Posted on

Halo Channel comes to mobile devices; available now on iOS and Android

The app popularized on Xbox One and Windows 8 PCs is now available on mobile devices; The Halo Channel comes to iOS and Android.

The Halo Channel — part of Halo Waypoint — gives fans a variety of media to read, watch, and listen to. The most popular aspects of the channel offered include a detailed look at the making of Halo 5 and other general news pertaining to the Halo universe.

Season 2 of the Sprint is currently available giving fans a look at the work that went into getting the 343i presentation at E3 2015 ready. Get a “firsthand look at the drive, determination, and dedication required to bring their best at gaming’s biggest showcase.” Gamers can also check out videos on the implementation of HoloLens in Halo 5 as well.

Also included on this app is Halo Nightfall, the live-action series giving fans a greater breakdown of the upcoming co-protagonist of Halo 5 Guardians, Spartan Locke. All five episodes are available to be streamed through the app.

Those who download the app on either of the new two platforms will be given a promotional REQ (Requisition) pack containing a special emblem for use in Halo 5: Guardians when it releases on Xbox One October 27, 2015. For gamers that have already downloaded the app on their Xbox One or Windows 8 PC the same REQ pack will be given to you.

Download iOS version here

Download Android version here

Posted on

Halo 5-related secret message displays in Xbox UK ad

343i and Microsoft have unveiled a new, seemingly normal trailer for the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians release. With many bits and pieces of details being laid out to be uncovered by fans, 343i continues that trend in their latest trailer.

The new video displays a “hacked” screen with a UNSC and ONI logo overlay interrupting a regular Xbox One games commercial. Two versions of the commercial exist — one with Battlefield: Hardline and one with the UNSC “hack” interruption.

The hacked screen includes a binary code that, when translated, directs people to huntthesignal.com. When heading to the site on desktop platforms nothing is really shown, but on mobile platforms there is an eerie countdown ending on May 6.

All of this is a part of the Hunt For Truth ARG viral campaign from Microsoft that began near the end of March. Check out the Halo 5-focused secret message in the trailer below.

Posted on

Spartan Locke vs. Master Chief — New Halo 5 ads | Release date unveiled

343 Industries’ recent release of Master Chief and Spartan Locke Halo 5 advertisements show a near-identical narrative — but with the roles of each character reversed.

Though the multiplayer struggled to deliver in 343i’s most recent release (The Master Chief Collection), the quality of the campaigns in the Halo franchise looks to remain as well-made as they’ve always been with the most recent trailers throwing a major twist in the entire story that Halo has revolved around.

Master Chief is shown almost as the “bad guy” in the trailers with Spartan Locke implying the destruction of the human city is on the shoulders of the Chief. How involved Spartan Locke’s part in the Campaign is still unknown, but with the mirroring images of both of the super soldiers being displayed throughout all of the advertisements it looks likely that the story could be split between the two characters 50-50. It’s possible Halo 5’s single player will be similar to that of the Halo 2 campaign when the Arbiter took on a significant role in the story.

Check out the trailers below:
Spartan Locke

Master Chief

Posted on

Get ready for the Halo 5 beta; Coming early to Xbox One preview members

Despite the dismal launch of the Master Chief Collection (albeit it has certainly improved since release), Xbox One fans, and specifically Halo fans should find some greater redemption in their purchase with a Halo 5 beta early access starting this weekend for the Xbox One preview members.

343 Industries has had a tough go as of late, but showcasing the progress of Halo 5 is certain to get some greater support from fans. Halo 5 is due to bring a more arena-style feel to the game as it did with the earlier titles, and is shown to have a more similar experience to that of Halo 2 in regards to leveling and ranking.

Some new gameplay tweaks like the hindered sprinting ability, and the change to an “aim-down-the-sights” mechanic for every gun should give Halo 5 a very unique twist while also maintaining the core Halo gameplay elements.

Along with some new guns, abilities, and different maps, Halo 5’s first semi-public showing should have quite a bit to see.

For anyone with the Master Chief Collection, the early-access will be open from December 19th to December 21st. The public Halo 5 beta will start on December 29th and end on January 18th for everyone else.

Check back on Saturday at 10 p.m. on my Twitch.tv stream to see my first experience of the beta!
Posted on

Is the Master Chief Collection finally fixed?

The Master Chief Collection has been plagued by too many glitches and technical issues to count but the compilation of multiple recent technical issue fixes may have resurrected the title.

While things aren’t totally perfected, the multiplayer is in-fact functioning in a manner that is at least passable. Players can at least and flow through the different multiplayers without being kicked from each party of players. There are less issues with finding a game, and teams are often more balanced.

The question is it too late? It’s been nearly a month since the release of the Master Chief Collection, and many players have expressed their grief with the issues with many suggesting that they have given up on trying to play it at all anymore.

The recent gigabyte update addresses multiplayer issues like players being separated during split-screen play and other general stability issues in parties, game chat, and stat tracking.

343i has to be hoping that players will forgive their initial start to the re-invigorated Halo experience, and rejoin the players that have stuck around through the frustrating times.

Full list of improvements and changes below:

MATCHMAKING

  • Made improvements to the reliability of Matchmaking parties.
  • Local split-screen players will now always be on the same team in Halo 2 Matchmaking.
  • Made an update to allow players to use Voice Chat during loading screens in Matchmaking.
  • Made an update to ensure that players are not forced into an incorrect party after encountering an issue in Matchmaking.
  • Resolved an issue where the “Winning Team Won” text was shown in the Carnage Report.

ROSTER

  • Made fixes to reduce the amount of time it takes to update the Roster:
  • Players will now be discovered sooner after starting the game.
  • Changes to the roster will be more immediate to better reflect friend activity.

PARTIES

  • Made several improvements to party joining and management.
  • Resolved an issue where players that were in a party could not join another party from the Roster.
  • Made changes to ensure that parties cannot exceed the maximum party size of a playlist.
  • Made an update to ensure that Party Leaders can assign a new Party Leader or Kick a player from their party.

CUSTOM GAMES

  • Made a change to ensure that teams selections are correctly carried over in Custom Games.
  • Made an update to ensure that player settings do not revert to a previous state after completing a Halo 2 Anniversary Multiplayer match.
  • Made an update to ensure that players do not disconnect  after completing a Custom Game.
  • Resolved an issue in Custom Games where parties would disband if some players were playing in Split-Screen.
  • Made a change to ensure that Halo 3 Custom Game variants display correct author information.

HALO: CE

  • Made various changes and improvements to Halo: CE multiplayer hit registration.

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Made an update to ensure that the “Legend Slayer” achievement unlocks when prerequisites are met.
  • The “Pacifist” Achievement will no longer be awarded for resuming “Assault on the Control Room”.

STABILITY IMPROVEMENTS

Made a variety of stability improvements across the following areas:

  • Matchmaking
  • Custom Games
  • Campaign Playlists
  • Main Menu

CONTROL SCHEMES

  • Updated the Halo 2 “Green Fingers” Button Layout.
  • Updated the Halo 2 Anniversary Multiplayer Recon Button Layout.

MISC.

  • Made improvements to stat-tracking.
  • Improved language support for Norweigan, Spanish, German and Japanese.
Details: Halo Waypoint

Amazon: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Posted on

Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Struggling online servers lead to frustrating launch | Review (UPDATED)

Halo The Master Chief Collection is at first glance one of the best deals ever to hit the Xbox platform. Containing every game of the Master Chief saga and encompassing all the multiplayers into one easily accessibly interface.

This is what was expected of the first-person shooter upon its initial launch and while the collection of games does execute the single-player aspects of Halo extremely well, the multiplayer and inconsistent servers hold back the game from being all that it should have been — at least until the developer is able to address and optimize the online gameplay.

Campaigns

Through one menu, almost everything Halo awaits.
Through one menu, almost everything Halo awaits.

If you’re buying Halo to re-experience the beloved story of Spartan 117 and Cortana, then you’ll be enthralled by the Master Chief Collection. With upgrades all around, more detailed story telling through terminals, and an intuitive interface that connects all the games, the Campaigns of the Master Chief Saga are excellent on this Xbox One port. The experience is easy to jump straight into, and 343i allows for players to play any mission in any order they so please.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary & Halo 2: Anniversary

A game that some say was the primary force behind the original Xbox’s success, Halo: CE may be over a decade old, but excellent gameplay mechanics persist over the years and the addition of contemporary graphics make the classic story fun to play again.

The ability to switch between the original visuals and the updated looks is quick and lets players appreciate just how many upgrades that 343i has made to the game.

The audio is tuned as well albeit just slightly in Halo 1. The sounds themselves are virtually the same. The iconic soundtrack still plays just as it did 13 years ago.

Halo CE: Anniversary ports the Xbox 360 remastered title to the Xbox One with little-to-no issues.
Halo CE: Anniversary ports the Xbox 360 remastered title to the Xbox One with little-to-no issues.

While this is the first time many are getting to play the Anniversary edition, the Xbox 360’s iteration of Halo: CE Anniversary had some surprising features not present on the Xbox One. Given how much greater the emphasis Microsoft has had on the kinect on their new console, the MCC version of the game leaves out the original Anniversary kinect commands like “scan” and “analyze.” The commands weren’t particularly that vital, but still an interesting niche non-the-less.

Adding in the “terminals” that were first utilized in Halo 3, the recreation of the original Halo utilizes them in a more eye-candy fashion with quick cutscenes describing some background on the game and foreshadowing what the future holds as you progress — as opposed to that of Halo 3’s abstract text logs. The terminals here actually don’t operate in-game as they once did. Instead, the console will take you to a separate app to view the clips. This seems unnecessary as the original Halo Anniversary had the clips play straight from the game itself without having the players actually leave the open game.

As a singular entity, Halo: CE Anniversary is fantastic, and offers a captivating story with gameplay that is still on-par with other games of today. Its level progression is great, and while there will be some minor A.I. issues and bugs along the way, nothing is significant enough to jar the experience loose.

Halo 2: Anniversary's campaign stands on the same level as other top shooters available today.
Halo 2: Anniversary’s campaign stands on the same level as other top shooters available today.

What is rightly regarded as the most anticipated part of the collection, Halo 2: Anniversary operates in the same vein as that of Halo: CE Anniversary, and much of the appreciation for the game is the same.

Some sounds of the game are entirely re-done and the soundtrack is upgraded as well, but the visuals are what everyone will notice immediately. With the same one-button switch between the old and new graphics, the improvements are incredibly evident.

When played in sequence Halo 2: Anniversary stands out among the rest. Most would be astontished to find the game core of the game is truly identical to the decade old title. The gameplay and graphics are as good as any current FPS available today.

The in-game graphics are fantastic, but the CGI cutscenes by Blur are absolutely incredible and allows first-time players to experience an even deeper immersion into the Halo universe.

The addition of terminals to Halo 2 is identical to that of Halo 1 and again takes you to the outside app to view the cinematic.

Halo 2: Anniversary could have easily stood on its own as a $60 game just as Halo 1 did on the Xbox 360. To see the game bundled with all the other titles is a tremendous bonus

Halo 3 & Halo 4

While they don’t quite get the anniversary treatment, both are great additions to help players fully enjoy the story of Master Chief, and help build the anticipation for Halo 5.

When the Xbox 360 released and the first footage of Halo 3 was revealed, the graphics of the game were above and beyond most of what had been seen on the Xbox platform. Now, when you re-play through the campaign and complete Halo 2: Anniversary with the awesome Blur Studios CGI cut-scenes, you’re thrust into the off-putting lower quality world of Halo 3.

It isn’t awful, but in comparison it just doesn’t seem to keep up with the quality of the other games — especially during its own cut-scenes.

During gameplay minor visual tweaks have improved things a bit, but nothing all that noticeable. Most people will not notice any differences outside of the improved resolution.

Halo 4 itself was strangely exciting. Out of all Halo’s this is still the most suited to the contemporary play-styles that most games have today. The graphics are the same as they once were, but at 1080p 60 FPS, everything looks fitting of being on the new-generation of consoles.

343i ability to re-master these classic Bungie titles’ campaigns and port their own Halo 4 story onto the Xbox One is marvelous.
If this review ended here, the Master Chief Collection would likely receive a very high rating. If you’re a person who’s looking to buy The Master Chief Collection to play some of the best games available on the Xbox platform, this is an awesome buy and a must have game for the Xbox One.

Multiplayer

Update: Over the subsequent months following The Master Chief Collection’s release the multiplayer aspects of the game have vastly improved and any negative impact it has on the game is now nominal.

For all the campaigns do well, the multiplayer does just as well… if only we could get to it. With every single multiplayer map included — even those from the Halo: CE PC game — The Master Chief Colllection’s multiplayer promises so much and does deliver on setting them up.

Halo 2 Anniversary remakes some classic maps from the original 2004 release.
Halo 2 Anniversary remakes some classic maps from the original 2004 release.

In addition to the previous maps, six re-mastered maps in the Halo 2: Anniversary style bring some new life to the Halo franchise..

When you are able to get into a game, the maps are all the well-made designs we’ve come to expect from Bungie and 343i. The mixture of the new and old keep a great balance of falling back to memories of the first play through some players had and the upgraded style that fits the new-age FPS style.

Unfortunately, the servers struggle to manage the influx of players, and even now as the amount of players begins to dwindle down, the servers still leave players waiting for extended periods of time (10+ minutes) for just one single match. Often times when a match is found, the player balance is uneven, and without ranking systems players are constantly thrown into a mishmash of general players with no guide of who is an experienced veteran of the game and who is a new-comer.

As the game launched there were a variety of game modes that promoted classic game-types like team-swat and rumble pit, but since the dismal launch for the multiplayer the game modes have been removed with promises of addressing overall playability of online modes first and foremost and addition of more game types later on.

With how much the multiplayer was loved by fans this is a recipe for failure. Halo 2’s multiplayer, which was what hooked many players onto the Xbox Live platform and enticed many players into buying the Master Chief Collection in the first place is fantastic, and many of the multiplayer game-types that are still available remain centered around the second game of the franchise.

For all the faults the game has with connecting and the server-side technical problems that hold a smooth experience back, every single one of the multiplayer games is exceptional when you do get into a match.

The weapon balance is excellent through the all of the games. The control schemes are easy to manage through universal controller set that players are granted to change to whatever they prefer.

Customization isn’t quite as in-depth as it once was. Rather than allowing players to create custom armor configurations like they had with Halo 3 and 4, an assortment of all completed armor sets are available for players to choose is instead made available already unlocked.

The game itself is very well made and, if not for the server issues, would feel like a finished product.

It’s definitely improving though. With each patch the online matchmaking finds games quicker and small bugs are cleaned up, but its still not quite where it needs to be.

But as of now, 343i will need to keep churning out updates as fast possible to keep the fanbase satisfied.

As the technical issues are sorted out and the developers work to get the game running smoothly, The Master Chief Collection essentially delivers on only half of the game. The single-players are well-done and allow players to experience the riveting story of the Halo games. But despite what it does well on the campaign fronts a reliable patch is still needed to create a more fluent online experience.

8.8/10

Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Posted on

343i studio head issues apology to Halo fans for The Master Chief Collection’s turbulent launch

The issues with the Master Chief Collection's server issues hold fans back from fully enjoying the classic multiplayer.
The issues with the Master Chief Collection’s server issues hold fans back from fully enjoying the classic multiplayer.

Halo is objectively the greatest exclusive franchise on the Xbox platform, and with how dedicated the fans are seeing such a troublesome launch of the Master Chief Collection has resulted in a barrage of complaints and grievances with the developer.

Today, the studio head responded with a personal apology for the multiplayer issues of the first-person shooter.

“With the initial release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, however, we have not delivered the experience you deserve.  I personally apologize for this on behalf of us all at 343 Industries.  Our team is committed to working around the clock until these issues are resolved.” — Bonnie Ross

343 Industries has done the best they can to try and resolve the situation with almost daily updates, and patches to try and fix their server issues. Up to this point, no significant improvements have been made. While some report slightly more efficient matchmaking, the multiplayer issues are far too major for most players to notice a difference at all.

Bonnie Ross went on to speak of their plans to keep fans informed on their progressions with addressing the server-side fixes and game-content updates.

“Know that we’re trying to be as nimble as possible to put fixes in place.  We are planning multiple server-side tweaks and game content updates over the coming weeks.  Looking forward, I want to give you a high-level cadence of the latest updates we’re currently working on.”

While it is a positive to see 343i showing such dedication to bring the “experience “fans” deserve,” these problems at release are so impactful, it may have been better for Microsoft if the game was delayed by a few weeks to give fans an immediately enjoyable game.

Check out the full apology here
Posted on

The Master Chief Collection out now; Halo 5 details revealed | (Twitch stream)

343i wants to ensure a balance to the arena-style multiplayer in Halo 5.
343i wants to ensure a balance to the arena-style multiplayer in Halo 5.

HaloFest 2014 and the launch of the Master Chief Collection is bringing tons of new announcements with Halo 5 multiplayer details and other tidbits to know about the release of 343i’s continuation of the series.

Every weapon zooms, but the devs ensure that it won’t alter the style of game too much. You won’t need to aim down the sights consistently to remain competitive.

Many fans have disagreed on whether sprinting fits into the Halo games as well, but 343i looks to balance that as well with sprinting now tied to your shields. In order for your shields to recharge you must move at the normal pace.

The devs clearly are trying to find that perfect balance to gameplay to keep such an acclaimed series on good terms with fans.

The first few episodes of nightfall will be revealed tonight and evidently Agent Locke and his story will be keyed on. Check it out on twitch.tv/halo and check out our own stream at twitch.tv/zombie_xsp

More details to come later.

Posted on

The Master Chief Collection — Gravemind gameplay

The work put forth Blur seems to always be incredible, and the opening to this level of Halo 2: Anniversary, and the rest of the game as a whole may be their best.

The visual effects and animation company have done a remarkable job in the re-imagining of gravemind and their ability to match the same spirit and style in which Halo 2’s original CGI scenes were built.

The CGI is one thing to admire, but the gameplay itself looks just as good.The upgrades in nearly everything is awesome, but it still has the same basis for design that Halo 2 originally had.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition, and its recreation of the slightly older Halo 1 game, were able to tinker a bit more with the exact looks of things to match the contemporary style that games have now.

Halo 2: Anniversary edition looks better relative to the rest of the games in the Master Chief Collection, but Halo: Combat Evolved shows a jump that is just as significant relative to the original game.

Posted on

The Master Chief collection goes gold | 20GB content update on day one

The Master Chief collection brings all of the core Halo story in beautiful 1080p 60 fps.
The Master Chief collection brings all of the core Halo story in beautiful 1080p 60 fps.

Pre-order and pre-download is now available on the Xbox One. The Master Chief Collection will take up a whopping 65 GBs of space on your hard-drive — but it definitely looks worth it.

In his “going gold” post on Halo waypoint, Dan Ayoub (Executive Producer of 343i)states that “this is literally going to be the biggest Halo experience so far,” but even that statement doesn’t do the true magnitude of the game justice.

(Almost) Everything Halo from one menu with any combination of maps and missions at the players' fingertips.
(Almost) Everything Halo from one menu with any combination of maps and missions at the players’ fingertips.

The Master Chief collection goes above and beyond any other comparable value collection. Every map, every gun, every mission — all included on one disc that allows players to seamlessly transfer from one game to the next.

The disc contains a total of 45 GB of the initial content, but a day one update adds an additional 20 GB.

343i’s Franchise Development Director, Frank O’Connor, explains the update.

“That’s not a patch. It’s content. The game is designed to run as a single, unified product, digital is seamless obviously, but we also wanted disc users to have the same experience, without swapping discs. Since the bulk of it is MP or MP related, the logic is sound.”

“If fixes were required for Campaign, they would be very small, but that’s not the case. All four campaigns will run directly from the disc without the content update. As will some custom game features. Again, the bulk of the CU is MP and MP related.”

For most it does not seem like the addition will be too much of a burden, but some gamers may have to wait a bit longer than they would have liked if they want to get in on the full multiplayer action right away at its 12:01 a.m. (EST) release on November 11th.

Those who pre-download the title on the Xbox store you’ll have to endure even less time and get straight to the exploration of any chapter in the expansive Halo universe.

Some of the most iconic maps of Halo 2 are better than ever with improved visuals and fine-tuned map designs.
Some of the most iconic maps of Halo 2 are better than ever with improved visuals and fine-tuned map designs.

At just $60 the Master Chief Collection is an absolute must have game for every Xbox One owner — whether your experienced with the Halo franchise or not.

Those without Xbox’s that are familiar with Halo (especially fans of the beloved Halo 2 multiplayer) may see this as a potential console-selling addition to the console’s rapidly growing library of quality games.

We’re just weeks away from re-exploring the likes of Blood Gulch, Sidewinder, Ascension, Midship, and over 90 other multiplayer maps — not including the plethora of maps that will be inevitably created from forge on Halo 2, 3, and 4.