With a little over two months left before would-be Spartans can suit up for the UNSC once more in the brand new Halo 5: Guardians, fans of the series are undoubtedly trigger happy, and ready to jump into the action sooner rather than later. As is usual with the FPS franchise, Microsoft is using Halo 5: Guardians as the bedrock title for its current console, the Xbox One, and they are hoping to reap some sweet holiday sales because of it. That being said, a lot of gamers are criticizing the next installment for offering more of the same, but the developers should at least be commended for making the upcoming game’s campaign length the biggest yet in the series, as well as beefing up the title’s multiplayer modes.
Considering the above statements, Master Chief fans shouldn’t necessarily be bothered by the fact that Halo 5: Guardians is retreading most, if not all of the series’ most popular elements. As far as Halo‘s target audience is concerned, 343 Industries has done a great job refining the first-person shooter’s best features, such as making the sequel’s Warzone multiplayer modes larger than ever. However, in a rather peculiar turn of events, the franchise is now encountering an unprecedented situation in that the ESRB has given the game a rating of T – meaning a title’s content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up – making it the first in Halo‘s long running series to not be labeled M for Mature.
While it’s possible that Microsoft and 343 Industries toned down Halo 5: Guardians‘ a bit in order to get a lower rating and have the game be palatable for a wider market, such a strategy would be odd considering the franchise’s previous financial success, as the series’ sales combined top more than 65 million units sold. At any rate, the ESRB certainly has some interesting reasons as to why they classified it as a title for teens and up. Before listing them, it should be noted that there may be light spoilers ahead, so tread with caution. Regarding what types of violence influenced the rating the ESRB says:
“Players use pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, and futuristic weapons to kill alien and human enemies in frenetic combat. Battles are highlighted by realistic gunfire, explosions, and occasional blood-splatter effects. Characters can also use ‘assassinations’ to kill characters by snapping their necks, or by stabbing them with bladed weapons.”
Such features are par for the course as far as Halo goes, but the language that the ESRB uses to describe the gameplay makes the actions sound straight-up sadistic, which begs the question of why an M label wasn’t chosen instead. And speaking of language, the ratings board went on to recount some of the title’s dirtier bits of discourse, saying, “The word ‘a*s’ appears in the dialogue, as well as occasional taunts/insults (e.g., ‘I have copulated…with your genetic progenitors!’; ‘Your father was a filthy colo and your mother was a hole in the wall!’).”
Surely by now, most conscious consumers are aware rough content is likely to exist in a game that allows players to shoot and kill enemies, so it’s kind of bizarre that we still need people to label our entertainment for us. And at the moment, strangely enough, the kind of Halo violence that was once prohibited to younger gamers is now perfectly suitable for those aged 13 and up. If such revisionist practices are to continue, then maybe one of these days Leisure Suit Larry‘s debauched antics will eventually get reclassified as a game that’s E for Everyone.
Halo 5: Guardians is set for release on October 27, 2015 exclusively for the Xbox One.