Halo 4 – So Far
343 Studios now has hold of the reins of the Halo Franchise and Halo 4 will be there make it or break it moment with one of gaming’s most finicky communities. I will break things down into sections so that you readers can skim and take what you want. Let’s start off with what we know of as FACTS for Halo 4.
- Release date is holidays 2012
- 343 Studios is using a heavily modified Reach engine
- New music composers are Neil Davidge & Matt Dunkley
- Halo 4 continues the Master Chief’s story with the start of the “Forerunner Trilogy”
- Halo 4’s new “divisions” are campaign and Infinity (multiplayer)
- The Battle Rife is back
- Dual Wielding is NOT back
- Armor Abilities are back (to what extent is unknown)
- Everyone can now “Sprint”
- 4 Player Co-Op is returning
- Takes place several years after the events of Halo 3
- The Covenant are back, however they are NOT the major antagonist
- 343 hopes to focus on the human side of the chief, and his relationship with the possibly rampant Cortana
- New enemies will be introduced, entirely different from the Covenant
- Campaign takes place on a world called Reqium (a shield world)
- New locales will be more organic and living
- As with Reach, the main characters have been animated using motion capture
- Dubbed Infinity because that is where the multiplayer takes place. (Largest UNSC ship ever made)
- Halo multiplayer is Red vs Blue because they are on training grids within the Infinity ship. Think X-Men’s Danger Room or Star Trek’s holodeck.
- Multiplayer Spartans are Spartan IV’s (introduced briefly in Halo: Glasslands) Human volunteers given augmentations similar to Spartan III’s. Modified & Customizable MJOLNIR armor
- Elite’s will not be making a return as playable in multiplayer
- Loadouts are back with the ability to set primary & secondary weapons, grenade type, and armor ability.
- Armor abilities as of now are jetpack, hologram, camo, and Forerunner Vision.
- Forerunner vision gives the Spartan a temporary ability to see thru close walls.
- Armor Lock is NOT returning.
- Returning weapons as of right now are Assault Rifle, DMR, Battle Rife, Carbine, Shotgun, Rocket Launcher, Sniper Rifle, Magnum, and Plasma Pistol. A new weapon called the assault carbine has also been mentioned.
- Firefight has been scratched and a new mode entitled Spartan Ops is its replacement.
- Spartan Ops will be a campaingn-esque mode made up of WEEKLY additions that will offer cinematic and small story based missions for you take part in by yourself or with 3 other friends.
- The new experience system offers Spartan Points. These points will be earned through multiplayer, campaign, and Spartan Ops. These points will be used to purchase Spartan and weapon customizations, armor abilities, and Spartan Ops missions.
- New to multiplayer, specifically slayer, is the ability to instantly respawn. No more countdown timer for slayer respawns. This will not be available in objective gametypes.
- Another new feature will be multiplayer weapon drops. Unknown if this will be all game types or just certain ones but power weapons will appear on your HUD before they are orbitally dropped to a specified location on the map. Both teams will be notified of the location prior to the drop so each team can plan accordingly in the midst of a game.
- Also briefly mentioned is the ability to join a game already in progress. It is unknown if this will be all game types or only certain ones.
Above are all the little facts that we have been given thus far in the continuation of the gaming masterpiece that is Halo. As a fanboy, I am both incredibly excited and extremely mortified of what is being done to Halo, but as a gamer I understand what 343 is doing. Before everyone starts bashing me, hear me out. I’ve put in tens of thousands of Halo games spanning CE through Reach. I’ve been logging games since the tunnel days of the Gamespy network so I have the Halo past to give me some credibility.
343 Studios is taking, what they feel are necessary steps, to evolve Halo into the new generation of gaming. When Reach dropped, so did the Halo population. This was mainly due to the addition of armor abilities and the “bloom” of the DMR. The hardcore group of Halo fans immediately dismissed Reach and shifted over to Call of Duty/Battlefield for their FPS fix. Now with new gamers coming into the market, they saw the sheer amount of people playing CoD/Battlefield and jumped on the bandwagon with hardly giving Reach a chance and this was to be expected. As a social gamer, I play what my friends are playing. I still put in a decent amount of games in Reach but CoD, GoW, and Battlefield are where most of my multiplayer comes from these days. 343 patched Reach to make it play more like classic Halo and this jumped their population up a smidge but it didn’t bring back everyone.
Now, 343 Studios has their “baby” if you will. They want to bring Halo back to its original population levels which will be incredibly difficult due to the monstrous popularity of games like CoD and Battlefield. So they are taking a piece here, (loadouts) and piece there(join in progress, instant respawn) and incorporating it into the game that we all used to love. IMO these are necessary for Halo to even hope to achieve the levels it once had. 343 will never outright say they are stealing these items, nor should they. They are logical steps to bring back glory. The fanboys will jump all over this saying that these features don’t belong in Halo and in part I agree, however, I think they are necessary to grab today’s gamers. Nobody except 343 has played Halo 4 with these enhancements so we cannot judge it.
Each Halo game has introduced at least 1 revolutionary step in gaming, Halo 2 had its party system, 3 had Forge/Theater, Reach gave us…that was its problem, they borrowed and improved on themselves but didn’t bring the originality. Halo 4 is looking to bring us Spartan Ops and this is what I am most excited for. This is a fresh take on co-operative multiplayer that doesn’t involve direct survival or repeatable meaning less missions. 343 is looking to deliver what I hope will be a massive leap forward for gaming with Spartan Ops. I cannot wait for John 117’s return, let’s hope we get a good glimpse at E3.