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Recapping Renegade

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The last two weeks have been filled with meetings, lots of writing, working on PowerPoint slides, attempts to stay warm, and of course fitting in some games of Halo. Everyone I talk to in the studio seems to be in the same boat: working on all sorts of projects, doing their best to find time for fun weekend activities, and preparing for a potential return of the snowpocalypse.

Now that I've started to write about work, I won't be able to stop – so let's take a look at what's been happening and what's planned in the world of Halo for the next two weeks!

Halo 5: Guardians  

The H5 Sustain Team is currently working on building out a plan to show you what's slated for March. Once it's finalized, I'll be sure to share it in my next Community Update - but until then, here's what you should expect in the immediate future! 

  • Feb 21 (Today): Halo 3 Classic Throwback has rotated in
  • Feb 28: Triple Team rotates in place of Community Doubles
  • Feb 28: Warzone Turbo returns for the weekend
  • March 5: Spring 2019 Arena Season begins

We've also been having some conversations about what changes the Spring 2019 Season will bring. While there shouldn't be anything too drastic, we're hoping some changes to Doubles and a few Forge map additions to Free-For-All will help improve the overall ranked experience.

Last, but certainly not least, the Big Team Battle refresh is coming along quite nicely. Again, I hope to be able to share even more about this in the next Community Update!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

If I had to describe our cadence of MCC updates since the start of the new year in one word, that word would be "nonstop." On a very real note though, the game has been updated weekly for a while now – whether it's with content or matchmaking additions – and there always seems to be a lot to catch up on. Here's what's happened since my last Community Update!

February Content Update 

One of the most significant changes with this update was a reorganization of our Social Games experiences, which aligns with player behavior data and should address much of the feedback we've received since launching Match Composer. This is what some of the new groupings look like in Social Games:

  • Flag and Bomb – Attack and defend bases in scenarios involving Flag and Bomb Objectives. Includes Capture the Flag, Assault, and Ricochet.
  • Zone Control – Capture and control zones on the map to earn points. Includes King of the Hill, Territories, Extraction, and Dominion.
  • Asset Denial – Attack enemy targets and defend your own. Includes Oddball, VIP, and Regicide.

One other change to our social offerings is worthy of its own line – Rocket Race. The action-packed race mode has returned and now lives in the Multi Team option, so hop on some Mongeeses (I've decided that nobody is correct in the Mongooses/Mongeese debate) and enjoy the ride!

That's not all that's included in the update though; other notable additions include:

  • Valentine's Day Nameplate – This lovely new nameplate can be earned by completing ten games of Multi Team in Social Games or by playing through three unique co-op Campaign missions with a friend.
  • IP Masking – Unfortunately there are some not-so-nice people on the internet, and they've been trying to find ways to negatively impact people's matchmaking experience. In order to prevent them from being able to do so, we built in a new feature called 'Server Relays' which helps protect against them. To learn more about it, check our February Update post here.
  • Microsoft Store 2v2 Playlist – After hearing your feedback, we've brought back the perfect training grounds for our Microsoft Store tournaments. Play Hardcore 2v2 Team Slayer on the right maps with your local Doubles partner in the MS 2v2 Series playlist to get ready for your neighborhood showdown.

As always, a full deep-dive on this update can be found here on Waypoint courtesy of the postman master, Postums.

February 20 Playlist Update

The matchmaking updates we pushed live yesterday are great additions, but I want to specifically call out that the team was able to bring 45 fan-favorite Forge maps from Halo 3 into MCC. The Match Composer changes are mostly additions, but I've made sure to outline them below:

  • 2v2v2v2 – Team Slayer: Increased score to win
  • 1v1 – Slayer: “Carbon” supporting the game type Head to Head.
  • 4v4 – Action Sack: “Paralysis”, “The Great Wall”, and “Socratic Method” supporting the game type Conquest.
  • 4v4 – Action Sack: “BLAST OFF!!!” supporting the game type Flying’ High.
  • 8v8 – Slayer & Flag and Bomb: “Multicog” supporting the game types BTB Slayer and BTB Capture the Flag.
  • 12 Player (FFA) – Action Sack: “Lava Pit” supporting the game type Sacrifice.
  • 12 Player (FFA) – Action Sack: “Pond Jumping” supporting the game type Frogger.
  • 12 Player (FFA) – Action Sack: “Bee Hive” supporting the game type Bees.

And, of course I'm going to link out to Postum's post with map names and where to find them right here. What kind of show do you think I'm running here?

Halo Championship Series

Everyone on the HCS Team, who happen to sit right next to me here at the studio, are in full event mode preparing for SXSW. I know this because they are constantly on the move, shuffling from one meeting to the next. The hustle and bustle is quite familiar at this point, and believe it or not, it's actually pretty intoxicating – there's not much that can out-hype the excitement before a Halo event.

HCS Invitational at SXSW

I'll only get one more chance to promote this event in a Community Update, and since I have it on good authority from Tashi that this should be an excellent weekend, I wanted to make sure we touched on it again. Competitive Halo in Austin, TX at SXSW should already be enough to get you excited, but here's a list of what's happening there in case you aren't sold yet.

  • $100,000 Pro Invitational featuring the Top 6 teams from UGC Halo Classic
  • Microsoft Store 2v2 Throwdown
  • Big Team Battle Bonanza
  • Rivals Showmatch: Snip3down vs Lethul
  • $5,000 Open Halo 3 FFA Tournament
  • Opportunities to hang out with HCS Grassroots creators Ac7ionManUberNickVetoed, Stress, Proximitty, and HCS Weekly's ShyWay! (That's right, there are some new names there. Scroll down a tiny bit!)

Tickets can be purchased here, but if you'd prefer to enjoy it from the comfort of your home, join us all weekend long on mixer.com/Halo and twitch.tv/Halo!

HCS Grassroots Creators

After a ridiculously thorough screening of all HCS Grassroots Content Creator applications, the next wave of members has officially been announced. Please join me in welcoming the program's newest members!

On top of sending them a quick congratulations, you really should check out their channels above. Their consistent quality content is the reason they were chosen and it's absolutely worth your while.

MICROSOFT STORE TOURNAMENTS

Halo 3 returns to your local Microsoft Store this Sunday, February 24! The stakes are much higher this month though, as anyone who attended in January and returns this weekend can qualify to win a trip to SXSW to play with pros in the Microsoft Store 2v2 Throwdown. You must have advanced through at least one round during either tournament to be eligible. That means even if you got knocked out at the start of your store's January event, you're not out of the running. Brush the dirt off and head back to your local Microsoft Store this Sunday and give it the ol' college try. Find out more at aka.ms/MCCHalo!

Also, as an added bonus for select participating stores, you may end up on our second Mixer Matchups broadcast! We'll be pulling players povs from stores and building out a cross-country showdown to find the best duo in the country. Last month's teams caught Tashi and me by surprise, so we really don't know what to expect anymore, and that makes things so much more interesting. To tune in for the broadcast, keep your eyes on mixer.com/Halo this Sunday at 12pm PT!

Tashi and I got all mic'd up with on brand t-shirts at the Mixer Studio last month.

Halo Wars 2

Two years. Two long years. Happy Birthday, Halo Wars 2! I'll probably use that reference again next year as well, and I absolutely expect all of you to hold me to it. That said, in celebration of its anniversary, we've coordinated with the Xbox team to make it and Halo Wars: Definitive Edition available for free this weekend to all Xbox Live Gold members as part of a Free Play Days weekend. To queue up your download for Halo Wars: DE, click anywhere in this sentence that's blue. To do the same for Halo Wars 2, also click anywhere in this sentence that's blue

Halo Gear

Whether it's bringing you new books or the next Halo Legendary Crate, the same team that's working to help bring you Halo: Outpost Discovery has not slowed down on their other tasks. Let's take a look at what they've been up to, shall we? 

Halo: Renegades

This past Tuesday we launched our latest novel, Halo: Renegades, which continues right where Rion Forge's storyline left off in Halo: Smoke & Shadow. The reviews I've seen from hardcore community members point to this being one of the best Halo books we've ever released. Grim also says that it's one of his favorites, so I'll definitely be picking up a copy for myself. Oh no, I mentioned Grim. That means...

Thanks Uny! We are indeed incredibly excited about the release of Halo: Renegades, the latest novel to help expand our favorite universe. I’m sure it’s gonna seem a bit biased coming from yours truly, but Kelly Gay has knocked this out of the park, and we can’t wait for more and more fans to get their hands on one of my personal favorite stories. To help get you hyped up, our community pal haruspis interviewed the lore-loving Renegades author about her experience penning this story and playing in the Halo universe. Here’s a quick taste of their conversation:

H: What’s the story with how you got into Halo? What really drew you into the series?

KG: My editor at Simon & Schuster (who also helms the Halo novels), brought me onboard when pulling authors together for Fractures. We worked together previously on my Charlie Madigan urban fantasy series and from that relationship he knew I was into gaming and sci-fi.

Summer of 2014 or 2015 (terrible memory), I get a call asking if I wanted to write a Halo short story. Being familiar with the franchise and the massive scope of the universe made it a huge draw as there was so much potential in terms of storytelling.

H: Let’s do a bit of a recap on Halo: Smoke and Shadow. What was that story about, and what other stories does it connect to?

KG: It’s about Rion and crew’s discovery of a salvage wreck, which leads them to new clues on where the Spirit of Fire might have gone. This discovery sends them to a Forerunner debris field, and puts them in direct conflict with Gek ‘Lhar. And that conflict does not end well for the crew.

The big connection, of course, is to the storyline of Halo Wars, and then some loose connections to the existing Gek ‘Lhar storyline at the time, and some of the characters have personal connections to other stories like the terrorist attack on Sedra, and Kilo-5.

H: Smoke and Shadow did a lot in just under 100 pages, whereas Renegades is three times as long. That must’ve been quite a playground for you! Can you give us any little teasers at some of the connections that Renegades might make across the series?

KG: Yes, it was! The scope of the story is huge. It covers a lot of ground and a lot of light years. 

A challenge, but a whole lot of fun too.

Hmm. Teasers… well there are lots of goodies, salvagers, new ships, new settings, new technology, ONI, a one-eyed Sangheili, and the appearance of a team of Spartan-IVs who’ve been mentioned in media before, but never named or described until now.

Alright, that’s all you get for now – but trust me, there’s a whole lot more where that came from. Definitely go and check out the full interview for yourself! And for the more video-inclined, venerable story stalwart Toa Freak also put up a spoiler-free review of the book on his Halo Canon YouTube channel. Give it a watch!

Also, speaking of new lore, yesterday on the 343 Social Stream we teased that we’ve got a new Canon Fodder(!) slated for release next week, so keep your eyes peeled for that soon. Looking forward to chatting more, but for now, back to U!

<3 Grim

To get your own copy of Halo: Renegades, swing by your local bookstores or order online today!

Halo Legendary Crate

Emile-A239 is finally receiving his very own Halo Legendary Crate, and get this, the theme is Renegade. I can't believe the Halo Gear team was able to coordinate that naming and release timing so well. Regardless of whether or not that was a coincidence (or the best planning of all time), you can order yours today at loot.cr/halo!

We've been been waiting for this crate for a while now. How 'bout you?

Halo: Outpost Discovery - Discovery Dispatch

We've kicked off a new series of updates that will discuss the development of Halo: Outpost Discovery. Our first post in this series dives into how Outpost Discovery is both a canonical element of the Halo universe as well as the in-person attraction we announced earlier this month. It gives you a little more information on two Spartans, Owen and Hazel, that you'll get to know when you visit one of the locations this summer. Give it a read right here on Waypoint!

Community

There are always plenty of community-run activities to get involved in, you just need to know where to look. Luckily the studio has trained community ninjas who find them and help share them with all of you. The events highlighted below were scouted out by our Spartan ninja squad a while ago, but since they're happening over the next few weeks, I wanted to give them another shoutout.

soon

A little ways out

These other community-run events are a little bit further out, but we wanted to put them on your radars in case you'd like to attend.

  • Cosplay! There are some murmurs that a Halo cosplayer meetup happening at Emerald City Comic Con here in Seattle on Saturday, March 16. That means if you're in town and have some Mjolnir armor, or want to see some real life Spartans for yourself, you should keep an eye on the next Community Update which should have a little bit more of the details.
  • While writing this, our aforementioned ninjas spotted a community-run Halo 3 and Halo 2 LAN in the Australian Outback. Well, actually, it's in Queensland. The Halo Australia crew is hosting this two game event on April 27-28 and has plenty of the details, including ticket sales, already sorted out a for those interested in attending. Read up on the full event here!

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