E3 2014

By -

E3 selfie
We are on the way. Frankie is not in the trunk. That is not his knee sticking up.

It’s 5:35 a.m. on Monday, June 9, and once again, instead of hitting the snooze button and/or throwing my phone out of my hotel room window, I jump out of bed after hearing my alarm because today just happens to be another exciting day, and one worthy of an early-morning wake up call. Back home, our community, web, and services teams (to name just a few) are hard at work preparing for the announcements that will soon be made at E3. In downtown Los Angeles, I meet up with the away team in an already buzzing hotel lobby. We’ve been in dress rehearsals since Friday, and this morning we will be on a stage for all the world to see. We cram into a car, and we’re off.

After a few hours of waiting, tech checks, and makeup (mainly for me), we are a few minutes away from the start of the Xbox Media Briefing. Several members of the team hang outside with Halo fans just before the doors open. Inside, the dressing room houses about ten 343’ers, and at the start of the show, everyone except Dan, Bonnie, Eric, Mason, and myself heads into the show to take their seats. The five of us hang behind, anxiously watching the show on a small TV as we wait to take our positions for Halo’s portion of the presentation. With each trailer and round of applause, we get closer and closer to announcing what’s coming this year and beyond for Halo. Yup, we’re excited.

With a few minutes to go, we’re called into our places, and catch the last few moments of the Fable Legends demo. Excitement shoots through me, and just as the iconic music begins, I check Twitter, and it is indeed blowing up. We head out to the stage to show off Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 2: Anniversary for the first time.

I wrote a bit about how honored and humbled we were to be a part of this announcement in the first E3 blog post last week, and we couldn’t be more excited about this project and the journey that lies ahead, and we’re glad to hear that many of you are excited as well.

Immediately following the Xbox Media Briefing, and each day since, we’ve been flooded with tons of questions regarding Halo: The Master Chief Collection and more. So this week, I took to the forums to answer a bunch. Check ‘em out below!

Halo E3 backstage
Last minute shenanigans before showtime.
Halo E3 first look
The world’s first look at Ascension in Halo 2: Anniversary.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Community Q&A

Question: Will Halo: The Master Chief Collection be available for download on the Xbox One Marketplace?

Answer: Yes! Access to the live action digital series Halo: Nightfall and the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta will also be available with the digital version.

Q: What about the new H2A engine for multiplayer? Will the Anniversary maps be included in the Halo 2 rotation?
-The Little Moa

A: Halo 2 Anniversary (with gameplay on the six reimagined Halo 2 maps) will have dedicated experiences in Matchmaking at launch. We’ll have more to share on playlist specifics later this summer.

Q: Can you clarify what's going on with control schemes?
-The Little Moa

A: We are currently finalizing control schemes, but we can say that we’ll have universal schemes that work across all games, as well as dedicated control schemes for each game. If you loved Halo 2’s default scheme but play Bumper Jumper in Halo 3, you’ll be able to use these for each corresponding title. 

Q: Will there be updates to the way menus/settings are navigated? For example, being able to change settings in a custom game lobby, etc.
-Lady Siegecorn

A: Halo: The Master Chief Collection will utilize a single, unified "Master Menu" to manage campaign and custom games.

Q: What version of Halo 2 will be included? Is it "pre-patch multiplayer?"

A: We are making huge investments to deliver a premium experience at 1080p, 60 fps. Having said that, the original game had a lot of dependencies running at 30 fps so we are focusing on making sure Halo 2 plays the way it did “post-patch.” Gameplay will feel the way you remember it.

Q: How exactly does matchmaking work? Will there be a filter or something that allows me to play just Halo 2 matchmaking? And so on for the other games.

A: We’ll have more to share on Matchmaking at a later date, but we can say that we’ll have playlists that offer multiple games, as well as dedicated experiences for separate games.

Q: Will you be adding a spectator mode to The Master Chief Collection?

A: By leveraging the Xbox One platform we’re able to take advantage of Twitch functionality to provide a spectator experience that will allow online players to stream their matches, speedruns, Forge sessions and more. However, there is not a dedicated in-game specific spectator mode. While we understand the importance and versatility of a dedicated spectating system, we’re confident that Twitch functionality will make it easy for anyone to share gameplay at any time while playing The Master Chief Collection.

Q: How will armor permutations work across all games? Will everything be unlocked from the start?
-Cpt Obvious2816

A: We’re still in development, but we’ll have more to share on customization as we get closer to launch.

Q: How's Backwash from Halo 2 running?
-Ozzy Onya A2Z

A: More musky and damp than you even remember.

Q: How long has The Master Chief Collection been in development?
-TeK x Fernplant

A: We started thinking about exactly how we were going to debut on Xbox One several years ago, prior to releasing Halo 4.

Q: Will Forge for The Master Chief Collection be a 'unified' experience or will there be a separate Forge application for each applicable Halo title?

A: We’ll be able to share more about Forge specifics in the coming months. For now, we can confirm that Halo 3, Halo 4, and the six re-mastered Halo 2 Anniversary maps will be Forgeable.

Q: Is there going to be Join-in-Progress for any of the games?

A: Halo: The Master Chief Collection Matchmaking will not feature Join-in-Progress.

Q: Will Halo: The Master Chief Collection include all the multiplayer maps from Halo 1&2 on the PC?
-Lx Predator

A: Halo: The Master Chief Collection features every multiplayer map ever released in Halo 1-4; on console and PC.

Q: Will each game have their original individual title screens?

A: Halo: The Master Chief Collection has a single, unified “Master Menu” rather than individual title screens. However, we will provide unique experiences for each title that capture the spirit of each original game.

Q: Will Halo 4 have the complete Spartan Ops?

A: Yes, all of Halo 4’s Spartan Ops missions will be included in the game.

Q: Who is better at Halo: CE, you or Quinn?

A: I am much better than Quinn at Halo: CE. 

Q: Will we be seeing terminals or things like them in the anniversary edition of Halo 2?
-Theos tou Puma

A: Yes! Halo 2: Anniversary will indeed feature new terminals where players will have the opportunity to delve deeper into the universe and find key hints about future Halo games and experiences.

Q: Will there be a PC version of Halo: The Master Chief Collection at some point in the future?
-Beats By Die

A: Our current focus is on the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One.

Q: How will searching for Ranked vs Social playlists work?
-F U N Z B O B

A: Ranked and social playlists are something we’re carefully approaching and thinking about. As mentioned prior, we’ll be able to discuss ranking and philosophy in the next few months.

Q: Could The Master Chief Collection be developed on Xbox 360?

A: We are dedicated to bringing a full and fun experience to Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, providing you with dedicated servers, a unified interface, increased visual fidelity, and gameplay running at 60 fps. We do not have any plans to bring the game to Xbox 360 as the game size, enhanced features and technical specifications simply can’t support it.

Q: Can we still play local co-op and campaign?

A: Yes, campaign co-op play will be supported across all four titles, both online and split-screen. In addition, we will be changing to a horizontal view for the split-screen multiplayer for Halo 2: Anniversary. The campaign co-op breakdown is as follows:

  • Halo: CE Anniversary – 2 players max, split-screen or online
  • Halo 2: Anniversary – 2 players max, split-screen or online
  • Halo 3 – 4 players max online, 2 players max split-screen
  • Halo 4 – 4 players max online, 2 players max split-screen

Q: If The Master Chief Collection is purchased digitally, will we still have access to the Halo 5 beta?

A: Yes! Digital purchasers of the game will have access to Halo: Nightfall as well as the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

Q: Will stats from the previous games (i.e., Rank, Armor, Commendations, K/D etc) carry over to the new titles?

A: Players will be starting fresh in terms of rank, stats, armor, and more on Xbox One. We’ll have more specifics at a later date.

Q: When will we see more multiplayer gameplay for Halo 2? Also more of the re-imagined maps?

A: We’ll have lots more multiplayer before launch. Keep an eye out during Gamescom in August!

Q: Will Halo 2 Anniversary offer the old handicap system (minor, moderate, severe) for custom games?
-Plastic Hassle

A: We’re still in development, but the goal is to include all original custom game options in each game.

Q: Can I play as an Elite? Wort wort wort!
-random king007

A: As mentioned at the Xbox Press Briefing, playable Elites are back! Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary, and Halo 3 multiplayer will all feature the return of playable Elites.

Q: Will Halo 2: Anniversary have button combos, such as BXR?
-KitKat The Fox

A: The original Halo 2 multiplayer and campaign will still have BXR and similar button combos. The 6 new maps are built upon a modified engine for Xbox One, so some of these button combos/glitches will not work as they did in the original. Rest assured, we are working very hard to match the original experience as closely as possible on this engine.

Q: Which six Halo 2 maps are being remastered?

A: As you know, we revealed Ascension at E3 - stay tuned for news on the other five maps starting this summer!

Q: In the E3 game demo for H2A we saw the return of a few medals from Halo 4. Were those placeholders or will Halo 4's medals be present in H2A's multiplayer?

A: The gameplay we showed on stage at E3 was a work in progress build, and as you’d expect, some of the items and assets on screen were indeed placeholder.

Q: Would you guys consider doing community events where you play with the community?

A: Absolutely! We’ll certainly be organizing community playdates, and most of us will be online every day this fall! Seriously.

Q: In Halo: Combat Evolved, will the option to create names only be in LAN mode, or will we be able to do the same on Xbox Live too?

A: When playing on Xbox Live, you’ll be playing as your Xbox Live gamertag.

Q: Will you be tracking game statistics for Halo 1, 2 and 3? If so, will they be separate and viewable on Halo Waypoint?

A: We aren’t revealing all details just yet, but yes, Halo Waypoint will support stats for all games.

And with that, this week’s Bulletin comes to a close. I’m sure you’ve still got some questions, and in the near future, we’ll have more answers, details, screenshots, and more.

Until next week,

- Bravo



The Bulletin

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By 343 Industries -

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The Bulletin

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I sure do love learning how things are made. Whether it’s a game, costume, or toy; I’m fascinated by the process and it always ends up being more complex or interesting than I imagined. Being at San Diego Comic Con this year and seeing all the incredible stuff people show up with reminded me of this. The 405th, a community of Halo cosplayers, were there donned in amazing armor and props. Mega Bloks built an epic diorama to help us reveal a new Warzone map, Raid on Apex 7.Plus, we had Warzone...

The Halo Bulletin

Gamescom 2014

By B is for Bravo -

We have returned from the world’s largest game show. We gave you a brand new look at Halo 2: Anniversary, and if you were with us in Germany, you likely got hands on with the all-new multiplayer. We braved absurd crowds and lines, and most of us made it home alive. I have returned home with a terrible fever, which is why today’s Bulletin is coming in one day late. Thank you for your patience, friends. The below picture helps to shed light on why we barely survived gamescom.