Halo 5 plays nothing like Destiny. Honestly. No, really

Inevitable comparisons

It was always going to get weird once Destiny and Halo 5 were playable at the same time. The former, of course, is the new game by Halo creator Bungie. The latter is the latest game in the series Bungie left behind, made by 343 Industries, a studio partly comprised of ex-Bungie staff. Destiny, while structurally entirely different from Halo due to its MMO structure, does have its roots in the Chief's core gameplay. Ryan tried to deny it, but it's true.

But now I've played Halo 5's multiplayer, by way of a recent preview of the 2015 game's upcoming beta. Are there any new parallels to be drawn? No. No there are not. Halo 5 is 100% distinct from Destiny, its (many) new gameplay additions going in an entirely different direction to that in which Destiny evolved the series' conceits. Click on, and I shall explain how the two games are so drastically dissimilar.

Halo 5 plays like a more aggressive, faster-flowing Halo

Things changed in Halo 4. Between the quicker overall pace of the game, the more fluid control, and the first-time-ever inclusion of a sprint function (unlimited in multiplayer with the right unlockable perk), Halos online game added a whole lot of nippy aggression to its cat-and-mouse firefights. Throw in some stupendously brutal new power-weapons (anyone whos ever fired or been torn apart by the SAW knows what I mean), and youve got a much more aggressive Halo than before. Halo 5 continues that vibe, with unlimited sprint for all, and a new slide move for closing distance and dashing into cover.

Destiny, however, is completely different. While superficially based upon Bungies work on the earlier Halo games, its quicker and more aggressive. Not because of upgraded Mjolnir armour, you understand, but as a result of levelled-up Guardian abilities. It has a few stupendously powerful new weapons, but theyre part of the standard line-up rather than special cases. The stand-outs, with their particularly brutal fire-rates, stopping power, and other assorted properties, are imparted by high-level play, not simply dropped into the campaign. Yes, you technically get them through the campaign, but its different. Also, you can slide, but whatever.

Halo 5 lets you perform a devastating ground-pound

Halo 5s Spartans have a host of new abilities, drastically differentiating the new games multiplayer flow from that of its predecessors. The most obvious departure is the ground pound move, activated by holding down the crouch control when high off the ground, before using a new aiming reticule to direct a lethal, charged-up stomp directly onto those below.

In Destiny, Titan-class Guardians have a super move known as Fist of Havoc. It unleashes a lethal ground-pound, but its completely different to the Spartan move. After all, its trajectory is determined not by a special crosshair, but by the standard aiming reticule, in conjunction with the Titans distance from the ground and momentum through the air. Okay, yes, if you unlock the Death From Above ability you can leap up and aim a charged version downwards, but again it uses the standard aiming system, not a new one. Completely different.

In Halo 5, you can do devastating, dash-in melee attacks

Another new addition to Halos multiplayer is the powered-up horizontal melee attack. Performed by getting up to full sprint speed and hitting the melee button, it unleashes an ungodly powerful dashing hit that zooms straight into the opponent targeted and clobbers them in a single strike. Destiny has nothing like that.

Admittedly, Destinys Hunter class has the Arc Blade super, but its completely different. Performed by charging a full super bar and hitting the melee button and the grenade button, it unleashes not an ungodly powerful dashing melee hit, but an unholy one. It zooms straight into the opponent targeted and clobbers them in a single strike. But thats just surface-level stuff. In truth it couldnt be more different from Halo 5s new move.

In Halo 5, you can hover in mid-air while scoping your gun

This is cool, unique addition to Halo 5. While jumping high into the air, any Spartan can aim down the sights to temporarily halt in mid-leap, hanging there for a couple of seconds to get in some unexpected aerial shots, before slowly floating down. Its a brilliant, startling multiplayer tactic, albeit a risky one, requiring smart timing and unpredictable opportunism to pull off successfully. Nothing else like it in competitive FPS.

Oh look, just shut up about Destiny, would you? I know that the Warlock class, if using the Sun Singer sub-class, can unlock the ability to float in the air while aiming down the sights. I also know that its a brilliant, unexpected multiplayer tactic, albeit a risky one, requiring smart timing and unpredictable opportunism to pull off successfully. But Halo 5s air-shooting is powered by the jets on the back of the Spartans Mjolnir armour. Destinys is powered by golden Warlock space-magic. From just where are you drawing these ludicrously contrived correlations?

In Halo 5, power-weapon drops have countdown timers and on-screen navigation

Halo multiplayer has always had an exciting, externally-dictated pacing to it, in the way that after a designated period of time, power-weapons will drop onto the map. Far more powerful and destructive than the standard load-out kit, these rocket launchers, heavy machine guns and sniper rifles cause a stampede of Spartans eager to grab them, as well as attracting middle-distance hangers-on primed to take out the distracted, greedy pack. Halo 5 amps up this occurrence by placing a real-time, 3D navigation blip on the HUD as soon as power-weapons appear, visible to all players, unlike Halo 4s Personal Ordnance system. Destiny does nothing like that.

You see when Destiny drops in the heavy weaponry after a designated period of time, it does so by supplying heavy weapon ammo, not the guns themselves. The actual rocket launchers and heavy machine guns that use it are already in your personal arsenal, just waiting for something to fire. And sniper rifles have no part of it. Theyre special weapons, not heavy ones. And the on-screen navigation blip, visible to everyone, looks completely different.

Halo 5 has a new, tightly strategic hardcore mode

One of Halo 5s game modes stands out from the others. Radically different in tone and flow, Breakout is a tense, tactical, round-based affair with high stakes brought about by its lack of lives. Once you die, the lack of respawns, coupled with the small team sizes, immediately increases the threat for your remaining squadmates, leading to harrowing, panic-stricken stand-offs and last-ditch, underdog victories aplenty. Needless to say, teamwork is vital.

Destiny, conversely, compliments its more extravagant deathmatch and capture-based game-types with something radically different in tone and flow. Skirmishs tense matches have high stakes due to the small team-sizes and delayed respawns. Death makes things really tough on the remaining team members, though they can score extra points for risking a revive. Needless to say, teamwork is vital. But in Skirmish, you only have two team-mates, contrasting with Breakouts three, so the two couldnt be more philosophically dissimilar.

Halo 5 has cool, dynamic team intros and victory screens

Breakout matches know the importance of bonding a team, particularly if its going to be up against a tense, demanding challenge. Thus, matches start with a badass cinematic of the whole squad appearing together at one end of the map. Seen in third-person, they charge into the arena in perfectly choreographed unison, before getting down to business. Post-match, theyre seen standing around congratulating each other in a self-satisfied fashion.

Destiny however, takes an entirely different approach. Its self-satisfied standing around happens before the match, as the whole team is viewed in badass, cinematic third-person, beaming in together to group up at one end of the map in perfectly choreographed fashion. Then, and only then, do they get down to business. Things happen in a different order, and so it is completely different.

Do you see?

See? See? No similarities at all. Despite the residual dregs of Bungie-Halo DNA filtering through both games, they've both gone in their own independent, radically contrasting directions. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

That matter wrapped up, allow me to turn your attention to some of our other Halo and Destiny-related content. Hey, Christmas is coming, and you're probably thinking about which games you want to find, all merry and glassy-eyed, under the tree on December the 25th. If you're tied between Destiny and Halo, why not check out my reviews of both the former and the brand spanking new Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.