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Happy Halodays 2020

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We're back with one last Community Update before the holidays! In today's post you can expect to hear from the people that bring Halo to life, what they worked on this year, and even get a few hints at what to look forward to in 2021. It's going to be a great way to close out the year!

Before diving into the wintry wonderland that is today's Community Update though, we have to share this year's holiday card art with all of you! You can snag it in any size you like and start spreading the haloday spirit by clicking on the links below:

HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION

Development Retrospective

Earlier this week we published our last MCC Development Update of 2020, which covered a wide variety of topics. We take a look at the numbers surrounding MCC's journey to PC over the past year, interview the legendary Toros Kose (the creator of our epic main menu backgrounds), hear some of the MCC Team's favorite memories, and get a "State of the Game" address from farns.

Click the image for full resolution!

If you've followed MCC over the past year, I highly recommend giving this entire post a read. Before moving along to our next section though, I'll leave you with a few words that farns and Postums shared in the blog.

farns: Happy Holidays, Spartans! I just wanted to take a moment again to thank you all for coming along with us on this journey bringing MCC to PC and adding so many new features to all platforms. It’s truly been a difficult, but amazing journey for our team and partners as we transitioned to working from home with a slate full of very lofty goals. In the end, we did have some features slip out of the year – looking at you Custom Game Browser and File Share on PC. 😉 Don’t worry, they’re coming.

Postums: MCC has become so much more than what it once was, and we definitely aren’t done yet. There’s a lot of things we are working on in 2021, and we are excited to know we have such a passionate community behind us as we keep bringing you fun and new ways to play the games we all know and love. So, give yourselves a huge pat on the back. Thank you to all y’all for everything you do – from myself and everyone here at 343 that has been working on the project. Happy Halodays friends!

HALO ESPORTS

Tashi, our Esports Lead here at 343, has lent his pen to talk about all things Halo esports. Let's see what he has to say about this year and what we can look forward to next year!

Well, here we are! We’ve made it to the end of yet another year, but this year was not like the years prior. While COVID-19 has changed all of our lives and the delay of Halo Infinite has changed all of our plans, there were, however, some great highlights to celebrate:

In February, we held the first major Halo LAN played on PC with our partners at DreamHack.

Congratulations once again of course to Falcated, Ace, Spartan, Bubu dubu, and Coach Elamite – and thank you to everyone who came out to compete!

In 2020 we also saw some big esports teams jump into competitive Halo with Sentinels, Cloud9, and Envy as well. Welcome and thank you so much for joining us. We are very excited to be working with you and are looking forward to what's come.

Earlier this year we also announced our partnership with Esports Engine, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with their deeply knowledgeable team on many aspects including broadcast, competition, events, and more.

Little did we know back in February that DreamHack Anaheim would be the last time this year that we would get to all see each other. If you add the news of Halo Infinite’s delay on top of it all, this was a tough year overall for the Halo esports community and particularly for our competitors. We were all looking forward to another Halo game to learn and master this year, but more importantly, many of you were planning your lives around the release of the game. Whether you were forming your roster, talking to team organizations about sponsorship, taking time off work and school, and more – we don’t take the pain this delay has caused lightly. Thank you for dedicating yourselves to this game and esport. We will be adding more tournaments in the beginning of 2021, and while we know this doesn’t fill the gap entirely, we hope you enjoy competing on a weekly basis.

We have been feeling gutted with all that’s happened as well. Earlier this year, we placed holds on venues where we wanted to have the very first Halo Infinite event, where we were going to hold the Halo World Championship, and more in between. With COVID-19 hitting, we were forced to shift our plans and move most of the upcoming season to online and even then, there was uncertainty around if maybe the entire season would have to be played online. As time went on, we then had to change our plans once again due to the game’s delay and we’re of course still in the middle of doing that. While Halo Infinite development continued, we kicked off the MCC and Halo 5 Pro Series tournaments for amateur and pro players alike. Thank you to everyone around the world who has signed up and competed in these tournaments. For me, it’s been amazing to see new faces break into the Top 8 for both MCC and Halo 5, and it’s been great to get feedback on this new format that we experimented with. We also want to recognize that there have been bumps in operation along the way, and we’ve been working closely with Faceit to take in this feedback, add more resources to the administration crew, and add in new processes to ensure things run more smoothly. We definitely feel we have made strong progress here, and in early 2021 we will bring more tournaments to you (with Faceit targeting double elimination as well) so that you’ve got more to compete in.

There’s still A LOT to be excited about for 2021, so let’s shift our focus on what’s to come. First and foremost, the delay of the game and COVID-19 has not wavered our intentions around Halo esports. We still plan to relaunch the HCS with the release of Halo Infinite on a global scale with a full 12-month roadmap laid out ahead of the game’s release which will all culminate in the Halo World Championship with a minimum prize pool of $1,000,000 for that event alone. If you remember in 2018 during the final year of Halo 5, we made massive changes to the program with a much stronger focus on format and quality. That’s the place we’re picking up and evolving from, but obviously taking a lot of our learnings over the last couple of years forward.

Here’s some of what you can look forward to in 2021:

  • Teams: In our 5-Year Anniversary update in 2019 we touched briefly on how we’re thinking about our relationship with team organizations. In the early days of HCS, we didn’t have a close relationship with all the teams. For the last couple of years however, we’ve been prioritizing our relationship with teams a great deal. We’ve proactively reached out to them, setup phone calls, and met in person as well. At the beginning of this new process our goals were mainly to learn more about how they ran their business, how they decided which games they wanted to participate in, etc. As we built out the plans for Halo, we not only kept teams in mind but also kept them in the loop to get regular feedback on what we were putting together. After what’s really been a multi-year effort, we’ve put together a team partnership program that Halo has never had before. I’ll leave it at that for now as we’ve got some more details to lock in before we reveal it all. We can’t wait to share more!
  • Flighting: In case you missed it, last week we confirmed that Insider Flighting for Halo Infinite will indeed be coming in 2021. This means that Halo Insiders will finally get to go hands on with Halo Infinite’s multiplayer ahead of release including a taste of what competitors can expect. Of course, it will still be a work in progress at that point, but we absolutely cannot wait for you to play.
  • Events: With the delay of the game until Fall 2021, our ambition is that we will be able to host the entire season with live open events as originally envisioned. Of course, this is just an ambition at the moment and we still need to see how the events of the coming months unfold with regards to COVID-19. The health and safety of fans, players, and staff is still the number one priority, and this will always be the number one priority. We will of course follow the guidance and consult with the Global Microsoft Security and Events team in this whole process too. We’ve REALLY missed you all, seriously.
  • Monthly Updates: Transparency, transparency, transparency. You want it, we need to deliver it. With COVID-19’s impact and the delay to the game, we had to make a shift in our plans multiple times. Starting in January, we’re going to be kicking off a new monthly blog series called, “Designing the Halo esports ecosystem.” Each month we will dive into a particular piece of what our vision for Halo esports is. Over the course of the year and leading up to the release of the game, our goal is to paint a clear picture so you know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

If you’d like to hear more, be sure to tune into the latest episode of the On My X Podcast where I joined Hunter JJX, Clutch, and Goofy to chat more about what was shared today.

Thank you once again to all the competitive Halo fans and players for your dedication while the team finishes development of Halo Infinite. We know the wait has been long, that’s not lost on us. With the new release window in place, we will be finishing out our esports plans, sharing more as we go and keeping you all in the loop with the upcoming blog series. From all of us on the HCS team, have a happy and safe holiday, and happy new year!

HALO 5: GUARDIANS

In 2020, Halo 5 turned five years old and garnered a renewed interest from many of its players. We doled out more Double XP than ever before and finally revealed some of the tokens of appreciation that getting SR 152 will earn you in Halo Infinite: the Watchdog armor and weapon coatings.

Since Halo 5 has already begun its holiday celebrations, here's a look at what you can expect in-game right now and through all of January!

UPCOMING CALENDAR

December

  • December 8: Global Double XP, Warzone Turbo, Castle Wars, Holiday Fiesta, and Husky Raid are live for the holidays

January

  • January 4: Holiday celebrations conclude
  • January 7: Covenant Slayer rotates in for Castle Wars
  • January 14: Rock 'n' Rail rotates in for Covenant Slayer
  • January 14: Warzone Assault goes live for the weekend
  • January 21: ODST Slayer rotates in for Rock ‘n’ Rail
  • January 28: Roaming King rotates in for ODST Slayer
  • January 28: Warzone Turbo goes live for the weekend

To close out our final Halo 5 section of the year, let's hear from our Lead Engagement Designer, Joshua Menke!

Thanks to all of you who supported Halo 5 in 2020! The team has worked to keep the seasons rolling, rotationals coming, and matchmaking tweaked enough to last the year. Thanks to your support, we finished 2020 year stronger than 2019 in terms of play time--- by 5 billion seconds! Looking forward to seeing you again in 2021!

HALO GEAR

To chat about all things Halo Gear in 2020, I'll pass the proverbial microphone to the head of Halo Gear, John Friend!

As we wind down toward holiday breaks and time with friends and family, I’m excited to get a chance to share a few thoughts with all of you!

My most important message is THANK YOU. I feel incredibly grateful to work in this epic and heroic universe, and I have the opportunity to do so because of your support, passion and fandom.

Big picture, 2020 was about a lot of things for us on the Halo Consumer Products team. It was about building on our foundation of success in publishing, construction toys, and costumes. Getting back to basics with high-quality collectibles and statues. Expanding to new categories (have you seen our bedding?), new geographies and providing easy on-ramps for new fans. It was even about fashion and limited drops – the Billionaire Boys Club collection sold out in minutes!

But at the same time, 2020 was also about expanding our “toolkit” and capabilities as a team so we can provide you a broader range of products in more countries and through more outlets than ever before… and continue to offer nimbler, more personal, and unique products and experiences. I won’t say a lot here, but there is a LOT to look forward to in 2021 and beyond.

All that said, let’s take a tour through some of the amazing products that are out there, and available…right now!

Mega Construx

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Mega for some absolutely incredible new sets this year. You can now put the Master Chief right on your shelf with the new helmet set, complete with a buildable AI chip that slots right in. The 414-piece set may not be quite big enough to wear yourself, but you can look over and see the Master Chief’s gold visor watching over you anytime.

Mega has also created two of their best sets to date with the replica Energy Sword that’s going to look extra-intimidating on your mantle, as well as a massive new Pelican dropship. The Pelican features poseable wings, a cockpit hatch, working landing gear and comes with three micro-figures of the Master Chief, the Pilot and a Banished Hunter. At over 2000 pieces this set is massive and is nominated for Construction Toy of the Year Award.

And – responding to fan and team demand – we’ve launched an actual Halo ring set. You can finally have a piece of a Forerunner installation in your home, complete with mini trees, rivers and mountains. But what makes this set so perfect is that each ring segment can snap together, and with five sets you can build a full-blown Halo Ring.

Wicked Cool Toys

With the help of one of my favorite new partners, we have a great lineup of action figures for you to check out, collect or share. These are designed to appeal to everyone from collectors to kids… and kid collectors. Or something like that. Scaling from four inches all the way up to a full foot tall, there’s sure to be something perfect for you to recreate the massive battles Halo is known for. Available Wicked Cool Toys figures include Kat-B320, a Brute Chieftan with gravity hammer, a Banished Ghost, Elite Warlord, a Warthog and, of course, the Master Chief himself.

Nerf

Another personal favorite, and one I have spent literally decades preparing for with my own family… are the Nerf blasters, including the new MA40 and Mangler, both inspired by the weapons in Halo Infinite. The MA40 comes with a 10-dart clip and motorized blaster, while the Mangler boasts a 6-dart drum. Both toys also come with exclusive digital codes which will allow you to get a special in-game add on to use when Halo Infinite launches in 2021. The MA40 is available now, and the Mangler will be released on Jan 1.

Funko

Let’s not pretend we don’t need more Funko Pop!s in our lives, because of course we do! We’re scratching that itch with new items featuring both the Master Chief and the Spartan MK VII, with some unique and exclusive variants. In addition to the three standard Funko Pop!s, we’re also offering a Master Chief Hydro Deco variant exclusively at Best Buy, a Master Chief Active Camo variant exclusively at Target, and a Spartan MK VII with shock rifle variant exclusively at GameStop. But why choose one when you can collect them all?

Dark Horse

I love this statue of the Master Chief on Zeta Halo – inspired by the beautiful key art for Halo Infinite. This 10.5-inch statue is rich with gorgeous details and is a must-have for any collector. The quality and price of this statue is incredible. Just look at the pose! The burns and scuffs on the armor! The quiet heroism! This work of art is a Best Buy exclusive in the US (visit aka.ms/HaloInfiniteStatueDarkHorse for international availability) and is available now.

Simon & Schuster

Our newest adventure into Halo’s deep and enriching extended universe is Halo: Shadows of Reach. Penned by Troy Denning, Shadows of Reach has become a USA Today bestseller and national bestseller, and was Simon & Schuster’s #1 bestselling audiobook during its launch week.

Join the members of Blue Team after the events of Halo 5, including the Master Chief, who are assigned by the UNSC Infinity to make a covert insertion onto the ravaged planet of Reach. A run in with an unexpected enemy soon transforms a simple retrieval operation into a full-blown crisis. You will not be able to put this book down until the very last page!

2020 has been… a year, to say the least, so hopefully you’re able to find some joy and fun with these great Halo products from our amazing partners. I hope everyone has a great holiday season and we’ll see you in 2021 with even more cool Halo gear!

  • Community Spotlightsnickerdoodle's final Community Spotlight of 2020 is packed full of holiday-related community creations as well as some favorites of the year from around the studio. Christmas lights synced to the Halo 2 soundtrack, epic montages, Flood infection forms, plenty of hand-drawn and digital art, cosplay, and more are all stuffed into this extremely full #HaloSpotlight stocking. Before we jump into the new year, take a look at what your fellow Halo community members have created here on Waypoint!
  • SWAT Nation: Our favorite headshot honchos are hosting a SWAT tournament on December 20. Registration for this 2v2 tournament on wintry maps is now open, so head on over to swatnation.net and sign-up with your duo today!
  • Master Chief in Fortnite: Last week at The Game Awards, our favorite hero made his surprise appearance in the wonderful world of Fortnite. He didn't jump on the Battle Bus without the proper equipment though, he made sure he had a Gravity Hammer Pickaxe, UNSC Pelican Glider, Lil' Warthog emote, and Battle Legend Back Bling. Additionally, if you play as Master Chief while on an Xbox Series X|S, you'll unlock a special Matte Black Master Chief to use as work your way to a Victory Royale.

Halo TV Series

We couldn't wrap up a look at the whole franchise without talking about Showtime's Halo TV series. To give us the latest news from the set, Kiki Wolfkill has written a few words and shared a few pictures from behind the scenes!

As you may have seen on IG last month, after a herculean effort on Showtime's part, we were able to go back to Budapest a few months ago and resume production on the Halo television series! While we were able to cover a lot of ground during the pandemic 'hiatus', the thing we couldn't do while working from home was to actually shoot. So with a rigorous covid protocol in place and our fingers crossed, we picked up where we left off in March and were able to get some amazing footage in the can. Oh, and this time I got to pack Jen Taylor in my luggage to bring her Cortana magic to the show! What a gift to have her on our set and in Budapest with me. So much to share in 2021 but in the meantime, stay safe, Spartans and enjoy this tiny sneak peek!

Packed for freshness

Cortana says "Mask up!"

Not all space crates are created equal

Getting battle-ready...

To see the latest news about the series as it arises, be sure to follow @SHO_Halo on Twitter!

HALO INFINITE

Last week, on 343 Day, our high level update on Halo Infinite dropped and provided a closer look at the development of the game. Joseph Staten shared our updated release window of Fall 2021, his thoughts on the state of the game so far, and that Halo Insider flighting will happen before Halo Infinite's launch. Additionally, ske7ch and I sat down with members of our Art, Graphics, and Live Teams to have an open and honest Q&A that covered many common questions from the community. We covered topics like our graphics, art style, design philosophies, customization, the coating system, and even shared a first look at a multiplayer map from the game.

If you haven't had a chance to dive in and read these juicy Halo Infinite details, there's no time like the present. Give it a look right here on Waypoint!

ART

A few of you may recognize this Halo Infinite concept art, but it was never shared too broadly so I expect it'll still be new to many of you. We shared prints of this piece with community members and content creators during PAX West back in 2018. When searching around on the internet to see if it had made its rounds, I only found a few pictures of this out there. Unsurprisingly, none of the picture out there held up to seeing the image in fabulous 4K quality for yourself – which meant it was time to share with the community at large.

Our Concept Art team has been absolutely crushing it and I can't wait to share more of their world-class work when the time is right, but that will have to wait until we've shared more about the game itself. For now, you can save this piece of Halo Infinite art for yourself in 4K by clicking on this sentence or the image below!

Now, to put a bow on the year, our very own Bonnie Ross offered to share a few words and help close out the Community Update!

This has been an unprecedented and turbulent year for us all, but as I reflect on what our studio has accomplished, it has been a source of pride and hope. While we are grateful that we can do our work from home, it has changed the way we work together as a team and how we create games---the good, the bad, the learning, and the new. I think the thing that resonated the most with me this last year were the people in our studio and how much they care about Halo, but more importantly, about each other and the well-being of everyone on the team. I really appreciate how everyone in the studio came together and leaned into finding solutions to allow us to do our best work from home. This year will continue to shape who we are as a studio and how we work together and create moving forward.

During this time, we launched FIVE games as part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC, leading to the largest addition of new players to the franchise since Halo 3. In addition, the team put in a ton of work to release optimized console versions for Xbox Series X|S along with numerous community-requested features for all platforms. And there’s more MCC content coming next year!

We’ve released a host of fun new products and it’s been great to see fans share their excitement on social, posting pics of their Mega Construx builds, Funko Pop! figures, and Nerf Assault Rifles. Your response to our latest novel, Halo: Shadows of Reach, was beyond our expectations, leading it to be one of our best-selling releases ever! I’m also excited to see the great progress on the SHOWTIME Halo television series, as production is back up and running. Everyone involved in the series is treating Halo with so much care to deliver something that fans will truly be thrilled with.

2021 will be a big year for the Halo franchise. As we recently announced, Halo Infinite will release in fall of 2021. I realize the wait has been difficult, and I assure you that the team wants the game in your hands as soon as possible, but they also want to deliver something special…the Halo game you deserve. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and most importantly your words of support to the team. I cannot express how grateful I am for the Halo community and the encouragement you’ve expressed to us. It has lifted us up and provided us the fuel to keep going. As you saw from the recent blog post, the team is making tremendous progress and is SO eager to show you more.

Thank you for being an incredibly passionate community as you make us better. Wishing you a safe and happy holidays from everyone here at 343 Industries.

Thank you for joining me, and so many of my incredible teammates, for yet another Community Update.

Happy Halodays, and we'll see you all next year.

- UNY

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