Halo @ E3 2014 – general reactions

The stars aligned this afternoon and I was able to sit down and watch the entire Microsoft E3 2014 Media Briefing live from the comfort of my own home.

The kids were told to play outside, so that meant the room was mine alone. Currerbell1847 was close by, as I had the directive to tell her “when something Halo” came on.

Ladies and gentlemen something Halo did come on, and with Continue reading →

Much is afoot in the Halo universe

2014 is here and much is afoot in the Halo universe

– Josh Holmes, Executive Producer at 343 Industries

The post title and above quote are taken from a recent post on Halo Waypoint by Josh Holmes, former Creative Director and now Executive Producer at 343 Industries.

It was the first sentence of his post and set the stage for the changes he went on to talk about that have taken place at the company as well as dropping vague mentionings about the next (major) Halo game.

While I had already mentioned about Tim Longo’s hiring last month, there are some other tidings to share:

  • Kenneth Scott is stepping down from his position of Senior Art Director, and Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier is taking his place; Mr. Scott will still be involved with the studio as a Visual Design Consultant
  • While you never like to lose people, the idea that Sparth is taking over is great news. I really enjoyed the art direction of Halo 4, so the fact that someone who had a large hand in that not only makes sense but means good things are in store.
  • Mr. Bouvier’s style has always been fantastic (the covers of the “Forerunner Trilogy” come to mind), but if you need proof please head to his personal tumblr account here.
  • Kiki Wolfkill is currently “… developing exciting new stories, experiences and technologies that will transform the way that you experience Halo.”

Which means nothing at this point, since we have no clue what he’s referring to. However, new game hype is best served in small bites, and I think this qualifies. Delicious!

The last personnel change I’ll mention comes not from Waypoint but courtesy of (who else?) HBO and it has to do with Bungie alumni, “Destiny” creator and author of Contact Harvest – Joe Staten.

While he’s not a part of 343i, he is now Senior Creative Director for Microsoft Studios.

To put in another way, the guy who knows how to build fantastic worlds/tell great stories/conquer the planet in now in charge of making things cool over at Microsoft. YES!

While I didn’t doubt it before, I’m more confident than ever that good things are going on and will continue to do so in the Halo universe.

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The Squad is your Life – Longo joins 343

Some exciting news I found over at Sal’s site (HaloFanForLife) – 343 Industries has a new Creative Director, and his name is Tim Longo (Jr.).

That’s right – the Tim Longo.

What? Never heard of him you say? Well, neither had I. But it turns out I have enjoyed some of his work…

Delta Squad

Previously he was Creative Director of a little game called Star Wars: Republic Commando which was (in my opinion) one of the best Star Wars games ever made – not only because its story was so well done but it was a good FPS in its own right.

The game had fantastic squad mechanic, where you could order the other members of your team to make a coordinated effort to … well, the Wikipedia entry does a better job of explaining:

The game features some gameplay elements that resemble features in other first-person shooters, including Metroid Prime, and Halo. The heads-up display (HUD) in the game resembles the Metroid Prime helmet display and the player sees the world through visor. The usage of health and recharging shields, as well as the general combat gameplay, resemble styles seen in Halo.

An unusual feature is that blood from enemies (or lubricant fluid in the case of mechanical opponents) dispatched at close quarters that will splash onto the helmet visor, can slightly obstruct vision until an energy-based “windshield wiper” cleans it off at intervals of a few seconds.

The squadmate order system allows the player general tactical control over the three NPC squadmates that round out the four-man commando team. The order system resembles a simplified version of the context-based command menus seen in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear.

Many objects in the game environment will highlight when the crosshair is placed over them. The player can then press the use key to issue an order automatically associated with the object; for example, a sealed door may highlight with a synchronized team breach-and-clear command, or a computer console might give have a “slice” (computer hacking) command, while a pile of cargo boxes suitable for a cover position with good vantage may provide a “take up Sniper/Anti-Armor position” command. Where possible, the squadmates will usually take their preferred roles (sniper, demolitions and technical). The player can also order the squad to move to secure any position (wherever the crosshair is pointed), or perform search-and-destroy. Also, there are orders to command the squadmates to group up or spread out according to the player’s discretion for the situation.

Now read that again, but read it thinking about how all this goodness could be brought to the next Halo.

See what I mean?

The potential is exciting – not that the exact mechanics of Republic Commando have to make there way to Halo, but that perhaps part of the great experience that Commando offered would come to the land of Forerunners and Firefights.

(I thought it worth mentioning that Tim Longo was also Creative Director/Franchise Director on the recent Tomb Raider reboot, and while I haven’t personally played the game I’ve heard good things.)

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343 day – goodness abounds!

Being the 343rd day of the year, today is – you guessed it – 343 day.

But this day has more in store that just fun for people who like to count – here’s the full list of goodness straight from Waypoint:

  • Halo: Spartan Assault for Xbox One Interview
  • Race Live Gameplay
  • Halo 4 Matchmaking Chat
  • Grifball Live Gameplay
  • Josh Holmes Interview
  • Speed Slayer Live Gameplay
  • Halo: Escalation Comic Book Interview
  • Ricochet Live Gameplay
  • Neutral Flag Live Gameplay
  • Xbox One Launch Discussion
  • Snapshot Live Gameplay
  • Giveaways throughout the day

343 Industries will also be online via their Twitch.TV channel here from 1:00 – 4:00pm PST, so feel free to check them out there as well.

As for myself, I’m only in it to dress up my man-doll in a new helmet 🙂

Just for playing a game today (12/9/2013), you get the Commando helmet. For those of us (like myself) who will never get Dominion mastery, this is sweet

Just for playing a game today (12/9/2013), you get the Commando helmet. For those of us (like myself) who will never get Dominion mastery the normal way, this is sweet

 

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The curse of eagerness – sorry for the old news

I wanted to apologize for my post last week about the news originally put on out PasteBin; it turns out this was already old news by the time I got to it, and most likely false news at that.

I couldn’t believe that I would be the first person to talk about this supposed “leak”, so I checked through the first couple pages of the HBO forum and when I didn’t see anything so I thought I’d go ahead and post.

But the reason I didn’t find anything was that this info was originally from earlier in the year, so everyone had already talked about it and moved on 🙂

(Many thanks to Quirel for pointing me in the direction of the original thread on HBO)

So my eagerness at getting some new possible Halo 5 news – not to mention my inability to recognize Stinkles internet meme of sacasm (“Sounds Legit“) – lead me down the dark and dangerous path of assumption and I hope this didn’t raise anyone’s spirits too high for what may or may not be included in the game.

On the positive side, the tweets by Brad Welch (lead designer at 343 Industries) were/are 100% authentic and awesome so take a gander at them if you feel so inclined.

Thanks!

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Halo 5 – tweets, prototypes, and a Chief gone rogue

Halo 5 teaser

There have been a few snippets (as opposed to tidbits – tidbits are way meatier) of Halo 5 news out there recently, I wanted to highlight them here:

  • Tweets from the Lead Designer – Brad Welch, lead designer at 343 Industries, has recently been tweeting with fans about the work they’re doing on Halo 5, mistakes he felt were made (some by him) on Halo 4, and how they’re looking to improve. I originally found this on VG247
  • “Prototype phase” and game breakdown – originally posted on PasteBin, this seems to be a general breakdown of what Halo 5 will contain; everything from story nuggets (Master Chief gone rogue, light RPG-ishness). The crazy part is that Stinkles (Frank O’Connor‘s handle on NeoGAF) seems to confirm it’s legitimacy here. (Thanks to IBTimes.co.in for the info)

It great to see 343 engaging with fans, so I’m all for Mr. Welch putting his thoughts out there. It’s also exciting to think about what’s going on behind closed doors at 343 …

…which segues perfectly into the “leaked” post. Is that breakdown the real deal? Does Frankie‘s seeming endorsement of this info mean it’s 100% true? 50%? All smoke and mirrors?

I just reread that post and it’s crazy to think about – battles with hundreds of AI, John-117 with his own ship and the ability to visit multiple planets, a campaign 3-5 times bigger than Halo 4 … and the list goes on. Wild.

With the Xbox One now out in the wild, the next iteration of Halo has been on my mind so it’s great to get some stuff to chew on.

Has anyone else heard anything about this? Are you ready for the next chapter in the series? I’d love to hear your thoughts below if you get a chance.

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A Question of Weight – Halo 4 and Community

Discussing the community’s reaction to Halo 4 is tired. Old. It’s all been said.

But I’ve never had a problem with beating dead horses*, so it’s time for me to throw a few words in the pile. I’ll keep it brief, and as a bonus you’re also going to get my “review” of Halo 4 in bullet point form sprinkled throughout … nine months after release. Nice!

  • I was surprised to find that being more aware of the Halo Community made the game harder to enjoy. Everyone should (and does) have an opinion, but I didn’t expect that it would be many in the visible community telling the world that you shouldn’t like Halo 4
  • ReviewHalo 4’s visuals and music were, and still are, awesome
  • This could just be a little bit of history repeating itself. When I started Reactive Bias almost two years ago, I was introduced to all the players who strongly disliked (hated) Reach. And all this time I loved a game that I should have complained about … 😉
  • Review Halo 4’s story was a disappointment, not in content but in execution. I feel 343 Industries pushed the bar so high it ended up out of reach. Everything mattered, but everything didn’t come together into an understandable whole at the time of the game’s release – and because of that the story suffered. Both those who read the books and those who did not finished “Midnight” feeling something was just a little off, and I think the enigma of the Didact was to blame
  • I’ve realized that Halo to me is what’s put out there as Halo, no matter who’s making it. That doesn’t mean I think it’s all good, but it does mean that I recognize the obvious – I’m not in charge.
  • Review – Spartan Ops was a great first step (minus the dudebro of the first half)  in a new direction, and Multiplayer still keeps me coming back for more. Halo multiplayer has been fun for me in the past, and Halo 4’s War Games hasn’t changed that

To bring these reflections to a close, the good that Halo 4 does – and aspires to do – outweighs the bad for me. It’s that question of weight, and my answer to it, that lands me squarely in the “likes Halo 4” camp 😀

***

Last thing – be sure to check out CruelLEGACEY’s posts (part 1,part 2 and part 3) on how he would make Halo 5 if given the chance. We differ on our excitement for the franchise going forward, but I agree with a lot of his takeaways on how the experience for the next game in the “Reclaimer Trilogy” can be bettered.

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*=The author of this post does not actually enjoy the beating of any of the equine population, dead of otherwise.

Bundle of Champions

With less than thirty days until the release of the fourth major expansion for Halo 4, it’s time for me to start getting hyped!

There’s plenty of info on the “Champions Bundle” around, but I wanted to highlight a couple of reasons why I’m really looking forward to it:

Map Love

The new maps – “Pitfall” and “Vertigo” – each have a stand-out trait; being a remake of a fantastic Halo 2 map (The Pit) for the former and the interactive electric environment of the latter.

My past strategy on “The Pit” consisted of running full go at the rocket launcher in the hallway, so with ordnance dropping all over the place I’ll have to find a way to go about it.

I never did particularly well with that strategy, so maybe it’s a good thing 🙂

I’m a sucker for new play spaces and the fiction that accompanies them in Halo, so you can count on my doing a lot of walking around and staring in between the headshots I give (and receive).

Nothing but Skin

I’ve never cared about the weapons skins before, but the Assault Rifle: Teeth TTH and the Steel Skin Pack have me excited to suit up.

Why the sudden interest in these weapon covers? Is it the history lover in me? Does my sub-conscience long to write the great American Steampunk novel?

I’m not sure – but I’m in. Expect my futuristic guns to have teeth and bolts all over them.

Halo 4 Champions Bundle poster

Covering Up

Something I have always cared about is dressing up my doll … ahem … arming my Spartan, and the three new armor mods of Mark V, ODST and Prefect will do just fine.

I like how 343 have gone both old and new school with the new armor, and it’s always cool to see more variety in Theater Mode.

There are also eight poses thrown in for good measure, as what’s the use of all the cool armor if you can’t strike a pose?

As I haven’t earned enough commendations to obtain some of the cooler poses in Halo 4, the opportunity to change it up in the War Games lobby is a welcome one.

Honorable Mentions

The Ricochet gametype and armor don’t have me as excited as the rest, but I’m looking forward to giving them a go. As with most objective games, if I can go in with a group of friends I know I’ll have a better time.

The Resistor Tactical Package – “which allows Spartans to maintain their full mobility and dexterity while taking incoming fire” – is for someone who actually takes enemy fire.

Since my skillz allow me to never take a hit, this TP is rendered worthless to me. I’m sure other people will find it useful 😉

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Modcast Bulletin (Ep. 5)

This Modcast was originally broadcast on 12.1.11

The “Modcast #5” achievement*** has been unlocked, and it was totally worth it!

As with the last Modcast, there were too many good things said to record quotes in here so that will be a separate post … enjoy!

Appreciated points:

Updated visuals take you there – CruelLEGACEY brought out the point that the updated Continue reading →