Welcome back, Spartans! It’s hard to believe that February is already here (and we’re almost half-way through it!), which means it’s high time for a community update.
We’ve got plenty to look back on and even more to look forward to, so strap yourselves in and let’s talk all things Halo!
Twenty has been a big theme for us lately! We recently celebrated twenty years (twenty years!) of Halo, and we were thrilled to announce that over 20 million Spartans joined us and made Halo Infinite the biggest launch in the franchise’s history.
This incredible milestone quite simply could not have been achieved without all of you. The passion, dedication, and feedback from our community is what will continue to enable us to make Halo Infinite the best game it can be!
Halo Infinite has also received some recent updates. Our February 3 release addressed the issues players have been experiencing with Big Team Battle, which is now back in business. Behemoth was also removed from Ranked matchmaking.
Desync and the overall online experience have been topics of concern of late and Richard Watson, Lead Engineer on the Sandbox team, wrote up a detailed exploration of some of these issues. We want to maintain an open discussion about the state of networked play in Halo Infinite, discuss our plans for mitigating these issues, and address some commonly asked questions in an FAQ.
- As of today, we’ve increased the priority of low pings to our servers in the matchmaking process. This step should help you match with local players, and therefore have a better connection, more often. As you get more of these local matches, instances of playing on further data centers will also decline.
- Separate from the bullet point above, our Services team has taken additional steps to help ensure you can have quality matches with players from your respective regions, more often. We expect this to have a noticeable impact when making matches for players in less populated regions around the world including - but not limited to - Australia and Asia. This update, which went live yesterday, has already shown promising results and should take further advantage of this morning’s changes. Please keep an eye out and let us know how your games start to feel.
- This morning's update should also prevent players from “geofiltering” their online matches. Since this was impacting matches after they were put together via our matchmaker, it was causing unstable connections for the other players in the lobby. To learn more about this and why it’s being prevented, please read this post on Waypoint.
Read more about this in Closer Look: Halo Infinite’s Online Experience.
The team has continued working to address various issues over the past few weeks, including:
- Matchmaking service improvements for Big Team Battle (BTB). Players should find full matches quicker and more consistently.
- Scorpion Tanks and Wraiths will appear more frequently on BTB maps.
- Fireteam members in BTB matches will have the selected Fireteam Marker color, but may still start the match in different areas of the map.
- Join in progress rules updated to avoid matchmaking into games which are nearly complete.
- Changes to Oddball in both Ranked and Arena Multiplayer playlists:
- If the score is tied when a round’s timer runs out, one minute is added back to the timer. If the score is tied at the end of the additional minute, then the round will be declared a tie.
- The match will end if two separate rounds end in a tie and the victory will go to the team with more rounds won.
- Halo Championship Series (HCS) variant of Free-For-All Slayer added to the Custom Game modes list.
- In Custom Games, changes to Free-For-All Slayer, FFA Oddball, Neutral Flag and Tactical Slayer game options update correctly.
Our Head of Design, Jerry Hook, also confirmed the following with regards to the ongoing adjustment of the Shop and how Credits will be earnable in Season 2:
"Since launch, the team has been monitoring the discussions on the Shop, bundles, and pricing in the game. Using data and community feedback, we’ve begun rolling out changes to how we package and price items in the Shop. Our focus with these changes is on reducing pricing across the board, providing stronger values in our bundles, starting to put individual items outside of bundles, and more.
Thanks to your continued feedback, we are happy to confirm Credits will be earnable in Season 2’s Battle Pass. That means you will be able to earn Credits as part of your Halo Infinite progression. We’ll have more to share on this as we get closer to Season 2."
We’ve further been keeping an eye on Ranked since launch – monitoring data, pairing that with community reports and feedback. Unyshek has provided an important update on plans to reset CSR in the near future.
"Since we’re going to be making some improvements mid-season, we plan on resetting Competitive Skill Ranks (CSR). After implementing these updates and giving everyone a fresh start, we expect to see players get redistributed more accurately.
As we get closer, we’ll be sure to give everyone a heads-up on when exactly they can expect all this to land. If you’re close to that next rank, now’s the time to go after it!"
Over the past few weeks, and in the weeks to come, the team will continue to listen, monitor, experiment, and learn as we work to address feedback and provide greater value to players. This is going to be an iterative process and there’s only so much we can do in the near term, but our goal is to carry these learnings forward to the start of Season 2 (and beyond).
Additionally, though the Cyber Showdown event has come and gone, we’ve noted the issue with the Neon Screen armor effect being slightly askew and this will be fixed when Season 2 launches.
Fracture: Tenrai will return to Halo Infinite very soon, offering you a fresh opportunity to unlock up to ten rewards in your event rewards track. You’ll be back to building your Yoroi Spartan Core on February 22!
Lastly, in celebration of Black History Month, logging into Halo Infinite at any time throughout February will unlock the Pan Africa nameplate and emblem!
Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s next game update is well underway! We are working with the Publishing Team to get all of the final details around when players can expect to see more content brought to this legacy collection.
Right now, there are some amazing things cooking that players have been asking questions about. We’ll have more to say soon, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next MCC Development blog which will shed light on plans for the MCC in 2022 and how that content is going to roll out!
HCS NA REGIONAL FINALS – ANAHEIM 2022
Anaheim, CA will be the host city for the next big event on the HCS roadmap! The top 8 teams from the HCS Raleigh Major, and the top 8 team from the Jan 27 HCS NA Open Series Tournament will compete in a 16 team tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Due to the rapidly changing environment around COVID-19, there will not be any spectators, but fans looking to catch the action from Feb 11. to Feb. 13 can tune in here: https://twitch.tv/halo and https://youtube.com/halo.
Just like for Raleigh, viewers on Twitch can also earn exclusive Twitch Drops for Halo Infinite in-game content just for watching. Details coming soon. You can review more ‘need to know information’ here: HCS NA Regional Finals at DreamHack Anaheim 2022
HCS PRO SERIES
Coming off the heels of Raleigh, the HCS Pro Series restarted with weekly 4v4 and Free-For-All (FFA) events across all 4 major competitive regions (NA/EU/MX/ANZ). Pro and amateur players compete for HCS Points, prize money, and bragging rights in giant 512 Team Double Elimination tournaments on Sundays, and broadcasted Top 16 during the week on https://twitch.tv/halo and https://youtube.com/halo
Huge shoutout to our partners FACEIT, Esports Engine, Dreamhack, ESL Australia, and Gaming Partners for showcasing the best of Halo esports!
Learn more and register for upcoming events by visiting the FACEIT website here: HCS - FACEIT.com
HCS GEAR LAUNCH COLLECTION
The official HCS Gear Launch Collection is available online via the @HaloGear shop!
Look great on and off the battlefield with clean, minimalist apparel that is sure to turn some heads with our iconic HaloWC trophy. Look out for more additions throughout 2022!
MEGA HALO DAY
We’re excited to announce MEGA Halo Day – in partnership with our awesome friends at MEGA we’ll be sharing details about upcoming Halo sets in a virtual panel and kicking off the second #MEGAHaloFanVote!
Last year, you voted for Spartan Haunted for Halo Heroes Series 16 releasing this Fall, and this year you’ll be able to vote for a new Halo product from MEGA!
That’s all the details we can share for now, but be sure to stay tuned to @MegaConstrux and @HaloGear on social for the official announcement later this month.
XBOX GEAR SHOP
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and whether you’re looking to pick up something for that special someone or simply share your love of Halo to all around, the Xbox Gear Shop has got you covered.
The Halo Encyclopedia captures the depth and detail of two decades of storytelling, featuring never-seen-before art and unparalleled exploration of the Halo universe’s characters, worlds, stories, technologies, and more. The deluxe edition of this stunning story bible also comes with a unique lithograph and an exclusive Forerunner cylix cover.
We’ve got some exclusive previews of this expansive tome in Canon Fodder Issue 117 (‘Master Class’) and Issue 122 (‘Legendary Endings’), with more still to come...
Originally slated for release on March 29, fiction fans will just have two extra weeks to wait before they get their hands on the Halo Encyclopedia, as its release has pivoted to April 12 as a result of minor print constraints.
Pre-order the Halo Encyclopedia here, or upgrade your purchase and grab the deluxe edition here.
We’ve had a number of awesome partnerships recently and we’re fortunate to be joined by Katie Jerauld to talk more about the latest updates on OPI and WAZE!
"The OPI x Xbox collection is here and it’s available worldwide! Yes! I know. Our Xbox and Halo community is vast and varied, so we are always looking for quality partners to help us provide new ways for people to share their love of gaming (and Halo of course!).
The OPI Xbox nail polish collection offers 12 spring shades inspired by the Xbox universe. Most notably to us here, because we are completely non-biased, is the Halo-inspired color ‘You had me at Halo’ which is a pearlescent and glittery blue, and the color-matching in-game armor coating ‘Optimal Polish Initiated’ which you can get with qualifying purchases of the OPI x Xbox collection. And yes, the armor coating is also sparkly. It’s glorious.
Any fan can represent Halo with this universal color – either IRL or in-game. Between the polish and the armor coating, it’s a perfect Valentines gift to share – or to keep for yourself. Either way we’d love to see your manicures and man-icures (ha – it was that or nail puns) so don’t hesitate to share with us on social.
Find out how to get the coating at the OPI blog here, which also outlines which regions are offering the promotion (15 and more on the way!). And we’ve heard you loud and clear, qualifying pre-orders since January 1, 2022 will be honored.
If you have any issues or questions, please contact email@example.com."
"The overall Halo experience in Waze has been so popular that the program has been extended! That means it’s still available for the next few months, so jump in if you want to experience what it’s like to drive within the Halo universe.
If you need a recap: Last Fall, our Halo experience within the Waze driving app gave fans the opportunity to have their trips navigated by either the Master Chief or Escharum, and show their fandom to other Waze-ers through Moods featuring Chief, Escharum, Jega ‘Rdomnai and Commander Agryna, and vehicles including the Warthog, Ghost, Brute Chopper and Razorback.
The voices are available in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese, and the Halo experience is available worldwide!"
The start of 2022 brought with it not just the start of a new era, but the end of an old one as Xbox 360 services for legacy Halo titles were sunset.
These games brought countless hours of joy to so many, they brought people from all over the world together in ways that were – during their time – formative and unexpected, and they built the greatest community of all that endures to this day.
It is bittersweet to say that the sunsetting process for online services across Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 4, and Halo: Spartan Assault is officially complete.
Game owners will be able to play these titles indefinitely, but the online servers are now silent – just dust and echoes. The memory of those departed days will remain with us all, and there are many more memories yet to be made in the years to come.
With the Halo television series drawing ever closer, we’ve done some renovating of Halo Waypoint and added a dedicated page to the series – be sure to check it out!
Jump into the Halo Discord server to join the conversation about the television series, and stay up to date on all the latest news by following @HaloTheSeries on Twitter.
We’ve also launched the Silver Debrief, a new blog series dedicated to all things related to the television show. Catch up on our first Silver Debrief here, where we dive into the details about the Silver Timeline (a separate, independent branch from core canon) and break down that first look trailer from The Game Awards 2021.
Oh, and speaking of trailers, watch this! If you already have, then go watch it again – that's an order, soldier!
- EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHTS: Over the last few months, we’ve released a veritable duo of spotlights on Tiana Los (Senior Experience Designer) and Xhavar Strothers (PC Lead Quality Engineer).
- CANON FODDER: Catch up on our two latest issues (JANUARY edition and FEBRUARY edition), exploring all things Halo lore – new books, new ships and vehicles, Halo Infinite, and more!
- CAMEO FOR A CAUSE: Steve Downes, the Master Chief himself, is donating 100% of all proceeds on his personal Cameo towards the completion of the Konadu Basic School, a free school in Ghana, West Africa. Got a wedding, birthday, or other event where you want to hear the voice of Master Chief? Get a Cameo from Steve and help out!
Finally, an immense amount of concept art for Halo Infinite was released last month, showcasing many of the individual contributors who helped guide the visual direction of the game’s artistic style and design. In the concluding words of Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier:
“This Art Blast is the result of a phenomenal, combined effort crossing every discipline at 343 Industries. It expresses teamwork at its purest form. These brilliantly crafted images have deep technical and artistic interconnections that maintain a “sum of all parts” philosophy cementing the game into a cohesive and believable universe.
The Halo Infinite team is composed of a multitude of individual contributors all of whom kept the spirit of legacy alive despite a global pandemic that limited their ability to communicate and easily interact. This team made it work. Crafting a game in these conditions is what makes Halo Infinite even more of a phenomenal accomplishment, and we couldn’t be prouder of the results.”
Additionally, Gallery Nucleus has a full 90-minute panel featuring Sparth, Darren Bacon, Molly McLaughlin, Ben Mauro, David Heidhoff, and Glenn Israel where they talk through the art design process and visual evolution of Halo Infinite.
And speaking of art, it would be remiss of us not to include a dazzling new 4K image here!
This piece is from Halo Mythos, the comprehensive guide to the story of Halo that released in 2016, which broadly covered events from the time of the Forerunners up to the Banished’s arrival at the Ark in Halo Wars 2.
As an ardent aficionado of all things ancient in the Halo universe, Chase Toole's unique illustration of some of the titans of this era is a favorite of mine – and here it is in full 4K. Click on the image for glorious embiggening!
That brings us to the end of another community update. It’s been a tremendously exciting time, and these are just the first steps. As we work to forge ahead, we know that the best days of Halo are still ahead of us and we’re incredibly grateful to have you all with us on this great journey.
Until next time!