Halo @ E3 2014 – Halo: The Master Chief Collection

No need to rehash the intro, let’s get right to it!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection reactions:

Rumors notwithstanding, The Master Chief Collection is confirmed real and is almost everything I could want.

“Almost” you say? Of course! What kind of Halo fan would I be if I didn’t gripe about something trivial during a franchise high point?

Hyperbole aside, I’ve tried to Continue reading →

Halo 5 / Halo Xbox One – 1st concept art

I’m sure many of you have already seen it, but why not take another look – here is the first official piece of concept art for Halo 5/Halo Xbox One as done by their newly promoted Senior Art Director, Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier:

Click for larger size

Click for larger size

The original posting of this piece was on Waypoint, and Josh Holmes described it as, “an early exploration of a new location that features prominently in a little game project we’re tinkering with….”

Where is it? Have we been there before? A rebuilt world after the war?

The setting looks very Skyline to me; I’m not saying that’s where it’s at, just that it looks similar to that map located on the colony world of Cascade.

And what’s the curved structure towards the bottom-right that looks a little Covenant-ish? A jointly governed world perhaps, or at least a station where both sides have a presence?

Crazy to think about what’s to come … !

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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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Bringing the Wonder – Halo 5 E3 2013 Teaser

As if having E3 2013 in full swing wasn’t enough, we were treated to a glimpse of the (possible) next installment of the Reclaimer Trilogy yesterday with the release of a teaser trailer at the Halo Xbox One E3 Media Brief.

There’s nothing like a Halo announcement video – it cuts to the core of every fan and brings the wonder factor every time.

But besides making my eyes twinkle with wonder, what else is going on in the trailer? Let’s ask some questions and let the speculation run wild!

Halo 5 teaser_2

Who? – There are three players in this mini-drama that we can identify – the Chief, Cortana (not actually present but a big part of the scene) and a (presumably) Forerunner machine which I will call “Stan.”

Stan makes quite the entrance, with the “wings” coming open being a particularly spectacular moment.

Since I saw the trailer on the link that labeled it as Halo, I figured that was the Master Chief trekking across a very mysterious (and very windy) desert. Did anyone see the trailer without knowing it was him? I think it would have made the entire sequence even better – the shock of finding out who the solitary wanderer was.

Halo 5 teaser_3

What? – So what the heck are we actually looking at? In the past Halo reveals have told a slightly different narrative than what actually happens in the game, so I’m expecting that to continue here – meaning while a similar scene may happen in-game it probably will have some variation throughout.

This could also be something that doesn’t take place in the next game at all, or at least we don’t see it take place.

What exactly does John-117 hold out in his hand? Is that the last chip that Cortana had been present on? (As a side note, wasn’t that chip vaporized by the Didact in the last level of Halo 4, “Midnight”?) Is there a trace of her still on that piece of equipment, or it is something to remind Chief of where he’s been/what he’s still fighting for?

Is Stan really a piece of Forerunner tech? Is there another power in in the galaxy that our hero now has to contend with? (I believe it is Forerunner, but I suppose there’s no way to be absolutely sure about anything at this point.)

What has the Master Chief been doing up until now? Is this the longest debrief is UNSC history?

What are the shadows that float across the ground during the logo shot at the end – possible a hint at a ship (or ships)?

Halo 5 teaser_4

Where? – Obviously it’s in a desert, but where at? The rock formations (the tall, thick spikes) that we see in the background right before Stan rises up reminded me of the Reach firefight map of Unearthed. I don’t believe this trailer takes place on Reach, but it was a neat connection.

The planet (or moon) in the background might give us a clue – is it a natural formation? It looked vaguely like it could be Forerunner made, but I don’t think so.

Where did the Forerunner machine come from? Was it (likely) placed in this location long ago, or is the desert its place of origin?

When? – Does this scene take place during the next game? Perhaps as a flashback? I would like to see the game just drop you somewhere without any explanation, and then have cut scenes like this one bring you up to speed as the game progresses; kind of a “reaction/action” thing.

When did Chief make the decision to come to this place? Was his hand forced?

Halo 5 teaser_5

Why? – It’s the obvious first question but I’ll ask it; why is the Master Chief here?

The way the Spartan just stands there as Stan rises from the ground makes it seem as if he’s expecting him, or at least was looking for him.

Could this have anything to do with the alteration the Librarian gave to John-117’s genetic code from Halo 4? Is Chief on a journey planned by her, like Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting so long before?

Why is the Chief’s visor cracked? Is that purely symbolic of his broken state? If so, that’s the good throwback to the opening cinematic of Halo 4 where the ONI operative refers to John-117 as “broken.”

Then again, maybe he just took a hammer to the face in the latest Grifball tournament on the Infinity. Who knows?

Halo 5 teaser

ADDENDUM: [approx. 1:00am EST] After I had already made this post I finished up some games with Sal from Halofanforlife (HFFL) and he had a theory about who the Forerunner construct (Stan) might actually be – Mendicant Bias! (He goes deeper into the theory in this post.)

This idea does make sense – with Mendicant being sealed below the Ark in the extra audio of Silentium (see Sal’s post for more on that), and the location in the trailer looking very much like the surface of the Ark in Halo 3, you have two good points as to who exactly spreads their wings in the trailer.

The (Lesser) Ark was destroyed at the end of Halo 3 – but could a part of it have survived?

Would Mendicant be a friend or foe? Is that who rises to greet Master Chief?

Whatever the case, exciting times are ahead – and I’m really looking forward to having these questions answered … and asking more.

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HBOhio – the write-up

I’ll start with thank yous, as is only right.

Rev and Jackie, for putting this on and making it incredible.

Everyone at HBOhio, Grim and Louis Wu for making it possible.

CurrerBell, for being okay with me being me … even encouraging it!

Our tale begins on a dark and stormy night, with a long kept secret that could tear a family apart …

HBOhio logo

Getting there

Actually our tale doesn’t begin there at all. It begins on a Friday afternoon (5/19/13) as myself, my better half, and our youngest all make the trip down to Columbus for HBOhio.

Considering I already live in the Buckeye State, my three-hour trip was relatively short compared to those who came from the far off lands of North Carolina and Michigan.

I had originally planned on this being a one-man trip, with Currer staying home while I was gallivanting off in our state’s capital. That changed when she expressed an interest in going, and when it was pointed out that the LAN was dangerously close to our wedding anniversary 🙂

So with both sets of parents watching the rest of our crew, the three of us headed down for good times.

They’re all going to laugh at you

After checking in at the hotel (and being told that several break-ins had occurred by guys using crowbars to steal TVs out of the rooms, followed with a “enjoy your stay!”) we drove over to HBOhio’s HQ, Rev’s place.

Driving over I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve met a completely new group of people, and a few of the old high school insecurities came back. For example – how do I act cool without desperately trying to act cool? do they know how cool I think they are? is saying “cool” even cool anymore? Questions like that.

Per usual, I was being an idiot – whatever they thought of me the group couldn’t have been nicer and I truly appreciated it. To be among a collection of colleagues who dropped more video game references than I get to hear in a year, love Halo across the board and actually knew who Trogdor is? Nice.

Hang on to you butts

We arrived around 5:00pm, about the middle of the pack with some of the group already there and more to come.

HBOhio - Jurrasic 1

After frightening away the other movie goers with deadly-accurate Raptor impressions, the entire theater was ours

Once assembled, we did what anyone in our position would do – go see a twenty-year-old movie in 3D! What film you ask? Super Mario Bros.Mrs. Doubtfire? Close but not quite – Jurassic Park, and it’s held up much better than many of the films that came out that year.

Pale Riders

Now comes the MAW run of the weekend – an entire Saturday (4/20/13) of Halo filled with prizes, food and gameplay that reached (dare I say, started at?) a level of epicness that only happens face-to-face.

Revenant brought something to the LAN that all great commanders must – a plan. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched out of your mind for an event and then it devolves into something like this:

“This is awesome!”

“I know!”

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

But this party faux pas was avoided by the man with the clipboard. Rev had it all worked out, from the order of gaming to the prizes to be won by stupendous deeds of daring do (or marks of shame, but more on that later).

Rev's clipboard

The clipboard of destiny!

Much honor to you my friend, for keeping the awesome on track!

I wanted to note that watching the Halo 2 menu loop over and over during setup would made HBOhio a success in my book, no matter what else we did – it’s been a while since I’ve played the game and it brought back great memories.

HBOhio - During the game 5

Blue Man Group

I was fortunate to have (what I thought) the best seat in the house, right next to Bluerunner in the garage with an entire half-sheet of game space all to myself. It could be argued that team “Danger Zone” in the rooms upstairs had the sweeter spot as everyone had their own screen, but the ability to stretch and the lack of heated man-smell gives our garage-group the advantage I think.

HBOhio - During the game 2

Most pose after, others during

(While the garage wins on comfort, Danger Zone emerged victorious on the win/lose ratio. Next time Gadget … )

HBOhio - During the game 4

The back …

So with projectors humming and heads held high we played through a plethora of Halo 2 and Halo 3 maps and modes. Containment, Bomb, Territories, Avalanche, Capture the Flag, Sand Trap, Lava Lake – the list goes on.

HBOhio - During the game 3

… and the front

Without a montage there’s no way to convey the good times so I’m not even going to try, but it was fantastic to have that Halo: Combat Evolved LAN feeling where the guy that just took you out (or vice versa) was right next to you.

Stories with a side of BBQ

After the morning carnage it was time to fuel up at City Barbeque for lunch. There was a lot of local color on the walls, with the barbeque sauce labeled “Blazing Rectums” as the standout. (Kids, I wouldn’t Google that one if I were you.)

HBOhio - BBQ 1

Burning orifices aside, the food was fantastic. In addition to stuffing our faces Rev had us go around the table and give a brief history of how everyone got there, history with Halo, etc. It was great to hear everyone’s story and be reminded that while many of us enjoy the franchise for different reasons, at the end of the day that translates into getting together with friends and having a blast.

Schwag Bag

Something important was just left out of the preceding paragraph; yes, our love of Halo translates into having a blast with friends – but at HBOhio it also translates into getting awesome stuff!

Shortly after lunch Revenant handed out the goodie bags and talk about a freakin’ amazing bonus – not only do we get to hang out and play Halo all day, but we get schwag?!? I feel bad for the holidays left in the year – they just became the wannabe highlights of 2013.

HBOhio - Prizes 2

Schwag included:

  • 6 Halo decals – not for the face!
  • 3 Xbox 360 codes provided by BS Angel (a Halo 4 Campaign background, Watcher avatar prop and Halo 4 picture pack) – you can haz!
  • HBO button – pin sharpened to a diamond’s edge!
  • ONI Patch – they don’t officially exist!
  • Blamite –just like Mom used to make!
  • Mystery Megablok Halo figure – tiny and mysterious!
  • German candy – Danke!
  • Personalized Legendary Patch – read those words again, and weep you don’t have one!

Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this treasure chest of goodness – a HUGE thank you to all who made it possible!

But these items weren’t the only thing we could take home – there were prizes to be won throughout the LAN. The pictures below don’t do the amount of stuff there was justice (or the feeling I had of wanting to grab everything and make a run for it), but I can tell you there was a great haul to be had with bits and pieces sent from all over.

HBOhio Prizes 1

Warning: staring at the magical table of schwag may cause temporary blindness

I was fortunate to “win” the first prize – a set of CQC Kontrol Freaks (the mark of shame I mentioned earlier). I came in last place in a Halo 2 game of Swords ‘n’ Shotguns.

But the joke’s on you my friends – I was already using a pair when I tanked the match! Your effort to improve my game is futile! (maniacal laughter)

Covies won’t know what hit’em

Right … where was I? Maniacal laughter. No, after that. Yes! We rounded out Saturday (4/20/13) with some more unusual Halo 3 game types (Rocket Race, Dragon Slayer, etc.) and what for me was the highlight of the trip gameplay wise – an ODST Firefight throw down!

Three teams of four competed for pride, glory, and a set of MegaBlok ODST drop pods. I go into a more detail in this post, but this mini-tournament sums up all the best parts of what a LAN can be – intense team-based action where having the players in the same room really makes a difference.

Our team (SIX min WHISTLE, Kermit7, BlueRunner and myself) came in second place and the Covenant will think twice before attacking Crater again. Hoo-rah!

Walking Away

And that’s the high note HBOhio ended on for me – after wolfing down some excellent pizza and taking one last grab from the M&Ms bowl (which they kept filling from a feedbag somewhere – seriously, how can you keep it full with over fifteen people grabbing from it all day? It was nothing short of a miracle) Currer and I headed out.

HBOhio - Leaving group shots 1

Defiant to the end

I feel like this write-up didn’t capture half of the awesome that went on (not to mention Sunday and Monday), but I hope it conveys what an incredible time I had and how grateful I am to Rev and Jackie for hosting.

Until the next one!

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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 →