Au Revoir, Outpost
For the past two months we’ve been on an epic adventure bringing Halo goodness to fans across the country as part of the Halo: Outpost Discovery tour. This first-of-its-kind event was a long time in the making and represented a tremendous amount of work from our partners at Herschend and a dedicated strike team within 343 Industries. Before I ramble any further, I want to thank all the fans who came to Outpost this summer and everyone at 343 and Herschend who poured their passion and hard work into this project to make it happen! If you don’t care about my personal thoughts and a bunch of pics, feel free to scroll on past. Otherwise, get comfy, and let's reflect on what was truly an awesome and memorable summer!
I had the privilege of attending all five locations over the course of the summer, meeting tons of awesome community members and celebrating all things Halo in Orlando, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim. In case you’re wondering – that’s a lot of adventure – in fact, my own personal Outpost by the Numbers comes out to 26.7K miles of flying and more than 125 miles of walking! Unofficially, despite all the walking, I think I also gained one new chin per city on account of so much delicious local cuisine (deep dish! cheesesteaks! tex-mex! BBQ!).
It’s been a real whirlwind, and quite exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It’s not often we get a chance to bring together Halo fans and spend three solid days basking in a shared love for Halo and its incredible, passionate community. For fifteen days this summer we all got a great reminder of why we love Halo, why we are so lucky and grateful to have such a passionate community, and why we’re more excited than ever for the future.
As I’ve reflected on Outpost and talked about it with others, I’ve been struggling to accurately sum up what made the event so special to me (and so many others). Then I saw this article from PC Gamer which fantastically captured my own sentiment and two key words that echo my own feelings – wholesome and family.
If you’ve ever been to a Halo esports event or LAN party or Outpost you no doubt have also experienced the sense that this community is one big family. Sure, we may fight online about different settings, modes, and games, but at the end of the day, we all share a common love and have so many memories and friendships and life moments that are rooted in Halo. Outpost brought this out in all of us, gave us a platform to celebrate it, and while it’s hard to really explain, each weekend felt like a close-knit gathering of lifelong friends.
It was also incredibly wholesome. It was uplifting. Inspiring. It was touching to see multiple generations of Halo fans sharing the franchise together. Parents who grew up playing Halo in college got the opportunity to reunite (some for the first time in person) and pass on their love of Halo to their children. I have to give a special shout out to the two dads I met at Galaxy’s Edge who used to read my old Bungie blogs and promoted me to pilot for our Millennium Falcon mission – sorry about the sketchy flying!
Everyone who attended Outpost no doubt has their own list of memorable moments and experiences you’ll fondly look back on – we’d love to hear ‘em over in the Halo Outpost forum. I could easily write more words than anyone would care to read so instead, here's a handful of just some of my favorite photos from the Summer of Outpost!
Steve Downes and Jen Taylor were so gracious and accommodating all summer long and definitely a highlight for attendees. The panels they did with Bravo and Grim were fantastic (we'll get them on YouTube down the road). 343's Frankie and Bonnie joined them in Orlando during our inaugural weekend.
This was during the first Cosplay Contest in Orlando. For some unknown reason, Grim was put in a chair clear across stage from Kiki, Frank, and I - where he sat awkwardly alone. Poor Grim. This is actually when the whole notion of challenging Grim to build his own makeshift cosplay using fast food materials was born!
This was one of our first 343 Community Playdates on the Mixer stage. We were joined by Xbox's Major Nelson who teamed up with Halo community Ninja doppleganger Greenskull and members of the audience to face off against Team Unyshek.
All of the cosplay on display at Outpost all summer was AMAZING. This creative Brute/Spartan hybrid was an early favorite of mine.
This Spartan cosplay from Anaheim was AWESOME!
Speaking of Anaheim Cosplay, this incredible Elite took home the grand prize for obvious reasons!
The one. The only. Master Beef! Grim really came through on the challenge issued in Orlando thanks to some help from Arbys.
The one and only Beamish also made an appearance at Outpost in Anaheim!
Over the course of the summer, Team 343 engaged in some heated laser tag battles against Team Outpost. I'm sad to say we went 0-3 for the tour - though, for the record, our opponents pulled some tactics in Anaheim that cost us the W. The same type of tactics that would get someone banned if we'd be inside a Halo game. :)
In Houston, Team Ske7ch got a boost from none other than Spiderman as we squared off against Team KP in the Community Playdate. Spiderman hit me with the game winning hail mary pass in Grifball, greeted with a roar of applause, which may be one of the highlights of my competitive halo career.
We had epic Community Playdates all over the country but Chicago is where our special guest Ethan breezed through Crossy Road in a swift 2 min 40 seconds and set a record nobody else would come close to touching all summer long. Also, gotta love that photo bomb by yours truly.
Even working at 343, this was the first time I'd ever seen this cool image showing where the inspiration came from for the updated Chief designs in Halo Infinite. The panel with Art Director "Sparth" and Marcus Lehto (original creator of Master Chief and long time Halo lead) was fantastic and is something we'll definitely get on YouTube for you to enjoy.
We were joined by Max Hoberman - current founder and president of Certain Affinity and the original lead behind Halo 2 and Halo 3 multiplayer. We had a great time in Houston and Anaheim. (Yep, this is also something we've targeted for YouTube release - some really great stories were shared about the origins of Halo multiplayer)
The Halo Legacy panel we did in Chicago with Frank, Marcus Lehto, Tim Dadabo (the voice of 343 Guilty Spark!), and Carlos was a blast!
Loved this iconic shot of some of the cosplayers who joined us in Chicago along with Steve, Jen, and newcomer Melisa Pereyra who was the actor portraying Gabriella - the UNSC AI at Outpost.
Dang, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface here, I have hundreds of photos on my phone and even more in our internal archives... and that doesnt even include all the food pictures I took. I should also note that the photo used for the main image for this update - the signed Chief helmets - is something that @Jessabirdy orchestrated. While fans asked us for autographs all summer long, she got THEM to sign these helmets as a token of thanks and appreciation to bring back to the 343 team. Thank you everyone!
I'll spare your data plans from a further onslaught of pics and just leave you with a few last morsels - these awesome videos were shared on social that you really should check out if you haven't already!
Franchise writer and community stalwart Jeff "GrimBrother One" Easterling also attended several Outpost events and he passed along a few words of his own....