August 26th 2011 9:00 am PT
I had the opportunity to attend a preview of Halo Fest last night where 343 Industries let loose a ton of news to kick off PAX Prime.
Here are the highlights:
New “Halo: Anniversary” Maps
Announced and playable today at Halo Fest are two stunningly reimagined battlefields and a brand new Firefight map for “Halo: Anniversary”: Timberland, Prisoner and Installation 04.
· TIMBERLAND –Timberland is “Halo: Anniversary’s” beautifully reimagined multiplayer map from “Halo PC,” set in the classically alpine environment so familiar to “Halo.” Once serving as a watch point for the immense relay complex below, the monitoring outposts nestled atop this ridge became a staging ground for human forces during their time on Installation 04. Toward the end of the conflict, a Covenant assault brought the marines here to a tragic end. Timberland is a tree-covered valley, sporting undulating hills, surging rivers, and a terrain perfect for large-scale vehicle mayhem. (8 – 16 players)
· PRISONER –The return of “Halo: Combat Evolved’s” Prisoner delivers a claustrophobic and frenetic multiplayer experience now elaborately recreated for “Halo: Anniversary.” These spinning confinement platforms are a testament to the technological prowess of the Forerunners. In the event of a security breach, the facility’s suborbital location and frigid temperature were thought to be able to keep any threat at bay, but it appears those plans were… optimistic. Prisoner is a multi-level facility, with tightly-woven corridors and many bridges and ramps, perfect for the chaos of close-range combat. (2 – 8 players)
· INSTALLATION 04 – Installation 04 brings fans back to one of the most iconic environments in “Halo’s” history, the base of an enormous Forerunner spire from “Halo: Combat Evolved’s” campaign mission “Halo,” now stunningly returning in “Halo: Anniversary’s” Firefight mode. Set on one of the many cliff sides of Alpha Halo, this beacon served as a rendezvous point for survivors of the Covenant attack on the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. These survivors, including the legendary Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, were forced to stave off numerous Covenant attacks until rescue finally came. Installation 04 is a familiar precipice studded with ancient Forerunner structures which make a perfect defensive position against an invading alien enemy and marks the first Firefight experience to include ally AI players who will defend the installation alongside you. (1 – 4 players)
Previously announced, playable fan favorite maps also made their US debut at Halo Fest including:
· DAMNATION –A fan favorite multiplayer battleground from “Halo: Combat Evolved,” Damnation is impressively brought back to life with amazing detail. As the primary satellite of the Unggoy home world, Buwan provides the perfect environment for this massive Covenant hydro-facility used to power and refuel a variety of capital ships. Though still operational via automated subsystems, the station was abandoned shortly after the breaking of the Covenant. Damnation is an asymmetrical, multi-tiered complex, replete with long lines of sight and tightly-crafted choke points. (2 – 8 players)
· BEAVER CREEK – The classic “Halo 2” multiplayer map Beaver Creek returns, tracing its roots back all the way to “Halo: Combat Evolved’s” legendary Battle Creek. The rocky warrens of this part of Halo provide the ideal environment for an array of impressive telemetry clusters. These spires’ synchronization conduits ensure that the ring’s translocation grid is always fully operational. Beaver Creek’s symmetrical bases in a small, creek-fed canyon are excellent for both free-for-all and team-based game types. (2 – 8 players)
Each of the competitive multiplayer maps that ship with “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” will include two variants which let players experience maps in both their classic layout as well as a modified, reimagined version with changes that account for the dynamic gameplay created by “Halo: Reach’s”Armor Abilities. For a sneak peek at the explosive multiplayer action that awaits, fire up Halo Waypoint or visit HaloWaypoint.com to see a new behind-the-scenes feature from 343 showcasing five of the seven beautifully reimagined maps included in “Halo: Anniversary.”
Experience “Halo” like Never Before in Immersive Steroscopic 3D
For the first time, fans will be able to experience the original “Halo” campaign in a whole new dimension as they step onto the legendary ring world in stereoscopic 3D. Using a custom made top-and-bottom 3D technology, 3D-TV owning fans will be able to experience the amazingly remastered “Halo: Anniversary” in a more immersive experience than ever before. Attendees can see this first at the immersive LG Cinema 3D Experience at Halo Fest.
Upcoming “Halo: Reach” Title Update
The team at 343i has been hard at work on an update for “Halo: Reach” both to bring new experiences to fans as well as address longstanding feedback from the community. The most noticeable change in the works? The return of the wicked, deadly and wildly fun “Halo: Combat Evolved” Magnum pistol to “Halo: Anniversary” and “Halo: Reach” multiplayer gameplay. An addition that will be supported in special, classic playlists, the original Magnum pistol is sure to rekindle some of the madness and carnage players reveled in a decade ago.
In addition, the update, which is targeted for release in October, will introduce several multiplayer fixes for “Halo: Reach” fans have been clamoring for. Armor Lock now absorbs a level of damage based on the amount of remaining energy a player has, diminishing its effectiveness. Active Camo’s duration has been reduced and the ability to block sword attacks using any weapon other than another sword has been disabled. And for fans of precision firing, reticle “bloom” is now configurable, delivering increased accuracy when firing in rapid succession.
This update will also enable “Halo: Reach” players using an Xbox 360 4GB console without a HDD to utilize Campaign and Firefight matchmaking which previously required a HDD.
“Forza Motorsport 4” and the “Halo 4” Warthog
The developers at Turn 10 Studios, creators of the highest-rated racing franchise of this generation and 343i have partnered together to create an incredible “Halo” fan experience with the inclusion of the iconic Warthog in “Forza Motorsports 4’s” breathtaking new Autovista experience. Designed to showcase and offer an unprecedented interactive experience with some of the world’s most iconic vehicles, Autovista lets players walk around, interact and learn about vehicles in a way no other game can. Fans who pick up “Forza Motorsport 4” will be treated to a first look at the “Halo 4” model Warthog and an interactive experience narrated by none other than the voice of Cortana. “Forza Motorsport 4” releases in the US starting Oct. 11 and across Europe Oct. 14.
If you are attending PAX Prime, you owe it to yourself to drop by Halo Fest (free w/ your Pax badge) to check out some of the announcements. Here are details about the event to help get you started.