Halo 5: What to Expect on Day One

This week has brought a treasure trove of new information for Halo 5: Guardians. With Halo 5 having gone gold exactly one week ago, it’s time to run down what you can expect when you finally get your copy of Halo 5: Guardians.

This week has brought a treasure trove of new information for Halo 5: Guardians. With the game having gone gold exactly one week ago, it’s time to run down what you can expect when you finally get your copy of Halo 5.

Disclaimer: This following article will be continually updated until Halo 5 finally launches as new information becomes readily available. With that out of the way, this article reflects the information made known as of Oct. 21, 2015.

Prepare Your Hard Drive

343 Industries has confirmed that Halo 5 will require roughly 55GB of HDD space. According to physical copies that broke street date, the disc contains around 45GB of the game, and 343 has stated that it will include a 9GB Day One patch. Day One patches aren’t new to the gaming industry, and they certainly aren’t new to Halo as Halo: The Master Chief Collection had a 20GB Day One patch. 343 says the patch must be downloaded before you’ll be able to take part in the game’s multiplayer.

If you’ve preordered the game digitally, you will be able to preload the game and the day one patch before the game officially releases on Oct. 27. In fact, preloading has already begun so if you’ve already pre-purchased Halo 5, you should probably get to it. However, if you’ve preordered a physical copy — or plan on purchasing a physical copy, you will have to spend a decent amount of your day downloading the 9GB patch before being able to play multiplayer — unless you acquire an early physical copy, of course…


Launch Maps: Arena

Once you’ve finally downloaded the patch, you’ll finally be able to get into the meat and potatoes of Halo 5: online multiplayer. As has been previously laid out, Halo 5 features two major modes of multiplayer: Arena and Warzone. Furthermore, the game ships with 21 maps — 15 maps for Arena (seven of which have been made in Forge) and 6 for Warzone, so let’s break down the Arena maps. Last week, we discussed one of Halo 5’s newest game modes: Breakout. Five of the 15 Arena maps are dedicated solely for Breakout. Taking inspiration from Speedball and Paintball courses, the following maps will be Breakout-specific:

  • Altitude
  • Crossfire
  • Gambol
  • Trench
  • Trident

It is important to note that these maps, according to Josh Holmes, are “built in the highly foregable Breakout Arena.” This means that players will be able to forge their own Breakout maps, but more on that later.


The remaining ten maps are your standard Halo maps, built for classic gametypes such as Slayer and Capture the Flag. Designed with competitive 4v4 combat in mind, these maps will probably be the ones with which you will probably become the most familiar.  So, without further ado, these are the non-Breakout Arena maps:

  • Eden*
  • Empire*
  • Truth**
  • Regret**
  • Pegasus (Forge Map)
  • Orion (Forge Map)
  • Coliseum
  • The Rig
  • Plaza
  • Fathom

If the first six maps seem familiar, chances are they probably are since they were all featured in Halo 5’s December Multiplayer Beta. Also, it is important to note that Eden and Empire as well as Truth and Regret are remixes of one another. In order words, they are re-imaginings of each other, and these maps are annotated by asterisk(s).


Launch Maps: Warzone

A few weeks ago, we also discussed Warzone. In that article, we outlined that there are six launch maps for Warzone, and two variants of the new game mode.The first variant, which I will term “Warzone Classic,” is the variant that 343 has been pushing the hardest (and the only variant that has publicly available gameplay). The objective in Warzone Classic is simple: reach 1000 points before the enemy. Alternatively, teams can win by destroying the enemy team’s power cores. Furthermore, this variant of Warzone will also feature AI enemies.

The other variant — named “Warzone Assault” — will be akin to an attack/defend game mode where an attacking team will attempt to push back the defenders before time expires. Essentially, this game mode takes inspiration from Halo: Reach’sInvasion (and perhaps, Battlefield’s Rush or Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare’s Gardens and Graveyards). As previously stated, we don’t have much to go on besides this brief description.

Up until this point, we only knew the names of three of the six Warzone maps. However, IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey confirmed that three maps will be specific to Warzone Classic, and the other three will be specific to Warzone Assault, so these are the six Warzone maps that will be available at launch.

  • Warzone “Classic” Maps: 3

    • Raid on Apex 7
    • Escape from A.R.C.
    • March on Stormbreak

  • Warzone Assault Maps: 3

    • Summit
    • Dispatch
    • Array

We haven’t seen any gameplay of Summit, Dispatch or Array, but we probably will very soon. One final note on the maps: 343 has confirmed that an additional 18+ maps will be added via DLC, free of charge to all players.

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Arena Playlists

Moreover, 343 revealed the five launch playlists for Halo 5. They are as follows:

  • Team Arena
  • Team Slayer
  • Breakout
  • Free-for-All
  • SWAT
  • Weekend Social (Weekend only/unranked)

As you can see, fan favorites such as Team Snipers and Team Doubles are noticeably absent from the launch playlists (which contrary to Frank O’Connor were present for Halo 3’s launch playlists). However, let’s focus on the playlists that are included. First things first, Slayer and Breakout are all relatively straightforward as which will feature their respective game modes on a variety of maps. Free-for-All is also as one might expect, but the FFA playlist will only support slayer game types and will not feature any objective-based game types. SWAT is also relatively straightforward, but it will also feature “SWATnums” – or SWAT with Magnum starts instead of Battle Rifle starts.

Team Arena will essentially act as Halo 5’s competitive playlist. It’ll feature Team Slayer, Breakout, Strongholds, and Capture the Flag. 343 says that they will update the game modes available in Team Arena based on player feedback. Now, if the four game modes in Team Arena seems relatively sparse, there is a reason for that. According to Josh Holmes, as reported by Team Beyond’s Rhys Weir, Halo 5 will only ship with four game modes, meaning that game modes ranging from Oddball and King of the Hill to Infection and Grifball (among many, many others) will be patched in the future and will not be present in the game on Day One.

Finally, the Weekend Social playlist will be “a weekly playlist that features a mode voted on by the community via Halo Waypoint and the Halo Channel.” Aside from the limited nature of the game mode being featured, the distinguishing characteristic of  this playlist will be “bonus XP and bonus REQ points.” According to multiplayer designer Quinn DelHoyo in an interview with IGN, “the Weekend Social playlist is going to be a great spot for us to engage the community and let them decide which modes get featured there. Some will be wacky just for the fun of it while others will be a bit more serious.”

As was confirmed by Josh Holmes, all permanent Arena playlists will be ranked.


Josh Holmes has also outlined some of the new changes that have been made to Halo 5’s skill-based ranking system, the Competitive Skill Rating (CSR). Put simply, a number of refinements have been made to the overall system, and the rank divisions have been renamed. We’ve covered the changes announced in this article. Check it out after you are done here. If you are more of a casual player, Halo 4‘s Spartan Rank (SR) will also return.

Like the ranking systems in Halo 4 and Halo: Reach, this rank will be an XP-based rank. Players gain experience by finishing matches of Arena and Warzone as well as playing Custom Games and Campaign. From the information currently known, there will be at least 152 levels of SR. As your SR increases, the value of the cards you receive in REQ packs also increases.


Spartan Companies

As reported here on eSportsNation, Halo 5 is also bringing back Clan Support. Originally appearing (for the first, and up until now, last time) in 2004’s Halo 2, the feature was one of the most requested community features. Like their Halo 2 counterparts, Spartan Companies also have a maximum roster cap of 100 members. It’s unclear in what ways Spartan Companies will affect gameplay, but it is quite possible that their existence could make the Halo 5 eSports viewing experience all the better.

Also, you can currently customize your Spartan’s appearance and open REQ packs on the Halo Waypoint website. If you join a Spartan Company with four or more members, you’ll receive a free REQ pack that is guaranteed to include a piece of customization.

Spectator Mode

Announced at HaloFest 2014, featured in the Halo 5 December 2014 Multiplayer Beta, and shown off once again during Gamescom 2015, Spectator Mode is a go for Halo 5 and will be usable out of the box, no patching required. According to Josh Holmes’ posting on the Beyond forums, players will be able to spectate their friends in both custom games and matchmaking.

Holmes explains, “It’s a live Theater save film that streams directly from the server.” He also mentions that players will be able to view matches from first- and third-person as well as a free camera perspective. Furthermore, spectators will be able to “rewind, fast forward, adjust playback speed” and “player outlines can be toggled on or off.” Lastly, Holmes says that there will be a 15 to 30 second delay. Although this will prevent cheating online, it could prove problematic while casting at LAN events. However, Holmes reminds us that they will “keep augmenting spectator mode over time based on feedback from casters & TOs.”

Commendations, Achievements, and the Campaign

343 Industries has confirmed that the game will feature a campaign that is 8-12 hours in length, and that it will feature 15 campaign missions. There will be over 1000+ REQ cards and nearly 200 armor sets. The game will also feature API support.This will allow fans to create stat-based projects, and it will support Service Record, Match History, and the Carnage Report. Currently, the API is in private beta, and 343 is currently working with Electronic Sports League, Major League Gaming,Halo Charts, and Halotracker among others. By holding this private beta, they hope that “public access will be ready to launch around the same time frame that Halo 5 releases.” This means that fans will be able to track their stats, and perhaps the stats of pro players, more easily than ever before.

Finally, 343 has revealed the achievements that players will be able to unlock in the game as well as the commendations and medals that players can earn. Not surprisingly, the achievements amount to 1000 Gamerscore (across 65 achievements), and there are a ton of medals, told to the player by announcers Jeff Steitzer (for Arena) and Jennifer Hale (for Warzone).

What Not to Expect


Earlier, I mentioned Forge maps. As you may or may not have heard, Forge is indeed returning in Halo 5: Guardians… in December. According to Holmes, the studio will be “running Forge as an ongoing (free) service for Halo 5, taking feedback from the community and delivering new features and content on an ongoing basis.” From what has been shown, this iteration of Forge seems to blow every past iteration out of the water, adding features such as grouping and welding as well as three new Forge canvases.

Big Team Battle

Meanwhile, Big Team Battle has developed a large following and even, unbeknownst to most Halo fans, a competitive scene, but it will be a no-show for Halo 5 on Day One. Lead Multiplayer Designer Quinn DelHoyo has said, however, that “Big Team Battle will have its own playlist when it launches” and that they are “crafting all new maps that are designed from the ground up to cater to Big Team Battle. These will include a healthy mix of infantry and vehicular combat that Big Team Battle is known for.” It isn’t clear when BTB will make its grand reappearance, but let it be known that it shall return.

So, that’s what you can expect for Day One of Halo 5: Guardians. Are you excited? Tell us what you think by tweeting us at @ESNHalo.

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