New Campaign Details for Halo 5: Guardians

By Cindy Minguez, 2 years ago
Several members of the Halo team have posted a recent blog detailing some of what's involved in building "an epic campaign" for the next and much-anticipated installment in the Halo series, Halo 5: Guardians. As they put the final touches on the game, here's some of what they had to say.

Josh Holmes, Executive Producer

Holmes makes it clear that while the new title puts a lot of emphasis on multiplayer, the Halo universe, its story and characters, are still center stage. Halo 5: Guaradians sweep the player through multiple planets across the galaxy in an adventure that he says will see "the Halo universe will be forever transformed."

Players will see improvements both in team-oriented cooperative gameplay, as well as solo play.
The introduction of Fireteam AI and the new Fireteam Orders system expands the opportunities available to players and changes the play experience in fundamental ways.
Even the game engine is new with a multitude of technical advances:

We’ve implemented a new physically-based rendering system that improves the realism of our lighting model and materials in game. One of the advantages of this system is the flexibility it allows in achieving a wide variety of different looks, including alien-looking materials, while remaining plausible in appearance and behavior. It has required a completely different approach to building content – everything in the game has been authored to take advantage of this new system.

Throughout all of our connected experiences we’ve embraced dedicated servers, which we use to run our Co-op campaign and multiplayer experiences (including custom games). We’ve re-architected our game systems, services and networking to take advantage of Xbox Live cloud compute for physics and AI calculation in Warzone and campaign Co-op. The combination of the Xbox One console and Xbox Live cloud compute allows us to deliver Halo at a greater scale and gameplay fidelity than ever before.

Framerate is king for us on Halo 5. Gameplay is defined by the way that players experience the game from controller to screen. We want the connection between you and the game to feel seamless and instantaneous. From the beginning, we set ourselves the goal of delivering consistent 60fps gameplay across all modes of play. Delivering on this goal meant re-engineering the gameplay systems at the core of our engine. It required sustained commitment from the entire team as we continually optimized the experience, and the difference it makes to the play experience is immediate and obvious.

60fps gameplay is supported by a new progressive resolution system that allows us to dynamically scale the resolution at which we render the game (up to 1080p) based on the needs of the scene. This enables us to deploy resources where they have most impact across a diverse series of experiences throughout the game while delivering the most visually stunning Halo game ever.

Justin Dinges – Campaign Environment Art Lead

Halo 5's world is massive, even bigger than the developers expected it to be. The size alone demanded a wide variety of artistic tools to keep the game fresh and every-changing for the player. Using seven distinct art pallets plus a large number of sub-pallets, the artists have rendered scenes for everything from full-on battles on a huge scale to quiet times of peacefully exploring some hidden jungle ruins or interacting with colonists at a distant outpost. Players have more choice in what they choose to do now that more time and emphasis have been invested in exploration, especially with new features such as collectibles and hidden power weapons. Newly added Spartan abilities ( Charge, Ground Pound, Clamber, and Tracking) bring even more excitement to the search.

Building each of those experiences brings its own unique challenges, particularly with our commitment to solid 60fps gameplay. Ensuring 60fps throughout our play experience has required constant focus. 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. This is where our new progressive resolution system comes into play, allowing the game to scale resolution dynamically as the experience gets more intense and complex. In much of the campaign you may be playing at 1080p, but when we want to get really crazy with vehicles, visual effects and combat we can trade some of the resolution in order to maintain the crucial 60fps. Without this system, we would need to either reduce the scale of our most intense combat encounters or lower the quality of content across the game in order to stay at 60 fps at all times. With progressive resolution, we get the best of both worlds: epic scale experiences that look incredible while running at a consistent 60fps.

Chris Haluke – Campaign Lead Designer

Again, the emphasis of Halo 5: Guardians is on huge, including the huge number of tactical possibilities created for players.

Do you want to play the mission with vehicles or on foot? Do you want to explore every nook and cranny of the environment to discover tactical options and other hidden goodies, or do you prefer to race ahead by taking the most direct path? Will you jump into battle and lead the way, or take a more careful approach by ordering your Fireteam to clear out the enemies ahead? Each of these options plays out differently as the game reacts to your choices; that’s the beauty of the Halo sandbox.
Creating such a plethora of choices makes mission and encounter design much more complex. Multiple paths have to be embedded in each mission to account for how the player wants to play, not only as to all the possibilities above but also with an eye to the larger issues required for cooperative vs. solo play. The team has worked extremely hard to carefully balance a multitude of components. Consider the work involved in encounter details alone when one has to weigh in how many players are in the party, how much the Fireteam is involved, what difficulty one is playing - all contribute to decide how many enemies you meet at any given time and how strong they are.


Josh Lindquist – Campaign Lead Engineer

Lindquist is my favorite of the men talking about the game. He enjoins us to remember the company mantra: Play the game. The developers often get to play only when they're testing for bugs after something new has been added or some other type of adjustment made, but even more, he gets right to the heart of what it's all about. I'll let him just tell you himself.

We all have our pet levels that we know well; we play them so frequently we'll notice the slightest thing wrong with them. So, one night, I'm testing some changes on Enemy Lines. I know this level. I know the way it plays. Jackal here, two Ghosts there, Wraith dropped off here, these guys break, pursue to here, etc... It’s late at night and I’m a little loopy. I go over to the right and I order Tanaka and Vale to get into Ghosts. Because, why not? I love playing around with our new Fireteam Orders system.

With two of my Fireteam members in vehicles, I send Buck on a one-man mission to take over the Shade turret that's peppering me from halfway across the board. He starts running, and I start taking pot-shots at the Elite in the turret. I kill the Elite, Tanaka and Vale are off in Ghosts doing who knows what, and Buck finally makes it to the Shade, jumps, clambers, gets in. I start to get a stupid grin on my face. I back into a cave and start picking targets. That Jackal is annoying me. TARGET. A rain of death ensues from the Shade turret and twin Ghosts. Oh, that Elite has seen me and is trying to run across open ground to get me? TARGET. Cue rain of death from the Shade and the Ghosts. I'm starting to cackle now. Here comes a suicide Grunt trying to get me from 40 yards away. TARGET. Rain of death! Holy crap, I'm laughing out loud and wondering if people are starting to stare at me. I don’t care. THIS IS AWESOME!

Sometimes it’s easy to lose the forest for the trees. To lose sight of the fact that we're making something fun, something epic, and something awesome. Once in a while, we get surprised by the thing we're making, and that really is the thing we live for. It's the reason I'm in games and I hope it comes across in what we've made for you.

I think that pretty well says it all. Lastly, we have two new trailers for you - a first look trailer and some gameplay. Enjoy.

Halo 5: Guardians will release on the Xbox One October 27th.
Cindy Minguez
Written by Cindy Minguez
Cindy has been writing for TA/TT for three years now and is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueTrophies. She's an English instructor at a small college and considered a remarkably cool teacher for knowing all about Mass Effect, Skyrim, and Diablo III.