E3 2015 | Halo's Warzone Welcoming to New Players
I never found my way to getting into the Halo series over the years. Whether through the fact that I adopted the Xbox 360 fairly late or was too busy playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, I just don't have a link to the earlier parts of the series. Sure, I've absorbed quite a bit of what the games are through osmosis, being so plugged into the industry, but I could count on one hand the number of times I've sat down to play any of them. Thus, when I was invited to play the game at E3 this year by Microsoft, I thought it would be a great way to come at Halo 5: Guardians from a completely fresh perspective, free of expectations from what came before it. What I ended up with both surprised me and didn't with my impressions of the multiplayer mode Warzone.
Walking into the Halo Experience, which is what they called the event at their booth, I was shocked and intrigued as they stuck a device on my face. I learned a bit later that it was to measure the distance between my eyes. Knowing what that likely meant, I was even more excited for the demo. As I was invited inside, my suspicions were confirms: the Microsoft Hololens was involved with this demo. Next, the strapped the Hololens to my head and told me to stare at a block on the wall. Four dots appeared and I confirmed their existence. They then told me to follow the waypoint to my next destination, to which I responded "You want me to do what now?" As I looked down the hall, there was an indicator floating in the middle of the hallway, straight out of a video game showing me where I should be traveling. Once I reached it, a satisfying beep occurred and it told me to wait for further instruction.
I found myself at a large sci-fi-looking war room table and suddenly, an image rose out of it. It was a spartan commander running through the specifics of the multiplayer mode: Warzone. At various points in the briefing, 3D models of the map would pop up on the table and specific points were highlighted. I could move forward to examine something closer and back off to get a clear picture of the whole thing as well. The whole thing felt like the preamble to a high class theme park ride straight out of Universal Studios or Disney World and was the perfect thing to prepare me to head into the multiplayer match.
Diving straight into my blue team role in the Warzone multiplayer mode, I immediately started familiarizing myself with the controls. I've actually played quite a bit of Destiny, so that wasn't too difficult, although I did almost blow myself up with a grenade. Sticking with the rest of my team, went went to the first area we were required to capture, and took out the NPCs guarding the base. You need to keep track of these capture points, because if the opposite team gets them all, they can instantly win by destroying a core that will then be exposed. Otherwise, the victor of the match is determined by victory points.
My favorite thing about this type of match was the open-ended nature of how you could contribute to your team. Being fairly new to the game, and not very good at multiplayer FPS to boot, I wasn't going to stand much of a chance trying to fight the other players. In Warzone however, there are many ways to earn victory points. Every now and then, an objective marker would appear showing the location of a boss enemy. These enemies could be taken down for a set number of victory points, so for part of the match I focused on that. As your team does better, you also earn more requisition points that can go towards vehicles or weapons. Since vehicles are more fun, I spent some time experimenting with those throughout the match. Some I did pretty well with, and others I accidentally hopped out of and got wasted before I could get back inside. I also learned that, if you're not careful, an enemy can hijack your vehicle if you get too close.
In the end, my team did win, but it was hard to tell if that was due at all to my contributions, or if I was simply chipping away at a much larger score. At the very least, I died infrequently enough that I didn't feel as though I was being a hindrance to my team. This is the largest barrier to entry to overcome, especially with an online shooter and I think they've dealt with it fairly eloquently. Much like Splatoon, if you aren't the best at PvP, they've inserted other team-contributing options for you to pursue. This made the whole experience feel a little less daunting and left me willing to come back for more, which is not something I can say about many FPS multiplayer modes. Look out for Halo 5: Guardians when it comes out later this year on October 27th and check out the video below for footage of the very match described by this article.