Those that bought Halo: The Master Chief Collection were not only treated to re-releases of Halos 1-4, but also guaranteed access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. The beta, which will kick off next month, comes a full year ahead of the full Halo 5 release, giving players their first chance to play the next Halo title and wrap their heads around the gameplay changes and tweaks 343 Industries has in development; some of which already has fans of the series a bit upset.
However, that's part of the point when it comes to a beta: to give players early hands-on time with a game and to offer feedback to the developer. Be it to praise one aspect of it, or to criticize another and see that it's adjusted. Demos that show one specific section of a game are few and far between these days, with alphas and betas taking their places, and being more valuable than ever.
With the Halo 5 beta in particular, people will have three weeks to put the multiplayer through its paces and pass better judgement than that based on leaked footage. In an interview with CVG, 343 executive producer Dan Ayoub explains that fans of the series shouldn't just focus on what they've seen in videos, and to keep in mind that the beta is coming a year ahead of the first current-gen Halo; there's plenty of time to make changes, incorporate community feedback, and do much more than just test the servers.
"Doing something a year in advance gives us the opportunity to be a lot more reactive. If we put this thing out two months before launch, we aren't going to be able to change or tweak anything. We're going to get a lot of player data coming off of this, we're going to hear what people like and don't like, and we're going to have a year to respond to that."
Of course, this beta will also pave the way to helping Halo 5 distinguish itself from other games like Titanfall, former Halo developer Bungie's Destiny and Slegehammer Games' Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare -- all three games feature fast movement and small adjustments to the first-person shooter genre.
And while Halo 5 will almost certainly be compared to the competition, Ayoub believes that it's the series' overall story and universe that will ultimately separate itself from them. In addition, since working on The Master Chief Collection -- specifically, the Anniversary editions of Halo 1 and Halo 2 -- he completely stands by the idea that any modern shooter owes itself to the first two Halo titles. That isn't to say 343 won't try to move the series forward, though, in the same way past games have.
"Obviously, any time we make a game - and particularly with a major release like a 4 or a 5 - we always want to innovate, we always want to push. So with the beta we're going to start to give you a glimpse as to some of those ideas and what it's going to look like."
The Halo 5 beta is set to begin on December 9, 2014. Afterwards, it will carry on for three weeks before concluding near the end of the month. As said before, those that have bought Halo: The Master Chief Collection will gain access when the beta starts.