Warzone will be, if 343 Industries and Microsoft get their way, the new hotness for the Halo universe. I had a chance to go hands on with this player versus player/player versus everything hybrid a few weeks back for a couple of hours.
If gamers get into it the way the developers hope, it could be huge.
Let’s start with what Warzone is. We saw it on two separate maps, both exceptionally massive in scale. I’ll focus on one map in order to simplify my explanation.
The multiplayer game starts as two groups of Spartans, of the red and blue variety, are dropped off on an island. They get out and head to their respective bases.
Their bases, of course, are overrun with enemies, of either Covenant or Promethean AI brand. Players have to kill these computer controlled enemies in order to claim their base and begin gathering points. The whole point of Warzone is to reach 1,000 points in order to win. That’s done through grabbing bases, killing player enemies and killing CPUs.
To be clear, though, there are two ways to win Warzone. You can reach that 1,000 point mark, as in what we did each time we played the game type, or you can destroy the enemy’s main base.
Now, there are three points of contention on the map. There’s a base on the left, on the right and in the middle. They fall towards the center of the large battlefield. Players will attempt to capture and hold these points in order to contribute to their overall score. Again, first to 1,000 points wins.
If one team captures all three of the bases in the middle, their opponent’s home base becomes vulnerable. If the base holders can run in and blow up their opponents base, the game is over. That victory occurs regardless of point total.
What makes Warzone different than just a large scale capture and hold style battle are the bosses. 343 designed boss encounters that occur in set intervals that flux based on the flow of play. When a boss appears, all players are alerted to their presence. Bringing the boss down earns your team points. The boss’ strength dictates their point value, and the last boss typically earns players a whopping 250 points.
In this one game type, players will be engaging in a capture and hold competition with a goal of 1,000 points. They’ll be battling other players and AI controlled bosses, too. Sound dense enough? Well, there’s more.
Warzone is also the main place that players will be engaging with the REQ system. Halo 5: Guardians has a card pack system. You’ll earn REQ points in order to buy card packs (think Madden‘s Ultimate Team), and the card packs contain better weapons, gear, vehicles and boosts. Want to drive a Warthog that fires rockets instead of bullets? There’s a REQ card for that.
Microsoft and 343 actually released a video that explains how this will work, and it does so perfectly.
Warzone feels massive. It supports 24 players at once, and when they’re all clustered together fighting a boss and each other at the same time, it feels genuinely epic in scale. The early moments of the game can seem a little boring as you’re trying to build up your REQ level in order to spend higher tiered cards. That’s when the size of the maps is a touch too big.
It’s then that you focus on a single objective. That’s what I think 343 did really well with Warzone. It’s a multiplayer mode that tries to cater to everyone. Like Slayer? Just go after human enemies. Like boss fights? Take on the bosses. Want to play objective based Slayer? That’s here too. Just want to kick back and defend? Your team will thank you for it.
Warzone felt more open and less competitive than Arena, obviously. I’m not sure if the REQ system is going to be the hit Microsoft hopes it will be, but the mode itself is fun. I could absolutely see going round after round with a tight group of friends. If you have 12 of them on the Xbox One, that’ll be huge.
Halo 5: Guardians ships for the Xbox One on October 27, 2015. We’ll have more on the game as it comes.