Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Halo Bulletin: 6.13.12

Halo 4 E3

E3 Q&A

Over the past year, we’ve doled out breadcrumb-sized bits of Halo 4-related information, giving you just enough to chew on but not enough to fully satiate your super-soldier-sized appetite. That changed the second E3 started, when we proceeded to release a massive amount of Campaign, Spartan Ops, and War Games news at a fast and furious rate.

Now that you’ve had a chance to digest all the videos, interviews, and articles that came out of that rather chaotic week, we know you have some questions. That’s why I politely asked Frankie to answer as many of your inquiries as his multi-fingered appendages could handle. (Turns out that’s 34, assuming I counted correctly. David Ellis was too busy flirting to take off his shoes, though, so potential errors should be attributed to him.)

Before you start reading the words of your favorite Scottish Franchise Development Director, I thought it would be helpful to explain a few of his more cryptic phrases. “Bench press contest” means “pillow fight”, “some” means “Mammoth”, and “there are lots of surprises to come” means “Kiki has a new boyfriend". It's worth noting said boyfriend is not aware of this relationship.

Now that I’ve successfully muddied the previously clear waters, you’re free to start reading the following Q&A - the “Q” of which was provided by you, the Halo Waypoint community. Off you go!

Halo 4 E3

How will we acquire the Spartan Ops missions every week? Will they take up a large amount of room on the hard drive? –Spartan King

It will require storage and, more importantly, an Xbox Live Gold account – for online play and downloadable content. Folks should definitely consider this when purchasing Halo 4. Although I would note that it doesn’t matter which version of the game – LE or Standard, since it is included in the price of Halo 4.

Demon and Fury are two names of War Games squads. Will we be able to pick the name for our squad? Will it be from a list of pre-selected names compiled by 343? Also, why are there different names for Spartan Ops squads (Majestic and Crimson)? –HaloFanForLife1

Those were temp names for the E3 build. The final game will ship with variants aplenty, but these will not be user customizable, nor should they be confused with clans, groups or other social modes of team identification. Effectively these are fictional constructs that we will give the player some choice options for.

Apart from Master Chief and Cortana, will there be any characters from past Halo games returning? –AKG Range

It’s important to the plot that we not actually give this way. It would be equally important from either side of that coin. So I will say that Sgt. Johnson, while sexy and epic, will NOT be back. But our story will extend beyond the events of Halo 4, so we have to be careful how we frame this.

Will Halo 4's Forge have themed forge maps with a greater forge palette as to prevent the problem that Halo: Reach had with all of its maps looking like gray Forerunner buildings? –Majatek

Halo 4 Forge, like all aspects of the game, will have significant improvements, changes and/or overhauls. We will be talking about those later this summer. I will, however, ask people to retain some semblance of dignity when imagining infinite tools that allow them to build a universe from scratch. To be clear, this will be a significant improvement in functionality and results, but it will continue the tradition of Forge’s ease of use, scale and scope. But I also won’t be a buzzkill. It will be cool.

How many vehicles are in the game? –Rtas9


On a scale of 0 to Epic, how would you rate the feedback you got from E3, and how will it be utilized in future builds? –Eco Maiden

E3 was actually a really compelling experience for us. A team of over 200 men, women and in my case, children, have been working slavishly just trying to make a Halo game that lived up to the series’ legacy and our own tightly-strung expectations of ourselves and the Halo legend’s appeal, quality and nature. To get anywhere near that, to have people pay the slightest interest in our effort, was an honor and a privilege. The people who work here LOVE Halo, and to collaborate and cooperate with folks of this talent level, passion, intensity and focus has been a privilege. To try to create something this righteously demanding audience can relate to is something else entirely. We will work and grind until the last possible moment to live up to your expectations and your patience.

What can we expect on the control schemes side of things? Can we change Sprint and AA behavior like we can with crouch (click or hold)? How many layouts will there be? Will they be based off of layouts from previous games? Will I be able to go back and forth between Halo 4 and previous titles with ease? –JDHarbs19

Control schemes right now are plentiful, but this is also the area of laser-like focus and concentration. The addition of Sprint on a controller you’ve become accustomed to over seven years is a challenge we take extremely seriously. We have lots of data, lots of ideas, and lots of options.

Will the armor you wear in multiplayer affect your gameplay, or will it be completely cosmetic? –MobiusBlue121

The appearance of the front of your armor is cosmetic, to a degree. However, Armor Abilities will affect your silhouette, and silhouettes, however trivially, do affect gameplay. Not a “back of Elite head in SWAT” effect, but we are also not naive enough to ignore aesthetics as they affect gameplay.

Will there be Spectator Mode in Halo 4? –CyReN CE

There will be some changes to post-death camera, but full spectator mode is a bandwidth hog that we would not introduce into a competitive arena.

What are the exact kill times of the DMR, Carbine, and BR? –Unsaf3st

These are almost-but-not-quite fixed. Some tweaks, tunes and changes will happen between now and launch.

Will the medals remain as they are now, or will they be changed to the original Halo medal color style? –TBearrr

All UI elements are early complete, but undergoing final passes on art and design. Expect the game to look somewhat like the E3 build, but don’t be surprised by alterations and tweaks.

How long does a season of Spartan Ops last? And also, how many seasons will there be? –MeCauseIShotYou

A season of Spartan Ops will be months, rather than mere weeks. Each mission should take about 15 minutes or more, depending on number of players and difficulty rating. Fiction will be incorporated into gameplay via vignettes, voiceover, and other methods, and compounded by episodes of straight drama, around seven minutes in length. And there will be five MISSIONS per week and one episode of naked fiction, which roughly equals well over an hour of content per episode. Between Spartan Ops and Campaign, you're basically getting two campaign equivalents for one price.

How limited is the Limited Edition? –Guywired

We are producing significantly less copies of the Halo 4 LE than previous Halo releases. So, a small percentage of total manufactured units.

If you had the opportunity to hang out with Master Chief for a day, what activities would you do? –Kalamari

Obviously me personally, I would do a bench press contest, or wrestle. But you guys? Chess.

How exactly will the custom loadouts be balanced, as well as the upgrades received by ordnance? Is there anything to prevent veteran players from spawning with rocket launchers and shotguns and outright dominating everybody else, or will power weapons be limited in some way? –Retr0Gamer64

Matchmaking will account for skill level, experience, equipment and more.

How similar is the Thrustpack ability to Reach's Evade? Can it be used in all directions? How many times can it be used before being depleted? –Nuclear Taco 42

It is very different. It will be used in different scenarios.

Is Spartan Ops strictly co-op, or can you play it solo? –iTz Lazerz

Spartan Ops is hard, but achievable in solo. However, you can also Matchmake on a per-mission basis. It should be relatively trivial to find help on tougher missions if your friends are all lame or dead.

Will Bumper Jumper be changed to LT to Grenade, or will another button layout based on the "Halo 3/Halo: Reach" Bumper Jumper be made for Halo 4? –coca mola

Control schemes are not yet final.

Do the War Games and Spartan Ops take place before, during, or after the events of Halo 4? –Astrogenesis

War Games, and by extension Spartan Ops, ostensibly take place starting about six months after the Halo 4 Campaign. That’s a very light spoiler.

We saw Frankie rank up to A-7 in a video clip. Is that just some random placeholder, or is that hinting at a new type of ranking system? –Degeneratlon

If I made it to 7, then assume it’s placeholder.

In both impressions and gameplay footage, some players seem to be lowering their aim sensitivity. Has the overall look mechanic speed been increased? i.e. the new 10 is faster than the old 10? *insert it goes to 11 joke* –Wyld3 KNFr

Look sensitivity in E3 builds is NOT final. By any stretch of the imagination.

Is Infinity Slayer a replacement for normal Slayer? –pedrocs21

No. Infinity Slayer is an added, but vital mode.

Will there be a place for people who prefer a more stripped-down type of Halo game in Matchmaking at launch? –Overdoz1z

Yes. And Halo 4 Matchmaking modes will be more streamlined.

Will Halo 4 have a little more cowbell? –Coux73

Cowbell is set to 11, globally.

I noticed that friendly fire was off during the E3 demo. Was that solely to stop people from ruining the fun for others in the demo, or will it remain off in the default game types once the full game hits? –Loscocco

Friendly fire is set at a Matchmaking level. Imagine variants.

Will the ordnance drops always guarantee a weapon and power-up, or will the drops be completely random when earned? –Solis Argentum

Ordnance drops can and will vary based on Matchmaking parameters.

How does the Join In Progress feature work in Halo 4 multiplayer? If we join in during the game, will everyone's screen go black? Or will the game stop in any way to compensate the change? Are there certain restrictions as to how the new feature works? At what point in the game do we enter in? Beginning? Middle? Or the end? –CypressSmurf

You will enter Join In Progress based on playlist parameters, which will vary from DO NOT JOIN IN PROGRESS to JOIN AT ANY TIME.

How final in terms of graphics and AI is the Campaign demo we saw? –SON OF JUREL

Nothing we have shown so far is final; but most of what we have shown is at least representative.

What is that new mech in the E3 trailer? Many believe it to be the Cyclops, and I know it isn't, so some clarification would be nice. –M0aHerder

What is a Mech?

Are we going to be seeing any enemies other than the ones shown in the E3 Stage Demo? –Negative 9

The new enemy class has been unveiled, but we haven’t revealed all of the enemy types yet, or the ancient evil...

If I miss a week or more of the Spartan Ops, because of military duties or other unfortunate reasons, will I be able to make up previous weekly mission installments? Including watching the cinematography videos that are to be released with each weekly mission installment? –eLantern

Relax. Your 360 will act like a DVR with a Season Pass. Play when you want. Replay when you want.

We already know Elites are not in, which means no Invasion as we know it in Halo 4. Have you considered releasing a game type (both at launch and after launch) which relied on some of the aspects which made Invasion great? –Gabotron ES

Elites are in Campaign. Elites are not playable MP types. We will, however, add some interesting variety to MP which will scratch that itch.

How far through the campaign is the E3 Campaign demo? –DirtyRepublican

About a third of the way through. Give or take.

Will 343i be showing basically everything before release, like with Halo CEA? I, like many others, want to get the game and be surprised. Basically, is it a good time to go dark? –randomrosso93

In some ways, we’ve shown a lot, but ultimately the story has more content than the sandbox, so it’s a mixed bag. Don’t worry. There are lots of surprises to come.

And with that, Frankie is out. As am I. Oh wait, one last thing: just in case you were wondering when the next opportunity is going to be to get your hands on Halo 4, that would be an upcoming conference in its second year, hosted by a company whose name rhymes with Schmooster Schmeeth.

Now if you’ll excuse you, RTX - I mean work - is calling. I’ll meet you back here, same time, same place, next week. Until then…

bs angel

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