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Is it me or does 2019 just keep geting better and better? Baseball is back, the sun is breaking through the clouds, and MCC is definitely still coming to PC. With so many cool projects being worked on inside the studio; Halo MCC on PC, continuous MCC updates, and Halo: Outpost Discovery, it just keeps adding to the feeling that we're in for a good year. However, as much as I'd love to write more about all of our plans for this year, let's just take a closer look at all everything happening across the Halo franchise right now.

Halo Insider

We all know how this works... you're here to check when flighting will start for Reach in MCC and MCC on PC. To make it easy on you, here's your answer:

if everything goes according to plan, we hope to flight Halo: Reach on both Xbox and PC with select players later this month.

Before we go any further though, there are some very important details to touch on. Ske7ch has covered many of them in the Halo Insider forum already (click here to see his most recent post), but they are worth calling out here as well.

  • You absolutely must be registered as a Halo Insider
  • Please be patient if you don't make it into this flight
    • Since the number of signups blew away our expectations, we simply cannot accomodate everyone
    • Flighting entails working with meticulously chosen players to test very specific and intentional KPIs
    • Your time will come
  • Flights are for technical tests, not for marketing
    • Our first flight does not represent a final (or even a beta) version of the game – we know there is plenty of work to do

That said, here's a sneak peek at Halo: Reach joining the campaign lineup in MCC from one of our current in-progress Xbox One builds!

As a reminder, we scale all images in Community Updates down to 1120 pixels wide (to save data for mobile readers), so please keep in mind that this is not in its pure 4K HDR Optimus Prime Atmos quality. Still, it's pretty clean, right?

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Our latest update to MCC went live yesterday morning and brought some surprises along with it. Last year's Yapyap takeover of Halo Wars 2 was so much fun that we knew we had to do it again. This time however, we wanted to go bigger and better with MCC. And that wasn't all,we added several highly requested features with this update. Let's take a look! 

New Loading Screen

Our new and improved loading screen is easily one of my favorite additions with the Yappening update. In addition to calling out the map's name, it now also includes the following:  

  • Primary weapon
  • Time limit
  • Score to win
  • Gamertags
  • Loading states (configuring, connecting, joining, validating, and loading)
  • Location of the data center hosting the match
  • Game type and description
  • Tips related to what you are playing

"What about Campaign and Spartan Ops loading screens?" I'm so glad you asked! Those were also given a nice refresh, both of which now allow you to see more information when loading in:

  • Mission name
  • Difficulty
  • Skulls turned on
  • Gamertags in session
  • Game type and description
  • Loading states
  • Tips related to what you are playing

The Yappening

It's definitely hard to miss our brand new splash screen and main menu background. We wanted to ensure Yapyap's prescence was known and felt in the game, as he truly is a one-of-a-kind Grunt, so we did our best to incorporate him in a fun and unique way.

We've also launched a special preset in Social Games which contains whacky modes like Methane Moshpit, Yappening Wargames, Brute Shoot, Yapyap’s Ball Grab, and Beamish Bonanza. I played a few games last night and couldn't help but laugh while playing due to the absolute ridiculousness of the game types.

Additionally, there are two new Yappening-themed nameplates you can earn by completing the unlock criteria by 10am PT on April 24.

Nameplate: Yapyap THE DESTROYER

 

Participate in Yapyap’s Grunt Rebellion to unlock.

Unlock Criteria: Complete seven Social matches using the Game Category “The Yappening” in Game Size 4v4 and/or 8v8

Nameplate: Shut Your Yap

 

Revolt against Yapyap’s Grunt Rebellion to unlock.

Unlock Criteria: Headshot 250 Grunts on Heroic or higher in Campaign and/or Spartan Ops

60hz

One final change I want to call out in this update is that we've improved how your Xbox talks to our servers. Dana "Psycho Duck" Jerpbak from the MCC Team broke down how it works in yesterday's blog, but it's worth sharing part of his quote here as well.

We’ve upgraded the rate at which network packets are sent by the server in Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, and Halo 2A. We have also increased limits on how much data each individual packet can contain. This includes data about the position of bipeds, where they’re aiming, what projectiles they’re firing, etc. The server prioritizes what data is contained in a packet until it reaches a maximum size. In gaps where the client hasn’t received a certain type of information from the server (due to latency or prioritization), the client predicts what this information should be based on the last data received. It then corrects its predictions upon receiving new data. This can result in cases of “rubber-banding” where a biped’s position is predicted locally and then corrected by the server. By increasing the allowed size of packets as well as their frequency, we have significantly reduced these gaps. This results in less prediction and correction due to more frequent and more complete updates from the server. In Halo 3, the clients would send 15 packets per second to the server, while the server would send 30 packets per second to all clients. Now both servers and clients will be networking at 60 packets per second, aligning with the framerate.

Packets transfers between clients and servers are dependent on the network quality and topology. As such, there will still be cases where rubber-banding and other network artifacts occur in cases of high ping or packet loss. However, the increased send rates should generally result in an overall smoother online experience. This improvement affects dedicated servers as well as peer servers in peer-to-peer matches.

After extensive internal testing and external flighting, we are confident this will positively impact the online experience in cases of good and poor connections. Please feel free to take time to share with us your experiences in matchmaking once you have tried out these changes in our Pinned Feedback Thread. As always, let us know! We love to hear from you and look forward to finding ways to continue to improve the experiences for everyone in game.

To read more about this change and see all of our patch notes, head over to the Yappening update post!

Halo 5: Guardians

April Calendar

Our H5 Sustain Team is still plugging away at exciting new things for you, but this month will mostly feature the return of your favorite modes. Below you can find a full calendar of April's rotational playlists which has been officially locked in. Be sure to set up your calendar and playdates accordingly!

  • April 4: Action Sack rotates in for Castle Wars
  • April 11: Grifball rotates in for Rock 'n' Rail
  • April 11: Warzone Assault goes live for the weekend
  • April 18: Shotty Snipers rotates in for Action Sack
  • April 25: Covenant Slayer rotates in for Grifball
  • April 25: Warzone Turbo goes live for the weekend

Big Team Battle

I'll just leave this here :)

Team Arena

Over the past few weeks we've heard players say that they wanted more variety in the Team Arena playlist. Their recommendation was to implement a handful of HCS map and modes combinations to spice it up. We happily obliged and, as of today, three more experiences have been added to Team Arena:

  • CTF HCS on HCS Fathom
  • Slayer HCS on HCS Eden
  • Slayer HCS on HCS Regret

Husky Raid Forge Contest

Are you a fan of Husky Raid or a Forger? If you're a fan of either (or both), then you may be interested in ForgeHub's Husky Raid Forge Contest. They've already provided templates for different kinds of Husky Raid maps, so it all comes down to who can be the most creative and artistic, which is extremely helpful for new Forgers. Even if you aren't the best at building a map from scratch, it's worth giving a try. Read up on their full contest rules here!

Halo Wars 2

After defeating Yapyap in a battle for control of Halo Wars 2 last year, the team took extra precautions this April to make sure Halo Wars 2 was untouchable. While building these extra security measures to defend the game from Yapyap, the team also took a closer look at how the game has been playing recently. After reading community feedback on the current state of the game and running the numbers, we've prepared a new balance update which should be released in the next two weeks.

For a deep-dive on these changes, check out Postum's full post on the forums and let us know what you think!

Halo Gear

Halo: Outpost Discovery

Since our last Community Update, we've shown and released lots more information around our traveling Halo experience, Halo: Outpost Discovery. Our announcements covered details surrounding VIP Tickets, the presence of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC at each location, and a glimpse at the manufacturing of real in-universe items.

VIP Ticket information

You can find a high-level overview of what benefits a VIP Ticket will get you at Halo: Outpost Discovery below. If you want to get even more information, check out Grim's latest Dispatch Discovery post right here! 
  • VIP Access – Additional hours of show floor time, exclusive to VIP ticket holders, giving you unparalleled access to your favorite attractions
  • VIP Lounge – Access to the VIP Lounge, open only to VIP ticket holders, 343 staff, and Xbox dignitaries
  • Halo Gear – Event-exclusive Outpost Discovery Gold Master Chief Funko Pop! figure, Outpost Discovery Drawstring tote, UNSC dog tags
  • Digital Goods – Hazel-A302 and Owen-B096 Xbox Avatar outfits, plus a VIP-exclusive Outpost Discovery Avatar T-shirt

MCC on PC

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Great Crates

Following the @HaloOutpost account on Twitter and Instagram will put you in prime position to get news about the items being built to make a truly immersive Halo real-life experience. Here is the first of many first looks!

HALO: LONE WOLF

In the ultimate race against time, Linda-058 must weigh her duty to the mission against the lives of civilians under Covenant threat. The fourth and final issue of our comic mini-series Halo: Lone Wolf is now available in stores!

If you're interested in jumping into the series and buying a copy now that it's complete, here's a link to each comic:

Halo Championship Series

Our last Community Update dropped right in between the our HCS Invitational at SXSW and Gamers for Giving, so we gotta make sure we cover that here before jumping over to our Microsoft Store Halo events.

Gamers for Giving

Our second HCS Grassroots event was hosted at the Gamers for Giving charity LAN in Michigan two weekends ago. Gamers Outreach rents out the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center for attendees to raise funds for their charitible programs. The HCS Team provided support to their yearly Halo tournament via the HCS Grassroots and we were able to see even more competitive Halo action. I wasn't able to make it out there, but I tuned in most of the weekend and heard it was an absolute blast – especially when they passed their $500,000 donation goal.

In case you missed the event and want to watch the rebroadcast of the matches, here are some helpful links!

Microsoft Store Tournaments

This past Sunday we saw the most intense Halo competition at our Microsoft Stores to date. Two players from the Chicago location, Bullet and Astro, took down Ryanoob and BaconBlade in the semifinals and moved into the finals where they would face Rammy and Stormy in a battle for the crown. I won't spoil the ending, but I'd highly recommend giving the final matches a watch when you have some free time. Here's a link to the full rebroadcast!

As a reminder, we've got two more of these Microsoft Store events scheduled for April 28 and May 19. To find out information about them and register at your local store, head to aka.ms/MCCHalo!

Radar Blips

  • Employee Spotlight: Our newest 343 Employee Spotlight features Kevin Paul who worked at Bungie during Halo 2, moved over to the Xbox team for a few years, and followed his heart back here to Halo. He talks about getting hired at Bungie, his time with Halo, and his recent transition from working on Waypoint to helping out with Halo: Outpost Discovery. Learn about the man known to many just as "KP" today!
  • Server Investigation: We're aware players have been experiencing hitches, warping, and lag spikes in various Halo titles, and have been working with partner teams to resolve the issue. As of this morning, we believe this issue should be resolved and everything should be back to normal. If you want to see our daily updates that we posted throughout the investigation, please check this thread in the Halo 5 Support Forum.
  • 343 Social Stream: Postums, Psycho Duck, & Scoops jumped on this week's 343 Social Stream to discuss The Yappening update. I heard it was full of Yapyaps and yeetyeets, so be sure to give it a watch here!
  • Community Spotlight: Cosplay, sketches, paintings, montages, wedding cakes – you name it, the community's got it. Snickerdoodle compiled another Community Spotlight which contains the latest community-created goodness. Check it out right here on Waypoint!

Halo Infinite

We've got another member of the Halo Pro Team here at 343 Industries! Professional Halo player Visal “El Town” Mohanan has joined the team to help us with Halo Infinite. He is known for competing in multiple Halo titles and placing second at the first Halo World Championship in 2016 with Team Allegiance. His unique playstyle and ability to create new metas in the competitive scene will be a great asset to the team here at 343. Please join me in welcoming him to the studio!

Art

It's time to show off another piece of phenomenal Halo art! This concept art by Eddie Smith really brings out some of the moods you typically draw from the atmopshere in Halo 2's campaign. On top of that, who doesn't love some Arby art?

As always, you can save a high-resolution versions of this art by clicking on the image or links below:

Thanks for joining me for yet another Community Update!

Until next time,

- Uny

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