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Why Now's the Time to Jump Into Halo 5

Between Overwatch, Doom and Battleborn, there are plenty of great new shooters vying for your attention this summer. Still, you shouldn't forget about Halo 5. Microsoft's meaty first-person shooter was already filled with fun stuff to do when it launched last fall, and it's managed to get significantly better via new maps, modes and gear — all of which have released for free over the past few months.

Yes, that's one of Halo 5's minute grunt enemies piloting a friggin' robot.

Yes, that's one of Halo 5's minute grunt enemies piloting a friggin' robot.

This week's Warzone Firefight update (due July 29) is the best reason yet to dust off your Xbox One pad and start firing away at some alien grunts. A re-imagined version of a fan-favorite co-op mode from previous Halo games, Warzone Firefight lets you and up to seven friends face unrelenting waves of enemies while using all types of fun weapons and vehicles.

You'll be able to battle on the same gigantic maps featured in standard Warzone mode, as well as take on some massive bosses — including the hilarious new Grunt Goblin pictured above. Wave-based co-op was just about the holy thing missing from Halo 5 at launch, so it's nice to see the series get it back.

But Warzone Firefight isn't the only new feature that 343 Industries will bring to Halo 5 fans this week. Score Attack mode adds a competitive element to the game's campaign, as you and your friends battle to rack up the most points while playing through the story. There are also new maps arriving for Warzone and Arena multiplayer, as well as a new ocean-themed canvas for Forge, the game's map-making tool.

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To ensure new players get to see all Halo 5 has to offer, Microsoft is allowing Xbox One owners to download and play the entire game for free from June 29 to July 5. You can also buy the game for just $30 during that same week. If you're just diving in now and are even remotely interested in the genre, I have a strong feeling you'll want to stick around.

A Halo For Everyone

If you've been playing Halo 5 since launch, you're probably used to this outpouring of on-the-house goodness. Warzone Firefight is the eighth major content drop to hit Halo 5, a game that now offers a ton of variety across both its competitive and casual multiplayer modes.

Whether you want to battle the best of the best in ranked matches or have some fun with vehicles on sprawling 24-player maps, Halo has you covered. In the mood for something sillier? There's always the zombie-themed Infected mode or the Halo-meets-hockey action of Grifball.

By offering all maps and modes for free and not splitting up its online community, Halo is helping set an important standard for the FPS genre. Sure, the game allows you to purchase REQ Packs (random chunks of in-game items), but they can also be earned simply by playing and have no effect on competitive play. Shooters such as Rainbow Six: Siege and Overwatch seem to be employing a similar model, and, according to GamesRadar, it looks like Titanfall 2 will as well when it arrives in October.

Of course, gobs of content will be useless without good gameplay, and Halo 5 is one of the best-playing shooters around. The game's fluid movement options and satisfying special moves make the aging series feel refreshingly modern, and it doesn't hurt that the action runs at a smooth 60 frames per second at 1080p. While a full-fledged PC release would be nice, Halo 5 is far and away one of the Xbox One's best games — and there's never been a better time to play it.