It's been two long and treacherous years since Bungie's farewell to the Halo series, with gamers around the world licking their lips in anticipation since the announcement of Halo 4 at 2011's E3 expo. Now don't get me wrong, I thrashed Halo: Reach for a while and enjoyed the game, but it didn't possess that same magic that made the first three entries to the series such a joy to play (particularly Halo 2 and 3's multiplayer). Whilst believing that Halo 4 will bring back the amazing multiplayer standards of Halo 2 and 3 (I think the campaign will be awesome regardless) is probably nothing more than a pipe dream, 343's Halo debut is now less than six weeks away, and here's five reasons why I'm super excited for it:
343 love Halo
343 industries love the Halo series. Don't believe me? Watch any interview with the team behind the game. Whilst various Bungie members have jumped shipped to 343 to work on Halo 4, before their involvement with the project, the team at 343 were Halo fans just like anyone else. Their admiration for the game leaves me with no doubt that they won't squander their first foray into the Halo universe, and from the footage we've seen, it's going to be epic.
The Chief is back
Need I say more? It's been five long years since the Master Chief was lost in space aboard the Forward Unto Dawn, now it's time for the Chief to wake up and kick some Forerunner butt. We know that Halo 4 is going to feature Cortana in a heavier role, and it'll be interesting to see how the Chief handles her along with a new threat.
A fresh take on a classic series
343 have introduced a new enemy, new weapons and countless other new features that are sure to have even the most loyal of fanboys excited. It still looks like a Halo game at heart, but I'm sure as we get our hands on the game that 343's influence will be undeniable. Players had been facing the same Covenant enemy for years with Bungie's titles, and now it's time for 343 to spice things up and take the series into unchartered territory. Halo 4 has been said to be heavily influenced by Halo: Combat Evolved, with more discoverable and explorable environments than ever before.
For those of you who don't know, Spartan Ops is 343's newest and most unique addition to Halo 4 - consisting of weekly installments of five missions and cinematics, all completely free. That's right, the first 10-week series of Spartan Ops will be completely free, ultimately offering 50 new missions to players post-launch. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, and one certainly worthy of replacing Halo: Reach and ODST's Firefight mode. We know that each Spartan Ops mission will tie in to the overall story of Halo 4, and we can't wait to see how it pans out.
Halo, has always been the benchmark for unique FPS offerings, catering brilliantly for the casual and competitive market. New additions to the multiplayer experience found in Halo 4 include sprinting as default, no longer the loadout option found in Halo: Reach. Players can also choose from a variety of new armor abilities, such as Promethean Vision, which will allow players to see through walls, and the Hardlight Shield which, you guessed it, forms a light shield protecting the player from incoming fire.
Tactical packages will further allow players to gain an extra advantage on the battlefield, with the Shield Package providing a much faster shield recharge rate, and the Firepower package allowing players to carry two primary weapons. That's not even putting a dent in 343's new multiplayer features - armor customization is set to return, support upgrades (such as extra ammo) have been implemented, as well as ordinance drops, which will force all players in the match to scramble for a randomly-dropped power-up.
Class specialisations for online multiplayer are also part of 343's mysterious new inclusions to the game. Once players progress past the level cap of 50, they'll be able to choose between eight different class specialisations, all possessing diverse armour characteristics, emblems and weapon skins, and one game-changing feature. The 'Wetwork' specialisation will allow faster silent movement and quicker assassinations, while 'Pioneer' allows players to acquire experience points faster. Little is known regarding the other six specialisations - Engineer, Tracker, Rogue, Stalker, Pathfinder and Operator - they will be made downloadable in the months following launch, with no word on whether they'll come equipped with a price tag.
There's certainly a lot to get your head around, and only time will tell whether Halo 4 will surpass the lofty standards set by its predecessors, or if it will succumb to them. Halo 4 releases worldwide on November 6, 2012.
By Jake Galouzis