New Halo 2 Maps are Here!

The new Halo 2 maps are here. Bug fixes, workarounds and details about their inclusion in next week's Matchmaking playlists, inside.

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Halo 2 (Xbox)Halo StatsFAQs and Info 4/17/2007 7:50 AM PDT

Halo 2 Auto-update is up

The Halo 2 auto-update is now available. Read more for a refresher on Sketch's summary of it.

It's pretty early in the morning here, so I'll do what's easy and quote Frankie quoting Sketch. You can quote me on that. I'm not going to edit it for date content, so when he says "next week", that's now.


As you know by now, we’re just over a week away from unleashing two brand new Halo 2 multiplayer maps upon the world. “Desolation”, a remake of the Halo 1 map Derelict, and Tombstone, a remake of the classic “Hang ‘em High”, are both being released on Xbox Live on Tuesday 4/17. For the bargain price of $4.00 you’ll be able to unleash a new can of whoop-ass on these completely re-imagined multiplayer arenas. We’ll have a lot more to say (and show) about each of these maps next week as part of our continuing coverage on

However, before we can release the new maps, we need to release a new auto-update for Halo 2. My sources tell me this is likely happening at some point next week and there could be a small interruption in play while this update is being deployed.

The primary purpose of this update is simply to enable the game to recognize the new content but we’ve also taken the opportunity to enhance some of our existing Banhammer functionality. This will be transparent to our legitimate players but suffice it to say that we’ve got a few new bells and whistles under the hood that should hopefully further combat and deter cheaters and jerks who are still trying to ruin your fun online. They will know immediately that something has changed.

This update will clear your online networking history which means that for a short period of time, the game won’t have any record of your ideal network capabilities which means you could experience some shaky games until things settle down. Basically over time the game learns what size games you can reliably host in order to give you the best possible experience but initially it’s not going to know if you’re on dial-up or a T1. This should return to a peaceful state of harmony after a few games. It’s also worth noting that the update will erase your “map cache” on your Xbox – this means that the first few games you play after the update could take a little longer than usual to load the maps since they’ll have to be freshly loaded into memory. This also means that the maps will need to be loaded from your Xbox game disc, so if you have a scratched or damaged disc, you could encounter some errors that you might have noticed before since the maps were previously already cached.

The point to all of this is just to let you know that longer load times and potential rocky games are expected and perfectly normal but everything will return to the way it was after you play a few games.

We are currently planning to update the Halo 2 matchmaking playlists the week following the map release (around 4/24). You’ll have some time to download the new maps but once the playlist update comes, please be aware that almost all playlists will require the new maps to play. You can of course play custom games and offline games as much as you want as soon as the maps are released, but on or around 4/24, you will need the new maps to enjoy the majority of the playlists offered in matchmaking. Lastly, in conjunction with a new auto-update, new maps and fresh playlists, we’re going to RESET ALL RANKINGS for Halo 2.

The last time we did a ranking reset was the release of the map pack and corresponding auto-update and we feel it’s right to do it again since the online landscape will be changing. This reset will also even the playing field in a world where the population has diminished somewhat and the majority of players are spread far across the level spectrum. It will pull everyone back together again and make it easier to get into games.

It’s awesome that we still have a steady group of people playing Halo 2 even today and we’re really looking forward to invigorating the online game one more time with new maps and a fresh ranking start before we look towards Halo 3. As always you can share your suggestions, requests and comments about matchmaking in our Optimatch forum here on Thanks for your support and we’ll see you back on Xbox Live soon!

Halo 2 (Xbox) 4/12/2007 3:09 AM PDT permalink

An Affinity for Art

We chat with Certain Affinity's art lead, Chris Wood, about the visual look and feel of the new Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps.

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Halo 2 (Xbox)Concept Art 4/11/2007 2:31 PM PDT

Bungie Weekly Update

This week, Matchmaking, rank resets, Cinematics and...drum roll...the evolution of Fusion Cores! Are you not entertained!?

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Bungie Weekly UpdateHalo 3Halo 2 (Xbox) 4/6/2007 4:33 PM PDT

Humpday Challenge

We stupidly take on Certain Affinity at the maps they just spent months building and playing. PS., Shishka Sucks.

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CommunityHalo 2 (Xbox) 4/5/2007 5:04 PM PDT

A Certain Affinity: Mapmakers to the Stars

We have a long chat with Certain Affinity's Max Hoberman about making the new Halo 2 maps. Lots of insight follows.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 4/3/2007 5:58 PM PDT

Update: Halo 2 stats upgrade complete

We're in the middle of upgrading the servers that receive game stats from the Xbox - processing of new stats may be delayed while we switch to the new system, and a few games might even fall through the cracks. (They'll still count for rank, just won't be visible on this site.) Sorry for any inconvenience.

(Follow link for update...)

We're in the middle of upgrading the servers that receive game stats from the Xbox - processing of new stats may be delayed while we switch to the new system, and a few games might even fall through the cracks. (They'll still count for rank, just won't be visible on this site.) Sorry for any inconvenience.

When we're done, we'll be running on shiny new servers that will also be running the Halo 3 beta and eventually Halo 3 itself.

Update 1: We're up and running on a brand new server. Tomorrow we'll bring a few more online for redundancy, but that's shouldn't affect anyone. To clarify, this was just a routine server upgrade, similar to when we upgraded the web servers a couple weeks ago, and isn't a hint of imminent changes in the beta status.  For those who asked, this is simply the server that receives stats uploads from the xbox for display on, it doesn't literally "run" the game.

Halo 2 (Xbox) 4/3/2007 2:40 PM PDT permalink

New Halo 2 Maps Revealed!

At last we reveal the two downloadable Halo 2 maps coming later this year. And no, it's not an April Fool's. Screens and info inside.

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Halo 2 (Xbox)Screenshots 3/30/2007 8:41 AM PDT

Halo Map Battle!

A Halo 2 enters its twilight years and Halo 3 looms on the horizon, we're embarking on a journey to determine which Halo multiplayer map is better than all the rest. Through a series of polls you can help us crown the ultimate killing ground in our "Map Battle."  Get to votin!

Halo has always been known for great multiplayer and it's not just due to the pistol or sword or any of the various means of destruction at your disposal. These tools are pointless if you don't have a good map to unleash them in.

Here at we're kicking off our first ever Halo "Map Battle" as we seek to determine which Halo multiplayer maps are truly the best of the best in the eyes of our fans.

Since our scientific poll system can only contain a maximum of 8 total entries, we've split the voting up across several different polls. We'll combine the highest scoring maps from Halo 1, Halo PC and Halo 2 into one final showdown to determine the overall winner.

It's time to step up and represent your favorite maps and rock the vote at the polls listed below. Check back soon for the next round of voting!


Halo 1 MP Map Poll  (1of 2) -  VOTE HERE. 
Halo 1 MP Map Poll  (2 of 2) - VOTE HERE.

Halo 1 PC/Mac Map Poll - VOTE HERE.

Halo 2 MP Map Poll (1 of 3) - VOTE HERE.
Halo 2 MP Map Poll (2 of 3) - VOTE HERE.
Halo 2 MP Map Poll (3 of 3)  - VOTE HERE.

Next week we'll combine the top scoring maps into the 2nd round of voting on our way to the championship.

Humpday Challenge: ILM

This week, artists and animators from Industrial Light & Magic took on Bungie for a fight to the finish in the Bungie Humpday Challenge.

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CommunityHalo 2 (Xbox)Halo StatsHumpday 3/21/2007 6:01 PM PDT

Halo 2 Playlist Changes Live

The Halo 2 playlist changes we mentioned in the past Weekly Update have gone live and you should now be able to choose Team SWAT from your Optimatch screen yet again. Rejoice!

Now that Team SWAT's back, it's only a matter of time before the pistol makes its triumphant return!

(Not really.)

Halo 2 (Xbox) 2/13/2007 10:49 AM PST permalink

Humpday: Dudes vs. Dudettes

IRLHD@MS36FTWKPNTDWBFF. What does that mean and why do we love acronyms so much we want to marry them? Answers to those and other burning questions in this week's Humpday.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 2/8/2007 3:10 PM PST

Humpday: PraetoriaGuard

Hey KP! We're ready for the Humpday Challenge you organized KP. Lars and I are excited because you said we can beat these guys KP. Let's do it KP! Let's be a team and go kick some ass. KP? KP...?

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 12/7/2006 2:38 PM PST

Humpday: The Begrudged

This week Bungie took on a team of people Joe Tung holds a grudge against, for whatever reason. This just goes to show that if you cross the mighty Joe Tung, you'll get a Humpday, so go do annoying things to him. I suggest bombarding him with XBL messages.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 11/9/2006 4:43 PM PST

Four Billion Played and Counting

Roger Wolfson, Bungie's database programmer extraordinaire, reports today that we have officially surged over the four billion games played mark, a little under two years after the game's launch. He also notes that we're close to hitting the four million unique players mark, not too shabby. Read on for some more detailed usage statistics from the past month.

Roger Wolfson and Ninja 0n Fire also gave us this handy little pie chart. It's pumpkin flavored. Click to enlarge. Lick to taste static.

Halo 2 (Xbox) 10/30/2006 2:09 PM PDT permalink

Humpday: Hollywood Halo

The Bungie crew plus guests took on the guys over at Hollywood Halo Productions, best known for their machinima. In three close games, the Bungie crew fought a hard match against the seasoned Hollywood Halo crew.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 10/26/2006 6:24 PM PDT

XBL Maintenance on October 17th

Xbox Live is being taken down on October 17th for 24 hours, during which I suspect you'll all lose your minds. has put up a bunch of information on what exactly this means for you and what you can do in the meantime. I suggest lannage.


Halo 2 (Xbox) 10/13/2006 11:08 AM PDT permalink

Humpday: Code of War

Bungie did indeed compete in a Humpday last week but because things got crazy busy last week, there was no time to write it up until now. Last week, Bungie took on Code of War in yet another fun Humpday experience with cool people. Thankfully, we're okay with getting owned by cool dudes.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 10/12/2006 3:36 PM PDT

GIA Team SWAT Tournament Round-Up

Maimum FEAR writes:

A while ago Games in Action announced it was to host a Team SWAT Tournament.  Well over the last two months teams have been battling it out for a chance to win $200.  Read on to find out all the details about who won.

Over 254 teams signed up to play the tournament but only four teams could emerge as true champions when they reached the semi-finals.  These four teams were; Team SG, Invalid Mob, Rebel Skum and Unnamed.  Each team was made up of dedicated players who were up for anything and ready to go into combat with any of the other teams.

Unnamed were matched up against Rebel Skum and Team SG against Invalid Mob.  The games were close but Unnamed and Invalid Mob were victorious and advanced on into the final where as the two runners up played each other to decide 3rd and 4th place.

The final game was a true clash of skill.  The two teams played each other three times over a space of one hour.  Invalid Mob took the first game with a score of 50 - 37.  The second game saw Unnamed steal the game at a very close score of 50 -47.  So with the total tied at 1 all this last game was to be the most important game in the whole tournament.  Who would walk away with $200 and the title of GIA Team SWAT Champions?

This question was answered when Invalid mob showed true grit and determination and defeated Unnamed at the final hurdle.  The score was 50 - 31, making the total score 2 - 1 to Invalid Mob.  They went home with $200, where as Unnamed were awarded $100 and each of the two runners up got $50.

Congratulations to all of the finalist who played very well and made the tournament worth while.  Many thanks to everyone who participated and the GIA Team who organized everything.  And an extra special thanks to for posting the original news story on their website.

Make sure to check our website out at for more information and details regarding future events.  Oh and if you took part in the tournament, make sure you leave your details as all participants are to receive a free Games in Action pen.

Community 10/3/2006 2:41 PM PDT permalink

Humpday: Bungie Offspring

Bungie’s been frantically searching for opponents we can beat in order to raise our morale. This week, we finally found our match: Bungie's children! That’s right, Bungie beats its own children.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 9/28/2006 3:23 PM PDT

Humpday: Video Gaming Refugees

Bungie once again accepted a challenge from a senior citizens center this Wednesday and found ourselves in a familiar position: Eye-level with our ankles. Read on for excruciating details of our defeat. Next week, an orphanage.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 9/14/2006 4:05 PM PDT

Humpday: NeoGAF

Bungie accepted a challenge from some Halo 2 fans over at the NeoGAF forums this week. Over the course of three very close games, both teams performed admirably but one came to rise above the other. Possibly as a result of chetz and sploitz.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 9/7/2006 4:38 PM PDT

Halo 2 Tournament on Xbox Live @ is proud to announce that we're hosting a Free FFA Halo 2 tournament over Xbox Live on Saturday September 2nd, with prizes going out to the top competitors.

To sign up for the tournament, register for our forums. Be sure to remember your temporary password, which should be changed under "Options" after you login.  

After logging in, go to the "Free Tournaments" section of the forums or simply click here. Reply to the post with the standard requested information, which includes: First Name, E-mail Address, Gamertag. hosts weekly FREE Halo 2 tournaments, so if you can't make this one sign-ups for the next one will be soon. If you want to step it up a notch, we offer big cash and other prize tournaments.

The Saturday tournament will be standard oTourneys FFA rules, which include: 

> Time Limit: 15 Minutes
> Score to win: 50
> Team Play: Off
> Starting Weapon: Battle Rifle
> Secondary Weapon: None
> Starting Grenades: On
> Weapons on Map: Human
> Motion Sensor: On
> Map: Midship

An referee will host the game and make sure everyone is abiding by our basic rules. Killing of the referee is strictly off-limits, he will be sitting on in a lift near the shotgun spawn. The orange primary color is reserved for referees, if you have an orange model you might be subject to changing it.

You will get a clan invite into a temporary Halo 2 tournament clan, please accept it so we can send you party invites when it is time for you to play. Over 100 people have registered for the tournament so far, so there will be plenty of competition and lots of fun!

Prizes are subject to verification and change. Please wait 2 weeks before inquiring about the delivery of your prize.  

If you have any questions, ask them in the respected tournament topic or e-mail is in no way affiliated with Bungie; is an independent, fan-based entity.  Do not contact Bungie for support with issues relating to this tournament.

Community 9/1/2006 11:15 AM PDT permalink

Humpday: 8-bit Brigade

This week Bungie took on 8-bit Brigade, a group of mature gamers ranging from old to older. They're decrepit and no longer possess the reflexes to compete with our crew of young guns, right? That's what we thought, too.

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Halo 2 (Xbox) 8/31/2006 4:55 PM PDT

HBO Playlist

The Community Carnage Playlist is now available in Matchmaking and we can finally tell you that this playlist was designed by the folks over at HBO has designed a 6v6 list full of wonky gametypes so if you want to know what you're getting into when you choose this playlist, read on.

Naturally, one of the first communities we approached about a matchmaking playlist was HBO. There were others but HBO was the first to submit a truly unique playlist unlike anything else we've already released.

HBO acquired its unique taste for gametypes and propensity to flesh out the games most obscure options through many a LAN. Beginning shortly after the release of Halo, admins and patrons of HBO began to hold LANs on a fairly regular basis. Two or three times a year anywhere from 16 to 40 people would get together to play Halo, drink caffeinated drinks and consume cheesy products.

Over the course of many years they developed, through much trial and error, gametypes which are fun but which are certainly not standard. Either via one or two subtle tweaks or a complete molestation of the available settings, these gametypes are anything but run of the mill.

What HBO has done with this playlist is taken all of their messed up gametypes and integrated them into a playlist over which they had almost complete control. They chose the gametypes, every single setting, the gametype names and even whether it was team or rumble. Having enjoyed the convenience of bringing a six player party into matchmaking without having to go into a big team playlist, HBO chose to go with a 6v6 format with this playlist.

Because of the unique nature of the gametypes and the amount of mass confusion it may cause, we've decided to give you a preview of the gametypes here so as to prepare you. Don't say we didn't warn you.

King of the Hill

Sun King

Score to Win: 3 Minutes
Time Limit: 12 Minutes
Starting Weapon: Rockets
Shields: You wish

HBO loves fast-paced gametypes and this is certainly one of them. If football is a game of inches then this is a game of milliseconds. Once you touch the hill it basically explodes with rockets or grenades (both of which spawn on the map, by the way). You may think that HBO has enabled a hidden feature called "exploding hill," but you would be mistaken.

Options that would normally allow you to make significant time gains have been disabled for maximum frustration. Chief among those are moving hill and team multiplier, both of which typically permit one team to jump ahead at some point in time.

Your best bet in this game, seeing as the multiplier is off, is to only let one person in the hill at a time and to try to have your other players positioned as best they can to cover that one guy. No strategy is foolproof, especially in a rockets game with no shields... but in initial testing this was the most effective.

Crazy Otto

Score to Win: 1 Minute
Time Limit: 15 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Battle Rifle
Shields: Normal

Seems easy, right? It's low hill, sucker. Every single player on your team has to get one minute in the hill. Then, and only then, may you proceed to the post-game screen as the victor. If you're the kind of jerk that runs around playing every single game as slayer, regardless of the rules, we're going to have to ask you to leave.

As you might imagine, this is a crazy hill game and the hill will move every one minute. You're invisible in the hill as well, which can be the difference between getting pounced on by Battle Rifles the second you get in the hill and being able to rack up time for a while before anyone looks carefully enough to see you.

The only weapons on the map are Shotguns and the default grenades. You'll definitely want to grab a shotgun before you make it to the hill; its uses are two-fold: firing a random shot into the hill can light up an invisible guy and obviously the shotgun is also a formidable close-range weapon which is useful in a small area, such as the hill.



Score to Win:
30 Seconds
Time Limit: 15 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Rockets
Shields: None

No shields, extra damage, rockets only. Don't expect to be alive for very long. Luckily the respawn time is only 3 seconds so you'll be back in action soon enough. Because you can kill someone by simply staring at them really hard, you only need to get 30 seconds with the ball.

You are fast, extra tough and inflict massive damage with the oddball, so it's not all bad. If you don't immediately explode upon picking up the oddball, you can probably hop around for a few seconds before you get taken out by a rocket or grenade.


Score to Win:
3 Minutes
Time Limit: 15 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Shotguns
Shields: None

You may have noticed by now that HBO loves shieldless gametypes. This is largely as a result of Louis Wu's inability to kill someone before they turned around, this way his chances are much greater.

This game could prove easier to bottle up and protect the oddball carrier, as it's difficult to take out the oddball carrier from anything but super-close range with the shotgun and you have no grenades. Considering the fact that the oddball carrier is tougher than you and can deal massive damage with the oddball, you're going to want to keep your distance.

Capture the Flag

BC Shotties CTF

Score to Win: 3
Time Limit: 12 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Shotguns
Shields: None

The Official HBO Gametype, this one gametype became a classic at HBO LANs during Halo 1's reign, went on to become a classic on the HBO Halo PC server (and later the HBO COERCE server) and made the transition to Halo 2

What can make this game exceptionally challenging is that flag reset is at ten seconds and touch-return is off. In its original iterations, flag had to be at home to score and the score to win was set at ten, but since we don't want to make you sit there for two hours; that option has been disabled.

With shields off, nades on and close-quarters combat being the name of the game, this one gets very bloody very fast. There are various methods for getting the flags in and out of the base, I suggest you employ as many as possible.

Capture Madness

Score to Win: Unlimited
Round Time Limit: 5 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Battle Rifle
Shields: Normal

That score to win is probably making you second guess our decision to let community members make a playlist. However, it's actually pretty cool. It's your standard one flag CTF but you get one rounds a piece to score as many flag captures as you can. So if you score in the round, it doesn't end, you just keep going until the five minutes are up and the round is over.

It's a different concept. It's certainly different than the one flag CTF you're used to seeing in matchmaking as the round doesn't end after a flag capture. There're very few objective gametypes at all which are set to allow an infinite amount of successes. This gametype takes great advantage of the availability of that option, however.

Chamb0 CTF

Score to Win Round: 2
Round Time Limit: First to 3
Starting Weapons: Battle Rifle, Magnum
Shields: None

This is another unique (re: utterly confusing) scoring system. The only real anomaly is that you need to score twice in a round to win. That's not all that's different about this game, however.

As you may notice it's very nearly SWAT CTF, save for the scoring system. But aside from the scoring system, you become invisible and damage resistant once you pick up the flag. No grenades, as with SWAT, so taking out the flag carrier can be somewhat difficult, especially if their back is turned to you.

Team Slayer

Tower of Power

Score to Win: 100
Time Limit: 20 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Shotguns
Shields: Nada

There are some who said that Tower of Power would never see matchmaking. They're kind of still right. For those of you unfamiliar with Tower of Power, it's played on Ascension and the point of the game is to see which team can hold the tower and rack up the most kills from it. With only shotties (no grenades either) you have to get in close and attack with some level of coordination or you won't be able to dethrone the team occupying the base.

However, there's no way that we can guaranty that one team or the other will occupy the tower or that the other team will attempt to unseat them (especially if they've got the lead). However we can at least say that we tried.

The tower and its turret should be where you gravitate towards naturally anyways, so hopefully the flow of the game is maintained in matchmaking, but if people end up fighting all over the place then that's their choice. Their choice to get torn up by the turret.


Score to win:
Time Limit: 15 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Plasma Pistol, Random
Shields: Normal

This game has quite a storied past. In its current form, as played by many an HBOer, it is an oddball game in which most everyone plays for kills, although I've asserted that you can play for whatever category you want. No one touches the oddball, you see, so nobody really wins. If you play for kills and get the most then you feel good about yourself. If you play to get the most beatdowns and you do that, then hooray.

However, since you can pick up the oddball, even though you're not supposed to, people will. And because there's no real way to win, people would grab that just so they can up their invisible rank in the Community Playlist. So we set it to a Slayer gametype and hopefully that'll be just as fun, despite the fact that there's an objective.

The most important part about this is that you spawn with a Plasma Pistol primary and a random weapon secondary. Covenant weapons spawn on the map, so expect some dual needler action and tons of stickies.

Despite this perversion of the original gametype and specifically the purpose of the original gametype, this still makes for quite a fun experience.

Base Jumping

Score to win:
Time Limit: 15 Minutes
Starting Weapons: Random, Battle Rifle
Shields: None

This is a very goofy version of Bonus SWAT. The primary light vehicle is the Warthog but the Spectre is making a rare appearance in matchmaking as the secondary light vehicle. Since I believe this is the first instance of bonus points in matchmaking, here's a basic breakdown: you get extra points for all the medals you earn as well as headshots.

The biggest variable in this gametype is the random weapon, obviously. If you get a needler, sucks to be you. If you get a sniper then you could be sitting pretty if you can get in a good position to use it. Luckily you've got the Battle Rifle as your secondary so anything you get on your primary is really just a compliment to it. My advice: Shoot them in the face.

Halo 2 (Xbox) 8/22/2006 10:29 AM PDT permalink