Halo 5's campaign has one enemy in particular most agree is at best hard as nails - at worst a scumbag unfair.
Players run up against the Warden, a Promethean AI who really doesn't want anyone bothering poor Cortana at all, at multiple points throughout the campaign, and each time he amounts to a slap-in-the-face difficulty spike.
The Warden, particularly on legendary difficulty, isn't a fun boss fight that challenges the player in cool, interesting ways, as it should be. It just feels cheap.
The problem is twofold: the Warden has a weak spot on his back, but it's incredibly hard to get him to face his back towards you. The best way to do this is to position your squad in such a way as to help you flank him. But the Warden and his cronies make a mockery of the squad AI and destroy your computer-controlled Spartans in the blink of an eye because they charge into battle, apparently oblivious to the hundreds of failed attempts the player has just suffered.
Worst of all is the "triple Warden" boss fight toward the end of the game. On Legendary difficulty, this encounter is just soul-destroying. The incredibly annoying enemy turrets that come into play just make matters worse.
The boss fight is so annoying, there are a plethora of "how to kill the Warden" guide videos on YouTube, one of which is below.
But the Warden's time as brutal death dealer may be coming to an end. In a post on Halo Waypoint, 343 senior systems designer Chris Proctor discussed an upcoming update to Halo 5's campaign that adjusts the balance of the Warden fights.
Here's the issue, as Proctor sees it:
Players and reviews commonly cite the Warden as an unfair difficulty spike on higher difficulty, particularly the triple-Warden fight towards the end of the game.
Looking at this in depth, it's partly because of the Warden himself: his attacks are difficult to avoid, he's hard to get behind to shoot in the back, his front armor is durable.
It's also because supporting enemies don't allow any breathing room - having multiple turrets firing continuous, highly damaging beams at you while you're trying to dodge Warden attacks is pretty rough.
So, 343 has decided to nerf the Warden, essentially. It will make the Warden attacks "a little" easier to dodge, particularly on lower difficulties. As part of this, its Face Beam attack tracks moving targets less accurately. Its Gravity Bomb has less homing, and its melee attack, which on legendary difficulty is a one-hit kill, has slightly less range. The AI Focus Turrets do less damage, and, crucially, 343 will make the Warden slightly easier to kill from the front. Yes!
Meanwhile, the campaign will be tweaked further. 343 found two-player co-op play is slightly more difficult than intended, but single-player is a little too easy.
The Covenant encounters, 343 reckons, are easier than the Forerunner fights. This is because Elites go down quite easily under squad fire, and Grunts and Jackals are too little a threat. However, Storm Rifles are very accurate and fire long bursts. This makes for an uneven experience if enemies target a stationary player, Proctor explained.
Also, 343 has found players would lose track of enemies in Forerunner encounters and die to an enemy that got behind them. Forerunner soldiers can teleport, and Crawlers move fast.
There's also a balance issue with the vehicle sections, Proctor said, with some being much harder than others. Squad AI often dies in a Warthog gunner's turret, so if you're playing single-player these can be frustrating as you're left driving on your lonesome.
All these issues are tackled with the campaign patch, set to go live with the Memories of Reach update.
"Generally, this balance update smooths out the common spikes, increases the difficulty of mid-tier encounters, and makes certain enemies less frustrating or more satisfying to fight," Proctor said.