I'm almost running out of ways to say that Halo 5 post-launch support is nothing short of extraordinary. Today marks the release of the Monitor's Bounty pack, and it includes enough new weapons, vehicles, and game modes to be considered close to a full sized expansion of the game. Best of all, 95% of the new stuff is 100% free of charge. There's a lot to cover, so let's go over everything as well as my initial impressions after the trailer.
For long-time Halo fans, the biggest edition by a large margin is the custom games browser. Ever since Forge was introduced back in Halo 3, fans have been crying out for an easy way to jump into games with fan created content. It took almost a decade, but you can now start a custom game, set it to public, and watch as the randoms stumble in to take part in your all Needlers arena bout. In addition, players of Halo 5: Forge on PC can join in the fun, making that F2P release a fully functional version of Halo 5's multiplayer that is only missing matchmaking. It's a roundabout way of doing things for sure, but considering that Arena is the mode you want to be playing anyway, it's still a welcome addition to the PC gaming landscape.
"What if I just want to watch people play Halo?" one person asks in the back of the class. You're in luck my friend, because Monitor's Bounty also includes an improved spectator mode. Making its initial debut during recent Halo eSports events, the Observer mode will allow you to peek into other player's games with an improved interface that displays every player's loadout at a glance. This is especially useful when you're joining custom games, as you can check out what type of nonsense the players are getting into before jumping in, or just hang out and wait for someone to drop if the game is full.
On the matchmaking front, both Arena and Warzone got significant improvements. In Arena, social and ranked playlists have been sorted out into two separate lists. Ranked is staying mostly the same outside of the addition of a Snipers playlist and some new SWAT variants. Over on Social, several popular weekend playlists have now become permanent fixtures, meaning that players can now reliably get into games of Super Fiesta and Shotty Snipers whenever they please. There is also a Team Skirmish playlist that features Assault, as well as some untested map/gametype combinations. Perfect for a warm-up!
Action Sack has been updated with two classic gametypes making their long awaited return. Halo 5 now has King of the Hill and Race modes baked in, with two default variants each to try out in the days before Forgers make 1000 better ones. In addition to that, 343 has also introduced Battle Golf, a default team mode where you fight to land your giant golf ball in the hole before your opponents. Sounds similar to Halo 3's Rocket Race, and I have renewed hope for even more modes like Oddball showing up in future updates.
In Warzone, 343 Industries have split Warzone Firefight into three difficulty tiers. The original Warzone Firefight variant is now Legendary Warzone Firefight, and there is a Heroic option that tones down the difficulty just a bit. In addition, for players who were wrecking shop on Firefight over and over, there is Mythic Warzone Firefight, which adds new Skull effects to each round. In all versions of Warzone, there have been some smart updates, like spawn changes and the addition of a new Grunt Goblin that shoots a Scarab Gun beam. Fun times.
On top of everything detailed above, the update also includes a new set of REQs, featuring a redesigned Sentinel Beam, the return of Halo: Reach's Grenade Launcher, and the playable premiere of Halo 3's Anti-Air Wraith tank. There are also some sweet assassinations and a couple of new Wasps to sample, with the entire bounty on display in the picture below.
Finally, Forge mode has gotten a huge boost of content. There are scriptable doors, two new canvases to work on, a van with Master Chief painted on the side, a plush crab friend, and a whole lot more. 343 released a great video overview of the additions that I've included below.
I think that's it! If all this new content is not enough for you, the Voices of War REQ pack I wrote about a few days ago has been officially confirmed and is now available for a $10 asking price. It's genuinely exciting to see just how many new items they're packing into this game, and I look forward to even more Halo 5 madness in 2017.