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Halo 5: Guardians Beta Thread | Hot Red on Blue Action


Sep 30, 2012

I'd like to thank TheOddOne and Mix for helping create this thread. They did all of the work.

Developer: 343 Industries.
Publisher: Microsoft Studios.
Genre: First-person shooter.
Platform: Xbox One.
Release date: December 29th, 2014 to January 18th, 2015.* **
Duration: 3 weeks.
Technical info: 720p, 60 fps, 10.4 GB, dedicated servers.
*Those who are currently in the Xbox One preview program or have received a code will be able to start playing today. Early access will end on the 21st.
**You must own Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

“The focus of the beta is going to be on 4 [versus] 4 arena gameplay, which is really getting back to that legacy of
competitive gameplay that is always been at the heart of Halo’s multiplayer. ” – Josh Holmes, Franchise Creative Director.

While every major Halo release has had the arena mode, the basics fundamentals of that mode seem to differ per release.
In the section below we look back at some of those changes, to reminisce, and hopefully give some insight into what went right and

In this gameplay style the player has the option to chose a class that includes some kind of unique special ability. Halo: Reach
was the first game to introduce the concept within Halo’s multiplayer. They were dubbed Loadouts and had presets that fit
the players gameplay style. It introduced new unique abilities within the classes such as the jetpack, armor lock, sprint, active
camouflage, evade, and hologram. Each of those abilities helped players to engage in battles and added some flavor to the

The idea of class based multiplayer has been explored in games, and can work extreme well as shown in games like Team
and the underrated Shadowrun FPS. What makes those games work is that they were designed, to some extent,
around the class system from inception. With Reach being a spin-off, it was the right time to try something new within Halo’s
tried-and-true multiplayer. While the initial reception of Reach’s multi player was positive, it became apparent to players over
time that there were some major flaws with this new introduced playstyle.

Each of the new abilities introduced caused emerging issues that clashed with Halo sandbox. For example the jetpack caused
player hitboxes to change, which made it much more difficult to engage firefights. The armor lock became a pause button to
prevent battles from playing out. Active camouflage indirectly encouraged camping. Those are just some of the issues that
emerged as the game matured. While there were also some other notable gameplay changes, such as the introduction of
bloom, slower base movement, and more, those were minor problems in the grand scheme of things; mostly because they
were patched, to various degrees, later on.

The class system changed some of Halo’s fundamentals and retained other, like on-map weapon pickups. The big change
that tipped the balance was the change in player starts, each player now had different starting traits. While that might sound
meaningless on the surface, it changed a lot about the combat underneath. Halo 1 to 3 had the player start with the same
basic traits, none got something extra—like a jetpack for example—to help them engage in battle. In the previous games it
boiled down how skillful the player was with the given basic traits, starting weapons, and the op map weapons, and in the back
of their mind knew that the enemy had the same advantages. Strategically that mentality caused players to think how they
approach the maps and others players—think of aspects such denying on-map power weapons, controlling map sections,
and timing enemy respawns. It indirectly balanced the game for all players.

You could argue that the class system made a new case for players to use their new toys strategically, because the abilities
were designed to counter each other anyway. In theory, that is right to some extent. In practice it however turned into how fast
players could abuse those new abilities, which caused the flow of matches to come to a standstill. The rock-paper-scissors
approach of the new gameplay style wasn’t working out, and caused more frustration than add something worthwhile to the formula.

While there is some debate whether Reach’s change was detrimental to the franchise, I personally see it as an interesting failed
experiment. The concepts were interesting, but execution of them was flawed and clashed too much with the core fundamentals.
The changes also highlighted what I want and expect from a Halo game, but on the other hand spin-offs are suppose to make
dramatic shifts to make themselves stand out. To some extent, Bungie gets a pass—they tried something new, some of it
worked, but most of it didn’t.

In this gameplay style the player is given a multitude of options to customize themselves and boost their basic player traits
through a perks system. The perk system lets you upgrade for example the movement speed, how fast your shield recharges,
and various other modifiers. Halo 4 is the first game to fully introduce the concept within Halo’s multiplayer. Unlike Reach’s
pick-one-class approach, in Halo 4 the player could chose every facet of how their loadout was built—with options like different
starting and secondary weapons, armor abilities, tactical packages, and support packages. A new level of customization was
given to ease new players and introduce them to the large Halo sandbox.

RPG inspired multiplayer isn’t new, games like Call Of Duty and Battlefield have taken that approach to put the power
in the hand of the players—chose how you want to play, in essence. While there is not fundamentally nothing wrong with that
approach, it however has some underlying issues when it’s introduced in a series that never took that approach. On paper the
idea of choosing which perks you specialize in and customizing your loadout sounds completely reasonable, the player gets to
enjoy a large part of the sandbox and promotes longevity. In practice however, it clashed with established Halo formula and that
caused the series multiplayer to lose some of its identity.

Reach had the same issue, but Halo 4 magnified that issue by breaking down the basic traits even more and putting them behind
the perk system. The outcome of this is that battles become almost too random and chaotic, because the rock-paper-scissors
formula was multiplied. Players was given the key to the armory, this meant that everybody got access to everything and they
could go to town with it—this includes aspects such as the amount of starting ammo, certain types of grenades, and more.
Most of those aspects worked best in moderation. In previous Halo games these would have been scattered around maps, and
could be picked up by one or two players. That made a good case for map control and movement, but the loadout system made
that aspect obsolete.

While on-map pickups such as power weapons were still there, they were only there for the initial spawn—they did not respawn
at certain preset times like previous Halo games. To counter this change, the Infinity system was introduced which granted the
player a power weapon, boost, or special grenade after the player had done some multiplayer feat—like get a certain number of
kills. Thought behind it was again, player choice and getting them to feel empowered. The problem it caused however is that it
stopped players from getting to understand the flow of the maps. There was nothing there to really get or control on those maps,
now. The players were getting rewarded regardless through the Infinity system, and promoted Reach’s biggest problem; players
searched ways to abuse the systems, but this time they were given even more toys to do it.

With the introduction of RPG elements, the basic fundamentals were stripped away—no more equal starts, deemphasized map
pickups, and even less emphasis on map control. It fundamentally became another multiplayer game on the market, but this
time with the Halo name attached. Even if the philosophy behind it was to empower the player, it in the end it did more to harm
them in the long run. Like Reach, players found that the stripped down game was something of a gem; the underlying formula
was still rock solid as ever.

The RPG infused gameplay is still a fascinating thing and Call Of Duty and Battlefield are still one of the better examples
that implemented the idea well. It’s clear that, those game were from the ground up based around those basic principles, or at
least as far back started with those ideas and morphed. You can’t fault a new game for trying to carve out its own identity. The
problem with introducing those elements in Halo is that, Halo already had a strong core foundation and most of it was kind of
thrown out the window. The arena and RPG inspired style are on the opposite site of the spectrum – either you chose one or the
other. Maybe some hybrid is possible—and developers should explore the idea—but then there has to be some serious
compromises. Halo 4 falls under serious compromises.

There are some other issues other than the RPG inspired design, like sprint being global that hurt map flow, but in the grand
scheme of things those are lesser issues that can be fixed through updates (to some extent, though).

In this gameplay style players are given equal starts, the same starting weapons and then duke it out on maps—which contains
weapons, powerups, and so on. This was the prevalent style in how Halo multiplayer was made in the original Halo trilogy. There
were tweaks here and there, but the basic DNA stayed consistent throughout. A lot of the philosophy seems to stem from older
arena shooters, like Quake and Unreal Tournament. You could argue that it took those ideas from those games, because
they were the dominant shooters back then. Homogenization, good or bad, happens every generation.

Like every new franchise, they try to put their spin on the established formula. Older arena shooters were known for their fast pace
nature and sometimes short kill times. Halo doesn’t really fit into that archetype, because it’s a much slower paced game and the
kill times can be long. Now the rest of Halo’s setup does fit the arena style, because the principles of equals starts, map pickups,
and map control are still there. It became somewhat of its own thing, slower paced but still took skill to learn the in-and-outs of the
combat loop. But at the same time, it was also accessible and the entry to barrier was less of an issue.

All the core Halo principles—equal starts, map control, and map pickups—promote a sense of purpose within multiplayer; outside of
the obvious objective modes. While the primary goal of multiplayer has always been to shoot people—shocking, right? —it was
never the only thing that drove Halo’s multiplayer. Map control was a huge factor, players had to take chances on deciding which
power weapons they were going after; before the match and during the match when they eventually respawned. This also caused
people to move around the maps more faster, just to deny the other team advantages. Matches moved at a brisk pace because of
that, and much of the map was being used to its full potential.

The purpose is to keep the player involved, and what is better than users remembering the maps and the skill based combat loop.
Give them a reason to remember it, made it worthwhile. Most people that played the older Halo games could tell you were the sniper
or rocket launcher was on their favorite maps. Even if they can’t, they somehow still remember the intense matches they played back
then because of the underlying fair philosophy.

There are some problems though in introducing new players to this style—it can be intimidating for anybody looking from the outside in.
While it might be easy to pinpoint the basic formula of the series by veterans, the lack of it being explained in-game to new players has
been a problem. For somebody just getting in, it can be weird; for example there is no indication is given where weapons are on the map
and when they respawn. The sense of purpose isn’t really given to new players, and it’s understandable when people don’t see the point
in the game; from the outset it looks like every other game on the market and nothing makes it really stand out. This aspect that needs
some evolution.

Look at games like Hearthstone and League Of Legends. They look like deceptively easy games, and then play their tutorials and notice
that they is more to them than meets the eye; simple looking for the outside, but absolutely complex from the inside. Those games teach
their mechanics, and make sure that basics are learned by players; even if that sometimes is done too rigidly. It’s also a psychological
thing, peoples intelligence is being respected; they need to learn to survive. Give them the basics and let them figure out the deeper
mechanics—which almost makes a case for why certain games have huge dedicated communities. Halo 4 went the other way with it,
It gave players something were nothing was expected of them. And I don’t think they were setting out to do that.

While evolution is welcome, it should not be used as a crux. In case of Halo, easing players into the core mechanics by introducing them
gradually step-by-step isn’t a bad thing. However, at a certain point the training wheels need to come off. Halo 2 and 3 balanced this well
by splitting the base into Social and Ranked playlist—with each playlist catering to people who want to learn and those who already know
enough. Halo 4 threw them all in the same pot, and that had effect on the longevity of the multiplayer because both groups were saddled
with each other.

While it’s encouraging that right off the bat, Halo 5 developers seem to be focusing on Arena. The series has had two major detours, with
Reach and Halo 4, so it’s good to see them going back to the well-know core ideas of Arena. Can they pull it? That is another question.
The thing that makes this all feel a bit better Is that players get to test 343’s version of Arena for three weeks and data will be collected
from that. So be vocal, be very vocal.​

“We have 7 maps, we have 3 modes, 11 sandbox weapons that are going to be included, and 7 armor sets you can customize your
Spartan with.” – Tim Longo, Creative Director.

“Looking at small maps, that are really tailored to 4 [versus] 4 combat.” – Quinn DelHoyo, multiplayer designer.

“Something we’re doing differently with this beta is that we actually have interactive components, that the fans will be able to vote on for
weeks 2 and 3 (of the beta). So week 2 we’re going to be asking to vote on a power weapon that will be placed in one of the maps, and
then the third week we will have them voting between two different maps that they will be able to play.” – Josh Holmes, Halo Bulletin
Episode 4

Halo 4’s CSR (Competitive Skill Ranking) returns, but has changed considerably. The CSR system contains 7 “tiers”. “It’s (CSR) a seven-tier
system, so it goes from Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, through the ages. The cool thing is that the last two tiers are called Semi- Pro and Pro, so
it’s actually integrated into the game.” says Tim Longo. The top 200 players in the world will rank as Pros, with the Semi-Pro players contending
for their spot. It will be included in the beta.

*Some of the controls shown here (notably, Bumper Jumper) are mislabeled due to a bug in an old build of the beta)



Sep 6, 2006
Toronto, ON
OP, you might want to make it much more clear that this weekend's early access is for those in the dashboard beta who own the MCC. Bold it up?


Nov 1, 2012
Once again, I wish GAF Mag would be delivered to my door.

Good stuff, cannot wait to play this.


Jul 23, 2013
Nice OT. I'm so pumped for this. I'm expecting it to be difficult to return to older Halos after playing this as I really like what I've so far from footage (for the most part).

Edit: Codes? Those are only for preview members right? Or are they sending out some lucky random early access codes to MCC users too?


May 26, 2010
That bumper jumper control layout has grenade throw on bumper. It should be jump instead. Odd seeing jump on trigger in its place


Aug 3, 2013
Expecting to get my ass handed to me, but I'll be on once I get a code later today!

If anyone wants to form a team feel free to add me

GT: Yankeessuck193


Feb 24, 2014
So for us regular shucks with a copy of the MCC, we just play the beta off our disks, right? No extra or seperate client go download?

If you're not in the preview program it's not open for you yet.

When it opens completely I imagine they'll add it through an update.


Sep 30, 2012
So for us regular shucks with a copy of the MCC, we just play the beta off our disks, right? No extra or seperate client go download?
You will still need to download the beta, but you'll launch it through the MCC. Just like Reach's beta was with ODST.
So the early access is only for those in the preview program? :(
Yes, though there may be codes floating around the web today.


Nov 15, 2013
Man, now I wish I was part of the dashboard preview. Never really bothered to sign up/get invited.

Oh well, I can wait( unless someone somehow has a code!). Really looking forward to the beta either way!


Jul 9, 2011
Rumour has codes at 3PM EST and early access beta starts at 4PM EST (today Dec 19)

Yeah all the stuff I've got says 4pm EST as start time (which includes videos and playing). Codes are currently redeemable (as of 1pm EST), but I don't know if that applies to preview program codes too.


Feb 24, 2014
Non butts OP = good OP

16 minutes until the codes go out.

1 hour after that, the beta starts.


Oct 24, 2013
hopefully bumper jumper is an error with the menu, not the actual controls

Same problem with recon...bumper is grenade not trigger...wtf?

And default is cod controls...bad job 343...recon is real normal controls except for the bumper issue...
Jun 27, 2010
I expect lots of webms/gifs.

And lots of details about how sprint impacts the gameplay. Some info on ADS would be appreciated too, especially how it compares to Halo 4.


Apr 25, 2007
I'd like to see

LT - Grenade
LB - Thruster
RT - Shoot
RB - Melee
Y - Change weapons
B - Crouch
A - Jump
X - Reload/Pickup
LSB - Sprint
RSB - Smart Scope