With Halo Infinite and the new Halo TV show still a long time off, Halo fans are understandably eager for something new in the sci-fi franchise. Enter Halo: Fireteam Raven. An arcade game made by Play Mechanix and Raw Thrills with the support of 343 Industries, Fireteam Raven was released at all Dave & Busters locations in the US this month, and it made its debut in Sydney, Australia this week. The first thing you'll notice about Fireteam Raven is its gargantuan cabinet. It houses a massive 130-inch HD screen and four seats with mounted turrets to grab onto to control the action.
A light-gun game, Fireteam Haven has you and three other Orbital Drop Shock Troopers working together to defeat Covenant forces in a story set during the Halo: Combat Evolved timeline. I played through Fireteam Raven's six chapters in four-player, and it took around 30 minutes to finish the whole thing. This missions are unique and varied, taking you to different parts of the original Halo ring. Fans of the original game will feel right at home.
In the various missions, you'll fight against all manner of Covenant baddies, including Grunts, Jackals, Elites, and the horrifying-looking Flood. The game also switches up your arsenal regularly. Pretty much all of the classic-era Halo weapons show up in Fireteam Raven, including the Magnum, Needler, Rocket Launcher, Assault Rifle, and Shotgun, while you can throw frag and plasma grenades as well. You don't get to choose which weapon you want to use, as the guns are automatically allocated at the start of a new sequence within a mission. There are also driving sequences where you shoot from the turret on a Warthog as you zip around.
The action in fast and heavy, and you'll find yourself firing almost constantly as you lay waste to Covenant enemies that constantly come at you. The weapons generally feel good and act as you'd expect them to. There are some issues and oddities, however, one of which is that you never have more than one grenade. And the button to throw it is easily confusable with the turret fire button, so you may accidentally chuck a grenade at an inopportune time. It is also worth mentioning that your magazines are significantly larger than in Halo: Combat Evolved. This makes sense because it would be annoying to have to reload constantly, but it stands out as a little strange-feeling all the same.
Fireteam Raven looks good enough, but it won't blow you away. There are some cool sequences when enemies get right up in your face on the screen and other moments when time slows down to accentuate the spectacle and help you fire in the right place. Another positive is that Fireteam Raven's frame rate holds steady, which is impressive because some of the scenes can be very involved and detailed.
Halo's hero, Master Chief, makes a few cameos through the story. You play as the boots-on-the-ground soldier doing the hard work to support Master Chief, so when he shows up, it helps bring a sense of scale to battle. It wouldn't be a Halo game without him.
There are no boss fights in Fireteam Raven, which is a bummer, and it feels like a missed opportunity. It would have been fun to work together to take down a big enemy, just as you might do with friends in traditional Halo games, but alas. There are bigger enemies that require at least two people to take down, but true boss battles seem like they would be more fun.
Despite that, I had a lot of fun playing Fireteam Raven. It succeeds the most thanks to its use of classic Halo weapons, gear, locations, and enemies. For the most part it faithfully captures the essence of Halo, and that's immediately clear even if you only have a few minutes to play.