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Halo 5: Guardians beta begins Dec. 29

The Halo 5: Guardians beta will kick off Dec. 29 and run for three weeks, developer 343 Industries announced today during Microsoft's Gamescom 2014 press briefing.

Four-on-four arena combat is the focus of the beta, with all players starting with the same loadout. Seven maps, three modes and 11 weapons, along with a few armor sets for customization, will be available to try. By playing the beta, people will be able to unlock content that will carry over into the full game. According to 343, the beta will run at 60 frames per second and will use dedicated servers. Players will be able to provide beta feedback through the Halo Channel, an interactive network that will be available Nov. 11 on Xbox One and Windows 8.1 devices.

"Having a beta this early this early in development is crucial because it gives us as developers the opportunity to react to the feedback we get from fans and take it into account as we complete the multiplayer experience for Halo 5: Guardians," said Josh Holmes, the game's executive producer.

The Halo 5 beta is set to end Jan. 18, 2015. Access is included in copies of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which arrives Nov. 11 on Xbox One. Halo 5 itself is scheduled to be available in fall 2015. For more on the game, check out our report from the Halo panel at Comic-Con 2014. You can also watch the Gamescom multiplayer beta video below, as well as six work-in-progress screenshots of maps in the beta.

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