This week’s Halo 5 is just like the other Halo games. There’s really no escaping it: You call a game “Halo,” and you pretty much have to put players in the first-person perspective of armor-clad future-soldiers who battle in both lengthy, plot-driven missions and vehicle-fueled online battles against friends. Both halves of the latest sequel’s gameplay will feel instantly familiar to anybody who has used two joysticks to run and gun as a UNSC soldier in the past 14 years.
This week’s Halo 5 is a lot different than the other Halo games, however. Master Chief and friends have been given more new maneuvers here than in any other official sequel. The campaign mode has been built to support four players fighting cooperatively by default (in ways that feel even more extreme than when Halo Reach tried the same trick). Both single-player and multiplayer modes enjoy some serious boosts thanks to being the first Halo game on Xbox One, and the content you’ll find in online versus modes has been split up into two distinct halves. One of those has been buffered by a weird card-collecting system to boot.
After beating the campaign and spending four days in the game’s multiplayer preview period, we’ve come away ultimately liking the steps Halo 5 has taken to be the ultimate sequel for every fan—it’s just new enough, just familiar enough. But, oy, does it take a rocky path in getting there.