If you’re letting the recent spate of Halo: Reach news shower down upon you like so much warm summer rain – and you certainly should be – then you’ve already read Joe Tung’s epic announcement from early yesterday morning.
And I quote:
“We went gold last night, so yeah, it's pretty much in the can.”
His enthusiasm. It is unbridled
. Can’t blame him for the lack of fanfare, though, with his E3 adventures still fresh in his mind, and the weight of the project only recently off of his shoulders, we’ve thrown our blazer clad hipster right back into the thick of it in the land Down Under (that’s what she said). Time zones do strange things to a man.
Anyway. Wanna know who was really, really excited to ship this game out the studio doors? Nick from Test.
The RC process can be disorienting for our hardworking test team.
We did it!
It’s out of our hands now, but don’t duck away from Bungie.net just yet. We’re gonna keep you company throughout the next month and change. Today, that means a little light housekeeping, a spot of clarification, and pile of images to cap it all off in style. Because we love you. Now, buckle up and let’s get down to it.
Actually, before we do we’d like to say a quick word of thanks to the contingent of contract staffers who sweat and bled with us over the course of this project to help make Halo: Reach an amazingly fun and super polished experience. It literally takes an army of trained professionals to make the Bungie brand of magic happen, and our militia executed on all fronts.
Thanks for stepping into the breach with us, brave warriors. You kicked a ton of ass and brought us that much closer to World Domination. We hope that you’re damn proud of the work you did here. We know we are.
In the midst of our most recent multimedia mélange, Chris Carney might have told some reporters that Zealot was quite a bit like Midship. And while it’s true that both multiplayer offerings take place aboard a Covenant vessel, and that both boast the same boisterously purple color palette, that’s where the stark similarities end. Zealot is its own thing, even if we did call it Aftship during production.
A Midship remake? WRONG!
The most notable difference is Zealot’s inclusion of low gravity exterior combat. Once outside, you can quickly navigate the expanse of the entire map, and use your lofty perch to drop down and deal death from above on unsuspecting schmoes. Coupled with a convincingly space-ified audio effect, somewhat similar to the outer hull audio experience found in Halo 2's, Zealot makes for a unique, multiplayer experience.
And just wait until you lay eyes on the sky, er...space box. Ho, boy. The final frontier never looked so spectacular.
One giant leap for mankind.
You actually first saw this space way back when by way of a pre-Beta ViDoc, but I don’t blame most of you for missing it. It was only on screen for a few measly moments.
Reflection, however, is all Ivory Tower – albeit with a beautifully polished new décor. Told you this was one incredible looking space, didn’t I? (The answer is yes.)
So, is it a “pixel-perfect” remake? The answer is…wait for it, no. Our multiplayer maestros made some minor modifications here and there, including some fairly serious renovations to add some space to the lifts bracketing the back wall (where you’re used to snagging the Shotgun) and increase some of the head room. Overall though, you won’t have any trouble slipping right back into this old fan favorite and when you’re not shooting Koi, or marveling at the magnificently manicured rock garden, you’ll be having a blast fighting up the ramp, around the lift, and above and below the Rocket Launcher.
Oh, and there’s a really sweet hologram of Reach floating in the central hall now. Which is awesome. (But not pictured here.)
Never tell me the odds.
To tell us more we roped in Bungie artist, Ken Taya, to reflect (and apparently wax all kinds of racist) on the updated visual appeal.
Ivory Tower’s original look was fairly minimalist. What made you decide to switch it up and go all Rock Garden on that ass? Is it because you’re Asian?
Yes. Yes it is. I Asianed it up™. I two inch punched that ass™. It is still very minimalist. Very clean. Like someone spilled a whole truckload of Pledge on the bamboo flooring. In my mind my footsteps would squeak like Ice Climber.
But on a more serious note, I Asianed it up™.
Warm, relaxing, and perfectly suited for some sweet, sweet carnage.
Well that note’s not serious at all, Ken. But it is totally racist. Did anyone else at Bungie help inform the art direction for Reflection?
They had one of the Asian concept artists, Alex Chu, concept it and had one of the Asian environment artist (me) work on it (figures ;P).
Mike Zak pretty much let me run with it though, which I was fine with. Marcus liked that it was a very different looking map from the rest of the world, and its clean palette gave the eyes a rest from some of Reach’s more war torn look. Micktaro and Man Diller were my go to guys for campaign and man loving needs.
Yo, dawg. I heard you like rocks...
Um... I know you’re an art guy, and the designers ultimately make the call on new stuff like armor abilities, but you’re also a pretty competitive player. What changes did you make to the map and which new weapon or ability do you think ultimately changed Reflection most significantly?
I made the biggest change in regards to the environment geometry for the Jetpack. An issue with the old map is that people tended to camp the Sniper perch. Although the space is very similar to the original, raising the ceiling very high psychologically makes the perch feel more vulnerable. Also you are now susceptible to the rain of bullets from jetpackers above you and grenade lobs from farther away.
Nice. What’s your favorite visual element?
The Dragon Fountain and your mom.
Not so nice. Is there anything players will see on Reflection that they won’t witness in any other space in Reach?
Carney insisted on placing Phalaenopsis and Bonsai trees all over the map. I only had time to make the Phalaenopsis. You will see lily pads with lotus flowers, Koi in the Koi ponds, and no Bonsais. Also, since we could afford it, this map has THE BIGGEST cubemap (reflection map) in the game.
I taught Carney the two inch punch but he one upped me and showed me his one inch punch. He fully extended his arm.
Wax on. Wax off.
Ken, will you follow me on Twitter?
If you want +1 follow me @Ken_Taya, Urk.
I don’t think that’s a real sentence. Thanks for the time, Ken. Reflection looks awesome. Now git back to werk!
Also awesome: scaling up to the tip top of Spire’s lofty heights and taking a long leap of faith from the upper deck. It’s a long way down and the fall has a distinct Crackdown-esque feel while you’re flying. If you miss the landing, it’s Splatsville for you. Stick it and you will reap great reward (and live to fight another day).
I believe I can fly!
So yup, you’re looking at another Invasion map to compliment the much more grounded Boneyard experience. On Spire, the tables are turned, with the Spartans on the assault looking to wrench a data module out of the cold dead hands of the Elites patrolling the top tier. There are a ton of vehicles to zip around in, including the Falcon, and plenty of sneaky ways to get from ground to canopy without too much fuss.
And coming down.
Oh, and it’s sweet for some super fast Race action.
Along with the Midship misfires, the new vehicle stable seems to have thrown some people for a loop. Let’s talk traversal.
The Revenant is a cherry red Covenant assault vehicle featuring room for two and a terrifying plasma cannon affixed to the top of the chassis. It’s nasty. If you run into it in campaign, you’ll want to commandeer it, or kill it immediately. Come to think of it, same goes for multiplayer.
Some shots made it look like the passenger might ride dirty on the backside, but as you can see, if you call shotgun you’re hanging off the side. The driver fires the mortar. It’s not nearly as powerful as the Wraith’s cannon, and the arc is less pronounced, but the rate of fire is cranked up a few ticks and the Revenant’s propulsion systems also make it nice and agile. (All the better to splat people with.)
The Rocket Hog should be fairly self-explanatory. It’s a Warthog with Rockets and it is awesome.
Drive it towards stuff and watch that stuff asplode.
Ghost is Busted!
The Falcon seats five for campaign dramatics, but when you fly the friendly skies, you’ll only be able to cart three into the battlefield. You on the stick and two friends on the guns. In campaign, you’ll run into a few different configurations, including one outfitted with some meatier mounted guns, but in multiplayer, the only armaments are the two machine gun turrets dangling dangerously over the side rail.
In for Some Chop.
Make sure you take a wing-man in multiplayer. If you’re flying solo, you’re a sitting duck.
Hitching a Ride.
Moaning and groaning issued forth from some of the more, uh, fictionally accurate sections of our vast community after we revealed that Spartans and Elites would only be playing with each other in certain, special circumstances – namely Invasion and Firefight Versus.
Cover of Night
That guttural cry only grew louder as we systematically showed off the new Spartan-centric Armory enhancements and talked up our UNSC super soldiers as the premier and primary player avatar in Halo: Reach.
Truth be told, we too are bound by the Halo Bible. Those that feign to be brothers in Sangheili arms while demanding to be able to fight alongside the filthy Spartans are unfit to take another step along the Blessed Path. Those who value ornamental trinkets above courage and honor are not fit to don our armor and lead us into battle. It’s like, totally heresy or something.
If you’re the type of player who won’t play unless you get to rock the rockin’ Elite armor permutations all the time, you’ll have to limit the hoppers you head into or roll in customs. Your call.
When you do, you’re gonna look fabulously fierce (provided you earn enough credits to make the grade.) Of course, if you’re not into a disgusting brand of fictionally fueled speciesism, and you’re willing to go to bat for both teams, you’ll be divinely blessed with the best of both worlds.
Since we’ve already shown you some of the Spartans’ suite of suits, here’s your first look at the complete Elite offering:
While the Elites may lack an affinity for fanciful trinkets, they more than make up for it by just looking all kinds of bad ass.
Cool helmet, bro.
No accessories required.
While we’re waxing on about all things gold today, let’s have a look at some photoshops and candid pics we snagged from a bunch of random places. Have a look, won’t you?
Timmins may be the Sausage King, but clearly even he can bite off more than he can chew.
The Sausage Strikes Back!
Clooney 259 made an appearance over at HBO. My coffee made an appearance on my monitor.
While the team makes busy during the Bellevue transfer, Staten took some time out to meditate on the last ten years from his lofty new perch.
(I was told his snoring was really a thoughtful homage to the three spiritual stages of life.)
Our old digs might be in a state of disrepair, but our whiteboards are still up and running.
Forklifts don’t die. They’re just missing in action.
Halcylon prepped a bunch of new wallpapers for me this week, but I didn’t get a chance to upload them. I was too busy dropping all the latest, high resolution Campaign and Multiplayer multimedia assets into our Halo: Reach Project Page
Maybe next week. No promises. Click on the link above for an uplifting wallpaper that is
ready to go right now.
I can’t remember if I already posted this Blame Stosh or not. Oh well, if I did, you know whose fault it is. STOSH!
That’s all for this week. More to come real soon. Stay Tuned.