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    Halo 5: Guardians, A new era for Xbox’s stalwart hero

    The bountiful Master Chief Collection proved that 343 industries is a dab hand at remastering Bungie’s games, but does it have it in it to make a truly great Halo off its own back? that’s the question hanging over Halo 5: Guardians, and while we’re still a fair few months away from receiving a definite answer, 343 is making all the right noises in the mean time. unpopular features from the divisive Halo 4 are being dropped, and the studio hasn’t given up on introducing new ones, albeit in a more measured way this time out.

    Not much is known about the single-player side of Guardians, except that it ties into Nightfall, ridley scott’s lavishly produced tV show set in the Halo universe. Nightfall protagonist Jameson Locke is a playable character, although the extent to which he’s playable remains to be seen. Are we talking an Arbiter-style secondary character, or can we expect a Metal Gear Solid 2-esque raiden switcharoo partway into the game? Master chief is involved, naturally, but would 343 be bold enough to sideline John-117 in his own series? our interview on page 68 suggests not.

    Beta the action
    Thankfully, we know a lot more about the multiplayer the beta of which runs from 29 december through to 18 January. there are a bunch of big changes to the traditional Halo formula, not least the addition of aim-down sights. But before the ‘change! change is bad!’ klaxon sounds up, know that the mechanic is not as you might know it from Call of Duty. Yes, you can now use ironsights by holding in the left trigger, but you won’t be forced into a sluggish crawl while you do so. You’ll maintain your current trajectory even when peering down your gun, while descoping returns to knock you out of it if you get hit.

    This isn’t the only thing bringing Halo 5 in line with the likes of CoD: Advanced Warfare and Destiny, either. spartans are much more mobile here, boasting bargey shoulders and revamped thrusters that allow for a Mario-style ground-pound move. it’s unclear how many of these additions will make their way into the campaign, but it’s clear that 343 is ramping up the manoeuvrability of the spartans, over and above the changes Bungie introduced with Reach.

     More agile and powerful spartans are big step forward, yes, but one that fits nicely with the tone of the older games. And with every wannabe multiplayer champion strapping on a jetpack these days, it’s about time the chief rocked up to show them how it’s done.

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