This is it. The very last weekly update before Halo: Reach launches into all stores everywhere. Four stinkin’ days are now all that stands between you and the best damn game we’ve ever made.
Today, we’ll be talking a little bit of pre-launch logistics to make sure you’re set up to celebrate launch night with us, and we’ll be delivering some post-PAX, post-Fantasy Factory multimedia coverage to help set the mood. If you came expecting a massive update to our already extensive launch guide, you should check back next week for tons of awesome content, including a sweet guide to Invasion Forging (yes, it’s real and it is spectacular
), some networking tips to help get you set up right, and some basic information meant to ease you into all the matchmaking madness.
If you haven't noticed, we've already taken over the Xbox LIVE dashboard. If you missed either of the two pieces we prepped and deployed earlier in the week, go ahead and click on both of the videos below to get your face filled with a pair of Halo: Reach previews narrated by some of our very own, extremely handsome but easily distracted developers. (Note: The first contains campaign mission spoilers, so click at your own discretion.)
The dashboard content won’t come to a complete stop at launch, either. There’s tons of awesome stuff planned for week one, officially dubbed, "Invasion Week.” Here’s the breakdown:
From September 14 to September 20, Invasion Week will be assaulting and controlling Xbox Live. Including activities, new gear, prizes, content and even a chance to play with members of Bungie, it seems like there will be something for every Halo fan to enjoy. Additionally, there will be a free 'Invasion' theme up for grabs to all Xbox Live members.
Ready for launch? Let’s get prepped.
Yup, for all our East Coast peeps, we’re throwing a kick ass launch bash in New York City. Specifically, it goes down at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. For details, check out the official invitation below.
Here at home in Seattle, 343 Industries is hosting a launch event at the Experience Music Project in downtown Sea-Town. The party kicks off at 6pm and we’ll be there to meet, greet, and make it rain sweet custom t-shirts (while supplies last). You’ll want to line up early.
Unfortunately, we won’t be there to close the show at 10pm – places to go and people to see – but since you’ll already be in the area…
…you should join us at the GameStop in Redmond Town Center for some late night, celebratory festivities. The store manager informs us that they expect some 600-800 attendees all told, and to keep it poppin’ (yeah, I said it) they’ve planned some sweet events surrounding the launch of Halo: Reach, including an appearance by pro-gamer and all around great guy, Walshy, and some Starbucks baristas to help get us all through the night.
We’ll be there in force, while a few of us will also likely be simultaneously marching over to the GameStop in Bellevue Square for a smaller, but slightly more intimate meet up with fans.
If you’re in Seattle, we’d love to have you out to celebrate with us. If you’re not, get here if you can.
Bungie.net is now wide awake and physical in anticipation of launch. We’ve done our best to protect you from spoilers by obfuscating explicit information and multimedia, but should you decide to go nosing around, the chances you might see some stuff are now more elevated than ever. While you may be tempted to go rooting, I urge you to stay on the straight and narrow. You’ve made it this far unspoiled, friends. You owe it to yourselves to go into Halo: Reach with a fresh perspective.
So you don’t have to go digging around, I’ve taken the liberty of pulling out one of the more sought after pieces of information you might risk going in after – the launch day playlists.
The astute observer may note that the pair of Arena playlists aren’t set to go live when the clock strikes midnight. In the interest of fairness, we’ve decided that the inaugural season won’t begin until 11am PDT on 09/14. If you fancy yourself the competitive type, take the extra lead time to get the lead out in some of the other playlists.
And of course, just like our previous Xbox LIVE outings; these are merely the day one sets. We can and will change things up to keep the experience fresh. If there are a few obvious omissions that you expected to be on hand immediately, you’ll likely find them online at a later date. Launch demands we keep things nice and tight until we confirm that the initial population explosion won’t sink the whole ship in one shot.
And while we’re on the subject of previous Halo titles and playlist updates, I should clear up a few misconceptions that I’m seeing circulating in the community regarding Halo 3.
Contrary to my own ill-spoken words, Jeremiah informs me that our Double EXP playlists for Halo 3 aren’t going to be culled straight away (though they won’t be a permanent fixture in the Halo: Reach aftermath). We are, however, planning on cutting some fat, leaving only the succulent bits of the Halo 3 online experience behind for those opting to stick around and suck every last bit of the marrow as the majority migrates to the new hotness.
Presently, that means Squad Battle and Basic Training are no more and that you should steel yourselves for more cuts in the weeks and months ahead. Don’t worry though; we’ll make sure we always support game types and maps required for earning your Halo 3 ‘chievos. We expect plenty of people to keep on keepin’ on and we’ll do our best to make sure the online experience remains nice and solid.
Back on the Halo: Reach front, Sketch has a few words to offer on the security tip.
"Dearest Fans – After years of waiting, Reach is finally nearly upon us. Some of you may even already be playing, courtesy of an eager retail store that couldn’t wait until next Tuesday. But for the vast majority of you, we still have a few official days left and you’re patiently waiting, finger on the trigger.
We are already aware of a number of nefarious deeds by a very small percentage of early adopters and we have already been taking action. We expect that a few more will turn up once the population explodes on September 14th. We will be ready, watching, waiting, firing at will on people who deserve it. We have all sorts of new fancy tools at our disposal now and as we start to come up to full speed we’ll be engaging all of them. Voice bans, host bans, console bans, gamertag bans, credit bans and the automatic habitual quitter penalty are but a few of our sharply honed weapons hungering for blood.
Please note that you may not always see immediate results. Sometimes it takes a little while, other times we elect to wait and gather data as to be 100% certain we’re not overreacting to false positive data. And still other times we may decide to escalate it to the security team at Xbox LIVE for an even greater ass-kicking. Rest assured though that Bungie is watching and we know who you are and what you’re doing.
To all of our fans who have been such big supporters of Bungie, Halo and Reach – THANK YOU. Please have fun playing Reach online and we’ll do our part to make it a fun place to play."
(Tyson also dropped by and wanted us to inform everyone that the Credit wipe we told you about last week has been initiated and that if you've gotten a hold of a legitimate, legally obtained copy of Halo: Reach, please feel free to fire it up and play.)
Sketch also had some words over lunch with Hip Hop Gamer last weekend. Ultimately that led to this amazing photograph and the delivery of Hip Hop Gamer’s Halo: Reach freestyle rap. Sketch may have been the only guy who got to partake in person with the man himself, but through the power of the Internet, we all get to feast our ears on the tasty aftermath. Turn your headphones up.
Well, we were
in LA. On Wednesday night, Microsoft hosted a celebrity-packed extravaganza in anticipation of Halo: Reach’s imminent retail launch. A handful of our own men, chosen for their immeasurable maturity and impeccable grace, were asked to help host the party and ensure that the night went down without a hitch.
Turns out we weren’t prepared to partake in the worldwide phenomenon that is Bieber Fever. Nobody is. Yeah, we’ve read that the pintsized pop star already accounts for a whopping three percent of all Twitter traffic, demanding a dedicated rack of servers designed specifically to bear the tremendous load of Bieber related hash tags, but even armed with that technical knowledge, we simply couldn’t account for the swoon the befell the gala when the Biebs descended on our little shindig and locked himself away in a private booth for some hands on time with Halo: Reach.
The place went bonkers and we, dear friends, got completely big timed at our own event, shoved aside as the lens of scrutiny focused wholly and completely on a hooded adolescent and his finely feathered crown of perfectly golden hair.
We weren’t the only ones to succumb to Bieber’s irresistible super galactic star power, either. As the weight of Bieber’s pending arrival bore down upon the room, his security contingent began ejecting anyone who even dared to look like they might be a problem. Sadly, Ron Livingston – who by all accounts was as funny and down to earth as they come
– was caught in the crossfire and found himself among the celebrity casualty count.
Fillion was next in the crosshairs, but Captain Mal stood his ground and refused to vacate his station or relinquish his controller. After the first round of multiplayer on The Cage was finished, he fired a Twitter shot heard round the world.
Spanked Justin Bieber on Halo Reach. Felt good.
His followers erupted in joyous celebration. I was not so lucky. As soon as Bieber graced the room with his presence, I was politely informed that pictures were “not allowed.” Bieber was “there to relax.” Bieber, I was tersely reminded, “is just a kid.”
That last bit brings a very important point to mind. Good thing Bieber’s security guardians were there to chaperon. After all, Halo: Reach is a Mature rated title and we can’t and don’t condone minors playing without close adult supervision.
And we totally sympathize with Bieber’s publicity plight, too. He simply wanted to spend some nice, quiet time with Halo: Reach away from the Hollywood spotlight. At a party. In Los Angeles. With hundreds of people in attendance. On a school night.
So when the security guard was all like this:
I was all like this:
And then Bieber was totes like this:
Until he noticed Carney hovering over his shoulder like a creeper.
And then he rolled out as quickly as he had strolled in and everybody returned to business as usual.
For Christopher P. Carney – who could not have cared less about the celebrities in attendance and instead invested his time in service of his own amusement – that meant more time comfortably ensconced in the fun that only a giant foam pit could provide.
If you want to see more of dear Carney’s excellent adventures, or you just want to get an insider's look into the Fantasy Factory event, our very own cameraman and storyteller extraordinaire, Lee Wilson, has you covered.
Prior to our Los Angeles outing, we took PAX by storm. Rather than regale you with a ton of details about all the events surrounding the successful weekend of showcasing Halo: Reach and celebrating with some of our nearest and dearest friends, I’m just gonna stick with some imagery.
*Photos courtesy of Jason Sussman. All rights reserved.
While I promised to keep the words to a minimum, I will say this much, we have the best damn fans in the industry. Easily
. If you stopped out to say hello, get some swag signed, or just to play some Halo: Reach over the weekend, thanks a million. Thanks for playing. Thanks for everything.
We can’t wait to see you suckers online. See you next week.