With 2015 just around the corner, Microsoft has been firing up the hype machine for what will be the Xbox One's biggest game of the New Year. Some select fans have already received invites to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta, but 343 Industries has come up with a way for everyone else who purchased Halo: The Master Chief Collection to get their Halo 5 fix while they wait for the beta's full release December 29.
343 debuted "The Sprint" this week, a six-episode series that gives gamers a behind-the-scenes look at the multiplayer's beta development. The show is available exclusively on the Halo Channel, a free app available on Windows and Xbox One.
The Sprint's first episode, called "Balance", debuted Thursday and followed the 343 Industries pro team as they gave their final feedback on the "Truth", all all-new Halo 5 map designed to serve as an homage to the Halo 2 map "Midship." Episode 2: Give & Take debuted Friday night and focused on a conflict between the game's art team and the level designers.
Here are the synopses and release times for the remaining four episodes, direct from Microsoft:
Episode 3: Prophets
Premiering Saturday, December 20 @ 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific time
With the map “Truth” well on its way to completion, the art team must shift their focus to the remix map “Regret,” which presents a massive undertaking in and of itself. Will there be enough time to finish it before the deadline?
Episode 4: Breakout
Premiering Sunday, December 21 @ 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific time
The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer design team invites Halo pros to the studio to offer feedback that could shape the future of the competitive experience.
Episode 5: Shutdown
Premiering Monday, December 22 @ 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific time
The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer design team buckles down to make sure every detail of the upcoming Multiplayer Beta is firing on all cylinders.
Episode 6: Gold
Premiering Tuesday, December 23 @ 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific time
The Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer design team begins to wrap up production on the public beta... but not before getting a little friendly competition in to celebrate another milestone.
The series name, as explained in the trailer, originates from the two-week periods when developers must scramble to finish work on thousands of game assets in anticipation of the upcoming release date.
But "The Sprint" is also likely a clever nod (or middle finger) from 343 to the controversy that erupted among hardcore players when Halo 5's multiplayer's mechanics were first revealed. Halo 5 adds "Spartan Abilities," like dodging and boost jumping, as well as the ability to sprint, that together represent a significant departure from classic Halo gameplay.
In short, Halo 5: Guardians seems to be tuned for a faster pace than its predecessors. It's good to see the 13-year-old series adopting some more modern FPS conventions, but there are some die hard fans who fear that these changes will make Halo too much like its competitors in the genre.
And while a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Halo 5 is certainly interesting, let's not ignore the elephant in the room. Both 343 Industries and Microsoft have a lot more riding on this upcoming beta than just seeing how everyone likes the new sprint button. The multiplayer in Halo: The Master Chief Collection got off to a rocky start and still isn't perfect. The developer needs this glimpse at Halo 5 to go smoothly to regain the public's confidence ahead of the full game's release next year. Thankfully, they're testing it a year early.
Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta will go live for all owners of Halo: The Master Chief Collection December 29. Halo 5: Guardians will release holiday 2015 for Xbox One.
Follow Jason Gallagher on Twitter @MuckrakerJG.