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Happy Birthday Halo 3!

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Today, Sept. 25, 2017, marks the tenth anniversary of the release of Halo 3 and Master Chief's critical mission to Finish the Fight! To celebrate and commemorate the occasion we've got a brand new playlist for Halo 5, a special 343 live stream, Halo 3 on Xbox One back-compat, and a trip down memory lane with members of the team and our community. Grab yourself a Mt. Dew Game Fuel and get comfortable, it's time for full glassing beam of nostalgia.

What's Old is New

In case you missed it, last Thursday the Xbox team officially added Halo 3 (along with Halo CE: Anniversary, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4) to the Xbox One back-compat program. There's been a steady build-up of anticipation and excitement since this was first announced back in July and we're just as excited as you to finally be able enjoy the full catalog of Xbox 360 Halo games on our Xbox One consoles.

You can enjoy Halo 3 (and the others) right now by simply popping your game disc into your Xbox One or purchasing a digital version from the Marketplace. Make sure you also head to the Marketplace to download and install all of the add-on DLC map packs as well - you'll need them to play many of Halo 3's multiplayer playlists. As part of bringing these classic titles to Xbox One, all of their respective map add-ons are totally free, so go get 'em!

We want to give a big shout out to our partners on the Xbox back-compat team for all of their hard work bringing Halo 3 and the other classic titles to Xbox One. In addition to getting these titles up and running on Xbox One we're also grateful for their support with our hands-on preview at RTX Austin earlier this Summer and a special PAX studio-visit event last month. It's been a great partnership but the back-compat team isn't quite done yet - in honor of Halo 3's 10th birthday we've been working closely with them on some additional awesome things for Halo 3. We can't spill the beans just yet, but stay tuned for more info soon.

Of course, Halo 3 is also available as part of the Master Chief Collection, so whether it's the original game on Xbox 360, back-compat on Xbox One, or the enhanced version in MCC, there's no shortage of ways to scratch your Halo 3 nostalgic itch.

Halo 3 Classic Throwback Playlist

If playing through the original isn't enough - or perhaps you just want to experience a new twist on some of your favorite Halo 3 multiplayer memories - we're excited to launch the Halo 3 Classic Throwback playlist in Halo 5: Guardians! For the last few months, "Sierra Team" (our internal strike force tasked with managing Halo 5's playlists and overall sustain efforts), has been working to put this playlist together in close partnership with the community and folks across the 343 studio. Beginning today (at approx. 10AM PT), players can jump into this new playlist for a retro-inspired multiplayer experience with adjusted gameplay settings on some incredible Forge map remakes.

Community Playdate

Today, Monday, Sept. 25, at approx. 3PM PT we're hosting a Community Playdate in the new Halo 3 Classic Throwback Playlist! We've assembled a special team for a special occasion as we call in the big guns to represent some old school Halo 3 skillz. Neighbor, StrongSide, Dersky, and Bravo will all be in representing Team 343 and everyone who matches with them will get themselves the elusive 343 Ice Unicorn skin. We'll also be streaming this playdate as part of our special Halo 3 ten year celebration stream which you can read more about further down below. We hope to see you online! 

Playlist Settings

Here's a breakdown of what you'll find in this new social playlist:

Loadouts

Spartans will take to the battlefield with a Halo 5 BR w/ Classic Scope as the primary weapon and an Assault Rifle in the secondary slot. 

Player settings

In order to help convey a more classic gameplay feel, the team has adjusted a numbers of settings to make Halo 5 play a bit more like Halo 3 did. Eric "GH057ayame" Hewitt, a designer on Sierra Team who just recently departed 343 to pursue new opportunities, led this effort by combing through the sandbox settings and code for Halo 3, working closely with former Pro Team members, and evaluating several common community-driven "evolved" settings.

Here's the breakdown of the gameplay settings changes that are unique to this playlist:

  • Motion Tracker range is increased to 25m
  • All Spartan Abilities are disabled (Sprint, Ground Pound, Spartan Charge, Stabilize, and Clamber)
  • Player jump height is increased
  • Slightly increased the effect of gravity on players
  • Player movement speed decreased
  • Increased player forward and strafe acceleration
  • Adjusted shield and health recharge rate to approximate Halo 3 values
  • Classic Team Oddball: Reduced ball carrier movement speed
  • Classic Multi-Flag CTF: Reduced flag carrier movement speed

Maps & Modes

343's Sierra Team worked very closely with community Forgers to bring an incredible collection of accurately re-created maps to Halo 5. Our deepest thanks to everyone for the time, effort, and passion that went into each of these maps!

Guardian

  • Created by: JoeDannyMan
  • File Share: HERE
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Team Oddball

Boundless (Snowbound)

  • Created by: Foge & Kabe
  • File Share: Get Snowbound HERE.
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Multi-Flag CTF

The Pit

  • Created by: Foge
  • File Share: HERE
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Multi-Flag CTF

CITADEL

  • Created by: no god anywhere
  • File Share: Get Citadel HERE.
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer, Classic Multi-Flag CTF, & Classic Team Oddball

Isolation

  • Created by: CertifiedChamp
  • File Share: HERE
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Multi-Flag CTF

High Ground

  • Created by: Foge
  • File Share: Get High Ground HERE. 
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Team Oddball 

Ghost Town

  • Created by: Darkprince909
  • File Share: HERE
  • Gametypes: Classic Team Slayer & Classic Team Oddball

We're very excited to be launching this 'classic' style playlist which is something many, many players have been asking for since well before I joined 343. I'd like to give another shout out and thanks to Sierra Team (Uny, Sara, Eric, and Kyle) for their work to make this playlist a reality, as well as the community Forgers who put so much time into these wonderful maps.

Thank you

I reached out to Eric and asked him to share a few thoughts and perspective on the playlist he helped to create though won't officially be here to see released. Here's what he passesd along:

Over 10 years ago, I was only known as a “Halo 2 kid”. All of the cool kids played Halo 1, and I was just that annoying younger brother who tried to fit in. Well, thankfully Bungie continued the franchise, and I was able to call my younger peers “a bunch of Halo 3 kids”. The trend continued onward. Years later though, I look back to those old vidocs, and more vividly, those unforgettable trailers… and I can’t help but shed some tears.

“You ever wonder what’s up there?”

I did. I think we all did. Halo 3 is one of the best games of all-time. I could write a damn thesis on the things that I loved, and it still wouldn’t do it justice. So rather than giving everyone here lip service, I thought it’d be a better idea to give back to the people that loved the game as much as I did. Thankfully, the team here at 343 Industries agreed. Over six months ago, our internal sustain team was given the green-light to start working on a classic-themed playlist that would attempt to recreate the Halo 3 experience in Halo 5: Guardians.

With much credit given to our dev team, we were able to use Custom Games options and Forge as a palette to make this vision come to life. And please let me underline one very important thing for the people reading this… this in no way, shape, or form would’ve been possible to achieve without the relentless help of the Forge community. When you hop into Halo 5 to get some games in this playlist, please remember to give credit where credit is due. The community members that helped shaped this playlist honestly deserve more thanks than anyone else. Their attention to detail and commitment to excellence are the main reasons why we were so confident to work on something of this magnitude and nature. I am proud to say that this offering was created with scrutinizing care and more importantly – heart. Hours upon hours of back-and-forth between this group managed to sculpt the vision into something that I think we’re all very honored to release into the wild. While I unfortunately have to watch from afar, I want to thank our Sierra sustain team for driving this thing to completion all the way from the start.

 Lastly, thank you to anyone and everyone who’s encouraged us along the way. It’s more appreciated than you will ever know.

Thank you Eric and thank you again to Sierra Team and our kickass Forge community. Speaking of kickass Forge community, Uny also wanted to pass along a special word of thanks to some additional folks who helped bring this playlist to life:

We’d also like to thank the Scripter's Guild and Alliance Test Network, as together they worked with the original Forgers to help put the final touches and add an extra bit of polish to the majority of the maps in the playlist. Additionally, a special mention goes out to Yumudas, who helped us bring Halo 3’s static weapon timers to Halo 5 with some clever scripting. Lastly, but certainly not least, none of this could have been done without the knowledgeable Nokyard. His Forge expertise helped ensure that this playlist would launch with maps that are fit to be included in our celebration of Halo 3’s tenth birthday.

The Halo 3 Classic Throwback playlist will stick around for at least a few weeks, filling our usual "rotational" slot in matchmaking, but ultimately its long term fate will be determined in large part by you. The more people play, the greater likelihood it sticks around and/or perhaps even gets updated down the road. We hope you enjoy it and we look forward to seeing you in-game! (and be sure to join us for the Community Playdate this afternoon beginning at approx. 3:00PM PT!)

Halo 3 Celebration Stream

Join us today beginning at 1PM PT for a special live stream on mixer.com/halo and twitch.tv/halo as we celebrate ten years of Halo 3! We'll be joined by special guest community speedrunner ProAceJoker for a full Halo 3 campaign playthrough. In addition, we'll look back on fond memories, chat with viewers, give away a few Halo 3 t-shirts, and then jump into a Halo 5 playdate in the new Halo 3 Classic Throwback playlist. As noted above, this is a special playdate and we're calling in the big guns to channel some oldschool nostalgia as StrongSide, Neighbor, Dersky, and Bravo suit up to deliver some throwback smackdowns. (In before Grim and I embarrass oursevles impersonating Simms and Walshy while we attempt to "cast" the action)

And before anyone gets too spun up with wild speculation - no, there won't be any big news, reveals, or announcements - we're just hanging out, playing, and talking Halo 3. We hope you'll join us! 

Looking back

Halo 3's ten year anniversary really opens the nostalgic floodgates and boy do those memories hit you right in the feels. Halo 3 was an important part of my life and many of you as well. Together, we BELIEVED and we finally got to FINISH THE FIGHT. From the moment the credits rolled in Halo 2 we were collectively waiting, the anticipation and frenzy building, until it erupted in a glorious "3" beacon at midnight on September 25, 2007. Beyond the game itself, Halo 3 also had an incredible marketing campaign. From that jaw-dropping, goose-bump-inducing Monday Night Football TV spot to the mind-blowing Stan Winston created "Believe" diorama to the WETA produced "Landfall" shorts, Halo 3 set a new bar. Here's a quick collection of some of my personal favorite video assets that still hit me in the feels ten years later.

Halo 3 Announce Trailer

In 2006 at Microsoft's E3 press conference the public finally got an official first look at Halo 3. From the moment Marty O'Donnell's first note hits, Halo fans and the Bungie team alike felt a flood of emotion. To this day, if you play that e-dorian note for any Halo fan I bet they'll immediately remember this moment.

I remember how hard the team worked to build this trailer and how exciting it was to be running "in engine" (it was all "real") and seeing it on the giant screen in the iconic Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood was something I'll never forget. As a funny side story, I also remember the night before the event during rehearsal when Peter Moore, head of Microsoft's Xbox business at the time, saw the trailer and became alarmed at the "jaggies" on the mountain range in the background. It wasn't a skybox painting, it was real geometry, and yup, it was aliased. "Jaggies" weren't really a new thing, all games had to deal with polygons, but on that huge screen I remember it looked like what a Minecraft mountain range looks like today. The Bungie team stood around nervously, the air in the theater was tense, Peter called Frank O'Connor over to him and I'll never forget him saying, "Frank, can the team tighten up the bump maps?" Of course the trailer was what it was (awesome) and fans loved it and the Halo 3 hype train had officially left the station. But those bump maps never did get "tightened." 

Halo 3: Starry Night

To this day, still one of the most awesome game ads ever created, in my personal (highly biased) opinion. I remember watching the game and eagerly looking forward to each commercial break - will this be the one? Is it time? Of course we'd seen this internally many times during its development but nothing matched seeing it on TV for the first time and sharing in the collective excitement. 

Halo 3: Believe

I remember when we first heard the pitch for this concept - a giant diorama, filled with custom-made "toys", that would anchor and innovative and evocative marketing campaign. I remember being a little bit skeptical but I must say, the teams that put this together did an amazing job. It hit all the right notes and did so in a totally unique, unconventional way. Several other live-action documentary type spots were also built as part of the Believe Campaign that really drove home the emotional stakes of the UNSC's battle against the Covenant.

Halo Landfall

I'd almost forgotten these shorts existed, which is hard to believe considering how awesome they are. The Landfall three-part live action series was the result of a partnership between Bungie, Microsoft, WETA, and Origami Digital LLC and was directed by Neill Blomkamp. It was pretty incredible to be working closely with Peter Jackson's WETA team and seeing our team send out 3D renders and concept art that got turned into real-world weapons and vehicles. Back when demand and speculation for a Halo movie was off the charts, this gave us our first taste of what a live-action Halo experience might be. Of course a movie never materialized but this did open the door for a lot more awesome live-action Halo projects. 

More!

Of course there are many, many more awesome Halo 3 videos that I'm sure you've already seen but in case you haven't, here's the official studio ViDocs that are definitely worth checking out for behind-the-scenes looks into the development of Halo 3:

Thanks for the Memories

As we reflect back on ten awesome years, I've asked folks across the 343 team, and the community at large, to share some of their favorite Halo 3 memories. I'll kick things off myself:

ske7ch, community manager

I don't have one specific favorite memory - for me, the entire development process, the go-to-market campaign, the launch, and the post-launch sustain is a period of my life I'll always treasure. The work was very hard, the hours very long, but it was immensely rewarding. When I think of Halo 3 I have fond memories of the game, the story, the music... but for me, Halo 3 will always be about the people - both the people who worked tirelessly to develop the game and those I met along the way across the community. Traveling the world sharing in the excitement with the community, rolling up to the midnight launch amidst a mob of frenzied fans, playing online with fans and interacting in the Bungie.net and HBO forums, and spending late nights at the office playing pre-release multiplayer builds just because we liked it so much we'd rather stay and play than go home after a long day's work - that's what Halo 3 means to me.

Over the years I seem to have misplaced a lot of my old photos and materials but thanks to 343's official Halo archives and the power of the internet I did come across a few gems worth sharing:

This was at the Bellevue, WA Best Buy for the midnight launch of Halo 3. That night was just surreal - the entire country seemed to be hyped beyond belief and eager to Finish the Fight. I'm joined by none other than Marcus Lehto (Creative/Art Director for the Halo series), Luke Smith (community guy turned player investment desginer turned Destiny Creative Director) and that other guy is of course Mr. Bill Gates himself. Huh, I didn’t realize that jacket of mine is going on a decade old and I still wear it from time to time...

I believe this was the first ever in-game screenshot I took in the retail version of Halo 3. This is Luke Smith and I flaunting our flaming Bungie helmets on Snowbound. I just booted up Halo 3 on back-compat on Thursday and was greeted by my flaming helmet, still burning bright after all these years. I know it was a source of much ire across the community but I really loved the flames. And Recon.

BONNIE ROSS, head of 343 industries

The launch of Halo 3 was a bittersweet moment for me on so many levels. I loved Halo 3, especially taking a road trip down Tsavo Highway, which is one of my all-time favorite Halo missions. That scenic drive, with so many very satisfying road kill opportunities, is something I’ll always remember. But it was also a time when Bungie and people we had worked closely with for eight years were leaving to pursue their next dream. In many ways, I think of Halo 3 as Bungie’s love letter to the fans and that letter still resonates with me personally to this day.

Frank O'Connor, Franchise CREATIVE Director

When we test games internally, we’re often playing under less than ideal circumstances. Flaky frame rates, unfinished button layouts, missing textures and shaders and so on. Part of the job is to fill in those blanks, to try and identify the underlying experience. So it was during Halo 3 development.

I’m not a speed runner in the traditional sense of that term, nor am I a “tricker” – obsessed with trying to break through kill volumes or invisible barriers, but I am obsessed with figuring out what the sandbox will enable. So when we got a mostly functional version of the Road to Voi level, I decided that there had to be a way to get a Warthog across the gap in the shattered highway past the main tunnel.

So I started tinkering with the scenario. I’d push jersey barriers, nudge empty Ghosts, and manipulate rubble trying to form a ramp. As I was doing this, a designer came up and watched.

“What are you doing dude?” he said. “Trying to get the Hog over the gap,” I said. “It won’t work, but good luck,” he replied.

I knew it would work, because the geometry on the Jersey barriers was sort of literal, and the geometry on the Ghosts has kind of a slippery, smooth “forcefield” over it. After about thirty minutes I got the Hog over the gap. Now I had a machine gun, to paraphrase Die Hard.

That same designer came over, curious, and watched me roll up to the gate. He didn’t delete Jersey barriers. He didn’t force the game to erase the Hog. He didn’t change the scenario after you make it over the gate. Because instinctively he knew and said two things. Nobody was going to do that on their first playthrough, and everyone who succeeded would know a brief moment of triumph and joy, even if it became apparent that the Hog wasn’t actually all that helpful post-gap.

But he also noticed that in my stupid, pointless efforts, I wasn’t paying enough attention to THE MASSIVE COVENANT CRUISER flying directly overhead just before that point. So he suggested a change to the audio team, to draw more attention to it. Some people still miss it, but the point is that while Halo gives you near limitless freedom to mess with the sandbox and the environment, there are very few scenarios that haven’t been considered, tested and retuned to be more fun.

That designer? Albert Einstein. Oh no wait, it might have been Bertone.

Tim Longo, creative director

I remember the first thing I did when Halo 3 came out was to gather a group of friends from work and go home and play the entire campaign through co-op on Legendary.  I think I convinced my family to leave for that weekend and we finished the campaign in our underwear (online, not in the same room, ha!) in two sessions that weekend. It was a total mess and total chaos but it was everything I wanted it to be. Yelling, crying, one guy broke his controller, everyone got smelly and no one ate well that weekend. The buildup was just incredible and I’ll never forget some of the most tense moments working together and bro spawning to get through that thing. THEN, after we finished we dove right into Forge as a foursome and built a couple ridiculous modes and yelled some more. Then my family came home and saw the carnage at home and the magic was over…for a time.

Andy "Bravo" Dudynsky, Lead Producer

Halo 3 took me on some great adventures. One of my favorite memories has to be getting a call from StrongSide (who I didn’t know too well at the time) asking if I wanted to coach Final Boss at Toronto 2008. The event was in less than a week, and I was starting college on the Monday following the event.  I got another call from OGRE2 a short while later asking if I could come out to the OGRE house in Ohio to LAN for a few days before the tournament. I immediately packed my car for Ohio, Toronto, and my entire first semester of college. I drove 8 hours from NJ to Ohio for a few days of LAN practice and endless Smash 64 games, then drove another 8 hours to Toronto, we placed 3rd, and then had to drive a final 8 hours back from Toronto to NJ. I arrived at college a day or so late, slept through every bit of orientation, and had absolutely no idea where to go for my classes. It was great.

(Bravo note: I have no idea what is going on with Tom and I here)

Tashi, esports producer

I think Halo 3 was when my love for esports took off into the next stratosphere. I followed all of the tournaments I could during Halo 2 and still grinded online, but in Halo 3 I was actively forming teams, streaming and creating content, watching all of the tournaments I could, being active in the community on various forums, and even running some of my own tournaments in college. I’m even more obsessed with esports today as it’s my full time job, but Halo 3’s scene, particularly the MLG Pro Circuit, made me see things in a different light back then. Here are two fun clips - the first is that time I matched against Final Boss on Guardian and gave StrongSide the business:

And then this troll vid I made after someone got salty when I beat him:

Tom French, Multiplayer director

As a fan of the series I was excited as anybody else around me for the announcement of Halo 3 to see what Bungie had been cooking up. Yep epic, yep Chief, excited, pumped even, wait, what, what’s this Forge thing?!?!?! At that time in my career, a few years before I had switched from being a tools programmer to a designer, the idea of designing tools for players was SUPER exciting to me. I’d tinkered around with almost every console based editor in the market but they were always clunky and let me down. In my book if anyone was going to solve this problem and really tap into this concept it was going to be Bungie. Needless to say the day it was released I was ecstatic to run over to the local game store, pick up my copy, and head back to the office to fire it up in our meeting room.

Normally at this point, in any other Halo game, I’d have closed the door and immediately put myself into the head of my favorite big green Spartan. Not this time. I fired up Forge and spent the next few hours tinkering around. Dropping objects. Exploring the different types of pieces and gameplay toys. I was in love with the idea that people could poke into the world of Halo and put their own twist on things in a franchise that we often feel so personally invested in. Coming home late at night I spent weeks playing around with Forge to see what it could do. Never anything I’d say that was worth anything, just playing around to see where its limits were, taking notes, and scribbling ideas of what I’d do if I ever got to build something like it. Ultimately I had a game of my own to ship and my late nights ended up shifting back to work but now Halo 3 planting a seed of inspiration in my head. Flash forward years later to Halo 5, I got to do just that, and on the very same tool that inspired my brain to dream of what it could be like to empower users with tools to create new worlds in their favorite game. Inspired and proud to have been part of that legacy which without Halo 3 would have never existed.

Michael Wolf, Halo Marketing TEAM

I joined the Xbox team about six months before we launched the original Xbox (yes, I’m old). That’s about when I first got my hands on an early release build of Halo: Combat Evolved. I remember playing it and thinking “Holy crap. Wow”. From that moment, I was hooked. Halo immediately became one of my all-time favorite games, and has been since. But unfortunately, when Halo 3 came around I was working on a different business at Xbox. I didn’t have the inside track to get hands-on with it before launch like I had with the first and second games. So when it launched, I was more “fan boy” than “employee”. I went to the launch event at the Best Buy in here in Bellevue, WA just to hang out with the other fans, and watch the first sales begin at midnight with the first lucky buyer walking out with his Legendary Edition. But within moments of the first sales beginning, I jumped in the car and drove straight home to finally fire up the game (which may or may not have gone over well with my wife and one-year-old son). I’ve been at Xbox for more years than I care to recall, but through it all I’ve been a Halo fan at the core, and will never forget the incredible feeling of the opening moments of Chief touching down in an overgrown jungle to the his final moment telling Cortana to “Wake me when you need me."

Sean "Dersky" Swidersky, PM / "Pro team"

Halo 3 holds a very special place in my heart as this was the first Halo title that I became a professional in. Through the countless hours of grinding and honing my skills to accomplish this goal, there were many memories and experiences along the way. With the recent release of Halo 3 on Back Compat, one of those many memories came back to me when I looked at my File Share and found a clip from a competition back in 2009.

It was MLG Meadowlands 2009, I was competing on the team Flatline which consisted of NocturnaLKernaL, Tuss, NickeL 9, and myself. We made it to Winners Bracket Round 5 where we squared off against End Result which consisted of Gilkey, Talent, Mad Max, and Moniz. They were the easy favorite to run the Open Bracket since they were one of the highest seeded teams. The winner of this series advanced to the Championship Bracket where you squared off against sixteen of Halo 3’s finest pro teams. Our series against End Result was a best of 3 and we had just tied Game 3, Guardian Team Slayer 48-48. We replayed the game and won 50-49 to advance to the Championship Bracket. What made this moment so special was that I killed Talent for the 50th kill seconds before my teammate would have died. Literally, I remember jumping up with all my energy, knocking over the 22” ViewSonic monitor, and celebrating with my teammates. Unfortunately, I don’t have my 1st person POV from the match, but this will do!

Mike "StrongSide" Cavanaugh, esports PM / "Pro team"

Some of my favorite memories from Halo 3 include:

  • Endless room service orders with Bravo & Neighbor
  • Winning the first Halo 3 tournament with Final Boss
  • Monthly trips to the Pennacchio’s in Chicago while on Status Quo
  • Sniping players from Top Mid when they lifted from man cannon on Narrows"

Mason "Neighbor" Cobb, PM / "Pro TEam"

This photo was taken right after my team, Str8 Rippin won our first Halo 3 major tournament. My team consisted of Tsquared, Elamitewarrior, Legit and XXX. The two other guys in the photo were representatives from our team sponsor, Dr. Pepper.

This was an important win to our team because a lot of people doubted our skills leading up to this tournament. At the previous Halo event, we placed 5th and It was disappointing and very uncharacteristic. We needed to prove to ourselves, our sponsors and our fans that we were the best Halo 3 players in the world and we did just that, by only dropping 1 game the whole weekend. These guys were really my Halo brothers.

David Ellis, MP Designer

Halo 3 holds a special place in my mind for many reasons. The beta launched just a few months after I joined the dearly departed 1UP.com. It was my first experience helping to cover a major gaming release. “You mean I get access to the game…early?” Heady days to be sure. I was lucky enough to play through the campaign in co-op with a couple of Bungie folks (Hi Lars and Dan) who pointed out lots of cool details I might have otherwise missed. Halo 3 still contains my all-time favorite Halo campaign 1-2 punch in the form of The Ark and The Covenant. If I ever design something half as epic I will consider myself a happy designer.

Eric Helbig, Senior Software Engineer

Working on Halo 3 was such a memorable time in my life. A ton of blood, sweat and tears went into that game from everyone working on it, and the passion involved was insane. As a tester, I got my hands into a ton of systems, and watching the game develop while riding the ups and downs was intense. Then there were the bugs…. rivers of dead fish, marines gone bad, and so many others it could probably fill a book, if only I had saved more of them. Here are a couple that didn’t make it into the game.  Its still my favorite Halo to go back and play, and it will always have a special place in my heart… especially the flying dumpsters.

Jeff "GrimBrother One" Easterling, Community Team

Halo 3 is one of those unique entities in gaming that is more than the sum of its parts. It was truly a watershed moment in gaming history – a sort of “coming out party” for the gaming industry in a lot of ways and ushered in the age of what most folks today think of when it comes to “AAA” gaming. It was this perfect storm of franchise hype, industry growth, and a then-unprecedented feature suite. Everything just clicked – from the marketing brilliance to the madness of the midnight release phenomenon, Halo 3 was a seminal moment for not just Halo fans, but video game fans.

I remember exactly where I was like it was yesterday, in line with my brothers and dad, all eagerly anticipating getting our copies, but enjoying the actual wait and comradery itself. From epic campaign runs and late-night MP sessions, to Annual Achievement attempts and Easter egg hunts, Halo 3 both promised and provided.

John "UNYSHEK" Junyszek, COMMUNITY TEAM

Growing up, I used to only be able to play Halo when all my homework and chores were finished. Eventually, I realized that if I woke up early and snuck downstairs to play before school started, I could get around this restriction. So about a month after Halo 3 launched, I was sneaking down to my Xbox 360 at 6am every day to play for an hour before heading out to my bus stop. One morning, while I was playing Team Doubles on my 49, I noticed towards the end of the game that I was going to be late for school if I didn’t leave RIGHT THEN. Luckily, we were up 23-13 in the match and I could trust my friend to close out the last two kills. I turn on my mic (remember, I was playing when I shouldn’t have been), apologize to my friend for having to leave, shut off my Xbox, and run out of my house without knowing the fate of the match.

Once I got home from school with my best friend Cedric, we boot up Halo 3 to play and relax. We were just talking and hanging out while the game loaded and then we hit ‘A’ to get into the matchmaking lobby. After this happens, the Brigadier emblem flashed on the screen in the bottom right – which puzzled me, because that only happens when you rank up – and was immediately replaced by the General emblem, which slammed into place forever establishing me as, “da bomb.” I started yelling and dancing, had to take a quick break to explain to Cedric that I was now the highest rank you could get in Halo 3, at which point he started celebrating with me too. It’s such a memorable experience for plenty of reasons, but remembering that 15-year old me was dancing because of Halo… that’s something special.  

JEREMY PATENAUDE, LEAD FRANCHISE WRITER

Hope this doesn’t expose an egregious lack of gaming ethics on my part, but personally my fondest Halo 3 moments were rolling with the dudes from Ascendant Justice on Valhalla in the 2-Flag CTF playlist. We had a vicious pool of talent on that team and an amazingly effective CTF methodology: We would almost always snag two flag captures within the first minute or two of the match. We had some folks on that team who were absolute ninjas. This meant we were almost immediately ahead of the other team 2-0 and needed only one more flag cap to win. At this point, we had a major moral failure, so please forgive what follows: We would steal the last flag and all of the ATV vehicles on the map, then proceed to form a caravan with a Warthog at the front end,  holding the flag carrier. The carrier would wave the flag and sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” while we did laps around the map until time was about to run out, when we’d cap that final flag. To be fair, this opened us up for humiliation—hypothetically, the other team had a ton of opportunities to turn the table… hypothetically.

Carlos Naranjo, Franchise producer

Ahhh, Halo 3!! Such good memories. From the countless MP hours played (as yes -- an elite and with my verrry average K/D), to all the campaign split-screen co-op fun, new friendships and connections made (oh and meeting Bill Gates at the launch party!), and the moment in the Starry Night commercial when Chief is charging into battle…!

Halo 3 for me was not only an epic and truly memorable game, but it was also my entry into working on the IP. I had already been working in the industry for nearly a decade, but getting to work on Halo and at Bungie was a dream come true. The growth and challenges throughout Halo 3 helped shape things for me down the road too. Getting an opportunity to contribute was not only an invaluable experience (especially for something so big and far-reaching with the most passionate community and fanbase ever!), but also really rewarding, challenging, and ultimately FUN.

I could go on and on about all the great memories of Halo 3, but I’ll wrap this up with one of the first things I worked on (and to this day, still leaves me with the feel good memories when I see them out there in the wilds of the internet) and that was creating Halo 3 screenshots. My job was made easy with such a pretty game, but little did I know at the time they would become so iconic and widespread. Halo 3 is a game where every shot tells a story and when you see them, you know whatever was happening was epic - it was Halo. When you step into the Halo universe, anything is possible…

Community Reflections

Here's a sampling of but a few of the memories and stories being shared by fans across the Halo community. Let us know what Halo 3 meant to you and share your story with us in this Waypoint forum thread!

MILL 

I honestly remember getting the 'Perfect 50' in Lone Wolves. It took 135 games, 0 losses even against boosters.

snickerdoodle

I met my longest running "battle buddy" in Halo 3! I missed the jump from top to bottom on Orbital and some guy in the lobby laughed at me and then invited me to party up with him and his friends. I joined them and ended up with a pretty fun squad to play with. As time went on, we all sort of drifted into different things...except for Cheese. It's been something like 8 or 9 years now and we're still friends. I think he's one of like, 3 people on my friends list that knew me by my original GT at this point. :P

GREENSKULL

Halo 3 created me. I know I'm not alone when I say it helped kickstart my career. When the Mythic Map Pack came out with great new Forge tools, I quickly got to work creating videos for my new YouTube channel. That channel grew for 10 years to become a critical piece of what Ready Up Live is today. It's all thanks to Halo.

RICHARD "SIMMS" SIMMS

One of my fondest memories? Well first off I can say one of my - not so fondest memories - I was SUPER (until the account recovery glitch was discovered) lucky to be given by a friend a 'Friends and Family' BETA key for Halo 3. I had heard of people getting codes early via bungie.net compared to the general public so I PM'd several mates on Skype and asked them to check their inboxes on bungie.net and behold one of them had been granted one, I've no idea how he had a code and also I was mind-blown he didn't want it so I was gaming H3 during the friends and family beta, this is a good thing you say? Well, when you consider the fact that I had a table booked and was set to met my girlfriend's parents for the first time (who is now my wife btw) over food at a posh restaurant that very evening, and I then canceled on her and didn't see her for 5 days due to playing Halo 3, we ended up having our first major bust up after only knowing each other for 2 just weeks. Thank god she gave me another chance...

Anyways, best memory? I got matched against some top UK sweat bags/mm kids from Halo 2 on Valhalla and really wanted to smack them about during the H3 beta. Often hitting sticky nades can be luck cross map, that is unless you are pulling a Pistola and going for the kill, but this time round I did JUST THAT. It was Team Slayer and my team had the lead and we needed 1 more kill. I thought right - its time for some style points. I ran topmid next to the Spartan Laser and scoped in on the base waterfall side and looked directly at the Man Cannon. Through the cannon I could see there was just one player on the grass where the Banshee spawns. I'm sitting here thinking theres no way this kid is gunna yolo this, but low and behold he was running for it. I hard scoped in on the center of the cannon, looked up and threw this sticky nade, he hits the cannon and I swear I've never seen anything more perfect in my life.  My sticky nade peaks at the exact high of his jump and smacks him dead front and center in the face. Nade goes off, my team wins and I almost lose my shit crying.

3 minutes later I get a message in my inbox simply saying 'f*ck you'. Man I do miss those days when I actually had the ability to grind and knew how to aim.

KSI KILLbodies2

Halo 3 was the first halo game I owned. It was also my first online experience in 2007. I was mind blown by the concept of it. Killing people who aren't sitting next to me?! (I was an outside kid until that day) I still remember my first online match on snowbound and having a blast. Still have my very first friend on my list. Team doubles was where I got my competitive gaming on. Love Halo 3!

TrevMaster9

Halo 3 for me, is a bigger game than any of us could've imagined. Halo 3 was the very first Xbox game I had ever played (and certainly wasn't my last). I started playing Halo 3 ten years ago, not long after it's initial release. It was the first time I had ever played a shooter, which at the time was a big thing for me because I was a pretty sheltered kid and was told the usual "shooters will make you violent" crap. But I was at my best friends house and he asked me to play, and after awhile of trying to talk me into it, I finally agreed! From the moment I picked that game up, I was immediately sucked in. It was magical, and alien, unlike anything I had ever seen before. And I didn't want to stop. Every time I went back to that friends house I would always beg to play Halo 3. I loved it! The music and the sounds, the atmosphere and the world, everything that I saw and felt playing Halo 3's campaign was just fascinating to my 4th grader mind. Halo 3 didn't just suck me into the world of console games, it changed who I was, it made me who I am today. Without Halo 3, the friends and values I have today would be totally different. Who I am today and what I want to do with my life all started with that game. That one, magical game. And three years later, the Christmas after the launch of Halo Reach, I would get my own Xbox 360 and I would never look back. These past 10 years have been the best years of my life. I owe my current relationships, values, interests, and career goals to Halo 3. So thank you, Halo 3, for an amazing 10 years. And most of all, thank you to the Bungie team for creating an unforgettable franchise; and touching not just my heart, but millions of others as well.

THEBLUESOLDIER7

My fondest memory of Halo 3 is probably finding the Jason Jones Easter egg on Halo. Took my brother and I almost 2 hours of badly jumping on eachothers head’s to get across, but the result was pretty amusing.

SENKETSU7

My first ever Xbox live experience was on a match of Griffball in Halo 3, on foundry. it was all tied up, my team had explained the gamemode to me but I was still new to Halo Multiplayer. but for the game winning play, for some odd reason the enemy split up to either side of the map and engaged my team. leaving the center wide open, so while the enemy team was distracted by my team. i ran straight down the middle, grabbed the ball and scored the game winning point. That game was also where i made my first Xbox live friend. so many more awesome Memories from Halo! Halo 3 was my first experience into the amazing Halo and Xbox live community. I spent hundreds of hours with my friends i met over Xbox live on Halo 3 forge and custom games. Doing the Vidmaster Challenges are some of the best memories I have with Halo 3. and I have some great stories about those as well. My time with Halo 3 was some of the best times of my young life, and im so happy to be a part of the Halo community.

zc goldd

My favourite memory was grinding the MLG playlist to finally get my 50. Eventually me and a friend came up against this little known 14 year old kid who was tipped to become pro called Snakebite on Pit TS (I wonder what happened to him). The game was pretty tight with Snakebite sniping me off spawn a few times. Eventually the final rockets came up and my teammate called out 4 dead. I grabbed the rockets and pushed their spawn for the win, first rocket, easy double in snipe cuts. The next guy spawns bottom tower, its Snakebite... my chance to get a triple on decent players, I rocket him and as a teammate shoots him from sword, in my excitement I’ve choked the direct rocket and made him 1 shot for my teammate to finish. My teammate got the kill and we won the game. Still to this day I hold a grudge against that guy whenever I come up with him in MM for robbing my moment of glory.

I capped that that game and posted it on haloforum eu and was told by a few he wasn’t a “real pro” even though he was attending events. After that, one of the guys on the forum added me and asked if I could teach him a few things so he could rank up above level 30. After playing with him for 6 months he got his 50. I invited him over to my uni house for a lan and we came up against the MLG team Carbon in MM. Needless to say we got destroyed 250-0, but it was a great laugh. Even though the game was a blow out we had to troll them after in the lobby and blame their host.

That was halo 3 for me in a nutshell, grinding, late nights, having a laugh, everyone screaming in the post game lobby.

BANKONTHEDANK

I’ll honestly never forget my 8th birthday after waiting for a 360 and halo 3 for a year or two, opening up both. The first thing I did was put in the halo 3 disc and load up the first mission I couldn’t believe I finally had it. I couldn’t believe the graphics and how beautiful it all looked. Seeing chief again and that encounter with the arbiter. Seeing all the plants and vegetation in that first map. And the bit of mystery with Cortana popping up on my screen speaking to me. I was the happiest person in the world. Don’t even get me started when I finally got Xbox live and downloaded the heroic map pack. The countless hours spent in custom games and forge. All the friends I met on that game, I’m even still friends with one to this day.

CMNeir

Sept 25, 2007: I fondly remember racing to the store to get Halo 3, and a supply of Game Fuel. The story, characters, multiplayer, forge, and theater mode were unparalleled at the time. Theater mode especially, gave content creators an invaluable tool to tell their own stories. Yet, what I will remember the most are the hilarious moments doing tricks and glitches with friends. Because of Halo, I have made life-long friendships, and countless memories... I'll never forget.

dm_t-cart

Most of my life I was a Nintendo kid I had a Gamecube, and my friends and I wore Smash Brothers and Double Dash out. But one day at my friends birthday party he turned on his brand new Xbox 360 and put in Halo 3. The music, the background, everything was perfect. He handed me a controller and booted up multiplayer. I had never played an FPS before, but Valhalla absolutely blew me away I was actually stunned and wouldn't give my controller away even though I was haphazardly staring at the ground and sky. I have never fallen in love that fast. Halo 3 got me through times of joy and depression as a constant source of fun and socializing. Halo 3 changed my life for the better and I honestly probably wouldn't be here without it, and the Halo games continue to do so. 3, Reach, 4, and 5 have grown with me and influenced my art and even some daily decisions. They left such a big mark that my one and only tattoo is John's Braille 117 on his chest plate. Every Halo is a central pillar to my life and I still feel like a kid with every new release. Halo helped me Believe in myself, and I Believe in the Master Chief.

goldenstalion

Growing up in Indonesia we never got games in stores the day they came out, so I wasn't expecting it to pop up in stores for at least another week, it had me pretty down since my friends in other countries were all getting ready for H3. I just so happened to be in the mall with my parents on the 25th of september when I faintly heard a familiar gregorian chant playing from a few floors up. I started running up the escalators to try and find it and was greeted to a wall of TVs running the H3 main menu.

I would've only been 12 at the time so I wasn't carrying cash, so I kept eagerly looking over the railing to get my parents to come meet me. I could barely contain myself, I was so excited. I don't think my parents would've caved in and paid the 600,000 rp. for any other game since the hype for it was unmissable on the news at the time. It honestly felt like the lottery finding it on the day of release, I rode that wave of euphoria for days after.

Thank you to everyone who has been sharing their memories and reflections of Halo 3. I've spent hours already reading posts on forums and Twitter and losing myself in hours of montages and clips across YouTube. I wish I could share all of the stories and I apologize to everyone I've left out. There never would've been a Halo 3 and certainly not 15+ years of Halo if not for such an awesome community. Today, ten years later, I look back on Halo 3 with so many great emotions but more than celebrating the game, this anniversary for me is about celebrating the community and people that made it all possible.

Thank you and here's to many more great Halo memories and shared experiences to come!

Happy 10th Birthday Halo 3!

-ske7ch