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First Impressions Halo 5 Beta: Balanced beginnings

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The Halo 5 early access beta has been out for close to a week now, and I have had the pleasure of getting into a fair few multiplayer games during that time. Despite this just being a taste of what is still to come, the Halo 5 beta has still managed to bring a multiplayer experience that grips you with  fast, skill-based action that is set to bring a familiar yet different play style to a beloved franchise. 

Basic Beta Outline

The Halo 5 early access beta has introduced us to an extremely small portion of the game, with only one game mode being up for play. The game mode, slayer, splits 8 players into two teams of 4 players each. The teams, red and blue, are placed into one of two maps (empire and mid-ship) which are both close quarter, with re-spawning power weapons playing a big role in the way the games are played. Each player starts off with the same weapons, being the assault rifle and pistol, with two grenades completing your arsenal.  

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One thing I love in a competitive shooter is simplicity, with enough skill variations allowing you to set your self apart from the crowd. This is exactly why I found myself immediately taken by the idea that in slayer every player is set on an even playing field from the get go. There is no variation from player to player, either than cosmetics, thus everyone is placed into the game with the exact same tools in hand. What you do with those tools, however, is where Halo 5 beta stands out. As movement, shot precision and your general decision making plays a crucial role in exactly how your well or badly you perform. 

Movement different, but dynamic 

Taking a look at the movement in Halo 5, we see that there have been some significant changes to the way players get in and around the map. The new movement system has introduced spartan abilities which increase the speed of your spartan in several ways. One controversial new ability is the new spiriting mechanic. The biggest concern, I believe, was that players were worried about their opposition getting into gunfights and simply running away once they got the kill, all whilst his/her shields recharge. 

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What 343 have done, however, is placed a decision making process into the game because whenever you sprint your shields will stop recharging. This means that once your shields are low you have to ask yourself the question: Do you run away with low health and potentially get taken out by an enemy or do you stick around to let your shields recharge but potentially face more near by opposition players? The decision making process seems to filter into almost all of the Spartan abilities which allows for the smarter players to prosper in the online arenas. 

Aiming Down Sights, not a cause for concern 

Another newly introduced feature is the new aiming-down-sight (smart scope) for all weapons. Smart scope slows down your characters horizontal movement, but also steadies your shot allowing you connect to your target with more accuracy. I can understand why traditional Halo 5 fans might have a problem with this feature as it does not form apart of the history of the franchise which has been traditionally a hip-fire centric shooter. That being said, 343 have once again introduced a way to balance it out as players that aim down sights will face increased flinch when taking bullets while smart scoped.

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I personally found that smart scope didn't detract from the game at all. Players will quickly find themselves using both hip fire and smart scope as both have their uses in positional play. 

Closing Thoughts

The Halo 5 early access beta has given us just enough time to take a look at the very basics of the game thus far. From the time that I have had to play, I can say that I'm rather impressed. Not by the graphics, nor by the 60 frames per second which both do a satisfactory job. If anything, I am impressed by Halo 5's core gameplay. It is simple, competitive and even more importantly its fun. The combination of close quarter game play, basic objectives and increased incentive to play as a team has got me thinking that this may be a growing eSport in the near future. I think that 343 have done a great job, but once the beta becomes 'public' they need to make sure their matchmaking stays up to scratch, as it that seems to be the only thing that could potentially hold this great experience back.  

Are you looking forward to the Beta? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below or hitting us up on Twitter or Facebook.

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