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    Halo 5 wants to put the Chief back at the top of competitive gaming

    The idea of competition is at the core of Halo 5 and 343 is looking to deliver for both normal players who want a skill-based matchmaking experience and the top professional FPS players. It’s no small goal. One of Halo 4’s low points was when Major League Gaming decided it would no longer feature the game, and we sense this may have stung 343 a little more than it lets on.

    “We wanna be back at the top,” says Longo. “So we’re trying to integrate as many eSports-centric features as possible.” The ecosystem of competitive gaming has grown hugely over the past few years, so the beta is not only Halo 5’s strategy for bouncing back, but also a response to the new landscape.

    The starting point for bringing  Halo back as an eSport is that, while not everyone’s a pro, everyone likes to feel like a pro. “One of our focal points is on creating a competitive experience for all skill levels, and so one of the terms we throw around is ‘eSports for everyone’,” explains Holmes. “We want to allow people to engage in that competitive experience whether they’re a true pro player that’s in the top 200 in the world, or whether they just want to compete with their friends.” Which leads to… 

    One of the biggest omissions in Halo 4, from an eSports perspective, was that it lacked a spectator mode. “So now we have a spectator mode,” laughs Longo, as “For the beta, what you can do is go in and spectate on any match where one of your friends is playing, but what we want to do for the full game is allow you the ability to spectate any of the top players and then we’ll be highlighting those matches within Halo Channel using our own community team.”

    Although Halo 5 will have an XP-based ranking system for unlocking cosmetic items, this is now hived-off from each player’s Competitive Skill Rating. “CSR has seven tiers the last two of which are semi-pro and pro,” says Longo. “And anyone playing the game can rise up and attain that status the pros will be the top 200 people in the world, and they have individual  ranks so at any given time you’ll be able to look up and know who the best in the world is.” Hint: none of us.

    The last part of the equation, and in some ways the key to Halo 5’s potential eSport popularity, is that people inclined to broadcast their Halo games can do so with the minimum of fuss. “We’re integrating spectator mode and Twitch streaming into the Halo Channel so we have our own undivided attention on streaming that sort of eSports mentality,” says Longo.

    Casters can also make a difference to which players are being seen, in effect curating the best of the best so we can just tune in and watch. “People who are casting matches and then streaming to Twitch will be able to aggregate the top players who are playing,” explains Holmes. “So you can go onto the Halo Channel and you’ll kind of see those bubble up and tune into those matches.”

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