News

Remote Reports

By -

Welcome back to another Community Update! It's been a few weeks, but I'm ready to sit down, do some writing, and bring you the latest and greatest Halo news.

Home Field Advantage

Before we do that though, I wanted to take some time to address the elephant in the room, COVID-19 (coronavirus). This virus has been dominating the news and has worked its way into almost every aspect of our lives. We are not immune to this global pandemic and we're fully aware of the danger it poses to us as a individuals, as a team, and as part of the larger Seattle community.

As the situation began to take a turn for the worse in our area about two weeks ago, Microsoft and 343 leadership gave our studio guidance to work from home. Seeing as safety is the most important thing during a time like this, we took the advice and have been working from home ever since. It hasn't been a vacation though, as every team is adapting and getting creative to make sure they can do their best from outside the studio. Both 343 and Microsoft's leadership teams have been providing constant updates with how the COVID-19 situation is progressing, how our projects are progressing, and recommendations on how best to stay safe during these unprecedented times. 

What does that mean for MCC PC and Halo Infinite? We're removing all the obstacles in our path and tracking well, but need to be mindful of our current limitations and understand that the coronavirus situation may get worse before it gets better. Rest assured that every single one of us is doing everything in our power to continue developing and delivering quality Halo experiences while we adjust to this new way of life.

Beyond all of that though, please remember that this is bigger than games and bigger than Halo. Practice social distancing whenever possible (like the Blue Spartans above who are staying an Elephant's length away from each other), wash your hands, and do your best to keep it clean. We're all in this together.

St. Patrick's Day

On a lighter note, St. Patrick's Day was this Tuesday and our Publishing Team's Art Director made another cheerful piece of holiday art for the occasion. In this drawing featuring Master Chief and Kelly-087, the two life-long friends are racing to find a four-leaf clover. Kelly, the fastest Spartan-II, is able to scour the field and find one before Chief, despite his best efforts and all of his luck, to give us this very memorable, light-hearted moment.

Now let's get into the rest of the news inside this Community Update!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

In case you missed it because you've been stuck in a cave on Reach – Halo: CE Anniversary has landed on PC! H:CEA was originally released for Xbox 360 in 2011, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the game that started it all, Halo: Combat Evolved. H:CEA on PC features the original mutliplayer and the remastered campaign, which allows you to switch between both the classic and the remastered visuals whenever you like. With its journey to PC, it now also has many of the features and settings that you'd expect while playing on a computer. In fact, here's a list of some of the new features and content you can find in MCC after the CEA update:

Halo: CEA Enhancements

  • New Spartan customization 3D model viewer (Xbox One and PC)
  • Ability to toggle between H:CEA and H:CE Classic audio for multiplayer (Xbox One and PC)
  • Mouse + Keyboard input support
  • Customizable key bindings
  • Variable Frame Rate (VFR) support (experimental feature)
  • Adjustable FOV (experimental feature)
  • Ultrawide and alternate resolution support
  • Text chat

MCC PC UPDATES / NEW FEATURES:

  • Updated crouch/movement mechanic for mouse + keyboard (Halo: Reach)
  • Push-to-talk voice chat
  • Push-to-talk key binding
  • Separated key binding on a per-title basis
  • Datacenter ping values are now visible
  • Message of the Day added
  • Updated zoom controls (explanation HERE)

To see the complete list of updates, please visit the Patch Notes page on the Halo Support site.

As a reminder, even though our attention will now begin to shift towards H2A, it's important to note that we are still investigating, tracking, and working to resolve issues you find in Halo: Reach and CEA. If you see something out of the ordinary, please submit a ticket if you don't see it already listed on our Halo Support site's Known Issues lists.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy going back to the beginning of the franchise for a bit. It's always a blast to revisit that Halo ring and play some Blood Gluch CTF.

Halo Insider & Halo 2 Flighting

The successful launch of Halo: CEA on PC was aided by our supportive Halo Insider community. Last month we had over 100K registered Halo Insiders participate in a flight which helped our team gather the data and feedback they were looking for before our March 3 launch. This critical partnership with all of you over the past year has been incredible and really helped make this game what it is today. Now, as you might have guessed, the next step on our great journey is to bring Halo 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary to our Halo Insider flighting rings.

While the exact dates and content of the next flight are still being determined and not final, we're currently planning for it to include Halo 2, Halo 2 Anniversary, and additional content from the ongoing work happening with Halo: Reach and CEA. That's obviously a lot of content so there's always a chance it scales down and focuses on one or two of those, but these are the areas we're looking to target next.

If you want to join us in helping bring the rest of MCC to PC, make sure you register for the Halo Insider program here on Waypoint. While registering does mean that you can get into flights, it doesn't guarantee that you will get into flights – even the ones you really want. Registering and including the information listed below on your profile is the only way to have a shot at early flights: 

  • Register on HaloInsider.com
  • Verify the email address you've provided for communication
  • Opt-in to receive communications from us
  • Opt-in to PC flights
  • Link your Steam account
  • Upload/update your DxDiag

Please remember to opt-in for email communications. We can't send you your invitation if you don't let us. Finally, if you'd like to follow the team's progress between Community Updates, keep an eye on our dedicated Flighting Update thread, which Postums updates every week.

Playlist Updates

MCC's weekly playlists have held strong and recently benefited from the launch of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Fiesta, the popular party mode, has made its first appearance in Halo: CE multiplayer, and is now the featured option in Social Games. I have to say, it's pretty cool that we're able to crack open this 19 year old game and put this fan-favorite mode into matchmaking.

Last, but certainly not least, to help make your increased time inside a little more enjoyable, we've turned on Double XP globally for MCC and Halo 5: Guardians. To learn more about the other recent MCC playlist updates, please visit the links below!

Halo Esports

DREAMHACK ANAHEIM

Towards the end of February, DreamHack hosted the first official Halo tournament run on PC and the results were as incredible as you'd expect for such a landmark event. Sentinels, the new home for the juggernauts of TOX Gaming, Mantra, Nfinite, and Unllimited all had world class performances and standout plays that made my jaw drop. However, three fierce days of competition narrowed the field until only Mantra and Unllimited remained in the Grand Finals. In one of the best series I can remember in recent history, Mantra managed to edge out Unllimited in nail-biting Game 7 of Team Slayer on The Pit.

Since most of us have a bit more time at home, I'd recommend watching some of the rebroadcast of the tournament – especially the Grand Finals: 

Congratulations again to bubu dubu, Falcated, Spartan, Ace, and coach Elamite on winning the first Halo event on PC!

Microsoft Store Halo

Unfortunately the next Microsoft Store Halo event, which was supposed to be taking place next Sunday, March 29, has been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. All Microsoft Stores have closed for the time being and will return to normal operations when the situation improves and it's safe to do so. Until then, keep an eye out for Community Updates discussing their return and follow @HCS on Twitter!

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 is off to a fresh new start with the Spring 2020 Arena Season, the return of Mythic Arena, and global Double XP. At the start of the new season, we introduced a few updates to how players rank up and down in ranked playlists. Since then we heard your feedback and our Lead Engagement Designer, Josh Menke, implemented a few additional tweaks which you can read here on Waypoint.

March-April Calendar

March

  • Spring 2020 Arena Season, Mythic Arena, & Global Double XP are all live
  • March 19: Triple Team rotates in for Castle Wars
  • March 26: Core Play rotates in for Triple Team
  • March 26: Warzone Turbo goes live for the weekend

April

  • April 1: Hardcore Super Fiesta rotates into Ranked for April
  • April 2: Covenant Slayer rotates in for Core Play
  • April 9: Mythic Shotty Snipers rotates in for Covenant Slayer
  • April 9: Warzone Assault goes live for the weekend
  • April 16: ODST Slayer rotates in for Mythic Shotty Snipers
  • April 23: Rock 'n' Rail rotates in for ODST Slayer
  • April 30: CE Anniversary rotates in for Rock 'n' Rail
  • April 30: Warzone Turbo goes live for the weekend

Warzone Firefight

If you missed the news in my last Community Update, we'll be making a few changes to our Warzone Firefight offerings in the future. However, before we can push these changes live, we'd need to go to the studio and make sure everything is working properly in our test lab environment. As the safety of our team and community comes first, this change will likely have to wait until the coronavirus pandemic is a behind us. Read more on the upcoming changes here:

As the team continues to monitor playlist health, we'll eventually be looking to reduce the number of Warzone offerings that are up at any specific time. The current plan to help alleviate the bifurcation of players is to eventually consolidate our Warzone Firefight playlists. While there are differences between Heroic Warzone Firefight, Legendary Warzone Firefight, and Mythic Warzone Firefight, we've noticed that Legendary WZFF players will jump over to Mythic WZFF during the weekends. Due to this split offering, we see Legendary WZFF activity fall during the weekend while Heroic WZFF remains steady. As a result, we've decided to "combine" Legendary & Heroic WZFF into one Warzone Firefight playlist and leave Mythic WZFF up permanently – bringing our three playlists to two.

The reason "combine" is in quotes is because the playlist will exclusively feature Heroic difficulty, but the XP Rewards will now match those of Legendary WZFF. Fear not though, Mythic WZFF will continue to provide it's higher XP payouts due to its extreme difficulty. By doing this we believe that the population will no longer be split between Legendary & Mythic WZFF, and the two existing playlists will remain healthy for quite some time. The timing for this change has not been locked in yet, but will probably happen within the next few weeks.

Halo Gear

[Click here for the full cover art]

Halo: Shadows of Reach

Our latest and greatest Halo novel penned by Troy Denning, Halo: Shadows of Reach, was revealed in a Canon Fodder last week! This new Master Chief story takes Blue Team back to Reach after the events of Halo 5: Guardians. Rather than leak all of the details and spoilers, I'll avoid getting myself into trouble and just share the official description:  

October 2559. It has been a year since the renegade artificial intelligence Cortana issued a galaxy-wide ultimatum, subjecting many worlds to martial law under the indomitable grip of her Forerunner weapons. Outside her view, the members of Blue Team—John-117, the Master Chief; Fred-104; Kelly-087; and Linda-058—are assigned from the UNSC Infinity to make a covert insertion onto the ravaged planet Reach.

Their former home and training ground—and the site of humanity’s most cataclysmic military defeat near the end of the Covenant War—Reach still hides myriad secrets after all these years. Blue Team’s mission is to penetrate the rubble-filled depths of CASTLE Base and recover top-secret assets locked away in Dr. Catherine Halsey’s abandoned laboratory—assets which may prove to be humanity’s last hope against Cortana.

But Reach has been invaded by a powerful and ruthless alien faction, who have their own reasons for being there. Establishing themselves as a vicious occupying force on the devastated planet, this enemy will soon transform Blue Team’s simple retrieval operation into a full-blown crisis. And with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance, mission failure is not an option….

If you're interested in tackling the next Halo novel, you can now pre-order online to secure your copy today!

Wicked Cool Toys

Our friends at Wicked Cool Toys showed off some incredible pieces of upcoming Halo Gear at New York Toy Fair last month, which I know many of our hardcore fans and collectors were analyzing very closely. There were so many "Zoom. Enhance." pictures circulating around Twitter that even I was surprised. Here's a glimpse at four of the amazing products they have planned:

If you'd like to see the rest of what they had at NYTF, @TheLegendary117 and @MrsLegendary117 were there in person to capture all the other figures, helmets, and more. Get up-close-and-personal with their entire album right here!

Mega Construx

Mega Construx, the building block of Halo Gear, also joined in on the NYTF announcements by revealing three new sets based on Halo Infinite vehicles. The Mongoose, Warthog, and Pelican will all be drivable, flyable, and – thanks to Mega Construx – buildable, later this year: 

Nerf

In the lead up to New York Toy Fair, the Halo Gear team made a splash by announcing that we'll be partnering up with Nerf to bring Halo Infinite blasters to the hands of Spartans, young and old alike.

As part of the announcement, we showed off three of the new blasters – a MA40 Assault Rifle (pictured above) along with the SPNKr & Needler, which will both be a part of their adorable-yet-powerful Microshot line.

Halo: CEA Mousepad

When Halo: Reach launched on PC, the Halo Gear team created a mousepad to celebrate. Well, they liked the idea so much that they decided to do it again! Don't miss out on your chance to get this Halo: CE Anniversary mousepad – if I remember correctly, the Reach ones went out of stock fairly quickly:

Well, that's everything for this section! If you can't tell, there's going to be so much sweet Halo Gear coming out this year. I'm excited.

  • Community Spotlight: The latest Community Spotlight from snickerdoodle featured Forge-created screenshots, and stunning paintings like the one here by u/turtlesalad711 from the Halo subreddit. If you plan on spending a little more time indoors, it's certainly our most romantic #HaloSpotlight to date!
  • 343 Social Streams: Since everyone from the studio is working from home, 343 Social Streams will be on hold until the coronavirus situation has improved. The Community Team is looking for ways to potentially coordinate a few Community Playdates from home so that we can all play together and you can still earn the Ice Unicorn skin and nameplate. If we're able to make it happen, keep an eye on @Halo on Twitter to see when and where it'll all go down!
  • Audio Team Field Recordings: The latest #SoundDesignSaturday posed a simple, yet divisive question to our Instagram followers, "Team Wolverine or Team Porcupine?" That's because the Audio Team captured audio at a local nature reserve and was able to record the sounds of these remarkable animals. Although these were previously exclusive to Instagram, the team will also be releasing compilations of these field recordings on our YouTube channel. The first place to find them will still be on IG, but soon you'll be able to find these "supercuts" on other Halo channels.
  • Community Montage Contest: HAble and the rest of the HaloIsBack crew are hosting their second montage contest! With cash prizes and lots of notoriety on the line, we're expecting to see some high-level gameplay and creative editing come out and steal the show before the November 1 deadline. You can find more information about the contest, including how to submit your montage, on their site right here. Good luck, and have fun!  

Art

Now that Halo: CE has made its way to PC, I wanted to show off a piece of concept art that hits on the game's tone really well. It shows the bright and beautiful environment of a Halo, while really hammering home that they were created for a deeper, darker purpose. Since this piece shows the Flood, I wanted to wait until post-launch as to not spoil the surprise for any new Halo fans. Remember that if you ever encounter the Flood, don't be a Jenkins. Fire your weapon.

Enjoy this art? Perfect! Feel free to save it off by clicking on the links (or the art itself) below:

As always, thank you for joining me for another Community Update. Please remember to be safe, wash your hands, and keep it clean.

Until next time,

- UNY

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