As much as we all want to see more of the story behind the Master Chief's next adventure, there's another section of Halo 5: Guardians that deserves attention: the new Warzone multiplayer, which combines some of the classic online gameplay that fans know and love with new mechanics to increase the intensity.
A New Twist On An Old Game
At its heart, Warzone is a game of attrition. Two teams of 12 start on opposite ends of a large map consisting of one home base for each team and three neutral bases. At the beginning, players will need to clear their respective home bases of enemy AI. From there, both teams will then try to gain an upper hand by taking as many bases as possible.
There are three ways to win. First is a time limit of 18 minutes, which seems like a long time, but considering the large map and constant skirmishes, it's often the deciding factor of who wins or loses.
Another path to victory is to score a total of 1,000 Victory Points. This can be accomplished by killing enemy players or taking out AI bosses littered on other parts of the map. That last part should be familiar to MOBA players.
If you're easily tearing through the enemy ranks and claiming all the bases with the exception of the opponent's home base, you can make one final push to destroy the enemy's core system at their base.
Briefing (With HoloLens!)
I played the game on two occasions. The first time, the tutorial was shown to us via a quick video. On the second time around, it was a completely different story, thanks to the incorporation of Microsoft's HoloLens. While gathered around a circular table, a few other players and I were briefed by female Spartan who showed us a holographic model of the map and the various objectives. (More on that another time soon.)
Red Versus Blue
After the briefing, we were led to another room to play the game. After arriving by dropping right outside our bases, we cleared it of AI hostiles and claimed it. From there we were also able to use the requisition kiosks, or REQ Stations, which you can use to buy more powerful weapons and even land and air vehicles.
However, there was a matter of claiming the neutral bases on the map. It all comes to a head in the garage, the third neutral base and the central structure in the game. For a majority of the fight, both teams traded ownership of the base. This is where the REQ terminal comes in handy.
Over time, the amount of energy required to purchase items will increase as you play. Additionally, taking out enemy opponents and AI bosses will also increase your character's level, granting access to more powerful weapons and vehicles.
There, high level purchases can be the turning tide in a battle. For me, that was when I bought a huge robot to aid in the fight. By keeping the enemy on the defensive at one of their two bases, my team could easily split up, to either continue the push to capture another base, or go to a different section of the map and take out another boss. With time dwindling down, the strategy worked, as we eventually managed to gain enough Victory Points to easily win the match.
This combination of Player versus Player and Player versus Environment gameplay is still a fairly new concept, but it works. I'm not usually this lucky (or good) at online play, and I'm not the only one. Even if you're like me, Warzone still offers a way for you to contribute thanks to those AI bosses. As for those who live for PvP action, you won't be disappointed either.
Halo 5's Warzone had an impressive showing at E3, with its large map, multiple ways to win, and a diverse offering of enemies, equipment and weapons. It's been quite a while since I've played a Halo title and enjoyed multiplayer gameplay. After what I saw from 343 Industries at E3, Warzone might be my ticket back in the game.