12 tips for staying Spartan strong in Halo 5: Guardians

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Halo 5: Guardians is upon us, and it brings more big changes to the franchise than we’ve seen in quite some time. Everything old is new again, from the Promethean guns that first debuted in Halo 4 to simple stuff such as how players traverse maps and escape trouble. If you’re just picking up Halo 5 after the long drought from Halo 4, or even if you’ve spent time with The Master Chief Collection, there are plenty of little things that it’ll take time to acclimate to in order to become a high-powered Spartan supersoldier. After all, not everything happens overnight.

Related: Halo 5: Guardians review (3 out of 5 stars)

Here’s a few quick tips for jumping into any of Halo 5’s modes and not sucking (completely).

Tips to survive Halo 5: Guardians Campaign mode

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Halo has always supported cooperative play in its campaign modes, but for the first time, players have a squad of teammates with them at all times that are controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence when human teammates cannot be found. These aren’t like the marines that wander around in previous Halo games — these are Spartans who can take orders and revive fallen comrades.

If you’re going into the campaign, you’re going to want to bring friends, because the squad AI isn’t too smart. Alone or with friends, there are a few things to keep in mind when playing in Halo 5’s campaign mode:

Learn your new moves

In Halo 5, all player characters exhibit far more movement capabilities than they did in previous games in the franchise. You can sprint, use a short-range boost to dodge enemy fire, hover in the air when firing, pound the ground from the air for a small area attack, and climb ledges. You’ll get the hang of these moves through playing Halo 5’s tutorial, but using them adeptly can be key for certain strategies. Remember that when you sprint, you don’t recharge your shield, for instance, and try to climb to use high ground to get better vantage points on enemies, particularly those with weak points on their backs or sides.

Be aware of your surroundings

Most enemy encounters in Halo 5 are set in arena-like rooms, and just about every one of those arenas is larger than it looks. The campaign is designed for as many as four players to split up and attack objectives from multiple positions, using squad tactics to win the day. That means one person can snipe from a high spot while two others charge in on the ground, for example. The game is also littered with breakable walls that lead to secret weapon caches or flanking paths that can help you in battles, and just about every obstacle or problem has multiple solutions. Look around and be creative.

Don’t trust your squad (unless they’re human)

The best lesson you can learn when playing alone is that your squad isn’t quite smart enough to really get your back. If you’re defeated somewhere up high or in the midsts of a bunch of enemies, it’s likely your teammates won’t get to you in time to revive you, or will get themselves killed in the attempt. In all cases, you’re better off taking your time, staying back in cover, and trusting yourself rather than your AI squadmates. Also, remember to issue them orders with the directional pad — while the squad is bad at shooting enemies on their own, their focus fire command can be very useful, especially against bosses.

The Artemis is your friend

In the first mission of the game, Spartan Locke mentions the “Artemis,” a computer built into his suit that sends out a scanner “ping” in a sphere around him. Mapped to the directional pad, the scanner provides a waypoint on your heads-up display to show you where you’re going, but it’ll also make a sound when you’re close to collectible “intel”, as well; the longer it takes to hear the sound, the further away the collectible is. You can also use the Artemis to find weapons and ammo, so hit it often for help throughout the campaign.

Next page: Tips for Arena mode and Warzone

Tips to survive Halo 5: Guardians Arena mode

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If you’re familiar with Halo multiplayer, Arena will feel pretty familiar — it’s Halo 5’s esports-leaning version of traditional multiplayer matches such as Slayer and Capture the Flag. It also includes “Breakout,” a new small-team battle mode that does away with shields and radar, meaning careful planning and communication are key to victory.

Here’s how to fast-track your way into being decent in Arena:

Stick together

This is a useful commandment for just about any Halo game, but given the way Halo 5 has been tweaked in terms of movement and weapons, it’s especially important here. In a one-on-one fight in a normal Arena match, your chances of winning can be dicey; come across two enemies at once and you’re almost sure to lose. Better to be the two in a two-on-one scenario. And in a mode like Breakout, smart teamwork is essential to victory, since any errant bullet can take your head off.

Get vertical

Halo multiplayer maps have always had multiple levels, but in Halo 5 it’s a great deal easier to move up and down than it has been in the past. That means you should use your range of motion to your advantage as much as possible. Coming at a battle from above can give you the ability to duck out and heal up if things go sideways, and you’ll also often have the added benefit of hitting players who have a harder time seeing you when you’ve got the high ground. It’s not guaranteed victory, but there’s no reason to fight players on the ground floor with equal standing if you can climb higher.

Stay out of the open

As mentioned, you can lose your life in Breakout from one simple headshot from halfway across the map, but even with full shields, you’re still vulnerable to enemies who see you before you see them in Arena mode. Pick your paths carefully and try to avoid crossing wide-open areas whenever possible. While you have the ability to sprint or boost when you’re in trouble, an enemy who gets the drop on you is likely to kill you in most circumstances, and you’re a lot worse off when you have to spend precious seconds figuring out where you’re taking fire from when it could be coming from just about anywhere.

Use your abilities carefully

There’s a tactical tradeoff for sprinting in Halo 5: if you run full-speed, your shields don’t recharge. That means that while you might try to escape a fight by running away, you can still take a shot or two in the back and lose your life. Try to get good at gauging when cutting and running is the right call, and when you might be better off ducking away somewhere close by to charge up. It’s important to note that just because you can run doesn’t mean you always should.

Next page: Tips for surviving Warzone multiplayer mode

Tips to survive Halo 5: Guardians Warzone mode

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Halo 5’s biggest new multiplayer mode is “Warzone,” a giant mashup of all things Halo in a huge 24-player brawl. Unlike Arena, Warzone is fully objective-based, and you’ll need to switch tracks in order to win against the enemy team in the new mode.

Warzone’s not just about scoring headshots; here are some key tips that can help you find success:

Teamwork makes the dream work

Even more than Arena, Warzone is a team-based game mode. Trouble is, it’s so big that teamwork might get lost as you’re shuttling from one place to another, trying to figure out where your attention should go next. Stay with teammates and help them accomplish goals. Capturing objectives and defeating enemies is hard to do alone most of the time, so you want to put your efforts where they’ll best help the team.

Killing other players shouldn’t be your focus

Warzone is an objective-based game type, with positions players need to capture and AI enemy forces to destroy to earn “victory points.” While killing other players will earn your team points, it won’t always earn you the most points. Killing bosses and capturing locations with a low number of kills can often help push a team toward victory more than a ton of kills, but few objectives cleared. In fact, AI bosses should usually be your priority. Bosses are good for quite a few points when they’re defeated to the team that beats them, and blocking the other team from taking them down keeps you from having to work off the disadvantage.

If you’re struggling, try somewhere else

Keep getting blasted by a player in a banshee or a Covenant general piloting a tank? Forget ’em and try some other part of the map. Warzone matches are huge, which means there’s always something else that could conceivably require your attention. If you’re banging your head against a brick wall made up of other players, a position you can’t quite capture, or a boss that keeps wrecking you, regroup with your team and focus your efforts elsewhere.

Don’t forget to REQ

The new REQ system is how players add weapons and vehicles to Warzone matches. You unlock cards from REQ packs, bought with points earned by playing the game, and those cards allow you to summon vehicles and guns into the game — but only after your team has earned its way up to the card’s designated “REQ level.” That means you should always be keeping an eye on where your REQ is and what you can grab. You can always access REQs when you die, so be sure to check early and often. At REQ level 3, for instance, you can change your starting loadout to include a Battle Rifle for long-range takedowns, but it’s easy to forget to make the switch. At higher levels, you can call vehicles or get power weapons that can help you change the game. Try to zero in on the items that you’re best with, and that will best aid the team — it doesn’t help anyone to spawn in a Ghost and then get blown up two seconds later.

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