Ske7ch's Top Halo Moments of 2018
Thanks Uny! One of my favorite parts of every holiday season is all of the big recaps and specials that highlight all the cool and crazy things from the prior year. In that spirit, I thought I’d share my own personal top 7 Halo things from 2018 – something I’ve just officially dubbed “ske7chflectionsTM.” So, here are my top picks, in no particular order:
In 2018 we finally saw MCC get the update and overhaul the community had long been asking for. This was particularly special for me because since joining the 343 community team, getting to the bottom of MCC and helping to drive to a final resolution became a personal passion project. When Bonnie joined me on stream last October to officially confirm that we'd be going back into MCC, it was a glorious moment only bested by the team's hard work and eventual big update this past August. The MCC Insider program was born and a new level of partnership and conversation with our community was created. Together, the 343 Publishing Team and thousands of passionate players helped ship numerous updates that significantly improved the MCC experience. From 4K and HDR support to Xbox Game Pass to improved controls to the Match Composer and beyond, MCC ends the year in a decidedly better place than it began. And, thanks to all of the team’s dedication and all of the feedback from the community, MCC re-emerged at HCS DreamHack Atlanta with the Halo 3 2v2 Showdown and rekindled a bit of a ‘classic renaissance’ across the competitive community that looks to be even more exciting in the year ahead. Don't think for a minute that the team is done either - there's more MCC goodness coming in 2019.
The return of MLG ushered in a new era for HCS and after a series of incredible global events, it all came together for the best Halo esports event I’ve ever attended. The Halo World Championship was epic. Incredible venue, awesome staging, top tier production by our friends at MLG, great crowds, and best of all, it was right here in our backyard in downtown Seattle. The close proximity to 343 was a big deal because it was the first time most of the team at large had ever gotten to attend an HCS event and it meant the level of support we could offer was even higher (those statues in the entry way!). I still get hyped up thinking about Goldenboy’s heroic intro and the energy buzzing in the venue. And, as with most of my HCS experiences, the truly best moments for me came from talking with fans, meeting new people, and having way too much fun after hours with pro players, the 343 team, and the competitive community. HaloWC 2018 set a super high bar and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Castle Wars Community Playdate
When I think back to all the great times I had with Halo in 2018, one particular memory really jumps out at me. I can’t recall the exact date, but sometime last Spring we had a 343 Community Playdate in Castle Wars that involved eight of us sitting together in our playtest labs having a blast battling against the community. We’ve had plenty of playdates, but it’s not often we can get a full squad of 343 folks together in the same room and for me at least, there aren’t many modes that offer the pure joy and craziness found in Castle Wars. The yelling, the screaming, the shenanigans…it was definitive social Halo for me and brought back memories of old. Bravo and my vehicular shenanigans are now the stuff of legend. Sometimes driving hapharzardly around the map in a 'Hog or 'Goose actually is the winning strategy.
Halo: Fireteam Raven
Ever since I was a kid, I dreamt of someday working in the gaming industry and my first paying job on that journey was actually working in an arcade. Long before home consoles or PCs were the end all be all, arcades were the only real place to go to experience true cutting edge gaming experiences and incredible graphics. Halo: Fireteam Raven was not only a super fun, social arcade experience in a franchise I love, it also brought me back to my roots.
I also had an opportunity to visit our partners out in Chicago and play an early prototype with a few folks on the team that was an awesome chance to go behind the scenes and see the all the work it took to bring Fireteam Raven to life. Playing through the campaign together with the community team at Dave & Busters (sorry you couldn't make it, Grim!) and later with my kids was a special experience I’ll not soon forget.
PAX Community Day
PAX West takes place right in our backyard and it offers a perfect opportunity to open the studio doors and spend some quality time with a part of the Halo community who happen to already be in town. This year was no exception and we welcomed all sorts of awesome folks to come spend the day with the team and hear a bit about the present and future of the franchise. The majority of the studio doesn’t get to experience our awesome community the way we do on the community team and the PAX visit is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to celebrate our fans and get to know some of our biggest supporters.
I know it’s just a subset, and there are many, many more incredible people out there who we owe our thanks and gratitude, but it’s always awesome to meet and mingle with fans every year when PAX rolls through town. The time we get to spend together with such passionate folks who give so much to Halo is a great reminder and motivator for the studio. And, this year we had a life-sized Elite in our midst!
HCS DreamHack Atlanta
Yes, that’s right, TWO different HCS entries made my top 7. What can I say, 2018 was a pretty epic year overall for HCS and the Halo 5 grand finale at DreamHack Atlanta was no exception. The Halo 5 competitive era ended in really the only way it could – Tox, the most dominant players throughout Halo 5, secured their legacy. HCS DreamHack Atlanta also featured the first official Halo 3 competitive event in years and it brought the community together in a special way. OG legends like FlameSword, Roy, Neighbor, and GhostAyame came back to the scene for what felt like a surreal case of deja vu. Yes, we watched and cheered for a Halo 3 finals on stage in 2018. The post-event after-hours celebrations and shenanigans were equally legendary. (Special ske7chflection shout-out to Dersky!)
E3 2018 & The Halo Infinite Reveal
Of course this has to make the list! That incredible trailer! That nostalgic vibe! The goosebumps! From the moment I saw the first internal comps to the time I was sitting in the Microsoft Theater in LA, there was just a palpable excitement and eagerness to share the first glimpse of the future of Halo with the world. Dan shared some of the thought process and work that went into that trailer on our social stream earlier this month – highly recommend giving it a watch if you haven’t yet. Finally getting the trailer out in the public eye was a huge moment and it was awesome to see such strong fan reactions. I also had a great time hanging out with @HaloGear at the Xbox FanFest where I had a chance to meet many awesome people and talk about all sorts of Halo topics.
And lastly, as we wrap up what was a pretty awesome 2018, I’d just like to personally say THANK YOU to everyone out there in the Halo community who played the games, supported our efforts to improve MCC, provided tons of passionate constructive feedback, shared amazing creations for the community spotlight, watched and attended epic HCS events, and continue to inspire the team as we work on the future of Halo!
Happy holidays and happy New Year!
Back to you, Uny!