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17 Years of Halo

December 11, 2018

As of November 15, 2018, the Xbox flagship franchise Halo has turned 17 years old so as a celebration I’m going over Halo’s entire history in a timeline.

1997- Yeah, yeah I said that Halo is 17 years old but development began almost 20 years ago while some of Bungie was working on Myth 2: soulblighter. The rest of the team decided to make a side project that was at the time unnamed. The project was supposed to be a sci-fi RTS (Real Time Strategy) game, with aliens as the main antagonist, the genre of the game was scrapped, but the idea stayed the same.

1999- After the team scrapped the RTS gameplay, they went for a third person RPG, with a lot of weapons and vehicles, this time with a name. This is where the project was titled Halo, with the first variation of The Master Chief to show off.

2000- However the game went through yet another overhaul, assets were redone or scrapped. Some things that were redesigned was the Chief’s armor, the Warthog assault geep, and the Covenant (alien antagonists). This project was bought by Microsoft for their new Xbox game console, and showed at E3 2000, and painted a bright future for the game until the release. Speaking of which.

2001- November 15, came around, and game stores were filled to the brim to pick up the new console, and game. The story focused on the crew of The Pillar of Autumn consisting of Captain Keyes, shipboard a.i. Cortana, the still nameless Sargent Johnson, and finally the spartan super-soldier Master Chief as he’s commonly called as they try to prevent the Covenant from firing the Halo superweapon. They do this all shortly after escaping the planet Reach, which will come into play later. What slows the Covenant down is not only the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) but also the parasitic flood (alien super zombies). The multiplayer was like most console FPS games, with no online mode, and using split screen and system link gameplay. It was chaotic if you had four consoles, and 16 friends to get together with. Customization was nothing special just changing your armor color.

2003- What did you think I would talk about Halo without giving Red vs. Blue the spotlight for a bit? Red vs. Blue is a comedy show made by Rooster Teeth studios, filmed from Halo 1’s multiplayer game modes and maps. The show focuses on two groups of soldier misfits, each with a different personality. Originally Red vs. Blue was supposed to be a six-episode series but evolved for over sixteen seasons of content. It went from six short episodes, to the longest running web series to date. Now Rooster Teeth is responsible for shows like RWBY, Immersion, Camp Camp, and more to come. The show was largely possible due to a glitch in the game where if you look down at the ground your character’s head will look forward. This is where “weapon lowering” became something useful. If you want to see the YouTube channel or their website here’s the links. YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/user/RoosterTeeth Website: https://roosterteeth.com/

2004- Halo 1 was awesome but Bungie didn’t stop with just that, shortly after the release of the first game they went to work on Halo 2, with even more features, enemies, weapons, and vehicles. Not only did Halo 2 add more, but it also helped launch Xbox Live, now players all over the world could play Halo together, as well as spark Esports. Esports is a series of competition in several games for cash rewards and Halo 2 at the time was the prime example of skill and competitiveness. Not only was Xbox Live a big thing in 2004, but the guys at Rooster Teeth had an easier time recording machinima (shows made out of a video game). This was the result of Bungie watching and enjoying Red vs. Blue! What happened was that after the first season of RvB, Rooster Teeth was contacted by Bungie, they were surprised to hear Bungie complement them on their work. Where in Halo 1 weapon lowering was an accident Halo 2 and future games made it a feature. Also, Sgt. Johnson became a cinematic character and that alone gave fans something to look forward to seeing more of, with his gleeful military personality, and charismatic attitude. This was also the first game to introduce playable elites and dual wielding.

2007- It seemed like Halo couldn’t get better but they did. Halo 3 had just come out for the Xbox 360 and fans to the millions lined up just to by a new console, and a copy of Halo 3. Matter of fact the head of Microsoft sold the first copy of the game, and if that’s not a good businessman I don’t know what is. Halo 3 made the multiplayer more skill based, the campaign more for saving the earth and seeing an end to a thirty-year war. Halo 3 also added Forge, a map editor tool where the community can make unique and interesting maps and game modes. They also added Theater mode to help with machinima, and to call out on all the bull your online friends could say. Halo 3 also implemented community game modes as mainline game types, like the zombies game mode, players play as survivors fending off the horde of other players. In zombies, the survivors keep all their customization from individual armor pieces, and personal armor color, but the zombies have their armor color force changed to green and are only equipped with an energy sword. Another community game made mainline game mode is Grifball made by Rooster Teeth producer Burnie Burns as a reference to a joke in season 4 of RvB where Sarge, Doughnut, and Simmons shoot at Grif with sniper rifles, and Sarge says “This is the best game since Grifball”. The game mode was made during the release of the d.i.y. map pack and so was the RvB short announcing the maps. Grifball is a modified variation of the Assault game type where two teams of players deliver a bomb to either end of the arena. While creating both the game type and the short burnie had this to say “Grif and Doughnut had created a game to go with Simmons railgun invention. Grif’s creation would be the laziest game ever where you basically walk to the middle of the room, grab a flag, and plant it two feet away. That scene wasn’t that funny so we cut it but I had already created the game mode and started messing around with it.” In the game, the red and blue team run to the middle of the room and try to retrieve the bomb equipped with gravity hammers, and energy swords, the player holding the ball has his armor color force changed to orange to represent Grif the character and the player holding the ball. If you want to see the RvB short for this map pack here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2NanM3cS6Q&t=1s

February 2009- You know how I said the original plan for the first Halo game was supposed to be an RTS game? Well, now we have an actual Halo RTS deemed Halo Wars. In Halo Wars you command armies of Human (UNSC) and Alien (Covenant) alike. The story takes place 25 years before the first game as the UNSC Spirit of Fire takes back Harvest (a human farming colony that was the first victim of the Covenant’s onslaught) as well as investigate what the Covenant was up to on the planet. Being an RTS game you have to get supplies and use them to research advancements, build structures and train units to counter enemy units. Some units were never seen in the previous games and still aren’t while others were taken from previous games. As a Halo game this was a great game but as an RTS, it feels a little bit bare due to it being on the Xbox 360 instead of PC where RTS is mostly played. This game was later remastered for Xbox One in 2016 but not much was improved aside from framerate. It was remastered for the announcement of Halo Wars 2 but we’ll get to that later.

September 2009- Previous Halo games let us take control of a super soldier, called a spartan named after the greek warriors who brought Xerxes’ army to its knees. Halo 3: ODST lets you take control of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST’s) during the events of the second game as you survive and investigate the dark and alien filled streets of New Mombasa. Using the engine Halo 3 ran on, ODST changed how Halo 3 was played. Bungie took out dual wielding but I can personally forgive it because you’re not a spartan, you’re a better version of a marine. Some weapons were changed, nerfed or buffed compared to the Halo 3 counterparts, the assault rifle does less damage, and the SMG now has a scope and suppressor to help with its stealth gameplay. This game also added a new game mode called “Firefight” where players fight wave upon wave of Covenant forces as survival game type. If you bought this game on disk you get the added bonus of Halo 3 multiplayer with every map pack, but digitally you might as well buy all map packs of Halo 3, using more money than if you bought it on disk.

February 2010- After all these games it’s time Halo got its own movie, and that movie is called Halo Legends. Halo Legends was not only the first Halo movie but also the first time an American game series got a Japanese anime-styled movie (also the last). Halo Legends tells several stories before and during the war, from the origins of the Flood, to how Arbiter amongst Sangheili warriors went from a symbol of leadership to a mark of dishonor. This movie was awesome, to say the least, but fans wanted a new game, speaking of which.

September 2010- This is where Halo took a turn, for better or worst is still discussed. Halo Reach came out for Xbox 360, but it feels like it took out more than it added, but that can be forgiven. The game takes place during the fall of the planet Reach, homeworld of the spartans. Story-wise it’s up to you and fellow spartan II’s and III’s to defend the planet, but as stated in the first game it eventually fell. Feature-wise this game has some cool ones such as armor abilities (my favorite being the jetpack) which has a different function like distracting enemies, healing and shielding fellow players and reaching new heights. Dual wielding is still gone as well as fewer weapons and vehicles, but the armor customization and art style make it one of the best games for machinima in the eyes of many. Adding more firefight game modes, and progression system that many deem as the best in gaming. Finally forge was improved letting players phase objects through other objects, let them float in mid-air, and finally create new maps, and setting where players are supposed to stay. Halo Reach was more Bungie saying goodbye to Halo to start a new project called Destiny (and we all know how that turned out).

2011- Halo is ten years old and Bungie is gone, so Microsoft made 343 industries named after 343 Guilty Spark from Halo 1, and monitor of Halo installation 04. The first order of business is remastering Halo 1 for Xbox 360 despite the original being backward compatible with the 360. Halo Combat Evolved: anniversary was probably one of the best moves 343 made over the years, updating the visuals using the art, and graphics engine that Halo Reach used. The Flood is more disgusting looking, elites are bulkier, Marines don’t look like they have pots and pans as armor, and every animation in the cutscenes looked fresh and lifelike. If you get sick of the new art for this classic game, then 343 has you covered, with just a push of a button you can play in old graphics and art. Just because you can play the old campaign in a new coat of paint doesn’t mean you can do that for multiplayer. Instead of implementing the old multiplayer with better graphics, 343 added the Halo Reach multiplayer (to be honest I can see why on such short notice).

2012- 343 is now known for its missteps in the Halo formula, with multiplayer, story, gameplay, and art. Here’s the first of said missteps in Halo 4. As the story was a good one letting you take control of the Master Chief again, we are also faced with a serious problem, Cortana’s rampancy. Rampancy is a state in which an a.i. is approaching the end of their seven-year life, Cortana surpassed eight years (4 of which was making sure the Forward Unto Dawn doesn’t lose life support for Master Chief’s cryo pod). On top of that, the two have to find a way off of the forerunner shield world Requiem and take down the last live forerunner, The Didact. The story was great but the multiplayer and art weren’t so good, the armor and weapon designs were cool but the marine and Covenant designs just looked out of place. Marines didn’t look militaristic at all they were more akin to the Star Wars rebellion and the elites didn’t look all that agile, heavier than anything. Even in cutscenes, they look like they are having trouble moving because of the weight of their armor. Jackals look like velociraptors, rather than ugly birds, and grunts look more amphibian like than doglike. 343 replace Firefight with a mini episodic story mode, called Spartan Ops, where players use their multiplayer spartan to accomplish objectives, and complete missions. The multiplayer was more like a call of duty game, with custom loadouts, killstreaks, and weapon skins. And to make matters worse they took out playable elites.

2013- Aside from Halo 4 343 made a spin-off game for Microsoft tablets, but was later ported to Xbox 360, called Halo Spartan Assault. The game’s story is like playing documents of battles after the third game and before Halo 4, in a third-person top-down view, and was more like an arcade game. A second game was made in 2015 but I think talking about Spartan assault is enough

2014- The Xbox One is out, and Halo 2 is now ten years old. How does 343 celebrate? They make Halo The Master Chief Collection (MCC for short). This game lets us play Halo 1 anniversary, Halo 2 anniversary, and Halo 3 and 4 upon launch (multiplayer included). I already talked about these games stories, but Halo 2 had more attention than anything else in this game, you’ll know what I mean when I talk about the multiplayer. Halo 2 has updated graphics with more detail and buffed up sounds, even in the cutscenes which looks like a live action movie, even with the aliens (I’m not kidding). The Xbox One may be more powerful than the 360, which means multiplayer and online co-op should run smoothly right? Wrong! During launch multiplayer was practically broken, you were lucky to find a game let alone play it. Sometimes when playing the story modes of these games with friends, the games would either crash mid game, or not even load at all. 343 recently fixed this issue but not in time for everyone to forget this game existed.

2015- The hattrick of shame for this entire franchise starts here. Halo 5: Guardians, was the most disappointing Halo game I’ve ever played, the story mode sucked, multiplayer while better than Halo 4, didn’t feel like a Halo game, and there was less customization in this game than in Halo 3. First the story, this game advertised with the slogan “Hunt the Truth”, but I feel like the only truth about this game was the lazy writing, and repetitive Warden Eternal boss battles. I bought this game mostly to play as Master Chief, but only 3 out of 15 missions can I play as John (yes that is the Chief’s real name). I didn’t want to play as agent Locke and fireteam Osiris, I want Master Chief and Blue Team. That’s not even counting the buildup of Master Chief vs. Locke for the game. Do we get to play as one fighting each other? No! We get a boring cutscene that wasn’t even friendly to the game’s canon, Master Chief is a Spartan II who was trained in the military at age 6, and at age 14 he took and delt more punishment to 3 older and more experienced soldiers. Lock was trained in the military when he signed up to be a soldier and after the first Human, Covenant war the Spartan IV program was launched, Locke volunteered. Spartan IV’s are supposed to be less effective and deadly than the Spartan II’s, yet in the scene where John and Locke go mono e mono it looks like their evenly matched instead of the older guy with more experience and training finishing the fight in less than 3 seconds flat, especially after finding out that Cortana is alive. I’ve spent too much time on the story, the multiplayer wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. Warzone is large scale and chaotic, but you need to open hundreds of req packs to be an asset to your team. Forge wasn’t included until 2016, and, and theatre was broken beyond repair. Did I mention that neither dual wielding or playable elites make a return? To top it all off, this game didn’t have split screen co-op. Thanks 343.

2017- After the lazy writing, bad art, mediocre villains and multiplayer 343 makes a comeback at E3, with Halo Wars 2. It does something with the art no one expected, it blended old art and new art flawlessly, introduced The Banished, and tells us what happened to the Spirit of Fire after 28 years since going missing. The Banished is lead by a Brute named Atriox, who has a strong hatred for the Covenant and was revealed to be the first to defy the Covenant and live out of their thousand-year history. The battlefield of this game, the ark from Halo 3. We return to the Halo making machine that everyone remembers as the last battle fought by the Covenant, before it dissolved into several splinter groups. 343 really wanted to redeem themselves because this game was one to remember. The first game had a lot of units, and only 3 leaders in each faction to choose from, in Halo Wars 2 you get more units, a better base mechanic, a higher population cap, and with the season pass not only do you get, the 6 starter leaders, but a total of 17 leaders (pre-order bonus included). The leader powers can be an article on their own with different defense, offense, and support functions. The multiplayer is exactly like the trailer advertised selling the idea “Know your Enemy”. There are microtransactions like Halo 5 but their not as major. The Microtransaction system is more centered on the games Blitz mode but no one really plays this mode so it’s pretty much useless. If you’ve never played this game, at least watch the E3 trailer and decide for yourself if you would consider buying it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjN1eWhzPeA

2018- We saw that 343 brought back the old art in Halo Wars 2 but would they do that again for mainline games? Yes! The E3 presentation of Halo Infinite is evidence of that. It could be a couple years until we actually see this game on shelves but it’s already showing promise that Halo has a brighter future. The trailer mainly showed beautiful environments and, local wildlife that is likely going to be in the game. This game will continue the adventure of Spartan-117, Master Chief, as well as give him new armor, a classic art style, and likely the return of the Flood after the Awakening The Nightmare story DLC seen in Halo Wars 2.

Aftermath- What do you think? What are your hopes and fears for Halo Infinite as well as what your favorite game is? Comment down below your opinion as well as if you thought this fanboy’s article was good or not.

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