For all of Destiny’s shortcomings, its controls are bomb. Aiming down sights (ADS) and shooting to make alien skulls pop followed by a reload is arguably the most satisfying action in video gaming today. But landing in the campaign of Halo 5: Guardians — a game that warrants Destiny comparisons because of genre, shared developer lineage, and aesthetic similarities — my buddies and I playing co-op were quickly eviscerated like the frontline at D-Day. We didn’t know how to play.
We’re veteran gamers. We’re not eSports competitors nor obsessive teenagers, but we cut our teeth together in Halo 2 and Halo 3 (none of us stuck around for Halo 4 and we could never get together for Reach). But going into Halo 5 was like playing blindfolded. Dammit, Destiny spoiled me. Forgive me Halo 5: When I have my hands on you, I’m always thinking of an earlier love.
Aim, shoot, run, throw grenades, jump. They’re the most basic functions in shooters; anything else is extra. (Running on walls seems cool, Call of Duty: Black Ops III.) Bungie perfected modern FPS elements and it’s now up to the rest of the industry to build upon it. 343 Studios did a solid job for Halo 5; the game plays as expected and serves a different, new kind of FPS fun.
But it still ain’t Destiny.
Halo 5 doesn’t give that satisfactory Destiny “pop” to let you know you’ve done the job. Halo 5’s newfangled thrust and hover mechanics are neat but thus far haven’t proven useful in my experience. The new climb mechanic is appreciated and a worthy substitute for Destiny’s rocket boost, but it’s also limiting because you might not reach a ledge in time. Most of all, because Destiny and Halo 5 look so similar I kept thinking I was still playing Destiny so I’d punch the wall and get killed when I meant to crouch for cover.
I’m not complaining, and I could just remap the buttons. But beyond the learning curve and distinctly remembering what game I’m playing — let’s face it, I’m not stopping Destiny anytime soon — it’s bothersome always to remember another game when playing Halo 5.