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.
Content:Halo: Reach – Defiant Map Pack Price: 800 Microsoft Points Availability:Check availability for your region Dash Text: (Note: A hard drive with at least 1 gigabyte of available storage is recommended and required for some online features. For compatibility with Halo: Reach, the Defiant Map Pack cannot be installed to an external memory device if a hard drive is present.) The fight for humanity’s survival rages on in three brand-new battlefields: a giant orbital station high above the burning surface of the planet, inside the forest of a military wilderness-training facility, and wrapped in the remnants of a civilian mining facility. These awesome new environments comprise 2 multiplayer maps and a Firefight mission that deliver 3 new achievements and 150 gamerscore. Developed by 343 Industries and Certain Affinity.
Waiting to get your hands on the Halo Reach Defiant Map Pack? If you are in the Seattle area I’ve got some good news for you. On Wednesday, March 9th I’ll be hosting a special preview event with 343 Industries at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue. During the event, the Halo experts at 343 Industries
be on hand to discuss what went into designing the new maps and they’ll do a full walk through of each of the two new multiplayer maps and the new Firefight Map.
Three new multiplayer maps are coming next month for Halo: Reach.
Here are the details (plus screenshots) that I’ve scraped from the press release:
Condemned: Condemned takes place aboard Orbital Station Gamma, a massive space station high in orbit above the planet Reach. Prior to the Covenant’s overwhelming invasion, Orbital Station Gamma provided long range communications for UNSC fleets and a vital lifeline between Reach and Earth. During the Battle of Reach, the station suffered terrible punishment at the hands of the Covenant but a few fortified sections remain intact, fully pressurized, and ready for combat. Condemned supports 6 – 12 players in a variety of action-packed game types, including Team Slayer, Team Objective and Free for All.
Highlands takes place on the top-secret Military Wilderness Training Preserve on Reach. The Preserve is a large, wooded area where Spartan super-soldiers trained long before the war with the Covenant began. During the Battle of Reach, the Preserve was the site of key battles between the alien invaders and a group of Spartans who used their familiarity with these UNSC training grounds to significant tactical advantage…but not everyone who enters these woods makes it out alive. Highlands expands the fight with massive-scale engagements for 8 – 16 players in Big Team Battle, Team Slayer and Team Objective.
Unearthed takes the battle for Reach to a large Titanium mine and refinery located in the Viery civilian sector of the planet. This particular mine was built to take advantage of the exposed titanium inside a massive meteor crater. The titanium produced here is used in much of the UNSC hardware, from the chassis of the Warthog to the meters-thick armor plating of capital ships like the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. While this facility was quickly abandoned when the Covenant arrived on Reach, it still has significant tactical (and economic) value and it won’t be long before both humans and Covenant return to battle for control. Unearthed allows up to 4 players to launch a counterassault against the Covenant in Firefight and Firefight modes such as Generator Defense.
Created in partnership with Certain Affinity, the Defiant Map Pack will be available this March on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft points, and will include all new Achievements worth a total of 150 Gamerscore. Keep an eye on Halo Waypoint for a brand new trailer. Or watch it out on Waypoint’s YouTube page.
Content:Halo: Reach – Noble Map Pack Price: 800 Microsoft Points Availability: All Xbox LIVE regions Dash Text: The fight for humanity rages on a galactic scale. From a frozen xeno-archaeology site harboring secrets millennia old to an orbital anchor defending the stars high above planet Reach – and to mysterious places far, far beyond – Bungie’s Noble Map Pack injects three new explosive environments into the multiplayer battlefield, each designed to reinforce all of Halo: Reach’s vital warfronts, from small scale engagements to massive Invasion battlegrounds.
We are a week away from the launch of Halo: Reach and we have some activities planned. If you are in the New York area, join me Monday at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square for what promises to be a pretty big deal. In Seattle? We’ve got you covered there as well. We also have thousands of events across the country at various retailers. Hit this press release for more details.
Update: I’ll make another post when I have more details (time etc.) about the NYC event
Last week, I shared the audio that the new Xbox 360 console makes. When the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo Reach console is available next month, it will have custom Halo inspired sounds when you press the power button or the disc eject tray. Even though not that many of you will be pressing the eject button after Sept. 14th, I wanted to give you a preview of what you can expect when you get your new console.
I’ve created two versions of each. One is the MP3 version that should work for most of your needs and the other is an iPhone friendly ring tone* version.
Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo Reach – power (.MP3) (.M4R) [iPhone ringtone format]
Designed by Bungie, the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo: Reach Bundle includes all the features of the newly designed Xbox 360 console, such as a 250 GB Hard Drive and the fastest built-in Wi-fi. Additionally, you’ll receive two Limited Edition Wireless Controllers and a standard edition copy of Halo:Reach. The bundle will be available for US $399 in limited quantities and only while supplies last.
Halo: Reach will be available in standard, Limited and Legendary editions when the game launches this fall. Full details on the contents of the Limited and Legendary editions are below: Halo: Reach Limited Edition – $79.99 (USD) In addition to the game disc and manual, the Limited edition includes:
Game disc housed in recovered ONI ”black box”
An exclusive Elite armor set for use in multiplayer modes
Artifact bag containing Dr. Halsey’s personal journal and other classified documents and effects that unravel long held secrets from the “Halo” universe
Halo: Reach Legendary Edition – $149.99 (USD) The complete “Halo: Reach” collection. In addition to the game disc, manual, and the complete contents of the Limited edition, the Legendary edition includes:
Noble Team statue expertly crafted by the artisans at McFarlane Toys. Individually molded, hand-painted and individually numbered, this statue is a must-have for any serious “Halo” fan
In other Halo news, Bungie’s latest Halo: Reach ViDoc, titled Carnàge Carnivàle was also released today. We’re only a few short days away from the Halo : Reach multiplayer beta which starts May 3rd. As a reminder, you will need your Halo 3: ODST game disc to participate in the beta.
Content: Halo Wars Price: Check pricing for your region Availability: Asia, Canada and US Dash Text: (Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB) This game supports English. Download the manual for this game by locating the game on http://marketplace.xbox.com and selecting “See Game Manual". Halo Wars is a strategy game based on the legendary Halo® universe. Command entire armies of Spartans, Warthogs and more into combat as you join the crew of the “Spirit of Fire” to battle the alien Covenant. Designed from the ground up for the Xbox 360, Halo Wars let you effortlessly command powerful armies in epic battles. There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts.
Price: Check pricing for your region Availability: Not available in Germany, Japan, Korea or India Dash Text: (Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB) This game supports English only. Download the manual for this game by locating the game on http://marketplace.xbox.com and selecting “See Game Manual". Unparalleled human drama unfolds in a shopping mall overrun with the undead. Welcome to hell!! There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts.
Frank O’Connor – Franchise Development Director, 343 Industries
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Links to some of the things mentioned in this episode:
Content: The Vision Behind Halo 3: ODST (HD) Price: Free Availability: All Xbox LIVE regions Dash Text: [ESRB: M (Mature) BLOOD,LANGUAGE,VIOLENCE] A Covenant warship dominates the sky over New Mombasa. The evacuated city burns below. You are an ODST, one of the few soldiers ready and willing to drop in and put up a fight. But before you head feet first into the city and experience Halo from a fresh perspective, get an inside look at the creative process behind Halo 3: ODST straight from the strike team at Bungie that got the job done. To complete their mission, they had to explore some dark and uncharted territory of their own. Download this VIDOC and get briefed on the vision, technology and tactics it took to bring the city of New Mombasa and Halo 3: ODST to life.
If you are dying to get your hands on Halo 3: ODST to try out the new Firefight multiplayer mode, then you may be in luck. Bungie, Microsoft and GameStop have teamed up to give you a chance to experience Firefight and maybe win some Halo swag. We’ve announced that the custom created Halo 3: ODST Transport vehicle that will be making stops at GameStops across the United States and offering you an up close and hands on look of this new Halo multiplayer mode. The tour kicks off this Saturday at 12 noon at the GameStop right down the street from the Xbox offices. Join me and a bunch of folks from the Xbox team as we kick off the tour that may bring the Halo 3: ODST Transport to your area.
Halo 3: ODST Transport Vehicle Stops
Seattle (Redmond, WA)
Portland (Hillsboro, OR)
San Francisco (Union City, CA)
San Jose (Antioch, CA)
Los Angeles (Pasadena, CA)
San Diego, CA
Las Vegas (Henderson, NV)
Phoenix (Avendale, AZ)
Dallas (Southlake, TX)
Austin (Cedar Park, TX)
Houston (Tomball, TX)
Nashville (Murfreesboro, TN)
Detroit (Shelby Township, MI)
Cleveland (North Olmstead, OH)
Philadelphia (Fairless Hills, PA)
Washington, DC (Woodbridge, VA)
Baltimore (Owings Mills, MD)
New York (North Babylon, NY)
Redmond Town Center
Tanasbourne Town Center
Center At Slatten Ranch
Carmel Mt. Ranch
Shops of Southlake
Spring Cypress Wal-Mart Center
Marketplace at Wolfcreek
College Central Shopping Center
Target 31 Shopping Center
The Brickyard Shopping Center
Shelby Town Center
Great Northern Plaza South
North Hills Village
Fairless Hills Towne Center
Garrison Forest Plaza Shopping Center
*For the most up to date list of tour cities, times and locations, visit GameStop.com
I wanted to make you aware of an unfortunate incident that has resulted in the loss of all data on the Halo Wars Xbox LIVE Leaderboards. This includes all singleplayer, multiplayer and Trueskill leaderboards, as well as all matchmaking data, resulting in the Halo Wars leaderboards being reset to original launch day status.
This was human error related to Xbox LIVE servers. It is not a broader service issue and will not impact other titles or Xbox LIVE experiences. The Xbox LIVE team is investigating the cause to prevent this from occurring in the future.
Thank you to Robot Entertainment for working with us through this issue and thank you to our Halo Wars community for your patience as we’ve sorted this out. On behalf of everyone at Xbox LIVE, I’d like to apologize for the incident and any frustration Halo Wars players have experienced in having their statistics disappear from the Leaderboards. You can rest assured that we’re putting processes in place to prevent this from happening in the future.
Content: Halo Wars Historical Battle Map Pack Add-on Price: 800 Microsoft Points Availability: All Xbox LIVE regions Dash Text: [ESRB: T (Teen) MILD BLOOD,MILD LANGUAGE,VIOLENCE] Expand your Halo Wars experience with the Historical Battle Map Pack Add-on. These four new maps highlight key turning points in the epic war between the UNSC and Covenant forces. The maps include: Blood River – battle a single opponent over a treacherous natural chokepoint; Barrens – engage your enemy in the midst of the Flood; Memorial Basin – two vs. two team play in one of the bloodiest battles in Halo history; and Glacial Ravine — three vs. three action as you fight to control a narrow corridor flanked by energy walls. There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see www.xbox.com/live/accounts.
It’s called Historic Battles and it will be available July 21st for 800 points and it has four new maps and four new Achievements. Here is a breakdown of what Historic Battles for Halo Wars will contain:
Barrens (1v1 Map): Difficult terrain channels units into killing zones. The side that controls the Forerunner artifacts will have the advantage.
Blood River (1v1 Map): Secure base locations on nearby cliffs overlook this naturally red-tinged river. The soldiers that fought over its two narrow crossings gave the river its name, which has since taken on a greater meaning.
Glacial Ravine (3v3 Map): A snow-topped mountain range forms a natural barrier that cuts this region in half. Control of the two energy walls at the narrow central pass often determines the outcome of the battle, though clever use of the Sentinel Factories may play a role as well.
Memorial Basin (2v2 Map): The high ground in the middle offers good cover for infantry, while the generally open terrain transforms organized battle plans into bloodbaths.
The four new Achievements worth a total of 100 points are:
Tour Coming Through: Hot drop 50 squads to your Covenant Leader in a single game on Memorial Basin (30 points)
Never Leave a Man Behind: Finish a game with 5000 net resources contributed to your teammates on Memorial Basin (15 points)
Drain Cleaner: Kill 20 enemy squads with a continuous Covenant Leader Power on Memorial Basin (30 points)
Killjoy: Disrupt 5 active Leader Powers in a single game on Blood River (25 points)