scorpion
Smash -Kill an enemy Spartan with melee
Hunter Slayer – Kill Hunters
Bringing Down the House -Destroy the core of an Enemy Base
Req Stations – To use your Req Cards you need to use a Req Station which are littered around the Warzone maps to redeem them unlike Titanfall where you had to select your cards before the Match. In Halo 5 you have all your cards to choose from but fear not, you won’t be able to spawn a Scorpion at the start of a match. At the start of each match of Warzone every Spartan with Level 1 Req’s unlocked which are your basic weapons and by playing the game you unlock higher levels which have more powerful items. Key to this system is Req Energy which also increases during the match but decreases when you redeem a Req Card and spawn an item. The more powerful the item the more energy it consumes functioning sort of like a cool down period for RPG players preventing players from spamming high powered items and dominating the Warzone.
There will be 4 Maps when Halo 5 launches with a further batch coming next year each map is up to 4 times the size of any previous Halo Multiplayer maps. Revealed so far are Escape From A.R.C – Set in a mining complex surrounded by water, Raid on Apex 7 – set on an unknown Forerunner installation, Unidentified City Map – Set on an unknown Human City and March on Stormbreak – Set on an unknown UNSC Military Base built on the Stormbreak mountain range on the planet Kamchatka.
Not only are the maps up to 4 times bigger they are also designed from the ground up for the large scale carnage that will take place. Each team will have a base that they need to clear of Covenant forces before securing and heading out onto the battlefield. The maps shown off so far will cater for both vehicle based combat as well as ground based and features a real good mix of wide open spaces and tight, close quarter spaces. There are flanking routes dotted around for the more adventurous Spartans to take advantage of to navigate around the visually stunning levels that really show off the power of the Xbox One.
It all looks very promising going on what has been shown off so far, with largely positive feedback for those lucky enough to have played it early. So long as there is a steady stream of new maps or at the very least some community contributions via Forge Warzone will become my go to Multiplayer mode. Arena holds no real interest for me beyond playing a few games of Slayer every now and again. Taking what made Titanfall so much fun and bringing it into the Halo sandbox is a bold move by 343 who could simply have launched with the Arena mode for the hardcore players but credit to them for taking the next logical step.
If 343 keep the updates coming well into the future Warzone stands a great chance of helping Halo 5 reclaim it’s place at the top of the Console Shooter tree. We’ll find out for sure over the coming weeks and months!