Halo is one of those names that everyone knows about, whether they are gamers or not. Not from being infamously controversial (I’m looking at you, Grand Theft Auto), but for being an icon for gamers everywhere–selling millions upon millions of copies over the life of the series, and bringing us all together in the defense of humanity. We all have our memories of blasting the Covenant back into space as Master Chief, but the past couple games have diverged from our hero’s adventure, focusing more on the soldiers on the sidelines, or Spartans of the past. During these past five years many shooters have risen through the ranks, drawing our interest away from our beloved series. Well, John-117 is back, and he demands our full attention.
Bungie made a game truly fit for the tagline “Combat Evolved” by raising the standard for first person shooters everywhere. However, they have understandably decided they want to move on to other things. Enter 343 Industries, the new curators of the Halo universe, committed to taking the reigns from Bungie. Many Halo fans will no doubt approach Halo 4 with some skepticism, and that’s completely understandable.
Admittedly, there isn’t a crazy amount of information about the upcoming installment, but what can be found is exciting nonetheless. To start with, let’s recall the last time we saw Master Chief. Following the ending to Halo 3, we saw Chief in cryo-sleep on the remains of the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn. In a trailer, we witnessed Cortana frantically waking him up while the ship is boarded by unknown assailants. As Chief grabs Cortana and makes his way out of the wreckage, he comes to an opening to be welcomed to the sight of what would appear to be an artificial planet. Halo 4 is set four years after the finale of Halo 3.
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Somehow, they end up crash-landing on this planet that we will come to know as Requiem. Though thought to be artificial at first, it’s actually a planet encased in a shell. What this planet’s exact purpose is is still a mystery, though many rumors circulate the web. Is it an ancient weapon? Did the Forerunners need another planet to inhabit due to overpopulation? Maybe it was created so they could conduct experiments, or to survive the Halo rings. Who knows, but one thing is for sure: Requiem is not a friendly place. It runs rampant with a new and frightening enemy called the Prometheans.
What the mechanical Prometheans exactly are is unknown, but they have some connection to the Forerunners. They’re comprised of the Crawlers, Watchers, and Knights. The Crawlers are small quadrupeds (imagine orange, wingless, Drone units from previous games) that nimbly attack from different angles and in packs. Knights can easily be compared to the Elites. They’re quick, deadly, and smart; using different tactics to flank and outsmart you. Lastly are the Watchers, which can be dispatched by Knights and serve as defensive units. They heal their allies, can catch and return grenades Master Chief throws, and are a distraction away from the Knight, which opens you up for pot shots.
The Prometheans are rough, but you’ll have some old enemies dropping by for a fight as well. The Covenant are on Requiem, but for unknown reasons they’re attacking you on sight. Which is surprising since humanity had made peace with them four years ago. It seems Chief and Cortana missed a few things while they were away, and will have to catch up on recent events. Back on topic, there is one plus to fighting the Prometheans which cannot be denied: they have awesome weapons. Check out the E3 gameplay trailer for a look at Requiem, the Prometheans, and a couple of the weapons you’ll get to try out.
As you saw, the weapons look beautiful as well as the world of Requiem. The Prometheans are going to definitely add a challenge to combat, and I’m excited about their addition to Chief’s shoot-on-sight list. Chief looks to have a couple new tricks himself. For one, he can finally sprint; and two, he has a new vision mode for which he can see Prometheans through walls and flora. Hardcore fans may be getting upset at all the changes that are being made, but the Halo formula, though still fun, was starting to get a little stale in my honest opinion. Fighting the same enemies for so long can do that, and I’m glad that 343 has the nerve to add in new enemies and weapons to spice up the Halo experience.
That large ship crashing onto Requiem would be the UNSC Infinity: the most powerful warship to be deployed in Earth’s history. Originally built for the war against the Covenant, it was recommissioned for exploration and research. During its exploratory voyages, it had the misfortune of stumbling upon Requiem, and was subsequently sucked into its shell. This could mean Chief and Cortana won’t be completely alone while stranded, and may give us access to some new weapons and vehicles that have been developed the four years Chief was out of the action.
Halo 4 runs on a redesigned engine that was used for Halo Reach, and as you saw in the trailer the improvement is outstanding. It looks like the redesigned engine will be put through its paces too, as the world of Requiem looks massive and there’s going to be more of a focus on exploring rather than shooting your way from point A to point B. I for one am excited at the prospect of exploring Requiem and hunting enemies in the dense alien flora.
We’ve seen the shiny new guns, intimidating new enemies, and exciting new additions to gameplay. But what’s going on deeper in the plot of the story? Something in Halo lore that isn’t widely known is that “smart” AI have an average lifespan of seven years. After processing such massive amounts of information, they eventually start going rampant–the AI equivalent of insanity–and eventually die. As Halo 4 takes place after four years, Cortana must be starting to suffer from this inevitable process. This will no doubt put a strain on her and Chief’s relationship, as she spirals out of control. We can only hope that there’s something on Requiem that can save her, and maybe we’ll get a closer look at the man that is Master Chief in the process.
Single-player campaign isn’t the only game mode getting a makeover. 343 has completely revamped the Halo multiplayer experience. Firefight is not going to be in Halo 4, but the addition of the new Spartan Ops mode makes up for it.
Competitive multiplayer is exactly what you’d expect; various player vs. player matches consisting of several different game types. The difference? 343 has made it part of the story in the fact that all matches are actually battle training simulations on the Infinity. This also carries over into Spartan Ops; episodic cooperative missions that will be released weekly once the game is launched. Think of these as away missions. These missions further the story of the campaign while drawing players back week after week to complete them. Did I mention they’re free to play for Halo 4 owners? Having the multiplayer tied into the campaign will keep the players immersed in the Halo universe no matter the mode in which they play, as was the case for Mass Effect 3′s Galaxy at War multiplayer.
Whichever multiplayer mode you’re playing, you earn experience. Much like in Reach, this all goes to your Spartan where you can outfit him or her with new weapons, armor, and other customization options. There’s also the addition of a new loadout system. Rather than everyone starting out with the same weapons as is tradition, you can make yours specialize in various classes much like in Call of Duty or Battlefield. For a multiplayer experience as tried as Halo’s, this is definitely a game-changer. Check out the trailers below for a look at both the competitive multiplayer and the Spartan Ops.
Halo 4 is going to be a beast of a game. With a massive single-player campaign, the elaborate Spartan Ops missions, and the addicting multiplayer we should expect nothing less than greatness November 6th, so be sure to clear up your calendars.
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