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Blitz Coverage

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Welcome back, Halo friends and family. This week, Bravo is deep behind enemy lines on an away mission, so today you’ll have to settle for yours truly going solo-scribe. Is it a trick – or is it a treat? You decide on today’s episode of the Halo Community Update. We’ve got a fun lineup of curious content queued up for today, including an inside look at some new Halo Wars 2 goodness, cosplay connections, a community-requested addition to the pumpkin stencil lineup, and much more. Let’s go!

BLITZ FORMATION

This week, we had a flurry of activity inside the studio walls as media partners and community guests got their first taste of some awesome new Halo Wars 2 action – including the brand-new Blitz mode. The fast-paced new take on classic RTS gameplay is an exciting addition to the suite of game modes already included with Halo Wars 2 when it launches on Feb. 21, 2017. Along with the bevy of awesome previews and impressions from media that hit this week, we dropped a sweet new ViDoc to help provide a more detailed first-look at Halo Wars 2 multiplayer from the teams at 343 Industries and Creative Assembly. Check it out!

In addition, we sat down with Max Szlagor, Senior Game Designer at 343, to chat a bit about the new Blitz mode.

GRIM: So tell us about Blitz! Explain to folks who might be new what the mode is all about.

MAX: Blitz mode is a new twist on the unique style of Halo Wars 2 RTS gameplay that replaces the complexity of base building and resource management with a new, streamlined way to build armies through a card-and-deck mechanic. Acquirable resources are spawned at random intervals on the map and players can use this energy to quickly bring units and Leader Powers onto the battlefield. This results in fast-paced, explosive 7-12 minute games that emphasize skilled card play, unit management, and map control.

GRIM: What was the original impetus behind the mode’s creation? Were there any particular inspirations you pulled from during its design?

MAX: Blitz mode came about through a lot of experimentation and a desire to create a fast-paced, accessible, and fresh new take on RTS gameplay. When we talked to players who were intimidated by the RTS genre, the common reasons cited included the perceived complexity of base building and resource management. When we first started developing Blitz, we started with the idea of an army roster, similar to many popular tabletop war games. After playing with this for a bit, we found that armies tended to start big and battles felt epic early on, but gradually shrunk in scale and appeal. We went back to the drawing board and came to the idea of using cards and decks as a way to deploy units on a medium-sized map with randomly spawning resources.

Cards feel approachable and understandable to most people and we all love strategy and card games – it just felt right to mix the two together. Once we started playtesting this combination, we fell in love with the way it created fast, explosive matches in an easy to understand way. As we playtested further, we kept finding new combinations of cards, teams, and tactics that made us appreciate the depth and mastery possible in the mode – we can’t wait to see what new strategies players bring to Blitz mode when Halo Wars 2 launches!

GRIM: So, is Blitz PvE? PvP? Yes?

MAX: Blitz can be played in PvP via custom games or matchmaking in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 team configurations. Blitz can also be played in PvE in the solo or cooperative Firefight Mode, where players attempt to survive and control the map against relentless waves of enemies that ramp up in numbers and difficulty at regular intervals. Whether players are going for a high rank in PvP or the top score in Firefight, there is something for everyone in Blitz.

GRIM: Let’s talk about some of the units people have likely been seeing in footage this week; it seems like there are variants or specializations of “standard” units that you might see in the game normally, is that correct?

MAX: There are some units that are made specifically for Blitz. These units include “keywords” that modify how that unit behaves on the battlefield. Blast, for example, causes a unit to explode in a small radius a few seconds after the unit is defeated. This keyword can be countered by another keyword called Guard, which allows a unit to absorb all incoming damage to nearby units until it is destroyed. There are many additional keywords available and we are excited for players to discover their abilities and combinations in the near future.

GRIM: What are some of your favorite units to use, or strategies to employ when playing Blitz?

MAX: I love playing 2v2 team games where one of us focuses on using cheap fast units to harvest lots of resources and harassing the other team while the other player gradually builds up an army of heavy hitters with a couple of Leader Powers on tap for mass army destruction.

GRIM: What excites you most about fans finally getting their hands on Halo Wars 2, specifically Blitz?

MAX: Halo Wars 2 is the RTS for everyone and represents an amazing package of great experiences, including a campaign with some of the most amazing Halo cinematics ever, a variety of deep skirmish and multiplayer modes that appeal to the hardcore and casual RTS fan, and the all new Blitz mode, which is super fast and easy to get into and offers layers of depth and strategy for players who dig in. Best of all, this entire package is playable on both PC and Xbox, and it feels right at home on either platform. As an action-strategy fan, I’m excited at the volume of great content packed into Halo Wars 2 and look forward to playing for a long time to come.

CARVER FINDINGS

Last week, we got into the hollow-day spirit by serving up 11 new Halo-themed stencil carving templates to let you create the coolest pumpkins since Billy, James, and D’arcy. That being said, immediately following their initial reveal, we had some requests expressing a desire to adorn their ghoulish gourds with the branding of their favorite esports series. Thanks to the epic efforts of 343 graphic designer Charles Ramos, you can do just that, with this awesome Halo Championship Series logo. 

A word to the wise, though – this is no casual carving creation; it’ll take a true pro to get it just right. And speaking of pros, our friends at ASTRO Gaming just dropped a hot and fresh new video feature that recaps all the scintillating spectacle from HCS Orange County earlier this month. It's absolutely worth checking out, so let's do so!

ISSUE 91

This week’s Fodder flavor keeps with the theme, but moving from carving to cosplay – plus, we take a look at some cool new unit fiction from Halo: Ground Command, including the first visualization of a Scorpion variant from the deeper Halo lore. Let’s check it out!

COSPLAY. CANON. CAMPBELL.

The Halo universe is blessed with an incredible and diverse community, with seemingly infinite degrees of creativity stemming from all corners. This is perhaps no more apparent than with the vibrant and talented cosplay community. With the 405th Infantry Division as the standard bearers, this collection of dedicated fans truly bring the Halo universe to life through the development and display of incredible armor and character recreations.

Back in July, we gave a quick Q&A that focused on the canonical connections between cosplay efforts, and the Halo universe they draw from. In an effort to provide ever-more support for the community members pouring their passion into every pauldron and pistol, we’re excited to offer some new reference assets in order to assist in efforts to create ever-more-authentic offerings – beginning with the GEN2 Mjolnir Techsuit variants worn by Spartan-IV personnel in both Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. These assets should help cosplayers nail down those extra bits of detail – even for what might be under the armor plating – and of course, it doesn’t hurt to provide a bit of deeper technical lore for context, does it? We figured you wouldn’t mind.

To download each asset, just check out the links below:

GEN2 Mjolnir Techsuit (Halo 5/Female)

GEN2 Mjolnir Techsuit (Halo 5/Male)

GEN2 Mjolnir Techsuit (Halo 4/Female)

GEN2 Mjolnir Techsuit (Halo 4/Male)

To go a bit further, we sat down with good friend and colleague Sarah Campbell from our awesome Consumer Products team to discuss the process and production of these assets, as well as get a better idea about Sarah’s own background and passion for cosplay.

GRIM: So, tell us about yourself – who are you and what exactly do you do at 343 Industries?

SARAH: I’m Sarah Campbell, artist and asset coordinator for the Consumer Products team here at 343i. That essentially means I have one foot in the realm of things made for the game, and the other foot in the world of turning those things into cool merch like action figures and shirts. I get to flex all of my art muscles depending on what is needed on any given day, which is excitingly challenging sometimes!

GRIM: It does sound awesome, and I can certainly vouch for the epic results! So, how did you get here exactly? Any cool background bits regarding your journey into the game industry?

SARAH: After completing five years of active enlisted duty in the Marine Corps, I moved out to Seattle to go to school and learn how to make games. Three years later, I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Art and Design, and have since worked on projects ranging from indie titles and broadcast media to mobile games and, of course, Halo. I’ve been at 343i a little over 10 months now, and still feel giddy when I walk through those doors in the morning. Playing Halo has been a huge bonding experience with my friends & fellow Marines over the years, and it’s the best kind of surreal to be here.

GRIM: Now, in case folks don’t know already, you yourself are a super big fan of cosplay. Can you talk about your passion for that?

SARAH: I’m ridiculously fortunate to have grown up in a geeky family, with parents who helped me make costumes every year, no matter how difficult it was to track down green pajamas when I wanted to be a Ninja Turtle (Leonardo!) or rig some floating pauldrons (thus was born my love of armormaking). I enjoy cosplay for being a creative outlet that expresses my adoration of something, and for being wearable art that helps me meet other folks who share that fandom. The cosplay community is overflowing with generous, creative people who support one another and have some of the most innovative solutions to all sorts of problems.

GRIM: Nice! Any favorite looks or characters to don the proverbial boots of?

SARAH: It’s difficult to choose favorites! I learn something new with every costume, which is one of the best parts of tackling a new build. The characters and series’ that resonate the most with me, or that I find myself identifying with, absolutely motivate each undertaking. I make a new version of Black Widow almost every year, and have recently finished my eighth Dragon Age costume [Which is absolutely ridiculous and awesome, and seen here courtesy of Vasher – Grim]. The most special costume to me right now is the Halo 5 Cortana suit I got to collaborate on with our partners at Disguise. It was one of the first projects I started on after coming to 343i, and I recently wore the finished suit (with some added personal touches like armor and lights) for the first time. Channeling my adoration of Halo and cosplay into making costumes is a dream come true!

GRIM: I can imagine! Segueing this into Halo itself, talk a little bit about your desire to help cosplayers like those in the 405th. What are the assets you feel like are most beneficial to help passionate fans take on the looks and identities of their favorite heroes?

SARAH: One integral part of any costume I’ve tackled is finding good reference for it, and I’d love to help create a library of source-material reference like that for the Halo universe. I’ve begun putting together high-res digital guide sheets for things like the Halo 4 & 5 Mjolnir techsuits and a few well-loved individual Spartans. I think it’s also helpful to have an idea of what materials something is constructed of, or interesting aspects of how it functions (even if it’s not exactly real-world feasible), and I’ve gotten assistance from our amazing Franchise and internal lore team to include some of those details.

Talking with some of the wonderful folks from the 405th has also buffed what I’m including in the reference. If someone wants to build their own Spartan armor (or make fanart, or just wants to know what the sole of a boot looks like), I hope these guides can help! As I’m working on my first personal Halo armor build (Spartan Vale!), it’s been motivating to see how supportive the 405th has been with folks all around the world, no matter how experienced they are. It’s as much about a shared community, as it is about costuming, and that’s a beautiful thing.

GRIM: To close out, what are your personal favorite aspects of the Halo universe? What excites you about getting to play in these worlds?

SARAH: My very favorite aspects of the Halo universe are the characters and its rich lore. I adore anything that lets me take a deep dive into backstory, or shows me more of the universe by relating through the people in it. I loved the Hunt the Truth podcast series, and aspects like in-game banter between the members of Fireteam Osiris were what turned cool character designs into people that enriched my immersion in gameplay. To this day, I Love Bees is one of the best meta experiences I’ve had. As a fan, being able to contribute to any aspect of the Halo universe is such an indescribably awesome experience; I’m invested not only in the Halo franchise, but in ensuring we create something that everyone can enjoy.

GRIM: I think it’s safe to say that it's just as awesome to have you as part of that process. Thanks so much for joining us today and sharing your passion!

COOL CRATE, LITTLE WAIT

For folks who signed up for the second Halo Legendary Crate, we’ve got some good news: they’re on the way beginning today! Included in this edition’s ordinance drop is some tantilizing background fiction that we’re really excited for deep-lore fans to get their hands on, particularly in light of the importance held by this particular time of the year in the Halo universe…

WRAITHS & DEVILS

Spartan Games has some awesome new additions coming to augment your Halo: Ground Command arsenal, including a first-time-visualized variant of the venerable Scorpion tank. They'll both be part of special army-bolstering sets, Covenant Wraith Box and UNSC Scorpion Box respectively, and each will come with two turrent options to allow you to create either the standard Wraith and Scorpion units, or upgrade them to the variants described and depicted below. At 1:100 scale, these things are a dominant and imposing presence on any tabletop battleground. Let’s check them out!

ANTI-AIR WRAITH

Type 52 Anti-Aircraft Artillery

Encountered late in the Covenant War, the Anti-Air Wraith is fitted with six rapid-fire plasma flak cannons that proved highly effective in countering UNSC light attack aircraft. Though ONI analysts presumed the vehicle was a dedicated air defense vehicle, the Covenant often deployed AA Wraiths as a direct assault vehicle against UNSC forces in urban areas.

"SUN DEVIL"

M808B2 Air Defense System

Built on a slightly modified Scorpion tank hull, the Sun Devil uses a full-rotation turret fitted with two twin-linked 40mm autocannons. Ostensibly an anti-aircraft vehicle, the Sun Devil was used in anti-personnel role throughout the insurrection years, and proved to be very effective in clearing Covenant light infantry from contested points.

FEATURED UNIVERSE ARTICLE

Curious about the myriad of characters, weapons, vehicles, locations, species, and more from around the Halo universe? Long-time Fodder-faithful will tell you that there's an offcial fount of fiction to feed on right here on Halo Waypoint in our online Universe Encyclopedia, and we thought it would be nice to get back in the habit of regularly highlighting entries from around the archives. This week, let's take a look at the main monster machine of the UNSC – after all, it does beat everything

UNSC SCORPION

The Scorpion is the UNSC’s main battle tank, with an extraordinary track record of success across dozens of planets and hundreds of battlefields.

 

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

This week, we highlight a spook-tacular map and mode combo from G MAN 2510. For the full breakdown, let's hear from our friends at Forge Labs.

MAP: SPECTRAL

MODE: GHOST HUNTERS

Download from the links above and have some holiday fun with your friends today!

PLAY OF THE WEEK

Since we can't highlight every single time Unyshek makes a sick play  like this one  we decided instead to celebrate the return of The Walking Dead this weekend, by welcoming Shooter750, aka Rick Grimes, into our Play of the Week club. His Last Man Standing Killionaire run doesn’t end until the round is over and the game makes him stop.

And with that, we bid you adieu  make sure to tune in next week for more goodies as we march towards November. 

Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and don't forget to check your sensitivity. 

<3

Grim

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