When Halo 5: Guardians first launched, it was relatively light on modes. The classics were there, but some heavy hitters were mysteriously absent — including one of the franchise's most popular game types.
Firefight is the Halo series' take on wave-based survival: players join together to take on wave after wave of alien bad guys, and the game only ends when one of the two sides is wiped out. Ever since the mode's introduction in Halo 3: ODST, it's been a huge hit — except in Halo 5.
Thankfully, 343 Industries has finally given players the final missing piece of the Halo multiplayer experience. Dubbed Warzone Firefight, the mode is a blend of Halo 5: Guardians' new mechanics and the classic wave-based survival modes of past games. After a public beta earlier this year, the official debut of Warzone Firefight is finally available to all players.
One might assume that 343 Industries only used the beta test as a way to figure out server issues and balance — but surprisingly, the team has changed a lot of what players saw back in April. Long story short, the new Warzone Firefight is even better than before.
First off, 343 Industries has made a ton of smaller changes that add up. For instance, the HUD has received something of an overall: instead of displaying the current objective in text, each objective has its own specific progress bar. It doesn't matter if players are protecting a generator or wiping out an army of Grunts, it's always easy to see how your team is progressing.
Then, there's the new map variety. Players always knew that more maps would be added into Warzone Firefight upon release, but it feels as if 343 Industries has tweaked the mode for each map. There's no way to know if that's the case or not without official word from the team, but rounds and objectives never feel at odds with whatever stage they're appearing on. In short, the basic framework that 343 Industries established with its limited beta has expanded smoothly into a full-fledged release.
There's also a huge new focus on variety. In the beta, it was easy to go an entire match fighting the same group of enemies, sometimes even with the same objectives repeated ad nauseam.
Good news, Halo fans: that's no longer the case.
The final version of Warzone Firefight features a far more balanced enemy pool. Forerunner enemies no longer dominate the mode, and the Covenant ranks have been bolstered in order to compare with their metallic counterparts. New enemies like the Grunt Goblin provide something that gamers haven't seen before, while new variations on recognizable foes keeps the earlier rounds from feeling like filler.
However, the bosses themselves may be a bit too strong: Legendary enemies have received a noticeable health boost, and can now shrug off rockets and tank shells with ease. Mythic bosses are nigh unstoppable, and players will need to coordinate everything they've got just to take one down. They're not impossible to destroy, but we wouldn't be surprised if the Mythic Warden takes a hit to his health in the coming months.
The only thing about Warzone Firefight that doesn't really work are the new respawn timers. As a match progresses, the respawn timer gradually grows — basically, as the game goes on, it takes longer and longer to come back after death. On paper, it works: players have to take each fight more and more seriously. However, with so many enemies and one-hit kills flying out, it's impossible to avoid death at some point — and being forced to sit out of the game for 30 seconds at a time can make the later rounds feel like a slog.
Overall, the new Warzone Firefight is a big improvement over the version shown during the beta. The enemy variety, new maps and litany of smaller tweaks give the mode some serious staying power, and the few missteps don't come close to ruining the experience.
If you've been looking for a reason to jump back into Halo 5: Guardians, now is the perfect time to do it. Better yet, Warzone Firefight is available to everyone, 100 percent free of charge.