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 Bungie.net.
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 Bungie.net. Thanks for your support and we’ll see you back on Xbox Live soon!