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This past fall, saw the release of the first main installment in the epic Halo franchise built for the Xbox OneHalo 5: Guardians. It’s no secret that Halo 5: Guardians was a huge success for Microsoft, and is a showcase game for the Xbox One. Make sure and checkout Paul’s review of Halo 5: Guardians, for a more in-depth look at the game.

If you’re new to the Halo franchise, before jumping into Halo 5: Guardians it’s best to have an understanding of Halo’s back-story through the first four main games. I’ll help you get up to speed on Halo’s story, we’ll take a brief look at Halo 5: Guardians story, and then we’ll see what DLC has already been released for Halo 5: Guardians, and upcoming DLC for the game.

boxart.jpgGame Details

Platform: Xbox One
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Genre: First-person shooter
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

The guardians of all that exists—the Forerunners

Long ago in the Milky Way Galaxy, a very powerful peace-loving race called the Forerunners existed who saw themselves as precursors of things to come. Covered in armour, these powerful beings saw it as their goal to preserve life in the galaxy and to be the guardians of that balance. Threatened by the expansion of the human race, the Forerunners saw humans as a violent race and quickly defeated them, sending them back to a primitive state on Earth.

Despite this de-evolution of the human race, the Forerunners saw humans as their evolutionary cousins who one day would take their place. However, what the Forerunners did not know was that the humans were not aggressively expanding, but they were fleeing from the alien parasite known as the Flood. The Flood, which spread through infestation of sentient life, overran much of the Milky Way Galaxy. In turn, this left the Forerunners no other choice but to build a last resort weapon to combat this infestation—the Halo Array.

Using an installation known as the Ark, the Forerunners built 12 massive ring-shaped structures. The Halo Array, when activated, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, and the Flood would starve to death. After enabling the Halo Array, the Forerunners escaped to one of the artificial Shield Worlds they had built to protect themselves from the pulse of the Halo Array.

The beginnings of a super solider—Master Chief

Tens of thousands of years later, humanity has evolved and begun colonizing many different planets. Tension has begun to intensify between thriving and struggling colonies, as a last-resort, Doctor Catherine Halsey begins a super-solider project. Known as the Spartan-II program, the main goal is to bring stability amongst the colonies. There is one key participant in the UNSC’s (United Nations Space Command) Spartan-II program, John, also known as Spartan-117, and more widely known as Master Chief—Halo’s main character.

While fighting the rebellion, humanity encountered an even larger threat of an alliance of alien races—the Covenant. After quickly declaring humanity as heretics and a disgrace to their gods, the Forerunners, the Covenant wage a holy war of genocide.

The Covenant arrive at the UNSC’s last major stronghold outside of Earth, and launch an invasion on the planet. After suffering devastating loses, every Spartan except for Master Chief is lost in action. Both Master Chief and Cortana, an AI constructed from the cloned brain of Dr. Catherine Halsey, escape aboard the UNSC ship Pillar of Autumn. To avoid leading the Covenant to Earth, Cortana selects random coordinates that end up leading the ship to a Halo installation.

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Halo Combat Evolved

As the Covenant pursues Master Chief and Cortana, they damage the ship, which leads to a massive war on the giant ring’s surface. During the war on the ring’s surface, the Covenant accidently release the Flood, which were imprisoned, and set the parasitic species free once again. Master Chief sets out to activate the Halo ring, but then later Cortana reveals that the Halo ring’s activation would wipe out everything including themselves.

Rather than destroying humanity and all other life in the galaxy, Master Chief decides to blow up the crashed Pillar of Autumn by setting off its fusion reactors, thus preventing the escape of the Flood. Before the detonation of the ship, Master Chief and Cortana escape and begin their long journey back to earth.

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An unlikely duo

The Covenant Elite Commander, responsible for protecting the now destroyed Halo ring, is publically shamed by Covenant leaders. While attempting to fulfill their religious prophecy, the Covenant attempts to fire another newly discovered Halo ring, and launch an attack on Earth. Master Chief along with the help of Sergeant Avery Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes successfully defend Earth from the Covenant attack.

The disgraced Covenant Elite Commander is offered redemption as the Arbiter. Arbiter’s are sent on suicide missions in desperate times of need, and are expected to die as a martyr for the Covenant. After learning the truth about the rings, Arbiter joins alongside Master Chief to prevent the Covenant from firing the newly discovered Halo ring. Although, Master Chief and Arbiter are successful in stopping the firing of the Halo ring, the last surviving Prophet is on his way to Earth to activate all the remaining Halo rings from the Ark.

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A portal to the Ark—the control centre of the Halo Array

After crash landing on Earth, Master Chief again joins up with Arbiter only to find out that the last remaining Prophet has uncovered a portal to the Ark—the control centre of the Halo array. Both Master Chief and Arbiter, manage to kill the Prophet with the help of the Flood before the Halo rings are activated. However, once the Prophet is dead, the Flood betrays Master Chief and the Arbiter.

After escaping the onslaught from the Flood, we find out that the Ark was building a Halo ring to replace the first one that Master Chief destroyed. Reuniting with Cortana, she suggests activating the Halo ring, which in turn will destroy the new ring, the Flood, and the Ark all at once. After succeeding in activating the ring, Master Chief, Arbiter, and Cortana escape in a UNSC ship. As the UNSC ship tries to flee through the portal, it breaks in half. The Arbiter crash lands back on Earth, while Master Chief and Cortana are left floating in space and enter cryogenic sleep.

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A last ditch effort to save the human race

After four years, Master Chief and Cortana awake to discover they are being sucked into an artificial planet constructed by the Forerunners. After crash landing on the artificial planet, Cortana reveals that she is beginning to malfunction and deteriorating. Faced with near impossible odds, both Master Chief and Cortana agree that they must find a way back to Earth and make it to Doctor Catherine Halsey to fix Cortana.

After trying to contact the closest UNSC ship, Master Chief unknowingly frees a hostile Forerunner warrior called the Didact. Eager to re-establish his species’ place as superior to humans, the Didact takes control of an army of Promethean Knights—Forerunners and humans who had their consciousness digitally transposed into robot war machine bodies thanks to an artifact called The Composer. As the Didact heads towards Earth, Master Chief and Cortana confront the Didact, but not before he fires the Composer at Earth—killing millions of humans and turning them into Prometheans.

In a last ditch effort, Cortana restrains the Didact, allowing Master Chief to knock him into a slipspace, thus neutralizing the threat. In one final effort to save humanity, Master Chief manually detonates a nuclear bomb at point blank range in hopes to destroy the Composer. Using the last of her strength, Cortana sacrifices herself and protects Master Chief from the blast as she says goodbye to Master Chief.

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Halo 5: Guardians a brief look at the story

So now that we are update on Master Chief’s adventures, let’s take a brief look at Halo 5: Guardians’ story. Taking place eight months after Halo 4, there is a mysterious and unstoppable force threatening the galaxy. In the face of this insurmountable force, Master Chief has begun to question all of his former beliefs and has suddenly disappeared along with Blue Team.

With Master Chief’s loyalty under question, UNSC’s man hunter—Spartan Locke along with team Fireteam Osiris, set out to uncover the truth, find Master Chief and Blue Team.

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DLC and lots of it for free

Both Microsoft and 343 Industries have done an amazing job of releasing free DLC for Halo 5: Guardians in the way of new weapons, armour, modes, and multiplayer maps. Continually transforming the game, it’s easily the most extensive post-launch content plan for a Halo game ever. Here is an overview of the DLC that is already available for free—the content will automatically download and install upon initially launching the game.

Battle of Shadow and Light: stealthy new “Shinobi” Ninja-themed armour, the ultra-rare Dying Star Light Rifle, skins, REQs, assassinations, and dozens more items to unlock are included. However, the best feature is the 8v8 Big Team Battle mode, which comes with four new maps: Deadlock, Basin, Guillotine and Recurve.

Cartographer’s Gift: Forge Mode—build your own custom Halo 5: Guardians maps with Forge mode, new weapons, armour sets, assassinations, Warzone, and Arena maps, REQs and more.

Infinity’s Armoury: new battlegrounds for both Arena and Warzone Assault, Halo 2 Battle Rife, new uncommon and rare variants of the Carbine and the new ACHILLES armour set, and new assassinations.

Hammer Storm: new game modes Grifball, Assault and Fiesta, new map Torque, new weapons like the Gravity Hammer, and a whole slew of new REQ items.

Ghosts of Meridian: two new maps for Warzone and Arena—Skirmish and Tyrant, new weapons like Tartarus’ Gavel, new visual customizations, new vehicle variants, bug fixes and tweaks to Multiplayer and Campaign modes.

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A look at future DLC

The biggest Halo cooperative experience in franchise history, Warzone Firefight, is coming later this summer. However, Microsoft is running a Warzone Firefight Beta, which starts at 10 a.m. PDT on Thursday, Apr. 14 until 10 a.m. PDT on Monday, Apr. 18. This beta includes the Warzone map, Escape from A.R.C., with several additional maps coming with the full release later this summer.

Up to eight players can fight together and utilize the Halo 5: Guardians REQ System to complete five rounds of increasingly difficult, dynamic objectives set against a timer to emerge victorious. A new promotional REQ pack will unleash the most powerful REQs in the system. Available for one week only (Thursday, Apr. 14 to Thursday, Apr. 21), the Mythic Warzone REQ Pack will contain ten Mythic single-use power weapon REQs and one Ultra Rare or Legendary weapon or vehicle certification, if available.

For use in all Warzone modes, including Warzone Firefight, this pack will ensure players enter battle with the most powerful gear available.

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Jump into action

Without a doubt, Halo 5: Guardians is jam-packed full of content that’s is simply astonishing. After you have finished the campaign mode, the multiplayer mode will keep you busy for months, if not years to come.

Don’t forget, to get the full Halo 5: Guardians experience, you’ll need an active Xbox Live Gold membership. Best Buy Canada has you covered, pickup an Xbox Live 12 month Gold membership and you’re ready to roll.