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The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has given Halo 5: Guardians the 'T' for Teen rating. The game is labeled as having blood, mild language and violence. Of course, there's also the obligatory remark about the online multiplayer portion of the game being unrated and that there is user-generated content.
The ESRB website has a ratings summary for Halo 5: Guardians, explaining how players will take command of Spartan Locke who is sent after John 117, Master Chief.
The description mentions how there are futuristic weapons that will be at the disposal of the player and that there are occasional splatters of blood, and a few curse words but nothing that extends beyond the PG territory. One funny addition to the summary is some dialogue exchanges, where the ESRB states...
The word “a*s” appears in the dialogue, as well as occasional taunts/insults (e.g., “I have copulated...with your genetic progenitors!”; 'Your father was a filthy colo and your mother was a hole in the wall!').
“Your mother was a hole in the wall”? That's um... different. I can imagine that kind of language could be considered “colorful” when applied in the right context, but otherwise those are some strange taunts.
The summary also mentions that Halo 5 has some killing animations that includes snapping necks and stabbing people.
I think the news is more shocking for the fact that Halo is getting a 'Teen' rating even though the graphics and animations are a heck of a lot better than they were 14 years ago when Halo: Combat Evolved ended up with the 'M' for Mature rating even though there wasn't any real bad language and the gore was pretty minimal. The game's violence was most centered around the colorful blood spray from the Covenant forces.
I've always been of the opinion that Halo was too tame for the Mature rating. It just seemed like overkill for a game that was nowhere near as gritty as Call of Duty or dealing with the same kind of societal themes as Mass Effect. It also lacked the gore and blood like Resident Evil games and the language was far from anything that Rockstar Games produces. So I was baffled how Halo games were always classified in the same category as other 'M' rated titles, but now it's finally been approved for the Teen rating and that makes sense.
Some gamers feel as if this was Microsoft's bid to get Halo 5 down from the Mature rating to open it up to more sales, just the same as Hollywood studios aim to pull down an action movie from the 'R' rating down to PG-13 in order to hit that almighty teen populace. Well, in this case it at least makes sense... I mean, Halo was just never “mature” enough to really warrant the rating. Plus, the Covenant seemed too colorful not to be kid-friendly and the Master Chief begs to stand as an action figure on a seven-year-old's nightstand. More than anything, why did it take Microsoft so long to lower the rating?
You can look for Halo 5: Guardians in all its Teen-rated glory to launch exclusively on the Xbox One on October 27th.