AS THE WORLD TOURNS
This past weekend marked the kickoff of the grassroots Halo 5 tournament program hosted by our friends at the Microsoft Store. Yours truly happened to be back in my hometown of Tampa, FL for celebratory family business, but I couldn’t help stopping by Tampa’s International Plaza Microsoft Store location to take in their Grand Finals and spend some time with Halo players and community members.
Needless to say, I got both the warm and the fuzzies from all the awesome community comradery on display. The Store staff on hand ran a great program and I heard from both players and spectators alike how much fun they were having, and how much they were already looking forward to the next one. Perhaps most exciting was seeing players link up with new friends to form pairs in anticipation for next month’s Doubles tournament.
Of course, the action in the actual tournament itself held its own as well. The Tampa tourney ran a 36-player bracket that culminated in an epic 6-player Grand Final that saw HCS Pro League player Ryan “RyaNoob” Geddes take a narrow 36-34 victory over local talent PiLEZ. In fact, the top four players all ended the Grand Final match with at least 30 kills, creating an awesome sense of urgency that lasted the entire match.
The situation in Tampa was not a unique by any means however, as reports from all over the place came through of epic times being had, and memorable gatherings taking place. Our very own Tashi, godfather of the Halo Championship Series, and StrongSide made it out to both the Seattle U-Village and Bellvue MS Store locations to take in local action. Here’s a few thoughts from Tashi himself:
"Thanks el jefe! Last Sunday was a pretty special day for me. As someone who used to run LANs and tournaments back in high school and college, grassroots Halo competition is something near and dear to me. We’ve been looking to do Microsoft Store tournaments for quite a while now, but wanted to make sure we had the right program as well as timing. Seeing the ideas go from chicken scratch in a notebook to what felt like a Halo holiday on Sunday was actually quite overwhelming for me. None of this would be possible without our amazing friends over at Microsoft Store, as well as the Halo community, of course. We’re fortunate enough to have two participating stores in the area here in Washington and I knew I had to go to both. In UVillage, we saw some familiar faces from those who came by in July when we had our first event, as well as completely new faces. In Bellevue, the atmosphere was a bit more raucous which was also exciting to be a part of. Ultimately, I think we need to find the best team from each store and have them duke it out to see who’s the best in the entire area. It’s only right!
"While I could only visit the stores in my area, it felt like the entire Halo community had taken to their local store to participate and hang out. Thank you to everyone who tweeted photos using #MicrosoftStoreHalo, it was amazing to see all of the buzz and excitement in North America (and even Australia and Puerto Rico!). Halo is the thing that brings us all together and at the core, that’s what these Microsoft Store tournaments are all about. What I also love about these is that the community members are now totally empowered to help build their own communities and really make it their own, much like our friends at Greater Toronto Halo. I would encourage everyone to get involved and grow their local community. While we saw amazing number of players register for the first tournament (over 1,500!) it’s up to the community to spread the word, get involved, and continue to grow from here on out. We’ll see you on September 3!"
Thanks, Tashi! And again, thanks to all the folks who made each tournament a blast to be at, from MS Store staff to players and participants. I personally had a blast talking Halo with awesome community members like AlienabIe, and The DiZZeL, and look forward to meeting even more fine folks next time around!
If you are looking to get in on the action yourself, registration is still going on for the 2v2 MS Store tournaments taking place next month, and you can get signed up at http://aka.ms/msstorehaloregister. And for a more general overview on the MS Store tournament program itself, check out our original announcement HERE.
SIX INCHES OF JOY
Or, “of toy” I guess would be more accurate. At any rate, whether you’re a Halo fan looking for something new to play with (they are toys, remember), or just to display on your shelf, Mattel’s got you covered with Wave 2 of their slick Halo Universe series of 6” action figures.
This next salvo of collectible coolness is rolling out to stores as we speak, and includes six mainline characters from the Halo canon, each with up to 30 points of articulation and paint jobs that are truly quite lovely. Yesterday, we unleashed a full preview of what to expect from the things you collect – check it out HERE!
Screenshot by Azpekt297
The Halo 5 sustain team has been hard at work on multiple playlist projects, one of which being giving the beloved Infection playlist a little much-needed TLC. Fortunately, you won’t have to go chasing any waterfalls to get all the details on what’s changing, since I sit right by the Infected Overlord himself, Mr. Unyshek. Here’s the skinny on the skinny:
"We’ve patched up numerous exploitable spots on maps in the Infection playlist today. These fixes will not affect how the map flows, they will just prevent people from abusing places they shouldn’t be able to get to. These aren’t you’re typical hold-out locations; they are the spots you see and immediately know a survivor should probably not be there. That said, we’re happy to be patching these up and we hope this helps improve your Infection experience! If you’d like to read a list of fixes, you may do so here on Waypoint."
Thanks Uny! Also, for more in-depth information on all the specific changes made for the Infection playlist, head over to the official change list thread on the Halo Waypoint forums. Jump in and see what's new!
- Like Old Times – This week’s featured rotational playlist is H2 BR Slayer, featuring the glorious Halo 2 Battle Rifle. To BXR, or not to BXR, that is the question.
- Arnold vs Sinbad – Warzone Turbo returns! My favorite way to play is back for a limited time, so hop in, get REQ’d, and get rolling.
- Double-mint Gun – This weekend’s edition of Halo Summer Celebration Double XP doles out bonus experience for H2 BR Slayer, Warzone Turbo, and – because we love you – Breakout. DXP kicks in tomorrow (Friday), so hop in and rank up!
- Dress for the Kill You Want – For a limited time, the Greatest Hits Customization REQ Pack has made its way back to the Halo 5 REQ Store. This REQ Pack unlocks five permanent REQs selected from visual customizations most frequently equipped by Spartans who have them – all of them Ultra Rare or better rarity, if available. Usable in Arena, Warzone, and Warzone Firefight game modes, these visual REQs include weapon skins, armors, helmets, and assassinations. And yes, you can use RP to get it.
- Heiligenschein – For those of you attending Gamescom in Cologne, Germany come Aug 22-26, be sure to take in some playable Terminus Firefight in Halo Wars 2 on the show floor. Plus, we may just have some additional tidbits on the upcoming Awakening the Nightmare expansion that folks might find interesting, so, there’s that.
- No Tinfoil Hats Required – Good news: back-compat is still a thing! The Xbox BC team is still churning away on getting the titles prepared for public consumption on Xbox One hardware (in fact, there’s been quite a bit of playtesting going on here at the studio as well the past few days). Still no further word on timing for availability, but consider this as us “still mentioning it.” Oh, and yes, we are still aware of some issues surrounding the Noble Map Pack still not being free; it's being worked on with the appropriate Store folks.
- More Menke Madness – In his latest Matchmaking Update thread on Halo Waypoint, 343's Josh Menke skill gap and sandbox. You can read his ruminations HERE.
- COMMUNITY PLAYDATE – Still looking to earn that coveted 343 Ice Unicorn skin for your iconic AR? Well make sure you are searching in the H2 BR Slayer playlist this Monday, Aug 14, from 6-7 PM PT for your chance to do just that – if you happen to match our official squad of Spartans, rejoice! Because not only will you bag yourself an Ice Unicorn skin, but since I’m playing, you’ll also have a pretty solid chance at winning the match. And do note the time, as we’ll be playing when most reddit-determined “normal people” will all be home as well. You’re welcome. See you on the battlefield!
Starting off is OpTic Gaming’s excellent “Vision” series, the latest episode of which includes an inside look at OpTic’s recent runner-up outing at the HCS Summer 2017 Finals at DreamHack Atlanta. The Halo section begins at a little after 23 minutes in, but fans of the Greenwall – and esports in general – will no doubt enjoy the entire piece, which takes a look at all of OpTic’s current competitive efforts in a variety of titles.
Next up is another awesome esports piece from Towey, chronicling the latest chapters in Evil Geniuses’ Halo team. It’s a fantastic inside look at a fan-favorite squad, definitely check it out.
Halo 5 Mythic Shotty Sniper Montage by Trypal
I Grim Fate I
And with that, we draw this edition to a close. We hope you have a fantastic week, and enjoy the first vestiges of American football returning to the fold!
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and for the record, I actually don’t mind sand at all.