Thanks ske7ch! The Halo Championship Series is back underway in earnest, with action on both sides of the pond getting underway just a few days apart. To break down some of the news beats hitting the airwaves, here’s our very own Mike “StrongSide” Cavanaugh.
In the EU Halo Championship Series, there’s still time to get in on the action in the first Open Cup, get all the info at https://www.gfinity.net/halo-5/cups. We’re excited to see Europe’s top talent battle it out to prove their regional supremacy!
In North America, the NA Halo Championship Series Fall 2017 season kicked off yesterday with a bang! During the off-season, rumors spread regarding potential roster changes for nearly every team. In the end however, only a few would make a change.
To the shock of many, Ace was dropped from Team Liquid, while Spartan returned to Team Liquid in place his place, rekindling a fire with previous teammates Eco, SubZero, and Stellur on pursuit of the #1 seed leading into Dreamhack Denver. Although after Liquid’s brutal loss against Team EnVyUs in their first match of Pro League, it looks like Team Liquid needs more time getting adjusted to this roster change.
With Spartan joining Team Liquid, Ronin set their sights on new and younger talent, Sabinater, who had been showing off his skills the HCS Summer 2017 playlist by ranking #1 multiple weeks in row. He also attended his first HCS event at Dreamhack Atlanta with eRa eternity placing 5th/6th. Although going down 3-1 in the series to a well-polished Splyce in their first match of the season, this roster has a lot of potential to grow, and were the only losing squad of the day to not get swept.
Luminosity lost their main-slayer in Ninja, but were able to pick up well-experienced Halo 5 player, Rayne. Matching up against OpTic Gaming in for their first match is no easy task as LG quickly went down 3-0 in the series. This team will need to practice up as they will not want to fall behind in the early season.
TRIED & TRUE
Splyce, OpTic Gaming, Team EnVyUs, Evil Geniuses, and Naventic (formerly Oxygen Supremacy) did not change up their roster before this season and it is paying off for most of them. All but Naventic have won their first match in the season in a dominating fashion, but there are six more matches left with everything still up for grabs. Needless to say, the battle for #1 seed is going to be an exciting fight to watch!
Thanks, Side! And don’t forget, today features our Match of the Week with an epic rematch between Splyce and OpTic Gaming. This series will be one you won’t want to miss, as Splyce are coming hot of their first tournament win, Dreamhack Atlanta – a victory earned by taking down this very same OpTic Gaming squad. The perennial kings at OG however are more fired up than ever after losing back to back HCS tournaments to nV and Splyce at Daytona and Atlanta respectively. Tune in at 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET to catch this match-up at mixer.com/Halo and twitch.tv/Halo.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Extermination is back in Halo 5 matchmaking as the next featured playlist. This this 4v4 round-based mode tasks you and your squad with working together to eliminate the entire enemy team – before any of their members can respawn. For a more in-depth look at the mode overall, make sure you check out our original blog we published earlier this year.
Also, as with Extermination’s first go-round, the playlist features incredible community-built maps that are an absolute blast to play on. However, this time the ante has been upped even further with an additional five new fan-forged arenas, bringing the total number of available maps on rotation to twelve. In fact, let’s check out those sweet new playspaces…
Abyss | Sgt Slaphead | Map Link
Augury | AceofSpades0707 | Map Link
Yggdrasil | Pat Sounds | Map Link
Dethrone | Erk x15 | Map Link
Helheim | Pat Sounds | Map Link
In addition to the new maps you see above, several of the returning community-created arenas have received some valuable TLC to improve playability and flow. Extermination went live just this morning in Halo 5, so grab a squad and head into matchmaking!
If you fancy yourself a cool new 343 Ice Unicorn skin for your Halo 5 Assault Rifle, make sure you jump in to the Extermination playlist tomorrow, Friday, Aug 25 from 2-3 PM PT. If you match up with our full 343 squad during that hour, you'll earn yourself the skin! See you there.
TAKE A LOOK, IT’S IN A BOOK
The next couple weeks will be looking good for fans of Halo’s extended lore, as a couple new pieces of fiction find their way to eager eyes and ears. On Aug 30, Issue #1 of the Halo: Rise of Atriox comic mini-series drops.
The day before however, signals the official release of the next full-length Halo novel, Halo: Retribution by savvy Spartan scribe Troy Denning. While we’ve already to linked out to print pre-orders before, today we also wanted to give folks a first auditory glimpse of the epic tale from our friends at Audible. Below, you can find audiobook excerpt previews from the first two chapters of the book, in both streaming and downloadable MP3 form. If audiobook is your platform of choice, make sure you preorder the upcoming tale HERE.
CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT
CHAPTER TWO EXCERPT
Also, in case you missed it, this week Mr. Denning himself tweeted out another little preview to whet your proverbial whistle.
Of course, the two aforementioned titles aren’t the only readable Halo projects bearing down on the fleets of your attention, as another highly anticipated book is hot on their heels – Halo: Warfleet. This spacecraft reference book has been something deeply desired by some of the Halo community’s most passionate and faithful canon cataloguers, and we’re stoked to get this lovingly crafted guide into folks’ hands beginning Sept 6.
Halo: Warfleet features breakdowns of dozens of human and alien star-traversers, including ten extra-detailed cutaway illustrations of some of Halo’s most i c o n i c entities. Eager readers have been clamoring for a tease for months, so today we’re more than happy to oblige.
The above image is a gorgeous art piece created by Darren Bacon depicting a post-Escalation Infinity refit and an Autumn-class cruiser undergoing final “float-out” assembly above Earth. Also, our cheeky inclusion of the table of contents should give lore fans plenty to salivate over in anticipation for the full release.
Here we see an example of the book’s bread and butter – awesome renders with detailed data and lore callouts. The above image is from the Forerunner section and highlights one of the craft seen in the original Halo Wars.
Perhaps the most tantalizing tease is this small sliver of one of the awesome cutaway images by legendary illustrators Hans Jenssen and John Mullaney. Detail-oriented fans are going to love these.
I also wrangled friend, beard brother, and fellow scribe Kenneth Peters (343 Franchise Writer, Materiel Master, and primary penman on Halo: Warfleet) to get his thoughts on helping helm such a passion project. Here’s what his beard had to say.
WARFLEET: THE KENTERVIEW
GRIM: So, for folks who might not be familiar yet, what is this Halo: Warfleet book all about? Give us a quick overview!
KENNETH: Warfleet is a resource guide and cross-section book that details many wondrous starships and support craft from the Halo franchise. For the first time ever we get to take a look inside ten iconic UNSC, Covenant, and Forerunner ships and stations to see what makes them tick. In addition to the amazing cross-sections, we also provide illustrations and data for over twenty additional ships and support craft.
GRIM: As the creative captain from a writing sense on this book, what excites you personally about this project? I know maritime minutia is something you’re particularly passionate about – can you elaborate a bit on why?
KENNETH: I’m very passionate about Halo’s technical architecture as applied to spacecraft: the how’s and why’s that drive the ships, power the life support, and aim the guns. I have a science and military background, and have always been interested in the numbers and facts which lie behind the tools we use and the weapons we employ both in real life and in the games I play. It was handy that Halo leans towards the plausible in its science and technology, with echoes of contemporary naval design, which means I didn’t have to throw out my years of reading Jane's [Information Group publications] and first-hand experiences!
I’m also a big fan of science fiction and gaming in general. Halo presents multiple examples of how the interplay of art, world building, level design, and practically combine; you not only see these ships in the distance, you stalk through them in first-person view, weapon in hand and aware of every bulkhead and corridor!
GRIM: Talk a little bit about the format of the book – there are three main presentation methods included, what’s up with that?
KENNETH: A whole lot of awesome, that's what's up!
- Cross-Sections: These are the incredible full-color cross sections by Hans Jenssen and John Mullaney. These are the heart of the book, and depict the most famous ships and stations in the Halo universe. A LOT of work went into these ships, both in terms of collating nearly two decades of design documentation and textual reference, and cross-referencing(where possible) with actual game level geometry. There were also inconsistencies and rough edges we needed to address both in the art and text that took some time and collective discussion to iron out.
- Secondary Spreads: Tyler Jeffers and Carlos Naranjo worked their digital magic on the secondary spreads, which showcase a range of capital ships and smallcraft that we’ve directly interacted with in the video games, as well as some we’ve only seen from afar. These spreads contain a lot of information, and will keep the wiki and lore folks busy for quite some time! Not only are they awesome looking in their own right, but they have callouts and sidebars on topics as varied as reconciliation debt to details of the Covenant’s Ren shuttle (seen in Halo: Legends).
- Data Drops: Halo: Warfleet is lavishly illustrated, and we commissioned new pieces from Isaac Hannaford and our talented team of artists at 343 to complement encyclopedic data ranging from how slipspace drives function to points of interest around the galaxy.
GRIM: What was it like working with Hans Jenssen and John Mullaney? I know we were always salivating each time we got a new art drop in depicting epic Halo ships in brand new ways.
KENNETH: What was it like? Amazing. I’ve been a fan of their work for Star Wars and Aliens for a long time, so it is no exaggeration to say it was a dream come true to be able to work with John and Hans. Both are extremely professional, questioning, and exacting. They were also collaborative partners and subject matter experts, helping us work through some particularly onerous questions about interior layout.
I also want to specifically call out Neil and the artists at Spartan Games for the work they do on Halo: Fleet Battles. Not only do we utilize Fleet Battles assets in the book (including the awesome Halberd-class destroyer), but Spartan Games were key in raising the profile of Halo starships as a subject worthy of further exploration both internally in the studio and among the fans. The game also helped us hone and define elements of function, and there are several data points that changed from the Halo Bible to better reflect “combat experience” gained in the tabletop simulations. We’ve been really excited to see how energized and people are with the tabletop game and how that has translated to fan projects such as the awesome Sins of the Prophets mod. I’m hoping that people use Halo: Warfleet as a launching pad for their own creations in Fleet Battles and further explorations of the universe, in whatever medium they choose.
GRIM: Who would you say this book is primarly for? Is it only for the hardcore Halo fan?
KENNETH: With this kind of book there’s no need to make a choice, as it appeals to people who just like fancy ship pictures just as much as it does the fans that want to know what a Hanley-Messer reactor looks like. There were some adjustments to make sure the book appealed to a wide audience, but these were additive materials and not subtractive. That included the creation of a glossary, additional art for the secondary spreads, ship silhouettes, and even more callouts than we originally planned to include.
GRIM: If you had to pick a favorite entry in the book, what would it be?
KENNETH: It’s not fair to pick favorites, but I have to say the Dragoon.
GRIM: Thanks again for chatting, Kenneth! And for fans still looking to get in on this space-faring action, you can preorder your own copy of Halo: Warfleet right HERE.
The fine folks over at ForgeHub are hosting a pretty awesome community creation tournament that you should definitely keep tabs on, even if you aren’t competing yourself! Check out their sweet tournament trailer to see what they have to say about it:
For more info, be sure to check out their official submission thread. Good luck to everyone involved – we can’t wait to see what awesome creations come out of it!
DXP is the thing for me – This weekend brings more delightful doubleish XP goodness in Halo 5, with Extermination, Warzone (vanilla), and Snipers all getting the nod to increase your experiential earnings.
Noble intentions – In case you haven’t heard, the Noble Map Pack for Halo: Reach has finally gone FREE, joining it’s Xbox 360-era DLC siblings in the zero-cost category. Yay!!! You can find the Xbox Marketplace link right HERE.
So much for “war never changes.” – In case you missed it last week, we chatted with 343 Lead Multiplayer Designer Lawrence Metten regarding some particularly intriguing Warzone adjustments that actually went live just this morning. Make sure you get all the details right HERE, and jump into the new experience, see what you think, and let us know your impressions in our official update feedback thread!
Menke Matchmaking Menagerie– 343’s Josh Menke posted his latest Halo 5 Matchmaking Feedback Update this week, and covers a pretty wide range of topics, including tighter matchmaking, thoughts on 12-man WZ fireteams, playlist changes, MMR, and more.
Store Slayers – Don’t forget, the next Microsoft Halo 5 tournament takes place next Sunday, Sept 3 at locations all across the land. For overview on the program and participating Microsoft Store locations, head HERE.
This week's Community Spotlight takes a brief hiatus (kinda) from screenshots, and focuses on some alternative types of Halo-inspired artistry. Starting us off are a couple of incredible homegrown UNSC Warthog builds. Like, legitimate, you-can-drive-this-for-realsies builds. Click each of the Hog images below to head to their corresponding Reddit threads and follow the conversation. So awesome.
And in the spirit of our earlier poetic waxing on Warfleet, it's only natural that we highlight some starship-inspired community talent. The visual of Halo warships dueling with lances of plasma and swarms of missiles is evocative, and has helped inspire some amazing artistry, especially in our tabletop community with Halo: Fleet Battles and Halo: Ground Command.
Vincent Gregory again, because these are rad.
We're always excited to see how people are painting their Fleet Battles ships and fighters, and through projects such as Sins of the Prophets we get amazing concepts such as this Forerunner princeps by Elizabeth Cope.
Also, I lied. Here’s one set of screenshots, specifically to celebrate this week’s eclipse.
That brings us to the end of today's adventures. have an awesome weekend, and safe travels for anyone coming out to PAX West next week!
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and beware the Grim + Uny combo in studio bubble-hockey bouts.