News

Know-Scope

By -

Greetings and salutations, good friends and fireteam members. It’s a gorgeous summer day here in the Seattle area, and as much as I need to absorb its warm solar embrace, we’ve got quite a bit to cover in this week’s Halo Community Update. So let’s get our homework done so Grim can go outside and play, shall we?

ICONS OF WAR

As most of you are well aware, at E3 we revealed some awesome stuff coming to Halo Wars 2 later this year, including two more playable Leaders slated to arrive this month as part of the Season Pass content collection. Those Leaders are Jerome-092, leader of Red Team, and the late, great (at being a droopy-jawed jerk) Covenant Arbiter Ripa ‘Moramee. The epic combination of a stalwart Spartan-II supersoldier and a redemption-seeking Arbiter has always been a brilliantly key component in the Halo series, specifically in the shooty-centric games. Thanks to this upcoming “Icons of War” Leader pack, we’ll have an RTS version of the i c o n i c pairing for players to lead their troops into battle with.

Last week, we promised a closer look at some of the commandable goodies arriving with Jerome and Ripa, so let’s give you a Fodder-flavored preview of what to expect when the update arrives in the near future.

JEROME-092

With the authority granted to him as the ranking Navy and UEG official in a designated administrative region, Captain Cutter has conferred Jerome-092 the acting rank of Commander.

The rank itself is a formality, but one insisted on by Isabel to better align the ship’s ad-hoc command structure with the letter of UNSC regulations.

Commander Jerome has proven himself to be an inspirational and highly capable leader, though some aspects of his Spartan conditioning conflict with his strategic instincts. Among these is a preference for direct action.

On the battlefield, Commander Jerome can Inspire nearby troops and take the fight to the enemy with a custom Hydra missile launcher, shrugging off attacks with his energy shield. Commander Jerome cannot Hijack vehicles, but he can deploy his personal Command Mantis onto the battlefield with Mech Drop.

NEW UNITS

COMMAND MANTIS

The Command Mantis is a hero vehicle deployed by Commander Jerome. It is an upgraded variant of the Mantis all-environment bipedal walker armed with twin high energy lasers and fitted with an advanced energy shield. Nicknamed Theseus by Jerome-092, his personalized Command Mantis is a mobile command post and linebreaker unit that complements both his augmented physiology and leadership style. It incorporates one of the Spirit of Fire’s command-and-control nexus relays, enhancing Jerome’s situational awareness of the battlefield and serving as a backup for the UNSC battlenet should the ship be crippled or destroyed.

MASTODON

M650 Mastodons were once widely used by the UNSC Army and colonial defense forces. Their large troop compartments enable them to carry heavy infantry (such as Spartans in powered assault armor) and their armor protects against most heavy weapons, but their size made them difficult to deploy and they lack the mobility of smaller (but far less protected) Warthog troop carriers. With troops in short supply on the Ark--and reinforcement unlikely--Jerome has investigated starting production of these vehicles to minimize infantry casualties.

OMEGA TEAM

Omega Team is a fast reaction team of Spartan super-soldiers deployed to colony worlds threatened by the Covenant. Using the fastest transports available, Omega Team rushes to reinforce local defenses and buy time for a UNSC response or – more often – an emergency evacuation and enforcement of classified last-stand protocols. In this latter role Omega Team is responsible for denial of critical resources, data, and personnel to the enemy by any means necessary, including deployment of weapons of mass destruction to prevent capture and utilization.

Red Team worked closely with Omega Team several times, including the defense of Arcadia’s capital city when it was attacked in 2531, but were separated when the Spirit of Fire departed the system to chase retreating Covenant forces. Commander Jerome has discerned they survived the war, based on UNSC records recovered from the Henry Lamb facility, but he can only speculate as to their current activities.

Legendary soldiers in their own right, three members of Omega Team are available for use in Halo Wars 2 under Commander Jerome. Robert-025 is armed with a fast-firing Plasma Cannon, Leon-011 is fitted for close-quarters combat with a custom Energy Sword, and August-099 is a crack shot with her Railgun. As Spartans, each member of Omega Team has energyshields and the ability to Hijack enemy vehicles.

Here you can see Omega Team in some awesome looking concept art depicting them in a more individually definitive matter. In our official launch blog, we'll also showcase their in-game RTS model card art. Discerning lore-lovers should feel free to consider both iterations fair game for expanding their imaginations.

ARBITER RIPA ‘MORAMEE

Driven to control and dominate, with a nearly insatiable bloodlust and ambition, Ripa 'Moramee was considered a radical choice as Arbiter. Ripa came to relish the nearly unchecked power and authority he wielded as an Arbiter, and his fearsome reputation was known by all—including a young Covenant warrior known as Atriox. Unbound by traditional notions of honor and loyalty, it is possible that Atriox could have convinced Ripa to join his cause, had Ripa survived events on Shield 0459. As a Banished warhost leader Ripa would inspire fear and awe in those in his dominion, reflected in the Conduit of Rage passive ability.

NEW UNITS

ENFORCERS

The Enforcers are fast-moving, battle-hardened Sangheili armed with plasma rifles, plasma casters, and plasma grenades which can be deployed by the Arbiter in place of Jump Pack Brutes. They excel in hit-and-run attacks where they can rush in to attack with their plasma weapons and then disengage to allow their energy shields to regenerate.

Disgraced Sangheili have few options to recover their honor, even in death. Had Ripa joined with Atriox and thrown off the Prophets’ shackles he would have had powerful tools to exploit Sangheili warriors seeking redemption. Though Ripa could not lead through loyalty or charisma as a general, as the Arbiter he could bind Sangheili with iron-clad oaths that traded unquestioning service as his vassals for a return to the rolls of honor.

PHANTOM

The Phantom is a fast, heavily armed aerial transport available to the Arbiter. The Enduring Conviction carried a number of Phantom dropships to augment its existing stocks of Spirit troop carriers and Lich deployment platforms when it deployed to the Ark. The Banished Phantoms that would have been used by the Arbiter are heavily modified to serve as gunships and firing platforms, and are capable of long-range subluminal travel.

The Icons of War pack is slated for release later this month, so keep a close eye out for definitive launch info! Both Jerome-092 and Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee are available as part of the Halo Wars 2 Season Pass, or available for individual purchase at $5.99 USD each. You can also purchase a special 2-pack version that includes both Leaders for $9.99 USD.

FIREFIGHTERS

Now that you've gotten a little taste of what's to come when Jerome and Ripa hit this month, let's take a look at them in action with some Terminus Firefight gameplay straight off the E3 2017 show floor. Keep in mind that this is a build specifically designed for the E3 high-attendance environment, so the experience is a very purposefully truncated one, lasting only five rounds and with a custom enemy wave structure. When it launches this fall with the Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare expansion, the Terminus Firefight mode will have unlimited waves, 3-player co-op, and a much more enriched difficulty and progression. 

JEROME-092

ARBITER RIPA 'MORAMEE

CHANGING THE GAME

Also on the horizon for Halo Wars 2 is a collection of updates and bug fixes, all designed to improve player experience in a wide range of areas. While we're still nailing down the final details for the impending patch notes, we grabbed (gently) Clay Jenson from the Halo Wars 2 team to give us a quick overview on what players can expect to be addressed. Here's a sneak peek!

  • Hero units enhanced to make them quicker to field, tougher, and more powerful when upgraded.
  • Player gamertag and rank hidden in pre-match screens.
  • Banished shield stacking bonuses reduced.
  • Garrison bonuses reduced for hero units.
  • Tuning pass for Tier 2 Vehicles to increase their punch and cost-effectiveness.
  • Scout units adjusted to bring them more in line with each other.
  • Supply Pad upgrade time reset.
  • Saved game bug fixed and game progress restored for affected players.
  • Maximum Camera scroll and fast scroll speeds increased.
  • Alternative unit sub-selection control added (RT+Y)

Thanks Clay! And now, a hallowed and harrowing tale from our beloved traveling evangelist ske7ch, who journey to the city of angels to spread good tidings of great toys. 

There and Back Again - A ske7ch's Tale

Hey folks, wow it feels like an eternity since the last time I was writing words for a community update! With Grim at the helm waxing poetic like he does so well I’ve kind of been relegated to editor (and to be honest I’ve had all sorts of other stuff going on so hooray for teamwork!). In any case, Grim thought it’d be cool for me to drop in and share a few thoughts on my recent E3 adventures now that I’m finally caught up on sleep and my liver has (mostly) recovered.

That was some kind of crazy week, eh? This was the first time returning to E3 in a few years so I was personally super excited to get the opportunity to go back – even though it was going to be an odd show for Halo and 343 and I fully expected a lot of disappointed fans at the lack of new hotness in the keynote. That opening Xbox One X hype video that showed Master Chief’s helmet was pretty awesome though!

Even when it’s not a banner year for Halo, E3 holds a special place in my heart. Ever since I was a gaming-obsessed teen I remember rushing to the store to pickup the latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly to read all about the new games that were shown at E3 (shout out to "Sushi X"!). See, back then there really weren’t a lot of options when it came to following game news and there certainly weren’t any fancy 4K streams so we just had to wait and wonder until we could flip through pages of glorious screenshots and editor insights. I always dreamt of someday getting a job in gaming and going to E3 in person and after a long, winding road I eventually found myself at my first ever E3 as part of Bungie’s first Halo 2 delegation ("Space Pickle" anyone?).

I’ve had my share of crazy huge shows (Halo 2 theater, Halo 3’s Chinese Theater reveal for example) and some smaller shows (the year ODST was cut from the keynote last minute comes to mind) but I’ve loved E3 each and every year. It’s usually a tremendous amount of work – both at the studio leading up to a big show and the grueling schedules of the week itself – but there’s no place I’d rather be! For me E3 has always been the ultimate celebration of my favorite hobby, industry, entertainment medium and a chance to reunite with friends and colleagues I’d not see otherwise.

So this year’s E3 was still awesome and special to me, personally, even though the Halo community at large had a slightly different take. I get it though, really, we’re all passionate about Halo (right or I assume you wouldn’t be here reading this?) and we want to root for the franchise we love and have always associated with Xbox platforms and keynotes. Don’t worry, Halo will have its grand moments again for sure, but it’s actually kind of nice to have a breather and let the team stay heads down working on what’s next that’ll be ready when it’s ready.

I didn’t get to attend the keynote itself this year since seating is always super tight and since Halo had no presence there was no real justification to be in the audience. Instead, my day kicked off across town at the venue that would host a special Xbox FanFest later in the day. I gotta say it was super awesome of Xbox to throw this great fan-centric event and invite 500 lucky fans to be their VIP guests for the entire week. They were bussed over from the keynote to a private party where they had unlimited Mt. Dew, Doritos, and other treats while grooving to a DJ, playing some games (including Halo: CE on original Xbox consoles) and mingling with Xbox staff. Bravo joined me on stage to ‘cast’ two matches of Super Fiesta that were a lot of fun – it’s not often I’m in a position to brag but my team won in dominant fashion in both games. The audience was led to believe that only the winners would be receiving prizes but actually, it turned out that in true Oprah-like fashion, EVERYONE GETS A PRIZE! The fans were loaded up with swag from partners and left a little woozy from overindulgence of sugar, snacks and freebies. I also want to give a shout out to the 405th who showed up in full force and full costume to help make this event extra special for fans!

Monday was the Showcase event at the USC Galen center which was pretty awesome – they basically cleared out the floor area from the prior day’s keynote and setup a bunch of hands-on stations for all of the key Xbox titles. This is where Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare made its debut as we had six stations with the new Terminus Firefight mode running in glorious 4K on some tricked out gaming PCs. Two waves of media passed through during the day and later in the afternoon Kiki, Barry (the EP on the Halo Wars team) and myself joined Major Nelson on the Xbox E3 Daily Show to officially reveal the new Awakening the Nightmare trailer and speak briefly about the upcoming expansion.

     

Later at night those same lucky 500 fans from Sunday were invited back to have the whole venue to themselves for a bona fide party. Again, huge kudos to the Xbox team for going above and beyond in taking care of these fans! It was a great time to meet great folks and it was especially awesome seeing the likes of Phil Spencer and other senior Xbox folks mingling with fans for nearly four straight hours. An entourage of 343 folks also rolled through over the course of the event and we all enjoyed the chance to talk with some very passionate fans.

    

The expo itself finally kicked off on Tuesday when, for the first time, the doors were opened to the gaming masses as 15,000+ fans were given a chance to buy a ticket and crash the once-exclusive E3 party. And boy did they. The mob to get in wrapped around the block and it was a real Herculean task just to fight through the sea of bodies to get to the booth and report for my shift. The show was crazy packed. It become apparent that the traditional show and booth layout might not have been particularly well suited to 15,000 extra attendees. Thankfully(?) I was more or less stuck in the Xbox booth in one spot so I didn’t have to fight through crowds too much. 

     

The booth was jam packed and abuzz with energy the whole time, which was great, and despite the claustrophobic and crammed conditions did bring a good boost of excitement that has been lacking at E3 over recent years. We had six stations of Terminus Firefight playable on the floor with a steady line of players all day every day. As the show went on it was great seeing some of the same fans come through over and over to replay the demo. As the days went by we were wondering – what is the highest possible score someone could theoretically get in this 5-round fixed demo? At first the bar was set around 300K which proved to be a comfortable ceiling on day one. However, by Thursday a few hardcore fans had blown us away with a brand new record of 459,000 points! This was significantly higher than even the HW2 team had been able to do in their occasional hands-on sessions.

      

Wednesday afternoon Max (HW2 Design Director), Greg (HW2 Senior Producer), and I joined Major Nelson for another Xbox E3 Daily Show segment to play through a game of Terminus Firefight. Greg was off camera most of the time but had the critical job of delivering an exciting play through and while I think he was a little nervous, he pulled it off like a champ (especially once I reminded him to actually spend his Leader Powers). To wrap things up I was put on the spot to pick a fan out of the audience to give away a replica Plasma Rifle signed by the 343 team. Thankfully, I spotted a true fan right in the front sporting an ODST shirt and Halo hat that turned out to be none other than Dust Storm! You can check out the video of that entire segment right HERE.

   

Despite the sentiment storm erupting across social and in forums the mood on the floor in the booth was pretty great and it was really nice to talk and play with fans – old and new alike. We had many folks who were getting their first ever hands-on with Halo Wars 2 and it was awesome to see them having fun and quickly picking up the controls. Likewise, it was great to see fans coming back repeatedly because they enjoyed the mode so much and became obsessed with setting a new high score. Creative Assembly and the 343 team worked hard to get everything ready for the show and it’s always ultimately worth it when it comes together well and players are having a good time. Shout out to everyone here and back at CA that worked hard to make it all possible! (and shout out to HW2 Tech Director Isaac Bender for providing some of the great photos above!)

On behalf of the team, thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth and to all the great folks I had a chance to meet and speak with over the course of the week! Next stop: RTX! Back to you, Grim!

RTX-PERIENCE

Thanks ske7ch! The month of June has certainly flown by, and July is quite literally hot on its heels. You know what else is hot? No, not that, I’m talking about Austin, TX. Fortunately, the Texas summer heat is where all the coolest kids will be when the ever-epic RTX convention opens its homegrown doors July 7-9. Plus, we’ll be there too!

We’re extremely excited to partner with our friends from Loot Crate to create an awesome Halo-infused fan experience that includes Texas-sized table full of hilarious fun and sweat-inducing action. Here’s a sample of what’s on the meaty menu…

  • On Saturday, July 7, at 11 AM in meeting room 9, 343 will be hosting a Halo panel with some very special guests: Burnie Burns, co-founder of RoosterTeeth; Joseph Staten – Senior Creative Director, Microsoft Studios (and former Halo series director); Frank O’Connor – Franchise Director, 343 Industries, Tom French, Multiplayer Director, 343 Industries, and a few other folks from 343 and the Halo community. We’ve got some cool things to talk about set against the backdrop of fan-fueled hilarity as we host the very first edition of the Halo Match Game. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll dodge dangerous questions. It’s gonna be awesome. Best of all, we’ll be pulling fans from the audience to join us on stage to compete for fabulous prizes.
  • On last year’s RTX main stage, Bravo and I hosted a crazy collection of community-created Forge minigames played by Rooster Teeth luminaries and in-attendance fans. This year, our beloved ske7ch will be joining yours truly to host a fun-filled sequel. Meet us at the RTX main stage from 2:30-3:30 on Saturday, July 8 for your chance to join in all the fun!
  • A BOOMco Firing Range that lets you make both friends and foes out of fellow participants – and potentially some 343 staff as well. Come on, don’t act like you wouldn’t just love lighting some of us up with a Needler – we read the forums. We'll also have plenty of prizes to reward expert marksmanship.
  • Straight from the E3 show floor to the hallowed halls of RTX, we’ll have the freshly-announced Terminus Firefight mode playable, included with this fall’s Halo Wars 2: Awakening the Nightmare expansion.
  • More Halo hands-on goodness! Stop by, play Halo and maybe even win a prize.
  • A whole lotta loot! An epic array of awesome Halo and Loot Crate products to purchase and procure, so be sure you grab one of those 64-cubic-foot-volume anime-covered bags they always give out on the show floor to haul your haul around the hall in.

So yeah, needless to say, we’re stoked like the fires of a good BBQ at the prospect of getting to spend some quality time celebrating a common passion for Halo with you fine folks in a few weeks – hope to see you there!

RETRIBUTION

Coming Aug 29, another new chapter in the Halo universe will be unfurled – well, several of them, technically – as Halo: Retribution by Troy Denning makes its way to store shelves and lore-loving hands. Until now, fans only knew the name and the author. Today we’re showcasing both the cover and the plot synopsis of Denning’s latest work, so enjoy!

December 2553. Less than a year after the end of the Covenant War, a string of violent incidents continues to threaten the tenuous peace in human-held space, culminating in the assassination of UNSC fleet admiral Graselyn Tuwa and the abduction of her family. It is a provocation so outrageous that the Office of Naval Intelligence must retaliate swiftly and ferociously—but only after its operatives identify her killer and rescue the hostages.

This mission will be the first for homicide-detective-turned-ONI-operative Veta Lopis and her young team of Spartan-IIIs, and something feels wrong from the start. The obvious suspect is an infamous Brute who leads the Keepers of the One Freedom, an ex-Covenant splinter group in fierce opposition to the UNSC. But Lopis and her team soon realize that the truth is much more insidious than they could ever have imagined, and with Fred-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058 of Blue Team for combat support, they must stop a plan hatched in the bowels of the secret research station Argent Moon—a plan so sinister it could destroy all those still reeling from thirty years of intergalactic conflict…

The gorgeous cover art for Halo: Retribution comes by way of the talented Benjamin Carré. Keen-eyed fans will spot a new craft coming over the hillside, an ONI craft called the Turaco (you’re welcome, Halopedia). If you’re interested in getting caught up with these particular characters’ adventures, check out Halo: Last Light and the short story “A Necessary Truth” from Halo: Fractures – both by Troy Denning. And don't forget to preorder your copy of Halo: Retribution today!

SUMMER OF SNIPER

We’ve got some pretty cool news and updates on the Halo 5 Arena multiplayer front that we think will be of interest to quite a few of you.

  • The July-August 2017 season begins on July 6th, which of course also marks the end of the May-June season. That’s important because as of right now, the May-June season will be the final Arena Season emblem available to earn in Halo 5, so make sure you get those placement match done to snag your own little piece of digital history. The team is exploring some options to determine what future Arena Season rewards might entail.
  • RANKED SNIPERS RETURNS. That’s right, in just a couple weeks you’ll have to remove at least one thing off the list to fill our Twitter mentions with because Ranked Snipers is making a comeback for the July-August Arena season!  You love it? Go play it!
  • Castle Wars will be ending its current stint in Halo 5 matchmaking next Thursday, 6/29, so get in there and play while you still can! In fact, we’ll be doing that very thing ourselves – and giving a few lucky folks another chance to earn the 343 Ice Unicorn skin with an encore Community Playdate, this Friday, June 23 at 10 AM! Just try and storm our castles... we dare you.
  • But wait, if Castle Wars is leaving, what will take its place? We’re glad you asked, because the next rotational playlist coming to Halo 5 is ODDBALL! Everyone’s favorite ball-grabbing activity will go live in the Halo 5 Social playlist next Thursday, 6/29. This custom mini-game version of Oddball has the general ball-based gameplay you've come to know and love albeit in a bit more 'unofficial' manner. This Forge mini-game is a 4v4 offering built on an "Assault" foundation and the game variant can be found HERE.

SWAT IMPROVEMENTS

We’ve also got some cool new improvements to SWAT matchmaking. Let’s hear from the legendary Josh Menke from 343 to summarize the adjustments.

Some of our higher-skilled players have been struggling to play SWAT and FFA lately because their skills it’s hard to find others at their level on at the same time. Usually when this happens we adjust the matchmaker to allow the search to expand just enough to let people play again. This has the downside that as soon as the population shifts, they can’t play again.

This time, instead of letting the search expand just a little bit longer, we’re going to let it expand long enough that no matter how good these players get, they will eventually be guaranteed a match without having to restart their search over and over.

Lower-skilled players would potentially see higher-skilled players in their matches more often with the change. If players search Focused, however, they won’t see high-skilled players until waiting 2-3 minutes, making it an unusual occurrence in the middle tiers where most players are

Allowing the search to expand over a longer period should be a good compromise that both allows everyone to play, and still gives the fairest matches available in the playlist at the time of the search.

CRATERS GONNA CRATE

This week, we revealed the next series of Halo Legendary Crates with our friends from Loot Crate. We kick off the next salvo with a sweet Halo 4 theme that we're pretty excited about - it's an ordnance drop that all fans can actually love. Don't miss out on it!

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

It’s time for another round of awesome community contributions, let’s see what struck our fancy this week.

VIDMASTERS

Building up our Sniper theme from earlier, make sure you check out the awesome trailer for Snip3down’s upcoming Halo 5 montage. Check out some of this incredible Halo pro’s finest moments, coming soon!

MASTER BUILDERS

This fantastic Guardian prefab was a secret we hinted at on “Battle of Sunaion” Castle Wars map, but we just had to share it with everyone. To grab one to place on your own Forge map, head over to Portaleer’s file share to bookmark it.

SCREENCAP-TAINS

This incredible shot, titled “Seraph,” comes from @oSh3Wolfo. It’s absolutely beautiful, and super creative!

HOW GREAT THOU ART

As a dad myself, this gave me allergies. Thanks to Armor_of_Inferno for sharing on r/halo. 

That will do it for us today. Hope you all have an awesome weekend, and hope you’ll join us tomorrow morning for the Community Playdate!

Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and tell someone you appreciate them. 

<3 Grim

Related


Folks Need Heroes

Halo Community Update

Folks Need Heroes

By GrimBrother One -

Greetings, fair franchise followers! Welcome back to another installment of your most favoritest official Halo community update in the entire world. We’ve got a decent bit to cover, so let’s get right to it!

Infusion Invasion

Halo Community Update

Infusion Invasion

By GrimBrother One -

Hey folks! Your friendly neighborhood Grim here, back in the saddle for this week’s Community Update. We have some cool catch-ups on some neat Halo happenings from around various corners of the franchise, and highlight some particularly sweet community creations this week as well. Oh, and a sweet little preview of one of Halo Wars 2’s upcoming Leaders. With that, let’s dive in!

Into the Storm

Halo Community Update

Into the Storm

By GrimBrother One -

After taking a short sabbatical in order to partake in HCS Orange County last week, the Community Update is reloaded and ready to bestow a fresh-backed batch of Grim + Bravo banter upon your eager eyes (and ears). We’ve got a lot to cover, and not even the relentless environmental assault our area is enduring brought on by the vestigial vengeance of Typhoon Songda will stop us; just another day at the beach, you could say.