Happy Halodays 2021
Season’s greetings, Spartans!
What a year it’s been for all of us. We’ve released four Seasons of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, two novels, two Multiplayer Technical Previews, celebrated our twentieth anniversary, we’ve got HCS Raleigh starting today – oh, and we launched a game you might have heard of. Halo Infinite jingling any bells?
But that’s all just the tip of the iceberg of what we have to celebrate. So, join us one last time in The Year of Our War Chief 2021 to send off the year in style, starting with this amazing piece of Holiday art from the team!
The end of one great journey is, in many ways, just the start of another. That much is true of Halo Infinite, which is now finally in your hands. The next movement of the Master Chief’s odyssey has arrived, so step inside and become humanity’s legendary hero to take the fight to the Banished on Zeta Halo – we hope you enjoy your stay!
In case you haven’t already, check out our epic Campaign launch trailer. Set a fire in your heart and grab your copy of the game today, available on Xbox Game Pass on PC and the complete family of Xbox devices (from Xbox One all the way to Xbox Series S/X). Then jump into our free to play Multiplayer experience and hone your skills in the Academy, or dive straight into the virtual battlefield in matchmaking.
Who is the Master Chief?
We know who he is to us, of course, but what about the people of the Halo universe? The lives that Spartan-117 has touched, however briefly, have inspired tales of hope and heroism during the darkest of times.
Dive into Halo Infinite: Memory Agent, a Spotify-exclusive audio drama that explores humanity’s greatest hero from a variety of perspectives in a story told from an unexpected point of view. If you've got an hour to spare, this is the perfect way to spend it!
“A lone secret agent from the Office of Naval Intelligence is sent on a mission to relay critical intel to the Master Chief. There’s just one catch - every seven hours, her memory resets. Now she must make a perilous journey through closely monitored space, desperate to learn whatever she can about her own past as well as that of the Master Chief. Through the help of an AI companion and battlefield reports of others who have encountered the legendary hero, she pieces together just how important her task may be.”
Thank you for joining us on this adventure, whether you’ve been with us from the start or are jumping in for the first time now, it is the community’s passion and feedback that will continue to drive the evolution of our game.
Speaking of which, let’s get you brought up to speed on all the latest updates!
EIGHT SPARTANS SLAYIN’
Let’s start off with the big one. Halo Infinite’s free to play multiplayer received a services update on December 14 which added four new playlists, inclusive of:
- Team Slayer
- Tactical Slayer (“SWAT”)
The team's original plans for a Slayer playlist included a variety of new variants that unfortunately weren't going to be ready in time to deploy before the Holiday break, but the community’s feedback made it clear that having the agency to choose even a basic offering of Slayer modes was strongly desired. We wholeheartedly agree.
So, lock and load your weapons, Spartans. We anticipate with hopeful certainty that you all know how to play the objective in these modes! If not, the mission is simple. In the immortal words of Jeff Steitzer: kill the enemy team to score!
We have also made further updates to the Challenges and Progression of Halo Infinite, addressing some player concerns and frustrations. Some Challenges have been removed, others have had their requirements and weighting adjusted, and with these new Slayer playlists we’ve further added some new playlist-specific Challenges as well.
You can read the full breakdown of our December 14 update, including some details about Ranked matchmaking, here.
“Winter Contingency has been declared. All units are mobilized and merry.”
Over the Holiday period, running from December 21, 2021 to January 4, 2022, dive into the Winter Contingency celebration in Halo Infinite!
Play a game each day to unlock free rewards. These include armor pieces, an armor attachment, Holiday-themed coatings for your Spartan and weapons, along with a free nameplate, emblems, and a special backdrop.
The HCS Raleigh Kickoff Major is the first official Halo Infinite esports event, a historic moment that will take place from December 17th-19th in Raleigh, North Carolina.
We say historic because HCS Raleigh has sold out 272 team passes and boasts the fastest-selling spectator tickets we’ve ever seen! With a $250,000 (plus crowd funding) prize pool up for grabs, the stakes have never been higher for our competing teams – you do not want to miss watching them at the top of their game.
The ongoing pandemic continues to impact our lives on a global scale, but as people continue to get vaccinated, receive booster shots, and follow precautions to protect the health and safety of others, we knew we had a unique opportunity to bring the Halo community back together in a big way.
Whether you’re there with us at the venue or watching online, this represents an exciting new chapter in the future of Halo esports!
Oh, and as an added incentive, log in in with your Twitch account and connect your Halo Waypoint profile to receive special Twitch Drops. Watch 1 hour on Twitch.tv/Halo on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and earn the HCS Launch Weapon Coating Bundle. Watch a co-streaming partner for 1 hour on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and earn the HCS launch armor coating bundle. And on Sunday only, watch 1 hour of the grand finals to win the Victory Shout Pose.
And don’t miss the Big Team Battle Bonanza where we will see the rematch of Goldenboy versus Walshy in a show match featuring celebrity special guests in Halo Infinite!
HALO TV SERIES
“I see this... as a new beginning.”
Looking ahead to 2022, we are absolutely thrilled that the Halo TV Series will finally see its debut. How about that trailer shown at The Game Awards? Y’know what, I think I might just have to rewatch it again. Back in a moment!
We’ll have more to discuss about the show and the ‘Silver Timeline’ - how this show branches from the core canon while maintaining the thematic spirit of Halo - in the weeks and months to come. Be sure to follow @HaloTheSeries to stay up-to-date on all the latest news.
For now, let’s hear from Kiki Wolfkill about what it means to be closing in on its release next year.
"As I look back on 2021, there is so much that I am grateful for. I am grateful for the opportunity to have watched, mostly from afar, an extraordinary team deliver an extraordinary Halo game under nearly impossible conditions. I am grateful to have been able to work directly with a film cast and crew in Budapest that battled the craziest of weather conditions, that navigated a pandemic which changed the way we make film and television, and that fought every day to create a powerful Halo story because they believe in the magic of our universe. It was a year full of uncertainty, of risk, sometimes of feeling on the edge of defeat but in the end, this year was mostly about grit… true, legit, relentless grit. What a gift to be able to endure together and to emerge into the light together. I watched this with the Infinite game team and experienced it myself with our TV series cast, crew, and internal Silver team.
For those of you who don’t know – the Halo television series had been in some stage of development for many, many years (as in >6). Most years I didn’t believe we would ever get the show into production. We finally started shooting in the winter of 2019 only to get shut down by the pandemic in March of 2020 less than halfway through our schedule, I thought that might be the end of the series. We returned in late 2020 and after extreme rain, snow, heat, curfews, and fatigue, wrapped in July of 2021. Last week we debuted our first trailer and I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished.
Halo is about hope and heroism and no other year exemplifies this as much as this year which is fitting. Thanks to all of you for sticking with us and always remember that there is a Spartan inside you ready to finish the fight. Happy Halo-days everyone!"
Because this series has been such a labor of love for everybody involved, Kiki also sent us this picture of a ‘love lock’ that the team put on a fence in Hungary. See if you can spot it out in the wild.
Oh, and we also have an incoming transmission from Pablo Schreiber, the Master Chief himself!
HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION
It’s been a great flipyappin’ year for the MCC! We’ve released four Season updates that have added hundreds of new unlocks, along with a plethora of features that have continued to push these games ever closer to their true legacy experience.
Season 5: Anvil kicked off 2021 with the Anvil initiative, a classified partnership between the UNSC and Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam’s allied Swords of Sanghelios faction where a joint task force of humans and Sangheili ignite a new spark of hope for cooperation between species.
Season 6: Raven honored the ODSTs of Fireteam Raven who fought on Alpha Halo with the Master Chief. Raven brought new armor, mouse and keyboard support for Xbox, FOV and crosshair position options for Xbox, the new mode ‘Escalation Slayer,’ and much more.
Season 7: Elite brought in all-new armor permutations and Energy Sword colors for Sangheili supporters, along with new Halo 3 maps Waterfall and Edge which made their way into matchmaking. The Custom Games Browser made its debut for Halo: Reach, making it easier than ever to jump into custom modes like ‘Speed Halo’ than ever before, and mod tools for Halo: Combat Evolved also launched on Steam.
Season 8: Mythic was the latest update for the MCC with a vast suite of legacy improvements, it expanded support for the Custom Games Browser across Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3, delivered the new Halo 3 map Icebox, and introduced all-new armor that reimagined Mjolnir as non-canonical alternate universe amalgams based on mythical themes and legendary ancient warriors.
There’s never been a better time to jump into the MCC and explore Halo’s legendary past Campaign and Multiplayer experiences!
Oh, and don’t forget to jump into The Exchange to trade in those Season Points for some awesome 20th Anniversary-themed customization items.
Updates to the MCC will continue moving ahead in 2022 (and beyond), bringing new fixes, features, and additional content, but we are pivoting away from the seasonal model as Halo Infinite is now the team’s primary focus. Instead, the MCC will receive smaller updates that can land when they’re ready based on development status and studio roadmap alignment.
All future updates will continue to be free and will include the unreleased features and content from this year – as well as a continued effort to improve stability and tackle legacy fixes where possible.
For more information, visit MCC Development Update – September 2021.
What’s a landmark twentieth anniversary year without some legendary Halo Gear?
The Art of Halo Infinite is out now! In partnership with publisher Dark Horse, this art book offers 200 pages of artwork that went into making Halo Infinite from pre-production to launch – the world of Zeta Halo, the characters, the weapons and equipment, the ambient life, the Forerunner architecture, the Master Chief himself, and more.
Coming January 11, 2022, you can take home a piece of the Master Chief's Mjolnir Mark VI Powered Assault Armor in The Art of Halo Infinite’s Deluxe Edition! This comes with a unique slipcase and a portfolio of landscape art on museum quality paper of the Master Chief looking out at the vastness of Zeta Halo.
The Halo Gear Shop has seen some truly incredible additions made over the course of this year to its offering of Apparel and Collectibles, which make for the perfect Holiday gift for friends and family.
Our 20th anniversary line includes a premium Master Chief print, a laser engraved tumbler (which can be customized with your name or Gamertag on the back), and a series of limited-edition items like a 20th anniversary tee, journal, mug, and more.
One particular favorite is the 20th anniversary Halo-themed playing cards, featuring some of the franchise’s most iconic characters reimagined in classic custom card art.
Fiction fans have had a particularly excellent year as Halo: Point of Light by Kelly Gay and Halo: Divine Wind by Troy Denning have effectively ‘bookended’ (heh!) 2021.
Follow Rion Forge and the Ace of Spades crew as they journey to Zeta Halo with their new full-time companion, formerly known as 343 Guilty Spark, to complete a mission of redemption for the long-dead Librarian. Together, they delve into the most terrible secrets of the ancient past as ONI forces close in and a new threat begins to rise.
Return to the Ark with ONI Agent Veta Lopis and her Spartan-III Ferret team as they infiltrate the ranks of the Keepers of the One Freedom, a zealous splinter faction led by the infamous Brute known as Castor. In their quest to fire the Halo rings and fulfil the Great Journey, the Keepers make a dangerous and unexpected new ally. Cut off from the rest of the galaxy, Lopis and her team find themselves in a race against time to save the galaxy from an extinction-level event.
Our partners at Dark Horse Comics also released the Halo: Legacy Collection, containing a trio of older comic books – Halo: Uprising, Halo: Helljumper, and Halo: Blood Line.
Experience the Master Chief’s attempt to assassinate the Prophet of Truth in the time between Halo 2 and Halo 3; rejoin Taylor ‘Dutch’ Miles and Kojo ‘Romeo’ Agu from Halo 3: ODST as they are deployed to a remote science colony to answer an SOS call during a Covenant invasion; and journey into the depths of a mysterious Forerunner installation with Spartan-II Black Team, who must forge an unexpected alliance with their enemies to survive.
Additionally, the Halo Graphic Novel saw a recent rerelease, featuring four short stories related to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. How did Johnson escape the Flood containment facility? How did Rtas ‘Vadum come to be known as the ‘Half-Jaw’? Who field-tested the Mjolnir Mark VI armor before the Master Chief received it at Cairo Station? And just who is Benjamin Giraud? All this and more are explored in the Halo Graphic Novel, with stories and art by Simon Bisley, Lee Hammock, Tsutomu Nihei, Ed Lee, Andrew Robinson, Jay Faerber, Brett Lewis, Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, and more.
Looking to next year, we’ve got a real treat for you! The Halo Encyclopedia releases March 29, 2022.
Capturing over two decades of storytelling, the Halo Encyclopedia features stunning, never-before-seen art and the most detailed exploration of the universe’s many characters, worlds, and technologies ever created. The Deluxe Edition additionally comes with an exclusive Forerunner cylix cover and a unique lithograph.
You can find some exclusive previews of this biblical tome in Canon Fodder Issue 117 (‘Master Class’) and Issue 122 (‘Legendary Endings’).
Lastly, let’s hand over to John Friend from our Consumer Products team for their end-of-year round-up!
"The sun has set on another day at 343 (which by the way is WAY too early here in the Pacific Northwest), and a very special year is drawing to a close.
For the Consumer Products team, this has been an incredible year. We’ve launched a breadth of products and programs like never before in categories new and old. We’ve built on long-term partnerships, told stories, expanded into new areas with fun collabs and direct-to-consumer products, and celebrated anniversaries, launches and favorite characters. Behind the scenes, we’ve grown as a team and done our best to deliver quality, accessibility, collectability and fun to you all.
What can you expect going forward? To start, I can tell you we’re not done with 2021 yet, and have a few surprises still to come. ;)
We are also deep in 2022 and 2023 planning. Expect us to continue to expand into new categories, offer a broad range of products from super accessible to high-end, and reach more countries than ever before. We’ll integrate even more closely with game (and show!) beats and community moments. We’ll do our best to celebrate all that is Halo, listen to you as fans, and always get better.
Follow us on @HaloGear, let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to see more of.
Finally, thank you! It’s a privilege to live in this Halo universe and continue to build it with you."
FORWARD UNTO 2022
And that’s a wrap!
We wish you all a very Happy Holidays. Live well, play Halo, be kind – we'll see you in 2022.