There are a measly twenty five days left until launch. If you wish to retain any hope of keeping your first experience with Halo: Reach as pristine as humanly possible, now is the time to pull the plug, stock your pantry, and sequester yourself in a small, poorly lit room while you wait for the 14th of September to arrive.
If you choose to continue reading, if you defiantly scroll on, you are tacitly accepting any and all responsibility for whatever information and multimedia you are subjected to.
You have been warned.
Sketch partook in the miracle of flight and touched down in Germany this week, leading a three man Bungie strike team deep into the heart of Cologne. Once in position, our trio set their charges and kicked off Gamescom with a bang that lifted the lid off a small fraction of Halo: Reach’s storyline and gave us an insider’s glimpse of Noble Team in action.
After the smoke cleared, Sketch gave the word and opened up the floor for some Firefight on the freshly revealed missions Corvette and Outpost. Then he took to the stage and showed off the opening cinematic followed by a portion of the game’s first level, Winter Contingency.
Once again, Sketch cements the fact that Halo: Reach is, in fact, the biggest game of 2010.
He had some big help for his stage show, too. (Worst. Shop. Evar
And when it was all said and done, victory, my friends, was ours.
Back on the home front, things have gotten a little bit out of hand. Now, I've heard stories of old man Noguchi zipping around the office on a tiny, two-wheeled conveyance in times gone by, but I’m glad I never had to see him with the wind in his wispy beard and a childlike grin spread across his rage-addled face. This week, to my own shock and horror, I witnessed grown ass men rolling around on the tiniest of dubs through our new (and apparently far too cavernous) studio. I thought our new home wouldn’t change us. I was wrong.
I WAS WRONG.
But I was so
right about the cupcakes. Earlier in the week
I linked to some Halo: Reach themed treats and mentioned how the mere sight of them alone made me all kinds of hungry. This morning, a fresh batch arrived at the studio and my hunger was sated.
Which brings me to a very important and equally delectable point. You know what would look great parked in our brand new studio lobby next to The Fist? A 1:1 scale Noble Team statue. Made out of solid gold.
You know what to do.
A long time ago in an update far, far away, Roger Wolfson made you the internet a very special promise. Today, he makes good on it. If you’re the type of player who fancies a bit of flair, you’re probably gonna like this next section. I’ll let Roger take it from here.
“I’ve been hearing from a lot of fans who are eagerly awaiting details of the ‘Visual Flair’ we promised in April to people who had played Halo 2 on their current LIVE accounts, and hinted at in a podcast last summer to Halo PC and Mac players. The ‘flair’ is a set of nameplate emblems for the matchmaking lobby where you can show off your loyalty to Bungie games old and new, because in addition to Halo PC and Halo 2, we have a few other surprises up our sleeves. So feast your eyes on the smorgasbord of choices available to those most-dedicated of Bungie fans:
From top to bottom:
The Septagon – This option returns for anyone who links their LIVE account to their Bungie.net account.
The DMR – A pro weapon for Pro members. Get Bungie Pro to bump up your File Share, render videos, and get this emblem. Active subscriptions bought in Halo 3 or Halo 3: ODST carry over to Halo: Reach, of course.
Marathon – Play the full version of Marathon: Durandal on Xbox LIVE Arcade to enable the Pfhor Terminal emblem.
Halo 1 – Enter your Halo 1 PC/Mac product key to enable this emblem. Each key can only be used once, so you’d better stop reading this and grab that key before your brother does. Since we have no way to validate who has played the Xbox version, this emblem is reserved for that dedicated community of computer gamers, with over 50k unique users still active each month, 7 years after release. Thanks for sticking with us. It’s been quite a ride!
Halo 2 – Automatically available if you played Halo 2 for Xbox on your LIVE account before its tearful retirement. If it’s not active for you, no amount of wheedling will change that, sorry.
Halo 3 – Take a guess… On the plus side, there’s plenty of time to head to your local purveyor of fine, shrink-wrapped games to snag a copy if you’re the one person who actually reads the news on our site and hasn’t played this game.
Halo 3: ODST – Ditto.
Assault Rifle – This fine armament goes to anyone who played the Halo: Reach beta a few months ago.
Spartan Helmet – CLASSIFIED
HALO – Like Blamite out of a Needler, these faceplate options can supercombine. Unlock the emblems for Halo 1, Halo 2, and Halo 3 to get this special emblem.
The Star – Who knows? We haven’t come up with a use for this yet. Maybe we will in the future.
Not pictured, but of course returning, is the ‘Bungie’ staff emblem, awarded for successfully negotiating the obstacle course that begins at bungie.net/jobs
. (Good luck, you're gonna need it.)
While I’ve enjoyed testing the limits of my Bungie.net
message inbox by way of the questions I’ve gotten about this feature in recent weeks, I have to clarify that we won’t be making exceptions to these policies. While I understand that you may not find it inconvenient to mail us your physical Halo 1 DVD as proof of purchase, I don’t think it would make a good first impression on our friendly Bellevue letter-carrier to welcome ourselves to the neighborhood by soliciting a shipment of 5 million discs. You might still be able to snap up a copy of Halo 1 for PC at retail, though, (and since my earlier concerns about a working keygen were unfounded, I retract my earlier comment about a May 26th cutoff for first use of keys.)"
When the nameplate system is fully functional, we’ll let you know about it on the front page. When we do, there will be a discussion link provided so Roger and the team can answer any and all questions you may have.
Earlier in the week, we gave you a little taste of Firefight on Corvette. Seems the footage was well received, but it also generated a handful of questions. After you watch, allow me to answer ‘em for you.
Question Number 1: Are there Engineers in Halo: Reach?
Answer: Yes. But don’t worry, we’re not going to make you feel like a monster for taking them down this time out and they’re somewhat less of a pain in the ass, all things considered. Even if you don’t have a plasma spewing weapon in hand, you’ll still be able to pop them down from their lofty perches when you notice that your enemies are being overshielded by an engineer floating overhead.
Question Number 2: That Skirmisher sure had some ups. Are you sure that’s not a glitch?
Answer: Nope, that’s not a glitch and yes, Skirmishers are off the charts agile. While they can cover ground with breakneck speed, they can also clamber up to your high ground position in a single, spring-loaded bound. They are also, as you can see, insanely fun to shoot. Easily my favorite new enemy in the Firefight experience.
Question Number 3: What’s up with Active Camo? Once you started moving, you were completely visible!
Answer: Active Camo was actually left relatively unchanged from the version you played with in the Beta. Sandbox Designer Josh Hamrick tells me that the difference you’re picking up on is owed to some tweaks that were made to the first person visual effects intended to make it much more clear when you’re fully cloaked and when you’re totally exposed. Your opponents are seeing a very different picture.
Josh also informs me that against AI, you need to use Active Camo “for realz,” and that AI, much like their reaction to Hologram, will not fall prey to your trickery if they're on hand to witness you fade away. They’re smart enough to know that you’ve likely not spontaneously combusted. They’ll just keep shooting. Deploy it when it makes the most sense.
In the video in question, I really wasn’t attempting to show off expert use of Active Camo anyway. I just wanted to get my hands on the Grenade Launcher. Camo came with the Load Out, free of charge.
Totally Unrelated Question 4: Can I haz Campaign Matchmaking?
Totally Related Answer: Yes.
While we’re working the Show and Tell angle, Sketch figured we should deploy another look at Firefight out into the mix. Below, you’ll find a nicely rendered video of Outpost. Sketch asked that I use a very special gametype that he and Luke dreamed up together at Gamescom. They dubbed it…Sniper Timez.
All Load Outs contain Sniper Rifles with unlimited ammo
Weapon Damage is set to 200%
All Waves drop Heretic Elite Snipers
So yeah, not what I’d call a display of sniping prowess, but not a bad look at the visuals and the tweaks you can make to the Firefight experience to keep it fun and fresh. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with having some fun at a few Elites expense, either.
The asterisk in the title is owed to a few minor snippets we made to truncate the length a bit. The match was set to five minutes, but the video is slightly shorter. For good reason, of course. (I suck at sniping.)
And since Sketch was feeling extra benevolent this week (or extra tired on account of his transatlantic adventures), he agreed to let me run a quick look at The Cage in motion. If you’re unfamiliar, The Cage is actually the predecessor to Lockout. Carney went back to the well, pulled out some tattered old blueprints, and whipped it up in Forge. Here’s a minute and change of a recent Assault match I played, embedded for your viewing pleasure:
Right in the cankles!
A few weeks back, I said I’d slip you some wallpapers. You’ve been so very patient. Here's your reward:
Halcylon whipped these up in his spare time. He’s that good. Hit any of the images below to head over to our Halo: Reach Project Page
where you can snag each of these in all kinds of formats, including iPhone and iPad.
Stosh is busy helping build the latest and greatest version of Bungie.net for launch
. Wait until you see the upgrades. (Hint: click the link to check out a sweet sneak preview.) Then, have a look at this week’s Blame Stosh. Pretty sure I’ve seen this one before, though. If it’s old news, we all know who to blame.
One week down, three (and change) to go. More on the horizon, of course. PAX looms. Stay tuned (but watch your step).