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Prepare to Launch

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It’s a busy June morning in downtown Los Angeles. As expected, exit 20B on I-110 Southbound is an absolute mess, and as a sea of cameramen and camerawomen litter the streets – including the exit ramp itself – in an effort to get inside the Galen Center, host of the E3 2013 Xbox Media Briefing. bs angel, myself, and a small crew of 343’ers put up with the traffic for a bit, but eventually ditch our cab and join the on-foot procession down the exit ramp to attend the festivities as onlookers. We tuck ourselves into the nosebleeds of the USC arena with press and industry folk, the large majority of which aren’t aware that the first glimpse at the next Halo title will be shown within the next 90 minutes. You may have watched from home – and got the first look at what was then dubbed, both internally and externally, “Halo Xbox One.” Chief’s cloaked trek served as a confirmation that development of a Halo title for the Xbox One was indeed underway. When the Halo logo appeared on-screen, and the roar of fellow Halo fans erupted throughout the arena, I found myself with goosebumps, and I’d bet many of you did as well.

Since that time over 2 years ago, the next Halo title has been built from the ground up, and in just a few days (approximately three, to be exact), Halo 5: Guardians will release to the world.

The development of Halo 5 can be best described as a journey, and one far different from previous Halo titles. From initial design specs and conversations that began before the launch of Halo 4, to the overwhelming amount of invaluable feedback and data we received from your time with the Multiplayer Beta, to next week’s launch, and what is yet to come, it is safe to say that while next Tuesday is when the fun begins, it is not the end. Instead, it is the exact moment when our paths on this journey come together. Your feedback has shaped this experience, and will continue to do so once the game is in your hands. We can’t wait to watch you play and hear your thoughts, and we’ll be right here playing with you, perfecting and tweaking, and building new things for you to play.

Only one weekend separates you and Halo 5 launch night. Are you ready?

Halo 5: LIVE

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping an eye on your launch night plans. Many of you are taking a day off of work, others are taking a week off, and some have abandoned their job and all other adult responsibilities entirely. Whatever your plans might be, we recommended you make sure you have a screen of some sort nearby for Halo 5: LIVE. Read on for details.

Halo 5: LIVE
Xbox.com/Halo5Live
Monday, October 26 from 3-9PM PT (6-12AM ET)

Halo 5: LIVE will feature live interviews with Phil Spencer, Bonnie, Josh, and Kiki, roundtable Halo story discussions, chats with many of our fine voice over artists, live check-ins with Halo celebrations around the globe, speedruns, map analysis, esports content, and more. Included in this “more” of course is the world premiere of first episode of Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series.

We do hope you’ll join us for the show and celebrate with Halo fans all over the world on Monday night. We’ll see you then.

And, if you’re local to LA, Seattle, or NY (or are down to travel far distances for epic Halo launch events), we’ll also be seeing you at some of our launch celebrations across the nation. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect at each of the three locations:

Launch Night Festivities

Microsoft Store Flagship Store, New York

  • Janina Gavankar from Hunt the Truth will be in attendance, as will cosplayers from the 405th Infantry Division
  • Fans can line up as early as 10 a.m. on Monday, October 26 on 54th street, around the corner from the Flagship at 677 Fifth Avenue. Doors will open at 9 p.m. and the event will end around midnight. More details on the Microsoft store Facebook page

Microsoft Store at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles

  • Meet voice-over actors from the game, including Darren O’Hare (Lasky)
  • Q&A with key 343 Industries developers and surprise celebrity guests
  • Fans will also have a chance to appear on the Halo 5: Live broadcast throughout the night
  • Lineup begins at 4 p.m. on Monday, October 26, with doors opening at 6 p.m. More details on the Microsoft store Facebook page

Microsoft Store at University Village, Seattle

And, if you’re nearby us, you’ll be seeing most of the Halo 5 team at the UVillage Microsoft store, where we’re bringing the BOOMCo Breakout Arena that we first showed off at San Diego Comic-Con. It was heavy, but we got it here, and it’s ready to go.

  • Major Nelson will be in attendance with prizes, including Xbox One consoles, Xbox One controllers and much more. Bravo note: I am going to try to win these myself
  • Members of the Halo 5 dev team plus Steve Downes, voice of the Master Chief, and Jen Taylor, will also be in attendance
  • Doors will open at 12 p.m. on Monday, October 26 for the BOOMCo Arena in the parking lot at the nearby Office Depot (4900 25th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105), and Halo 5: Guardians gameplay will be available beginning at 6 p.m. Everything begins at 6PM, followed by an autograph session with 343, Steve, and Jen from 9 p.m.—11 p.m. More details on the Microsoft store Facebook page

In Good Company

Earlier this week, we revealed Spartan Companies, which give you and your legendary crew a HQ to call home. Whether the company is simply you and three long-time friends, or a group of dozens of members, Spartan Companies provide you with a private forum for scheduling game time and talking strategy, group messaging, custom emblems, and more. Additionally, you’ve probably noticed from early access streams that your Spartan Company name will appear in-game, just below your nameplate. We’ve started to see some great feedback and request for Spartan Company features, and know that you want even more from them. The team here has many great ideas for the future, and are looking forward to what you’d like to see from Spartan Companies, both in-game and on Waypoint. Be sure to let us know in the Spartan Companies forum section.

To create a company, sign in and head here. Once you create or join a company with four members, you’ll also receive a complimentary REQ Pack in your Waypoint inbox. Open it up, grab your new cosmetic, and head over to Spartan Customization to try it on, and also try on other armors that you don’t yet have – but really want to have.

We hope you enjoy grouping up with teammates and old friends in Spartan Companies, and stay tuned for what’s planned for the future.

Halo Channel Mobile Update 

The Halo Channel team has been hard at work this year gearing up for the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, and we’re excited to finally pull back the curtain on what they have in store. Everything you’re about to see and read will be released ready on Monday October 26, just in time for Halo 5: Guardians. First, we’re implementing a complete stat tracking experience for Halo 5 right in the Halo Channel app, which means you can now check in on your in-game performance and progress right from your phone or tablet. Here’s a look at what to expect:

You’ll notice that access to the entirety of your Halo 5: Guardians Service Record is available, as is a look at your customized multiplayer Spartan. From here, you can dive deeper into your Commendation and Achievement progress, as well as the Medals you’ve earned. You might also notice that this particular Spartan belongs to the Angry Pandas Spartan Company. It is pretty safe to assume that this is one badass group. These stats also breakdown into Arena, Warzone and Campaign specific portions. Here’s a look at the Warzone stats interface:

While the above stats apply to Warzone, you can expect a very similar experience for Arena and Campaign as well. You can see your total kills, as well as breakdown of how many kills you’ve accrued per enemy type. Remember, when you’re taking down enemy AI or other Spartans, everything you’re doing in Warzone helps bring your team closer to victory, and you’ll find a breakdown of it on this page. You’ll also be able to dive into stats for each match to view the complete Carnage Report which includes Kills, Assists, Boss Takedowns, etc.

The Halo Channel mobile app is also receiving some more content to match the Xbox One app. With this update, you’ll be able to watch Halo: Nightfall on the go, and when it becomes available, Halo: The Fall of Reach – The Animated Series.

Finally, the latest and greatest version of the Halo Channel app is now available on Windows Phone. Now Windows Phone fans can enjoy the wide variety of videos featured on Halo Channel including The Sprint, Red vs Blue, and HCS Updates in addition to the complete Halo 5: Guardians stats experience.

Vital Statistics 

In addition to the stats experience on the Halo Channel, you’ll also have comprehensive stats waiting for you right here on Waypoint come launch night. This ensures that when you’re at work or school, you can look up recent triumphs and set your sights on new goals and opponents, rather than focusing on the task at hand. Here’s a visual preview of what’s to come:

In the Arena Stats Summary, you’ll see a link to your Spartan Company, Spartan Rank, win percentage, K/D ratio, headshots and assassinations, and also things like total playtime, games completed, and a record of your recent wins and losses. As you can see, Dersky is pretty good.

Each ranked Arena playlist will also feature a dedicated stats section, which will show your rank (or remaining placement matches), how close you are to the next rank, K/D for that playlist, and also games completed, wins, losses, and W/L percentage.

You’ll also find stats by game type, which include stats for each game type in Arena. In the above example of CTF, you’ll find things like flag grabs, caps, and returns, and even total flag carry time and kills with flag.

Also, you’ll find a breakdown of weapon and vehicle-specific stats. For the magnum, which is Dersky’s top weapon, you’ll see kills, shots landed, shots fired, accuracy, and total headshot count.

Additionally, you’ll find the following stat areas and categories on Waypoint come launch:

  • Halo 5 Service Record (Overview)
  • Arena Stats
  • Warzone Stats
  • Campaign Stats
  • Medal Chest
  • Warzone Boss Kill List
  • Commendations tracking
  • Achievement tracking
  • Weapons Stats
  • Matchmaking Game History
  • Match Details/ Post-Game Carnage Report

You’ll also be able to do the following with the REQ System:

  • View your whole REQ Collection on the web
  • View and open your unopened REQ Packs
  • Buy REQ Packs with REQ Points or from Xbox Live
  • Preview customization items with Spartan Customization

Whether you’re jumping into campaign or multiplayer first on day 1, once you’ve dominated your domain, hop onto Waypoint to grab a statistical analysis of your efforts, admire your REQs, and set sights on new challenges, weapon skins, and more.

UNLEASHING PRO TEAM

For good reason, there are often times where we don’t let our Pro Team play against…anyone. For example, if there are small children or business executives visiting the studio, we do our best to ensure that they don’t have to play against Pro Team. Our veteran mix of professional talent have spent the last few years working on and perfecting Halo 5 multiplayer, day in and day out, and it is safe to say that their skills are to be feared. Now that the game is nearly here, though, we couldn’t resist an offer from our friends over at ESL and Philips, who are opening up a new 4v4 ladder to accept challengers. Next month, the top 5 European teams will face off against the 343 Pro Team for a chance to take home the new Philips UHD Ambilight TV as well as some serious bragging rights.

To learn more, head here, and to sign up, head here.

Community Spotlight: haunted forge

Our friends at ForgeHub are at it again. This month, they hosted their Haunted Forge contest, a ten-day aesthetic competition that would award the three top winners a digital copy of Halo 5: Guardians. Talk about a mighty fine idea. This week, we’re highlighting the top 3 winners, which are surprisingly spooky creations from some very talented Forgers. Here’s a breakdown of the contest from ForgeHub’s own Warholic:

Submissions to this aesthetic forge contest were judged exclusively on creativity and an overall visual experience. While gameplay did not factor in as part of the judging process, a few participants were doing something very unique to break the traditional concept of a static visual experience. This was a complete surprise and I'm so glad that so much thought and creativity was driven into this contest in such a short amount of time. In no particular order, here are the winners of the 2015, Haunted Forge Contest:

The Manor

by Rabid Hogs

The Manor is as haunting as it is exquisite, laying down the foundation for both quality and subject matter of an aesthetically spooky themed contest. The viewer spawns in a foreboding misty grave yard with little to no visibility other than the distant lights emitting from the windows of a large manor up the hill. Make your way inside the house and explore further for more visual treats. The experience is traditional yet sensational as the execution and composition of this manor creates a landmark in the thematic definition of this contest.

Was it a Dream?

By Commander Colson

Was it a dream? chronicles the short adventure of a lone camper, who happens to stumble upon an eerie cavern portal which transports him to another dimension full of curios little beings. Though he's able to find his way back home, the lone camper begins to realize he may have not been the only thing to escape out from the dimension, leading him to beg the question.

The ambiguous yet progressive storytelling came as a huge surprise as this was provided beyond the requirements for this contest. It’s great to see such artistic freedom and creativity challenge the nature of this contests guidelines.

Crane Manor

By Foxy Papa Smurf

Crane Manor is a haunted house that when explored tells a visually compelling horror story in a very unique way. The stark silhouette of the manor cast against the gleaming bright lake both directs and encourages the viewer to progress forward. Once inside, each room in the house serves as a narrative chapter in the sequence of events that soon follow. Many visual tricks were used to accomplish these visual treats as each diorama uses numerous scripting elements to make the experience both interpretive and dynamic. Take time to engage with the visuals and hopefully you can come to your own conclusion as to what caused the melancholy that haunts this house.

For download instructions, as well as a quick video tour of these haunted canvases, head over to ForgeHub.

And with that, my friends, the final community update before the launch of Halo 5: Guardians comes to a close. With just a few days left, we prepare to turn the story over to you. We’ve done our best to get you ready for what lies ahead, and hope that you’re excited to jump in. Where we go from here, though, is just as much up to you as it is us. It is an exciting time indeed.

We wish you a safe launch night that surrounds you with fellow Halo fans – whether it’s a pack of old friends at a launch party, or a night of gaming at home with a significant other. We’ll see you on Monday at 3PM PT / 6PM ET for Halo 5: LIVE.

Until then,

Bravo

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