Wake Up Buttercup......
It won't be long until we get a chance to continue the fight....
And I can hardly wait. E3 brought us one step closer to finding out more on the upcoming Halo 4, currently on track for a Holiday 2012 release. Moreover, we got a chance to learn more about the multiplayer aspects of the game. A multiplayer that will have, probably a first for any game, an actual narrative focus to give players a reason to jump on in (as if Halo multiplayer fans needed yet another reason to play it in the first place).
The modes will be focused on the UNSC Infinity, which will be the main sort of "hub world" for the various multiplayer elements in the game. Players will be able to experience the new "Spartan Ops," with is promising to be an episodic co-op campaign that will be delivered in chapters in the weeks and months after the game's release. Complete, as 343 is also promising, with "epic cinematic sequences."
And, according to Halo 4's Director Frank O'Connor, 343 is more than ready to tackle the franchise (and its multiplayer components) head-on. "We had the luxury of knowing what the next few years would look like and we decided at that point that one of the simplest strategic decisions we could come to, was to make sure that everything mattered," he says. "Every single piece of fiction we made counted, that every storyline and character we created actually had some worth and value and was part of a long term investment in the Halo universe. Taking that philosophy through books and comics and graphic novels is one thing, but applying it adds a wrapper for the entire game experience is something really different."
And of course, the narrative of multiplayer will also impact what players experience in the single player campaign. "The Infinity is going to be a real object in the game," O'Connor promises, "it's a really significant part of the plot....once you've completed the campaign and move on to other aspects of the game, then you'll start to find that the Infinity and the characters who live and work about it, are all deeply interconnected via the story that happens after the Infinity leaves the campaign story in Halo 4."
An Honor Serving
O'Connor practically beamed about the Spartan Ops mode which, to him, could last for years if it proves to be a successful part of the game. "We wanted gamers to have a continual water cooler conversation that revolves around shared gameplay experiences," he says. "So if you have four people working together to get through these missions and then watching and experiencing fiction at the same time ... it's not that you have to go and blow up a reactor and then you watch a cinematic sequence of a reactor blowing up; it's real characters with really significant universe-changing events going on in the narrative. We have the Spartan Ops story mapped out, at least loosely, for a few years. The first season is very rigid at this point and we know where this story goes. If it's successful, if people enjoy it, we have a narrative arc that can last for years, with a known beginning, a middle and an end."
Big question time though; will these episodes be free to players who pre-order the game? Sort of, O'Conor says. "The first season is absolutely free if you buy either the special edition or the regular edition - that's a really significant amount of content; it's being compared to an entire campaign on top of the one that ships with the game. Yes, it's a lot of content and yes it's an expense, but we think it's worthwhile." Beyond that, however, expect 343 to resume its business-model-as-usual approach.
The one worry though, one that's been popping up on various Halo-centric forums, has been about the game's new "War Games" mode. War Games will be Halo 4's new progressive leveling system, complete with optional loadout functions similar to what many players may have already experienced before, namely in Activision/Infinity Ward's recent Call of Duty games. Fans have been rather, well, vocal that the franchise may be moving a little to close to CoD's territory, which could be a detriment to the franchise as a whole if it proves to be true. Mr. O'Connor is aware of the concerns, and even though he and his team are doing all that they can to alleviate fan concerns, he is rather, er, frank about being able to only do so much.
"One thing I've learned over 10 years of working with video game communities is that trying to allay fears is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline," he says half jokingly. "You just have to believe in what you're doing. I've been in this industry for twenty years, and most of the comparative systems that people think are being ripped off or borrowed from one title have been around in the industry for longer than I have. It's not so much that we're doing completely new things or that we're taking things from other games, it's just that, every time we go through the process of making a new Halo game, we have to evolve it to move it forward – otherwise you just increase the resolution of the successful maps and put out the same game every year. That wouldn't work, that would be terrible business."
With a Bang
The E3 demo was impressive, to say the least. It starts off showing what looks to be, for all intents and purposes, actual live action footage interspersed with in-game assets, culminating in a brief foray through a jungle setting as Master Chief follows the crash of the UNSC Infinity on this strange and hostile world. Despite the fact that the war with the Covenant is over, apparently not all of them got the memo. It isn't long before Chief runs into a few grunts, along with an energy-sword wielding Elite who charges up and, at the last minute, is vaporized by an unknown assailant.
As MC travels further, he runs into the planet's apparent indigent life forms; worm-like constructs that attack en mass but are still susceptible to gunfire. Cortana is of course her usual self, offering up bits and pieces of useful information as you race (yes! MC can run in this one) towards your destination. However, getting there proves to be rather....problematic. Because these constructs aren't the only things lurking in the jungle dark. Because there's also....well.....see for yourself.
Afterwards, we're treated to some little tidbits that show Cortana's "rampancy" in full motion. Though if this is due to her being online longer than she was designed to be, or if there's been deliberate tampering on her core design due to the planet's inhabitants, or if it's something else entirely, we won't know yet until the game releases this November. And honestly, that can't get here fast enough.
So wake me, when you need me.....to, you know, go out and buy this game day one.
Second Look: Halo 4
Blog entry posted by wastelander75, Aug 16, 2012.