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Halo 4 E3 Preview
Halo 4 is coming, and it looks better and better with each new day.
The game takes place not long after the events of Halo 3, with Master Chief and Cortana drifting aboard a spacecraft and crash-landing on a mysterious planet.
It was after this that we saw an exclusive new trailer at E3 from 343 Industries. Starting in live action, the trailer set up the UNSC Infinity, giving us a glimpse into what it is and what it means to the game. After taking heavy damage in an attack, the Infinity crashes on Requiem, the planet Chief and Cortana are traversing. It’s at that point the trailer that included new game footage began and gave us an idea of what we can expect of Halo 4.
After the Infinity drifts overhead, Chief and Cortana begin a rescue mission, seeking the crashed aircraft and rushing to aid the crew. Before setting off, a large glowing orb drifts overhead, then shoots off in the direction the unfortunate Infinity has gone. 343 developers have commented that they’re not ready to reveal exactly what the orb’s function is yet, but they have promised that it is “definitely related to the new threat Master Chief faces.”
After a brief quip from Cortana, Chief takes off, and the gameplay footage begins.
The first thing players will notice about Halo 4 is the painstaking attention to detail dumped into the construction of the world around them. The game’s engine is a “radically overhauled” version of the engine used for Combat Evolved: Anneversary, updated to improve physics, lighting, rendering, and effects, to name a few. It’s clear at a first glance that it has paid off. Environments look real, and an overall sense of life is clearly conveyed here unlike any other game before in the series.
The HUD has been re-vamped as well, with a Crysis-2 like look, made to feel like the player is looking out of the visor of Master Chief’s helmet. A small pip appears onscreen when NPCs such as Cortana are speaking to you, and other factors such as health are displayed directly above onscreen.
As Chief moves through the jungle, he stumbles across a group of Covenant scouts. In the game, we will see a return of the Covenant, and we have been promised that they do play a large role in the story; however, they will not be the only enemy Chief is up against.
And we find that out very quickly. After taking out the Covenant group, Chief stumbles across a new, non-organic species: The Prometheans (does this sound like Mass Effect’s Protheans to anyone else?). His first encounter with the Prometheans is fighting Crawlers; small, insect-like enemies who are named for their ability to crawl on any surface, be it uneven or sideways. Developers say they work in packs, traveling together and working with each other to take out enemies. Similar to Grunts, they’re not hard to kill. A group of them, though, can easily spell trouble.
After clearing out a number of the Crawlers, Chief suddenly finds himself bombarded by the raging, flaming skull of the Promethean Knight. Tougher to face than an Elite, the Knight is a large being, coined the leader of the battlefield for Promethean troops. Knights have unique abilities all their own, and are guarded by their ever-helpful Watchers, beings capable of resurrecting dead Knights, surrounding them with shields, spawning Crawlers, and sending thrown grenades back Chief’s way, to say a few.
After defeating two different Knights, Chief encounters two new weapons of Promethean technology; the Forerunner light rifle, capable of firing in three-round bursts and one large blast, depending on how it is used, and the Scattershot, a Forerunner shotgun powerful at short distances and able to bounce off of surfaces and fire around corners.
Chief also ends up equipping Promethian Vision, a vision mode that acts like sonar, revealing the locations of nearby enemies who might be hiding behind cover.
Both the Promethian weaponry and vision modes will be available for multiplayer loadouts as well. Developers site their usefulness in confusing other players and locating campers when necessary.
Staying true to Halo’s multiplayer legacy, online play will be a big part of Halo 4. Set on the Infinity, the multiplayer storyline takes place three months after the events of Halo 4. Players can choose between two modes; War Games, the traditional player-versus-player free for all familiar to Halo fans, and Spartan Ops, an episodic co-op storyline taking place through different story installments over months after release.
Probably one of the most exciting parts of Halo 4 is its promise of having a deeper and more immersive narrative than ever before. What little gameplay and trailer footage we have has proven this to be the case, with a new, ancient evil rising up, the epic return of Master Chief, and the breakdown of Cortana.
While the game is in the hands of an all-new studio, it’s clear that the developers have bent over backwards to keep the same conventions that have made Halo great while still managing to introduce new ideas to keep the gameplay fresh an interesting.
Look for more Halo 4 information in the coming months, and expect to see the game hit the Xbox 360 this November.