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Halo 5 forge still to come; releases in late December

Halo 5 is now available on Xbox One and with a flood of positive reviews showering 343 Industries and Microsoft with praise, there’s still some more to come — especially for fans of custom games.

Forge mode is due for a December “holiday break” release and is poised to offer the most in-depth and intuitive player creation tool ever included in a contemporary triple-A game.

While 343i is dedicated to pushing out more free, developer-quality maps for use in the online multiplayer, fans will be able to make maps in a fashion more closely aligned with the developers own process.

Josh Holmes took to Halo Waypoint to describe what they were going for and how they wanted to build on Halo 4’s forge.

“The creativity of the Forge community knows no bounds and our goal was to give them more power and control than ever before. We wanted to remove as many constraints as possible so they can create high quality maps that rival the ones that we are shipping with the game.” – JoshingtonState, Halo Waypoint

Improved controls, better magnet between objects, and multi-select capabilities are among some of the improvements to the system.

Since Forge was introduced in Halo 3 creators would be given a cap on how many assets could be used with dollar values assigned to each object. That changes in Halo 5. Players will now get a greater idea of how they’re using resources with a “multi-budget system.”

Multiple budgets based on real engine systems; max object counts, memory, etc. This means when placing something like a large terrain piece, its large texture will only eat into the memory budget once, and additional same/similar pieces will only use up the object count budget because their shared texture is already loaded.”

The amount of variety now is remarkable. Simple lighting changes can drastically alter the atmosphere of maps and combined with the new Forge canvases — similar to the Halo Reach forge world — reusing the same environment still offers a great amount of diversity.

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Halo 5 co-op campaign to have “a new level of depth”

When Bungie released Halo back in 2001 one of the biggest features that made the game so shareable, fun to play, and a pop-culture hit was its incredible multiplayer. Now, 14 years later 343 Industries is looking to capture that same level of fun in a multiplayer but matching it to more contemporary gameplay with online co-op play.

343i’s latest blog by Josh Holmes — the head of the studio — explains that the past love that many gamers had for the co-op campaign was the inspiration to fully integrate that experience into Halo 5. No more seeing three or four Master Chiefs roaming around together for a completely unexplained reason. Now the introduction of fire teams gives Chief true reason to have the back-up he has when playing the multiplayer.

“…we have committed to co-operative campaign at a fundamental level. This creative pillar has influenced many decisions throughout the game’s technology and design. While you can still expect the same great single-player experience that Halo campaigns have been known for, engaging in co-operative play gives the campaign a new level of depth and richness.” – Josh Holmes

The biggest change in the multiplayer is the new “drop-in, drop-out” feature allowing new players to join another’s campaign without waiting to restart a level. The fireteam that both Master Chief and Spartan Locke fight besides are with you through the entire game and when real teammates aren’t there to help you the A.I. will pick up right where you left off. Chief and Locke are both capable of directing their A.I. squads wherever they see fit.

Master Chief and Spartan Locke can command their team to revive downed members during battle.
Master Chief and Spartan Locke can command their team to revive downed members during battle.

Another key aspect of the fireteams is their importance to the story. The accompaniment of additional spartans helps the personalities within the Halo universe expand significantly with some new and returning characters. (And even some vastly different characters since the last time we met them in a Halo game — like Sergeant Buck.)

Blue Team’s accompaniment of Master Chief will help players gain a greater perspective of the Spartan II’s past.

The formation of Fireteam Oriris, Spartan Locke’s team, includes Buck as well as two never before seen characters in the Halo games — Holly Tanaka and Olympia Vale.

“We’ve deliberately designed these two teams to provide visual contrast with one another. Blue Team have a heavier, more weathered feel. Their technology is proven, reliable, and practical in nature. Fireteam Osiris represent a new generation of Spartans. Their armor is sleek and modern, technologically advanced and displaying less wear.”

Check out Halo Waypoint for more details regarding the Halo 5 co-op campaign.

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New Spartans unveiled in Halo 5 cover art

The intriguing battle between the classic hero, and the mysterious new-comer has just gotten a bit more complex with Microsoft’s last art release showing a collection of new Spartans — including what is likely Blue Team, Master Chief’s former squad, in the bottom left corner for those familiar with the Halo lore.

It seems those sided with Spartan Locke are some exciting familiar faces from past Halo games as well. For the first time, major characters of the ODST game will be intertwined with the core story as Buck and Romeo join Locke. Macer, another main characer with ties to Locke is also featured in this blown-up piece of the major art release.

Spartan Locke will be getting help from some familiar faces in Halo 5.
Spartan Locke will be getting help from some familiar faces in Halo 5.

The narrative consisting of Master Chief and Spartan Locke’s turmoil amidst the covenant attacks on human ground is already generating extensive positive buzz around the franchise — which was certainly much needed after the negative publicity 343 Industries underwent during The Master Chief Collection’s release.

Microsoft’s involvement of the fans did an excellent job to promote the franchise with the #HuntTheTruth trend on twitter and other social media platforms. The fans were the ones who actually went out and pieced together clues left behind to reveal this new cover art, and in-turn the animated video that even furthers the excitement.

Halo 5 is due to release at the end of 2015 (October 27) exclusively on the
Xbox One.

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Halo Master Chief Collection owners receiving ODST campaign for FREE

Halo ODST campaign is coming to Xbox One via the Halo Master Chief Collection as a thank-you to Halo fans from 343 Industries. (Photo/halo.bungie.net)

Console-tion gift!

343 Industries announced Friday that it will be updating and releasing the Halo ODST campaign to Halo Master Chief Collection owners, along with a handful of other gifts as a thank-you to fans for sticking by the game, despite all of the issues that have plagued it since its release in early November.

The free campaign will only be accessible to those who purchased the game from its launch until Friday, December 19.

Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, announced the news in a blog post, “A Thank You to Our Fans from Bonnie Ross” on Xbox’s official website:

“Last month, I promised the Halo and Xbox community that addressing the matchmaking issues and other bugs impacting players’ experience with Halo: The Master Chief Collection was our #1 priority…This has been a humbling experience and highlighted how we as a studio can – and need – to do better for Xbox fans around the world.  We are so grateful to our fans who have stood by our side and we appreciate all of your patience as we worked through these issues. As a token of our appreciation and to thank fans for the continued support and understanding, we will be offering the following items.”

In addition to the Halo ODST campaign, which will be upgraded to 1080p and 60 FPS, MCC owners will receive a remastered Halo 2 “Relic” map, one month of Xbox Live Gold and an unique nameplate and avatar, which will be available in the next content update.

All of the additions–except for the exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar–for early adopters will not be available until next year. The campaign and the “Relic” map are expected to hit consoles in Spring 2015, while the free month of Live will either be credited directly to your account or sent as a redeemable token through the Xbox One early next year.

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Halo: Reach now free on Xbox Live

Halo: Reach was Bungie's last game before turning the franchise over to 343i.
Halo: Reach was Bungie’s last game before turning the franchise over to 343i.

The story of Noble Six and “the rookie” is now available for free on the Xbox 360 for Xbox Live Gold members.

It’s been four years since the release of Halo: Reach and Bungie’s last take on the Halo universe, and Microsoft is giving all Xbox 360 owners who have elected to forgo picking up the title a very good reason to try it out now with their September Games with Gold promotion.

Reach was the first of the Halo series to truly open up character customization where your own stylized player takes center-stage in both the single player campaign and the multiplayer.

For those not familiar with the Halo franchise, this will be a good time to pick up the FPS as Halo: Reach is one of the only Halo’s (besides Halo 3: ODST and Halo Wars) that diverts from the core story of Master Chief, a super solider “Spartan”, and Cortana, his artificial-intelligence assistant. For those interested in following the story of Spartan 117, The Master Chief Collection will be releasing in two months (November 11th) and will be covering all of Masterchief and Cortana’s story.

Check out Halo: Reach on the Xbox Live marketplace on the Xbox 360 or head on over to marketplace.xbox.com to download the game instantly to your console.