Halo 5: Guardians

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Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Guardians.png
Cover art featuring Spartan Locke (left) and Master Chief (right), with a Guardian rising in the background
Developer(s)343 Industries
Publisher(s)Microsoft Studios
Director(s)Tim Longo
Producer(s)Josh Holmes
Designer(s)Chris Haluke
Artist(s)Nicolas Bouvier
Writer(s)Brian Reed[1]
Composer(s)Kazuma Jinnouchi
ReleaseOctober 27, 2015
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Halo 5: Guardians is a 2015 first-person shooter video game developed by 343 Industries, published by Microsoft Studios, and released worldwide for the Xbox One on October 27, 2015. The game's plot follows two fireteams of human supersoldiers: Blue Team, led by Master Chief, and Fireteam Osiris, led by Spartan Locke. When the former goes absent without leave to track down the artificial intelligence construct Cortana, Master Chief's loyalty is called into question and Fireteam Osiris is sent to retrieve him.

343 Industries started to plan concepts and objectives for Halo 5 shortly after the release of its predecessor, Halo 4. In late 2012, the team set out goals for the game, including larger campaign and multiplayer areas. Like Halo 4, it uses motion capture for character animation. It features new abilities and character designs, but does not feature any offline capabilities or local networking. It has a game engine that scales its resolution to maintain a frame rate of 60 frames per second. Unlike the first four mainline games, this is the first mainline game to receive a "Teen" rating from the ESRB.

Microsoft announced the game at E3 2013. The game and its related hardware grossed over US$400 million in its first twenty-four hours and US$500 million in its first week, outselling the opening sales of Halo 4, which then held the best-selling record for the franchise. It is also the best-selling Xbox One game globally. Despite this, it had the lowest opening sales of any Halo game in Japan and the UK.[2][3] Upon release, Halo 5 received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise directed at its gameplay, visuals, level design and multiplayer modes. However, the game's single-player campaign met divided responses, with criticism directed at its story, writing, and ending. A sequel, Halo Infinite, was released on December 8th, 2021.


Halo 5: Guardians gameplay

Halo 5: Guardians is a first-person shooter, with players experiencing most gameplay through the eyes of a playable character. The camera switches to a third-person view for some cinematics and gameplay sequences.

The game preserves many of the core features of the Halo franchise's gameplay experience. Players step into the MJOLNIR powered armor of a Spartan and control that character's actions. MJOLNIR armor provides deflector shields, which diminish whilst protecting the wearer from weapons fire but recharge after a short recovery. Spartans may only carry two personal weapons at a time, but may swap them out at any time for any other weapon they find (including those dropped by slain enemies) and may also carry and fire a crew-served weapon (discarded when the player switches back to a personal weapon). Spartans may also throw grenades and use their weapons for pistol-whipping. Finally, some of the vehicles and their mounted weapons are available for use.

New to the series are "Spartan Abilities", replacing the Armor Abilities of previous games. In-universe, the characters' MJOLNIR armor has been upgraded with various thrusters that allow them increased mobility options in all three axes of movement. They are context-dependent and can be used for attack, defense and evasion. Additionally, all Halo 5 firearms can be aimed by looking down their iron sights, a capability restricted to specific weapons in previous games.[4]

Previous games in the franchise have featured brief gameplay segments where the player character is accompanied by non-player character (NPC) companions in the form of United Nations Space Command (UNSC) Marines, non-human allies like the Arbiter, and other Spartans. In the campaign, Halo 5 also equips the player with a persistent fireteam of NPC Spartans, who are present at all times and can receive limited orders using the Xbox controller.[5] During cooperative play, other players assume control of these Spartans; each Spartan has different gameplay attributes. If any Spartan, player-controlled or not, takes too much damage, they enter an incapacitated state, and a teammate must rush over and revive them before they die.

Unlike previous first-person shooters in the Halo franchise, Halo 5: Guardians does not feature any offline multiplayer capabilities, like split-screen cooperative campaign and multiplayer modes;[6] it also does not have any local networking options.[7] Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer commented on the lack of split-screen, stating "We see the robustness of what Xbox Live is today and where people are playing across Xbox Live—you at your house, me at our house. We know that's the vast majority of the co-op play. With Halo 5, the team really wanted to focus on making that experience great, both visually on the screen that you're looking at, and all the systems in place."[8]


Setting and characters[edit]

Halo 5: Guardians takes place in the year 2558, and is set eight months after the events of Halo 4. The game follows the Spartan fireteams Blue and Osiris.[9] Blue Team is led by Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 (Steve Downes) and is composed of the Spartan-II teammates he fought alongside in the timeframe before Halo: Combat Evolved:[10] Petty Officer Second Class Linda-058 (Brittany Uomoleale), an elite sniper; Petty Officer Second Class Kelly-087 (Michelle Lukes), a scout known for her incredible speed and John's closest friend; and Lieutenant Junior Grade Frederic-104 (Travis Willingham), who is Blue Team's highest-ranking officer and hand-to-hand combat specialist, but defers to Master Chief.[11] The members of Blue Team are all Spartan-IIs, augmented super soldiers who were abducted and trained as children; they are among the last Spartan-IIs left alive.[11] Fireteam Osiris comprises Spartan-IVs, a newer generation of Spartans who joined the program as adult members of the military. Fireteam Osiris is led by Jameson Locke (Mike Colter), a former assassin and acquisitions agent of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and skilled tracker. The other members of Fireteam Osiris are: Holly Tanaka (Cynthia McWilliams), a combat technician and engineer in the UNSC Army and a survivor of a Covenant attack on her world; Olympia Vale (Laura Bailey), a political liaison and signals intelligence agent with ONI who can speak many of the Covenant's dialects, most notably Sangheili; and Edward Buck (Nathan Fillion), a veteran former Orbital Drop Shock Trooper with over 180 combat missions of experience, who was a main character and leader of squad Alpha-Nine in Halo 3: ODST.[12]

Supporting characters include Infinity's commanding officer, Captain Thomas Lasky (Darren O'Hare); Spartan Commander Sarah Palmer (Jennifer Hale), head of operations for all Spartan IV teams on board Infinity; Roland, Infinity's shipboard AI, and Dr. Catherine Halsey (Jen Taylor), a scientist who created the SPARTAN-II program. Other returning characters include the Arbiter Thel 'Vadam (Keith David),[13] now leading the Sangheili species as the Swords of Sanghelios against a Covenant remnant faction, led by Jul 'Mdama (Travis Willingham). Cortana (Jen Taylor), Master Chief's former AI companion who was presumed dead after the events of Halo 4, also returns.[14]


Fireteam Osiris is deployed to the planet of Kamchatka, occupied by Jul 'Mdama's splinter Covenant faction, to retrieve the rogue Dr. Halsey and her intel amidst a battle between Covenant forces and the Prometheans. Halsey claims to have information on a series of devastating attacks on several human worlds. While the team is successful in retrieving Halsey and eliminating the Covenant faction's leader Jul 'Mdama, Halsey informs them that a new threat is about to emerge.

Elsewhere, the Master Chief leads Blue Team on a mission to secure a derelict ONI research station known as Argent Moon. The arrival of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant fleet forces Blue Team to scuttle the station instead. During the sabotage, the Chief receives a cryptic message from Cortana, directing him to the planet Meridian. John is ordered to return to Infinity upon destroying Argent Moon, but he and Blue Team disobey orders and set out after Cortana, forcing Captain Lasky to list the rogue Spartans as AWOL. This causes consternation aboard Infinity, as Halsey believes that Cortana's survival through the use of Forerunner technology makes her unpredictable and untrustworthy.

Lasky tasks Fireteam Osiris with finding and capturing Blue Team. Osiris is deployed to Meridian to pursue Blue Team, where they find a human colony under attack by Promethean forces. During their pursuit, they encounter the Warden Eternal, a Promethean serving as Cortana's enforcer. After temporarily defeating the Warden, Osiris catches up to Blue Team, ordering them to stand down and return to Infinity. Chief bests Locke in hand-to-hand combat and flees with the rest of Blue Team as they board a Guardian, one of several colossal Forerunner constructs built as enforcers of entire worlds. Osiris barely escape the colony's collapse as the Guardian activates and disappears. The Guardian emerges on the Forerunner planet Genesis, where John and Cortana reunite. Cortana says that her terminal rampancy was cured by the same Forerunner technology that had saved her.

Osiris is deployed to the Sangheili homeworld of Sanghelios, where they plan to use a dormant Guardian that resides there to travel to Blue Team's location. However, the planet is engulfed in a civil war; the remaining forces of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant have chosen to make their last stand there. To hurry their mission along, Osiris joins forces with the Arbiter and help him strike a crucial blow at Jul's Covenant. Osiris boards a Guardian with the help of Commander Palmer while the Arbiter finishes off the last troops of the Covenant faction.

On Genesis, Osiris encounters the planet's caretaker, the artificial intelligence 031 Exuberant Witness, who allies with them to stop Cortana. Osiris catches up to Blue Team, who reveals that Cortana is planning on using the Guardians to achieve galactic peace through forcible disarmament. Master Chief, aware of the massive devastation that Cortana's plan will cause, attempts to convince Cortana to stand down. She refuses and confines Blue Team in a Forerunner prison in order to prevent them from interfering with her plan. Osiris manages to transfer control of Genesis back to Exuberant, who wrests the prison from Cortana as she leaves the planet via a Guardian.

Artificial intelligences across the galaxy begin swearing allegiance to Cortana and her plans. Cortana locates Infinity and prepares to disable it, but Lasky has the ship's AI Roland, who is still loyal to Infinity, engage slipspace away from Earth and commit to random jumps until they can develop a way to combat Cortana. With Blue Team recovered, Osiris returns to Sanghelios to reunite the SPARTAN-IIs with an injured Commander Palmer, Thel 'Vadam, and Halsey. If the player completes the game on Legendary, an extra cutscene shows Halo Installation 07 powering up while Cortana hums, before cutting to black.


343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross recalled that after Halo 4, the team spent a lot of time discussing where they wanted to take the Halo series, reflecting on feedback from fans about what they did and did not like. In late 2012, game leads Tim Longo, David Berger, and Chris Lee laid out the studio's vision for the next game from a creative and technical standpoint, setting key goals to focus on: utilizing the Xbox One's hardware and Microsoft's cloud infrastructure for larger campaign and multiplayer spaces, deeper player investment systems, and a frame rate of 60 frames per second (FPS).[15]

At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013 (E3), Microsoft announced a new, then-untitled addition to the Halo series, along with a trailer appearing to depict a post-Halo 4 Master Chief.[16] After E3, Phil Spencer said the previously-announced "Reclaimer Trilogy" had been expanded into a longer series of games, explaining that the developers "[didn't] want to limit the Reclaimer story within a trilogy".[17] Ross confirmed the game's title and 2015 release date in a May 2014 blog post.[18] The game is exclusive to the Xbox One.[19]

Halo: The Master Chief Collection gave players exclusive access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta,[20] which began December 29, 2014, and ran through January 18, 2015.[21] In response to the negative coverage of The Master Chief Collection's broken launch, O'Connor announced that Guardians would not be broken at launch.[22]

The game uses motion capture to animate characters, following its use in Halo 4. To record the performances, it used a 5,000-square-foot stage and fifty cameras, along with a 3D tracking system called OptiTrack.[23][24]


On the departure from the Xbox 360 hardware, Ross noted that the Xbox One allows 343 Industries to broaden the game's scope, as its matchmaking and four-player online campaign co-op modes utilize the console's dedicated server support.[25] Franchise development director Frank O'Connor explained that Halo 4 pushed its game engine to the limit, such that moving on to the Xbox One called for the development of a new engine.[26]

To maintain a frame rate of 60 FPS, Halo 5's engine uses a "progressive resolution system", which automatically lowers the resolution at which the game is rendered during graphically-intensive scenes, which are then upscaled back to the game's native resolution of 1080p. Art lead Justin Dinges explained that "some sections of a mission might be relatively quiet and achieving 60fps is straightforward, but there are many situations where we dial the intensity up to 11. At those times, we need to maintain 60fps and give players the total experience from both a design and artistic perspective".[27] To achieve this, 343 Industries made extensive use of Havok.[28][29]

Eager to take advantage of the hardware, the art team built fully animated cacti that responded to gunfire, blanketing the campaign maps with the succulents. Ultimately, they proved to be the largest single technical problem in the game and had to be removed.[30]

To support the drop-in/drop-out co-op, 343 Industries built a dynamic AI system for the fireteam companions to assist the player when a session is played alone.[31]


Narrative designer Morgan Lockhart described the co-op nature of the campaign as the most difficult element of the game.[32] Speaking about Cortana's fate in Halo 4, O'Connor stated that Halo 4's story was focused on the effect that Cortana's sacrifice and loss would have on the Master Chief.[33] He also noted that this effect would be reflected in Halo 5: Guardians, with a story that explores how the Master Chief copes with loss and past memories.[33]

Creative director Tim Longo explained that one of the main goals for Halo 5: Guardians was to expand the universe.[31] To achieve this the studio created new main characters for Fireteam Osiris and introduced characters from the expanded fiction with Blue Team.[31] Early in development, the team decided that Spartan Locke would be used to present the player with a different perspective on the Master Chief.[31] The aim was to create a deliberate contrast between the two main characters.[31] In developing the characters of Fireteam Osiris, 343 Industries initially considered making the team Fireteam Majestic, using the same characters from the Halo 4 episodic series Spartan Ops. When Longo joined as creative director and the rest of the story developed, the developers decided that Majestic was the wrong team to use and set out to create a new fireteam with different characters.[34]

The unnamed fireteam comprised three Spartans: "Smith", "Jones", and "Brown". Initially, none of these characters' traits—not even their genders—were determined. The narrative team decided Smith (later Locke) would be a former ONI agent, a cross of James Bond and Lara Croft. Brian Reed recalled that at one point they had added Fireteam Majestic member Thorne, as well as Spartan leader Palmer, and a still-unnamed Jones, who would be an expert in alien languages. Spartan Jones turned into Spartan Vesper, and her character matured from a child prodigy to someone more serious, if innocent.[34]

Once part of the story became set on the planet Meridian, the narrative team decided that one of the Spartans should have grown up outside the UNSC and survived the destruction of her home planet to act as a conduit for understanding Meridian; this character, now known as Spartan Song, replaced Palmer. When Thorne's actor, Ethan Peck, was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts, 343 Industries decided to replace his character on the team roster rather than recast the role. Other suggestions included an entirely new Spartan or a member of Blue Team, but the developers decided on fan favorite Buck after Nathan Fillion became available. Spartan Smith became Spartan Locke, Vesper and Song became Vale and Tanaka, and Fireteam Osiris took shape after more than two years of changes.[34]


Halo 4's art director, Kenneth Scott, stepped down from his role in January 2014. He was succeeded by Nicolas "Sparth" Bouvier,[35] a concept artist who joined Microsoft in 2009. Bouvier described the early stages of developing artistic concepts as akin to sculpting from marble: "[we] start with a very loose idea that has trickled down from the writers or studio creative director and begin chipping away at the problem."[36] Concept artist Kory Lynn Hubbell recalled that the game's art had to be justified. "If there's no plausible story behind something, it shouldn't be there," he said, recalling that an original plan for a fountain on the mining world of Meridian was changed to a holographic tree, to reflect the desire to simulate nature in the barren landscape.[36]

343's artist and designers focused on differentiating the members of each Spartan fireteam through their design. As Locke's mission is to find Master Chief, Bouvier recalled "he reflects that visually. The design of his armor is very nonintrusive. He doesn't have any bright tones. He's gray and dark to amplify the very nondisruptive nature of his armor." In comparison, Vale's armor was sleeker to reflect her agility, and painted magenta to imply nervousness and aggression.[36]


Sataro Tojima was the audio director for Halo 5: Guardians,[37] with Japanese composer Kazuma Jinnouchi composing the original score.[37] The music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London and the choir was recorded at the Rudolfinum in Prague.[37][38] Jinnouchi wanted to reintroduce the original Halo theme in Halo 5: Guardians, so he composed his own interpretation of the piece.[37] A larger emphasis has been placed on the use of a choir in Halo 5: Guardians' music than Halo 4's.[37]

For the first time in Halo's multiplayer, teammates will make voiced callouts.[38] Jul's Covenant faction have conversations.[38] The audio team worked closely with the AI and narrative departments when developing the Blue Team and Team Osiris in the campaign.[38]

Halo 5: Guardians Original Soundtrack, CD 1[39]
1."Halo Canticles"4:13
2."Light Is Green"3:28
4."Return to the Fold"2:03
5."Rock and Ice"1:28
6."Argent Moon"2:24
8."In Absentia"1:33
9."Meridean Crossing"4:08
11."Unconfirmed Reports"2:09
12."Keeper Of Secrets"1:15
14."Crossed Paths"2:22
16."Skeleton Crew"1:02
17."Siren Song"1:20
18."Enemy of my Enemy"1:41
19."Honor's Song"2:10
20."Warrior World"4:44
21."Covenant Prayers"3:43
22."Cloud Chariot"2:32
23."Sentry Battle"4:26
Halo 5: Guardians Original Soundtrack, CD 2[39]
2."Walk Softly"3:38
5."The Trials"4:13
6."Sentinel Song"1:54
8."End Game"2:08
10."Blue Team"4:37
11."Jameson Locke"4:26
12."Osiris Suite, Act 1"6:40
13."Osiris Suite, Act 2"5:58
14."Osiris Suite, Act 3"6:21
15."Osiris Suite, Act 4"8:34


Executive producer, Josh Holmes stated that the development team wanted to provide much gameplay variety and support different play styles in multiplayer.[40] On launch, the game will include over twenty multiplayer maps, and the team plans to provide an additional fifteen maps as free downloadable content by June 2016.[40] 343 Industries chose to make additional maps freely available as they did not want to divide the player base.[40]

In Halo 5: Guardians' Arena mode, 343 Industries decided to exclude a loadout system so they could encourage the concept of a level playing field that was present in earlier Halo games.[31][40] The mode was inspired by older multiplayer shooters such as Quake.[41]

Warzone, one of the new multiplayer modes, was originally conceived in 2012 with a small demo set up as a four-versus-four player match with AI controlled enemies defending an objective.[42] Initially, the studio wanted to implement such a mode with Halo 4 on the Xbox 360 but they were unable to achieve their vision.[42]

A multiplayer beta for Halo 5: Guardians launched on December 29, 2014 and ran for three weeks.[43] The beta was a sample of Halo 5: Guardians' Arena gameplay, featuring three modes, seven maps and eleven weapons.[43] The development team wanted to launch a beta as early as possible so that players could test and give feedback on new gameplay elements.[31] This player feedback was used to make refinements to gameplay and adjustments to maps.[40][44] The beta used dedicated servers.[44]

The Sprint[edit]

The Sprint is a series about the development of Halo 5, which debuted in Xbox One's Halo Channel and was later uploaded to YouTube.[45] The first season was about the development of Halo 5's multiplayer;[46] the second season focused on the development of the Warzone game mode, and additional tweaks for the presentation at E3 2015.[47] The third season showed the development of the game's score and the use of motion capture.[48]


Halo 5: Guardians demo booths at PAX Australia 2015

During The Walking Dead's fifth-season finale, two different live-action advertisements aired, revealing the October 27, 2015, release date of Halo 5: Guardians.[49] In its June 2015 cover story featuring the title, Game Informer revealed that the campaign would feature four-player cooperative gameplay, and that its story would center on Blue Team, led by Master Chief, and Fireteam Osiris, led by Spartan Locke. The magazine also revealed that Fireteam Osiris would include Holly Tanaka, a new character named Olympia Vale, and fan favorite Edward Buck from Halo 3: ODST.[50]

On the multiplayer side, it was revealed that there would be a new map called Fathom and that there would be changes to Empire, a map playable in the beta. A new mode that would combine all of the sandbox (later revealed as Warzone at E3 2015) was hinted at,[50] and it was revealed that the game would feature 20 maps at launch and that 15 downloadable maps would be added later for free.[51]

Halo 5 was also marketed in sports events: the football team of Seattle Sounders wore jerseys with the game's ads;[52] and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray drove in the NASCAR competition in Halo 5-themed cars.[53]

The game's mainstream marketing received some criticism for being different from the game's plot.[54][55] Phil Hornshaw of Digital Trends wrote that Halo 5's marketing "suggests an emotional conflict between the questionably-loyal Chief and the 'traitor-hunting' Osiris leader, Locke, but those moments are barely in the game".[56]

Hunt the Truth[edit]

On March 22, 2015, Microsoft launched Hunt the Truth, an audioplay similar to radio series such as This American Life. The first season followed the investigations of fictional journalist and war photographer Benjamin Giraud (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key), who investigates the Master Chief's background.[57] Giraud discovers that the official story of Master Chief's origins are false, and attempts to expose the coverup.[58]

The first season was highly successful, drawing an audience of 6.7 million listeners on iTunes and winning Hunt the Truth's ad agency a Clio Award.[59] A second season of the podcast began September 22, 2015, focusing upon the view point of ONI Agent Maya Sankar (Janina Gavankar), returning undercover as FERO, to investigate unidentified attacks on human colonies.[60]

E3 2015[edit]

Microsoft began their E3 2015 press conference with gameplay from the campaign of Halo 5: Guardians. This gameplay was from a mission known as "The Battle of Sunaion" and featured Fireteam Osiris. A new multiplayer mode known as "Warzone" was also shown off at E3.[61]


Halo 5 is the first main installment in the Halo franchise to receive a T for Teen rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) besides Halo Wars, instead of the M for Mature rating.[62] Microsoft Xbox division executive Aaron Greenberg felt that the M ratings on previous installments were surprising, "given the style of the game and the lack of real graphic violence and things like that", but that the "Teen" rating would theoretically enable Halo 5 to reach a broader audience of younger players who would have otherwise been unable to obtain the game.[63]

The game shipped in three different retail configurations: a standard edition, limited edition, and collector's edition. The limited edition came with a REQ bundle, dossiers on the game's characters, the Fall of Reach film, a statue of a Guardian, and a "steelbook" metal case. The collector's edition contained the REQ bundle, dossiers, Guardian statue, and Fall of Reach, plus a commemorative statue of Master Chief and Agent Locke.[64] The collector's edition comes with a digital code rather than a physical disc; fan feedback led Microsoft to offer a free trade-in program so collector's edition buyers could have the disc instead.[65]


Halo 5 was supported by post-release content updates. 343 head Josh Holmes explained that the studio did not want to segregate the player base by distributing maps as paid downloadable content, a goal he felt was "really important to having a great multiplayer ecosystem".[66][67]

Update name Release date Additions Website
Battle of Shadow and Light November 18, 2015 Big Team Battle (BTB) game mode, new player customization options, REQs [68]
Cartographer's Gift December 16, 2015 Forge mode, advanced controller settings, new player customization options, maps, and REQs[69][70]
Infinity's Armory January 27, 2016 New maps and REQs[71] [72]
Hammerstorm February 24, 2016 New game modes, new map, new REQs[73] [74]
Ghosts of Meridian March 6, 2016 New maps and REQs, Forge additions, balance updates[75] [76]
Memories of Reach May 16, 2016 Infection game mode, new REQs, matchmaking preferences customization [77]
Hog Wild (REQ Drop) May 27, 2016 New REQs [78]
Warzone Firefight June 29, 2016 Campaign Score Attack and Warzone Firefight game modes, new maps and REQs, new Forge canvas[79] [80]
Anvil's Legacy September 8, 2016 New maps and REQs[81]
Monitor's Bounty December 8, 2016 Custom Games Browser, Observer Mode, new REQs, new Warzone Firefight maps, bug fixes, balance changes [82]
Overtime November 2, 2017 Enhanced for Xbox One X, Oddball game mode, Local Server, New commendations, weapon tuning

Halo 5: Forge[edit]

Halo 5: Forge, a free version of Halo 5's map editing tool, containing functional multiplayer, was released for Windows 10 on September 8, 2016.[83]

Professional competition[edit]

In 2014, Microsoft announced the "Halo Championship Series", its own tournament. Prior to Halo 5: Guardians's release, Microsoft announced a competition with a US$1 million prize pool, and a focus on developing the game with competition in mind.[84] A portion of the proceeds from REQ packs bought with real currency contributes to prize pools; by November 4 REQ proceeds had added US$500,000 to the pool,[85] which climbed to US$700,000 by November 19.[86] At The Game Awards in early December, Microsoft announced a US$2 million prize pool, buoyed by sales of a special REQ pack.[87] By February 19, the total prize pool exceeded US$2,500,000.[88] The Halo World Championship began on December 6, 2015,[86] with the finals running March 18–20, 2016.[89]

After the Halo World Championship, Microsoft announced the Halo Pro League in partnership with Electronic Sports League as a way to grow Halo eSports.[90]


Halo 5: Guardians received an aggregated score of 84 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 101 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[91]

Arthur Gies, writing for Polygon, wrote that 343 Industries had much to prove with Halo 5 after Halo 4's online population "evaporated", The Master Chief Collection's woes, and Microsoft's need for a strong title to sell more Xbox One units. "343's response to that quagmire," Gies wrote, "[is] to return to the fundamentals of what made the series great in the first place. The studio has brought Halo's mechanics kicking and screaming into the modern era, while providing the most bombastic, co-op-driven campaign in Halo history."[103] GameSpot's Mike Mahardy agreed that 343 had produced some of the best iterations of the game series' facets with Halo 5. IGN's Brian Albert opined that 343 Industries had created an even bigger game than previous entries, with "the strongest combat Halo has ever seen".[97][101] Destructoid's Chris Carter felt that Halo 5 failed to grab him in the same way as previous games had, "but those of you who are still content with Master Chief and his wacky adventures across the galaxy will likely walk away satisfied."[92] More critically, the reviewers of GamesTM felt that Halo 5 was "sheepish and safe" and represented a series low.[94]

Halo 5's overall gameplay and multiplayer were well received. GameSpot praised Halo 5's multiplayer experience for being in the "best shape Halo's multiplayer has ever taken", and in particular, noting the game's return to "universal" weapon loadouts and obtaining stronger weapons spawning on-map, rather than unlocking weapons as in Halo 4. The Warzone mode was considered to be one of the "best new ideas" in both the Halo franchise and the genre, praising its MOBA-like mechanics and vast environments, explaining that "as with the rest of Halo 5, there is momentum here—but this is a force that shifts from side to side with each match. Warzone isn't so much about consistency—it's about adaptability. And the team that can roll with the punches, and punch back at the right moments, will have the upper hand."[97] Albert praised the campaign for challenging enemies and environments dense with secret pathways and hidden weapons. "This kind of design makes Halo 5's campaign ripe for replaying, and well suited for the [...] co-op it's clearly made for", he wrote.[101]

The game's artificial intelligence (AI) received mixed impressions. Chris Carter found the squad controls rudimentary, but found the team chatter and their assistance welcome.[92] GamesTM pointed out flaws in enemies by criticizing overpowered bosses and saying that "the number of things that can kill you instantly—even on Normal difficulty—is exasperatingly high". Reviewers like Carter and GamesTM complained of ally teammates failing to revive players, even in instances such as when they were standing right next to the player.[92][94]

Halo 5's campaign and story received mixed reviews. Timothy J. Seppala of Engadget felt it was the first time in years that the campaign felt like a step backward compared to its predecessor; "instead of addressing what it got wrong with [Halo 4] and doubling down on what it did right, the team fundamentally altered how a Halo campaign works to horrendous results."[106] Time's Matt Peckham felt that in comparison to the setup in Halo 5's marketing and the Hunt the Truth series, which suggested a novel direction for the series, "What happens in Halo 5's story, by contrast, feels disappointingly by the numbers."[107] GameSpot's Mike Mahardy felt that while the plot had promise, the campaign did not effectively capitalize on its opportunities: "Cutscenes fade to black before they feel finished. Character motivations shift on a whim."[97] Forbes' Paul Thier and GamesRadar's David Houghton complained that players did not suitably impact the story's progression, and that the game's cliffhanger ended the plot at the conclusion of the first act.[108][109] Though he also found fault with parts of Halo 5's campaign, Albert praised Cortana's threat as "less black and white" in motives than previous antagonists, and the background chatter contributing to learning more about each character.[101]


First-week global sales of Halo 5 software and hardware totaled more than US$400 million, making it the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive. Halo 5 made the biggest sales record in Xbox history, and was also the best-selling digital title.[110][111] Within its first five days of release, Halo 5 was the best-selling game of October in the United States, according to NPD Group,[112] which tracks physical sales from retailers. In November, Halo 5 was the eighth best selling game according to NPD's figures.[113]

In the United Kingdom, Halo 5 debuted on the top of the sales charts as measured by Chart-Track, besting the week's other new release, Assassin's Creed Syndicate. It outsold previous Halo release The Master Chief Collection by 50% in its first week.[114][115] The following week sales decreased 78 percent, and Halo 5 was displaced from the top of the charts by Call of Duty: Black Ops III.[116] The game was the tenth best selling title of 2015 in Australia.[117]

On June 9, 2016, Frank O'Connor said that the game managed to sell 5 million copies in the first 3 months of its release.[118] Halo 5: Guardians is the lowest selling Halo title of the franchise, in the UK.[119]

In a Q&A session, in May 2017, between Michael Pachter and his audience, the gaming analyst recounted his conversation with Microsoft regarding the success of Halo 5. Contrary to popular belief, the analyst says that Microsoft told him that the title sold “on par” with the previous four mainline Halo titles, suggesting that Halo 5 had sold at least 10 million units.[120]


List of awards and nominations
Award Category Result Ref.
The Game Awards 2015 Best Multiplayer Nominated [121]
Best Shooter Nominated
Best Score/Soundtrack Nominated
Game Critics Awards 2015 Best Action Game Nominated [122]
Best Online Multiplayer Nominated
Game Revolution Best of 2015 Awards Best Multiplayer Won [123]
Best Shooter Won
Best Xbox Exclusive Nominated
Game of the Year Nominated
IGN Best of 2015 Awards Best Competitive Multiplayer Honorable mention (tie) [124]
Best Shooter Nominated [125]
OXM Game of the Year Awards 2015 Best Innovation Won [126]
Best Online Multiplayer Won
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
20th Satellite Awards Outstanding Action/Adventure Game Nominated [127]
12th BAFTA Games Awards Best Music Nominated [128]


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External links[edit]