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Halo 4

Halo 4 / Xbox 360
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editor score 9
user score 9.3
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Release Date

11/06/2012

Genre

First-Person Shooter

Themes

Sci-Fi

Developer

Digital Extremes

Publisher

Microsoft Studios

Overview

Halo 4 is the seventh installment in the Halo franchise and the fourth to star the Master Chief as the protagonist. It is also the first title to be developed by 343 Industries, which includes ex- Bungie Studios employee Frank O'Connor who is now franchise development director for all-things Halo. The game has been in development since 2007 and was publicly revealed via a cinematic trailer at the very end of Microsoft's E3 2011 press conference.

The game's first teaser trailer continues where Halo 3 left off; John-117 finds himself waking up, still stranded in deep space with his AI companion Cortana, while drifting aboard the wreckage of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. The ship quickly approaches an enormous mechanical construct that resembles the Forerunner planets shown in Halo Wars and other games in the Halo universe. In the trailer, the Chief is depicted using both the Sticky Detonator, a one-handed weapon that fires off a single-use explosive projectile as well as a Thruster Pack. The Master Chief's appearance is also dramatically overhauled, with significant visual tweaks to almost every aspect of the armor. The most notable change is the removal of the Chief's codpiece, which was referred to derisively as the "Space Diaper" by developer 343 Industries.

E3 2011 Reveal
E3 2011 Reveal

A short concept art tease was revealed during the Halo 4 panel at Halofest 2011. The video showed pre-visualization work from the art team at 343 that displayed the direction that they were taking the title. The art showed sweeping vistas along with looks at new Forerunner technology, and a quick tease of what was speculated to be the new adversaries in Halo 4. The audio clip was something that strayed away from the typical Halo tunes, and was more along the lines of Mass Effect.

The game is the first in a new trilogy, "The Reclaimer Trilogy," and had an original release date of Holiday 2012. The May 2012 issue of Game Informer featured a multi-page cover story on Halo 4, and revealed several new details about the game that indicate a highly different direction in gameplay style compared to previous instalments.

On April 12th, 2012, the composer for the game's soundtrack was revealed to be Neil Davidge. The news was accompanied by the release of a sample piece of music from the game, which can be heard here. Davidge has stated that he wants to continue the legacy of Martin O'Donnell's epic and cinematic music from the first Halo trilogy, but that he wanted to give the new trilogy its own unique feel.

On April 17th, 2012, the release date of the game was announced to be November 6th, 2012. On the same day, 343 released a new podcast (can be heard here) that clears up some of the misconceptions over information revealed in the Game Informer issue, and added a few new details about changes to the game's multiplayer.

On June 4th, 2012, a portion of the game's campaign was demoed at the start of the Microsoft E3 Keynote presentation. During the short gameplay excerpt, the Chief and Cortana witness the crash-landing of the UNSC Infinity on the surface of Requiem and encounter a new race of enemies, the Prometheans. Three classes of Prometheans were revealed in the trailer, though more have been said to be waiting in the full game. The three revealed so far are called Crawlers, Watchers, and Knights. Two new Promethean weapons were also revealed -- the Light Rifle and the Scattershot.

On July 8th, 2012, the first glimpse of the new Forge mode was given to fans in attendance of the annual Rooster Teeth convention known as RTX.

On September 26th, 2012, the game "went gold" and the process of mass manufacturing began.

Campaign Plot

Prologue

The game opens with a conversation between Dr. Catherine Halsey, creator of the Spartan-IIs, and a UNSC official. The official makes various arguments as to the Spartan-II program having been unethical, including the facts that the program involved the kidnapping of children, that the Spartan-IIs were originally developed to stop human rebellion, and that the Spartan-IIs have shown sociopathic tendencies. Halsey justifies the program by stating that her work saved humanity from the Covenant and works out that she is being interviewed because the UNSC are trying to replace the Master Chief. The scene ends with Halsey telling the official not to underestimate the Spartans and not to underestimate the Master Chief specifically.

Forward Unto Dawn

The game then snaps to the wreckage of the UNSC ship, Forward Unto Dawn, in the year 2557 (four years after the events of Halo 3), as it orbits an unknown planet. Detecting a strange disturbance aboard the ship, Cortana wakes the Chief from cryo-sleep. They then make their way through the ship, finding Covenant are boarding and attacking them, despite a truce being declared four years ago with the Elites, and experience the ship being scanned by unknown technology. The two soon discover that they are not just in proximity of one Covenant ship, but a whole fleet. The Chief is able to use the nuclear weaponry of the Forward Unto Dawn to destroy the Covenant cruiser closest to them, however a gravity well opens on the world which begins to pull the ship in.

The Chief and Cortana make their way towards the escape pods, although as they do Cortana starts exhibiting bizarre behaviour. As they reach the escape pods, the force of the gravity well begins tearing the ship apart and pulls the Chief out into space. After being knocked unconscious by flying wreckage he awakens inside the planet, where Cortana begins acting mentally unhinged. Despite her immediate response that there is nothing wrong with her, the Chief persuades her into telling him that she is in the first stages of a process known as rampancy, in which AI become increasingly mentally unstable and eventually cease functioning altogether. She explains that AI only have an operational lifespan of seven years and that she is now in her eighth year of operation. Although she tells the Chief that she cannot be fixed, he insists that they will find a way back to her creator, Dr. Halsey, so that she may be repaired.

Requiem

The Chief fights his way through more of the Covenant forces, which are composed of the “Storm Covenant”, a hostile splinter group of the religious faction. Cortana also detects a transmission from the UNSC ship Infinity, which the two attempt to reach the source of. Making it deeper into the planet, they manage to access a computer in an attempt to track the signal, and discover they are inside a Forerunner shield world called Requiem. The system quickly locks up, but the two are able to bring it back online and Cortana is able to use it to find that the Infinity signal appears to be coming from the shield world’s core. They then travel to a point on the other side of the facility to open a portal from which to reach Infinity.

Once they reach the destination from which the portal can be opened, Cortana notes that attempting to contact the point in the planet’s systems closest to the core caused them to return the Forerunner glyph for Reclaimers (i.e. Humanity), which the Chief assumes has to indicate that the Infinity must be there. A number of unusual metallic creatures then spring up around the two and a portal to the planet’s core seems to spontaneously open. The Chief grabs Cortana’s data chip and runs into the portal.

After the two arrive in Requiem’s core, Cortana informs the Chief that the creatures they saw were some kind of advanced defence AI and they discover that while Infinity is not stationed in the core of the planet, a satellite relaying the signal from Infinity is. However, Cortana also notes that there are two pylons on the planet inferring with the signal which they must disable if they are to contact the Infinity. While working to bring down the pylons Cortana works out that the metallic enemies they are now facing are called “Prometheans” and displays further signs of rampancy. She later discovers that Infinity isn’t inside the planet, but that it is orbiting it, and appears to be responding to the distress beacon from Forward Unto Dawn. Cortana begins repeated attempts to contact Infinity, trying to ward it away from the planet, so it is not sucked into the gravity well as the Forward Unto Dawn was.

After shutting down the first pylon, the two discover that the Covenant are heading to the second pylon, but the Chief manages to fight through further waves of both the Prometheans and Covenant, and successfully shut down the pylon. Despite the lack of interference Cortana finds that the transmitter in Chief’s armour is not strong enough to transmit the necessary signal to the Infinity, and so they use the planet’s portal system to reach the satellite in the core, from which they may be able to broadcast a more powerful signal.

After fighting their way to what they believe to be a broadcast system, and attempting to use it to contact they Infinity, they accidentally release a Forerunner known as the Didact from his prison. They discover that he had manipulated Infinity’s signals as a trap to get them to release him, and declares that the Forerunner are returning and that he may be able to stop humanity. He manages to knock the Chief unconscious before taking his ship and escaping in it through a slipspace portal. The Chief wakes up with Cortana telling him that the Didact’s use of slipspace destabilized the core of the planet, and that they must leave it immediately. At this point the Infinity also starts broadcasting an emergency signal indicating that they have been pulled in by Requiem’s gravity well.

The Infinity

The Chief escapes the core in a Ghost which he eventually manages to jump through a portal. After arriving on the other side of the portal, he sees the Infinity flying overhead and hears a broadcast from it as the ship prepares to crash land. Cortana and the Chief set a course for the Infinity, seeing the Didact’s ship also going in pursuit of it.

The Chief finds the Didact’s ship near Infinity’s crash site and manages to make brief radio contact with the Infinity before making his way towards the ship. Inside the ship he meets with Commander Thomas Lasky and Spartan-IV, Commander Sarah Palmer. He discovers that the recon team the Infinity sent out after they landed, have become stranded, and won’t be able to return to the ship on foot. At this point Lasky asks the Chief to secure the area so that the recon teams may be safely recovered, to which he obliges.

As the Chief and Cortana attempt to help recovery of the recon teams, Cortana becomes worried by the increasingly intense signs of rampancy she is showing, despite the Chief’s reassurance. As the Chief successfully secures a landing zone for Pelican-class ships to bring back the stranded soldiers, Lasky sends out a transmission indicating that the Covenant have managed to get into the Infinity and that all soldiers are immediately ordered to return to the ship. The Chief manages to make his way back to Infinity where he meets with Captain Andrew Del Rio who tells him that the Didact has managed to disable the ship’s defences and is extracting data from it’s mainframes. The Chief manages to use a Mantis-class mech to fight off the Covenant in the ship, and destroy the jammers that were preventing the ships defences from functioning.

With defences back online the Infinity is able to use its MAC cannons to fire on the Didact’s ship, causing it to retreat. At this point Del Rio orders the ship’s forces to stand down, and the Chief, Cortana, Lasky, and Del Rio come together to assess the situation. Lasky explains that the purpose of the Infinity was to establish bases to study the Halo installations for decommission. After excavating a Forerunner artefact part of the Infinity science team were killed, but a series of co-ordinates were recovered that led the Infinity to Requiem. Despite the Chief’s view that it would be an opportune time to attack the Didact while he is vulnerable, Del Rio instead makes it the mission of the Infinity to escape Requiem’s gravity well and file a threat assessment with the UNSC Fleet Command.

Del Rio mobilises the Infinity’s forces, including Chief, Cortana, Palmer, and Lasky, along with a number of vehicles, including a Mammoth-class troop transport, to take down particle cannons within the planet so that they can make their escape. Cortana again displays signs of further rampancy and expresses her worry over the situation, but she and the Chief eventually reach the particle cannon command post where an elevator takes them directly to the co-ordinates provided to them by the Infinity, leading them to think that they are walking into a trap.

The Librarian

Within the facility the two encounter “what remains” of a long-dead Forerunner known as the Librarian. She explains that her “memories” had been stored within the facility to help humanity adopt the Forerunner philosophy of the Mantle, but that the Didact threatens that plan and must not be allowed to leave Requiem. She then informs the Chief that the Didact seeks a weapon known as the Composer which can contain the Forerunner’s greatest enemy, humanity.

The Librarian details a war fought between humanity and the Forerunners long ago, after humanity were seen doing what they believed to be aggressively expanding their control over the universe. Humanity overcame entire star systems before the Didact rose up and used his warriors to push them back. After a millennium of slaying humanity, the Didact was sentenced to punishment and the Forerunners discovered too late that humanity were not trying to expand, but were rather running from the Flood. Weakened after the war, the Forerunners started to fall easily to the Flood.

The Forerunners made plans to use the Halo rings, the Ark, and the shield worlds to save all life in the galaxy, however, the Didact refused to yield to the philosophy of the Mantle and devised his own plan. The Composer was intended to be a tool to make the Forerunners immortal by allowing life to be converted from an organic to a digital form, which would have protected them from the Flood, as the Flood only consume and can survive by consuming organic tissue. However, the Composer could not convert sentient minds properly, and when the Forerunners attempted to return lifeforms to their organic state, it created only what the Librarian describes as “abominations”. The Didact used the Composer to take his revenge on humanity, with the Prometheans being the result of human beings being converted to a digital form. The Didact had intended to convert all of humanity, however, the Composer was forcibly taken from him and he was imprisoned.

When humanity was preserved so that they could repopulate the galaxy after the Forerunners had eradicated the Flood, the Librarian hid the “seeds” of humanity from the Didact. She had done this in part of a plan for the future of humanity, however, before the Librarian can inform the Chief of what this plan is, they are discovered by the Didact. Before the Chief leaves, the Librarian is able to biologically modify him to be impervious to the effects of the Composer.

Del Rio

Regrouping with Infinity’s forces, he and the ship manage to destroy the gravity well. Del Rio, the Chief, Cortana, and Lasky, then meet once again on-deck. After explaining what the Librarian had told him the Chief tells Del Rio that it is imperative to humanity’s safety that the Didact is stopped, however, Del Rio insists that their mission is still to leave Requiem, dismissing the story of the Librarian as a hallucination. After an outburst of rampancy from Cortana Del Rio orders Lasky to confiscate the data chip containing Cortana so that she may be decommissioned. The Chief takes the data chip before he can do so, and refuses orders to surrender it to Del Rio, leading him to call Palmer to arrest the Chief. However, she does not comply, and the Chief then leaves with Cortana, informing Lasky to send word back to Earth.

As Chief prepares his weapons Cortana stares at the Sun outside and laments her ability to be able to feel if it is real, eventually turning and telling Chief to promise that before their current conflict ends, that he will figure out “Which one of us is the machine”. Lasky arrives on deck with the two with orders to prevent the Chief from leaving, but instead provides him a Pelican with which to pursue the Didact.

Post-Infinity

The Chief and Cortana find the Didact’s ship with it’s shields up and Cortana devises a plan to take them down by exploiting two nearby stations which are acting as traffic control for resources flowing to and from the ship. The Chief makes his way inside both of the stations to use them to send an override code into the ship, forcing it’s defences down. The Didact becomes aware of their plan and manages to speak to the Chief directly, despite Cortana being unable to hear him, and uses Promethean and Covenant forces to try and keep them from achieving their objective.

After they successfully drop the ship’s shields, Cortana directs Chief to another tower from which the ship is controlling a number of defence spires, with the plan being that if the Chief turns them against the Didact’s ship, he can be prevented from leaving. The Cortana and Chief make their way to the control room at the top of the tower where Cortana attempts to use the defence spires to lock the Didact’s ship in place, but her rampancy causes her to malfunction and lose control of the spires. With the Didact and his accompanying Covenant about to leave, the Chief takes Cortana and jumps from the tower onto a Covenant Lich-class vessel which he is able to ride on, as it, the other Covenant vessels, and the much larger Forerunner vessel which the Didact’s ship now occupies, leave Requiem via slipspace.

Ivanoff Station

The ships emerge near Halo ring Installation 03 where they attack the nearby UNSC scientific facility that is in possession of the Composer, Ivanoff Station. The Chief enters the Covenant ship he is riding on, managing to kill its occupants, and makes contact with a Sandy Tilson on the station, however, their communication is cut short, and the ship crashes when Cortana once again malfunctions due to rampancy. The Chief wakes up on-board a damaged section of the station with Cortana emotionally unstable and apologising.

The Chief communicates with Tilson again, who explains that they are trying to evacuate the station, but that Covenant have taken control of the landing bay. The Chief is able to secure an evacuation route for the scientists, bring the station’s shields back online, and clear the station of Covenant. Upon reaching Tilson the Chief declares that the Composer needs to be removed from the station, however, Tilson explains that they physically cannot move it. Despite the initial objections of Tilson, he decides that if the Composer cannot be moved then it can be prevented from falling into the Didact’s hands by annihilating it with nuclear weaponry.

The Chief and Cortana manage to make it to the station’s defence grid controls to bring its defences back online, while the science team prime the nuclear bomb to destroy the Composer. Cortana, who is becoming increasingly rampant, asks the Chief that if she and he should make it back to Dr. Halsey, for him not to tell her how unstable she got, to which the Chief agrees. Before the Chief can meet back up with the science team, the Didact discovers the exact location of the Composer, and the Chief requests that the science team provide him with the nuke, despite it not being ready yet. The Chief manages to fend off Covenant making their way into the area housing the Composer, using a Mantis mech, but before it can be destroyed, the Didact manages to lift the Composer out of the station and into his ship.

The Chief returns to the scientists as the Didact’s ship takes aim on the station. Cortana finds that the station defences will not respond and the Didact manages to use the Composer to kill everyone within the station, apart from Cortana, and the Chief, who is knocked unconscious. When he awakens Cortana appears emotionally disturbed as she explains that she heard the last of the scientists die. She then begins to speculate about how if she dies the UNSC will try to pair the Chief with another AI, possibly another version of her, and tells the Chief “It won’t be me, you know that, right?”. The Chief tells Cortana that he won’t let her die and assures her that “It’s not over yet”.

The Didact's Ship

The Chief and Cortana arm a Broadsword-class ship with the nuke and fly it off-station, into the Didact’s ship as it flies into slipspace again. As the Chief fights his way across the Didact’s ship in the Broadsword, he stays in contact with UNSC forces, most notably Lasky, aboard the Infinity, who has taken the position of Del Rio after UNSC Fleet Command objected to Del Rio abandoning the Chief on Requiem. The Didact’s ship heads towards Earth, however, Earth’s orbital defences prove ineffective in stopping it.

The Chief is eventually able to disable the particle cannons on the ship, allowing the Infinity to punch a hole in the hull which he can fly the Broadsword into. Once inside the ship’s hull, free of the Broadsword, and carrying the nuclear device with him, the Chief inserts Cortana into the ship’s systems, where she is able to manipulate a portal system, similar to the one on Requiem, so that the Chief may reach the Didact. However, when the Didact begins fighting back against Cortana she has difficulties simultaneously fighting him and keeping control over her rampancy.

The Chief is eventually able to reach the room where the Didact and the Composer are housed. Here Cortana begins injecting the mentally instable and continually dividing versions of herself into the Didact’s system, in an effort to bring down his shields as he powers up the Composer. The Chief makes his way around the chamber, manually inserting Cortana into the systems, using her rampancy to sabotage the Didact. Despite the Chief lowering his shields, the Didact is able to fire the Composer on Earth, hitting part of what is currently known as North America.

The Chief reaches the core of the chamber where he crosses a light bridge to arm the nuke and destroy the Composer, but becomes cautious as the Didact no longer appears to be with the Composer, but hidden elsewhere. The Didact appears behind the Chief, encouraging him to fight him, but as he tries to do so the Didact is able to knock the nuke free from him and telepathically paralyse him. However, the rampant copies of Cortana in the ship’s systems manipulate the light bridge to restrain the Didact, and the Chief manages to plant a grenade into his chest, the detonation of which causes the Didact to stumble and fall from the light bridge into the Composer’s beam. The Chief then crawls towards the nuke and detonates it.

The Ending

The Chief finds himself without Cortana in a blue translucent sphere in space that appears to have properties similar to a hologram or light-bridge. A physical manifestation of Cortana appears to him, but upon asking on how they can get out of this space, Cortana tells him that she can’t go with him. She explains that most of her was on the Didact’s ship and that she only used enough of herself outside of that to protect the Chief and take him off of the ship. The Chief insists that the two of them leave together, but Cortana informs him that it is impossible. For the first time Cortana physically touches the Chief, and he implies that he feels as though he failed in his duty to protect her. Cortana tells him that they were meant to take care of each other and did so successfully. Cortana walks away from the Chief, despite him asking her to wait, and tells him “Welcome home John” before disappearing entirely. Shortly after, the sphere around the Chief disappears and he begins floating off into space.

A Pelican eventually recovers the Chief who returns to the UNSC Infinity. On-deck in the ship he stares out at Earth and is joined by Lasky who empathises with him over his loss. The Chief tells Lasky that as soldiers it is their duty to protect humanity, whatever the cost, to which Lasky responds that humanity and soldiers are not different entities, but that soldiers are part of humanity, and that soldiers are people, not machines. Lasky leaves the deck as the Chief remembers Cortana’s earlier suggestion that he may be more like a machine than a person. The game then cuts to a closing message from 343 Industries, declaring that this is the start of a new journey with Halo, and that they thank their fans for joining them and trusting them with the Halo universe.

Epilogue

The game’s epilogue features UNSC soldiers exploring the city of New Phoenix, where the Composer’s beam hit and left cities standing, but people entirely eradicated. The Didact makes a speech over this, talking of the Forerunner defeat and how important they are to the universe. The game then cuts to the Chief who is walking along a long corridor, as the Didact declares that he has been accused of the sin of preventing the Forerunners taking a less prominent role in the universe as other forces become more powerful. As the game cuts to a scene of John having his armor removed, the Didact explains that humanity is the greatest threat to the Forerunners, that they must be stopped, and that they have unfairly started reclamation of the universe. The last shot of the game is the Master Chief’s helmet being removed, although his full face is not seen.

Multiplayer (Infinity)

The multiplayer modes of Halo 4 are collectively known as "Infinity," and will feature a number of story-related elements. The title "Infinity" comes from a ship called the UNSC Infinity, a six kilometre-long UNSC frigate where the multiplayer battles take place. There are two distinctive modes within the Infinity multiplayer -- War Games and Spartan Ops.

Halo 4 introduces a persistent ranking system called Spartan Rank.

Players advance through spartan rank by earning experience through either War Games or Spartan Ops.

When a player advances in Spartan Rank, they are awarded one Spartan Point to be used in unlocking items for Loadouts. Advancing in Spartan Rank also unlocks Loadout items to be purchased with points along with various armor customization items. Before specializations, the maximum Spartan Rank is 50, with an extra 10 ranks available for each specialization for a highest possible rank of 130.

War Games

 

The traditional PvP matches from previous games now fall under the banner of "War Games." The War Games battles take place in a virtual reality arena that simulate the multiplayer environments, justifying competitive multiplayer for the first time in the series, as a form of training exercises.

War Games features a Loadout system that allows a player to choose starting weapons, grenade type, armor abilities, and passive armor upgrades as well. Anything past the starting items require Spartan Points in order to unlock.. You can purchase items with Spartan Points once you have reached the required rank for the item.

Spartan Rank experience can be earned through War Games in many ways. At the end of each match, a player is given XP based on personal score, bonuses are given for victory and seeing the match to its end.

You can not dual-wield weapons in Halo 4.

Specializations

Specializations are new to Halo 4. There are a total of 8 Specializations, with 2 available at launch (Operator and Wetwork), the rest being unlocked later. However, those who purchased the Limited Edition will have access to all 8 at launch. Each Specialization has 10 unique levels of unlocks, including armor, weapon skins, visors, emblems and eventually a unique game changing perk.

Wetworks (available at launch)

Wetworks
Wetworks

The Wetworks spec gives the Spartan a few stealth benefits, like allowing the Spartan to sprint more quietly and assassinate much faster. And when foes uses Promethean Vision on someone with the Wetworks spec, they will only see the Spartan's outline, instead of showing up as a red figure.

Pioneer

Pioneer
Pioneer

The Pioneer spec allows the Spartan to gain more EXP leading to the next rank much faster. Keep in mind that you only get the extra EXP for the amount of time you used the mod. Activating it at the end of the match will not give you more EXP for actions earlier in the match.

Engineer

Engineer
Engineer

When Ordinance Drops are activated, the Engineer's Drop Recon armor mod provides an advantage. The Engineer gets alerted to a Ordinance Drop a couple of seconds before anybody else. Based on the distance to the weapon, you can get an arrow pointing you to where the nearest timed ordinance drop is coming in.

Tracker

Tracker
Tracker

When receiving a Ordinance, you may not always find what you desire out of the three choices given to you. With the Tracker's Drop Recon Mod, you are able to get an all new selection of Ordinance to choose from.

Rogue

Rogue
Rogue

In previous Halo games, when you zoom in with a weapon and you are shot, it zooms out. With the Rogue's unique stability mod, you're able to stay scoped in while being shot.

Stalker

Stalker
Stalker

The Stalker has the Nemesis Armor Mod, a passive skill that causes an icon of the last person that killed you to appear on your HUD. It also tracks enemies who've attacked but not killed you as well.

Pathfinder

Pathfinder
Pathfinder

The Pathfinder's Gunner Mod reduces the cool-down on vehicle weapon overheating and allows you to move faster when carrying a detached emplacement.

Operator (available at launch)

Operator
Operator

The Operator's Wheelman Mod gives you a bit of resistance against EMP shots fired at the vehicle you're driving. It also allows you to recharge the health of your vehicle a little faster.

Weapons

NameDescription
Railgun The Railgun is a high-power explosive projectile weapon with instantaneous impact and half the charge time of the Spartan Laser.
Battle Rifle The three-round burst-fire Battle Rifle of Halo 2 and 3, with better shield penetration and slightly less accuracy. Semi-automatic, formidable at mid-range.
Combat Knife The Combat Knife is the assassination weapon of choice for Spartans.
Spartan Laser The two-second charge time is made up for by a blast that can destroy vehicles and cut through multiple infantry units with one shot.
M6H Magnum The standard Halo pistol. It deals fairly large amounts of damage to unarmored targets, reloads faster than before, and still excels at headshots.
Fragmentation Grenade It's a grenade. It blows up and kills stuff. Unusually bouncy for a hunk of metal.
Rocket Launcher Though its primary use is for destroying vehicles or heavy infantry, its one-hit kill on most enemies makes it a deadly Spartan-killer.
Shotgun The Shotgun is a close-quarters support weapon. Inaccurate at range, deadly point-blank.
Designated Marksman's Rifle The DMR provides single-shot accuracy at long distances. It has superior range and accuracy to the Battle Rifle's firepower and speed.
Sticky Detonator This new weapon fires a single explosive that adheres to its target and can be detonated by command.
Assault Rifle The Assault Rifle functions similarly to the way it usually does, but a small upgrade in firepower goes a long way.
Sniper Rifle The standard Halo sniper rifle.
Plasma Grenade The Covenant's answer to the M9. It doesn't bounce, but it sticks.
Energy Sword The Energy Sword is a one-hit kill on anyone without an overshield and allows the user to perform deadly lunges.
Plasma Pistol The Plasma Pistol is fairly useless when used normally, but overcharged, it can knock out a Spartan's shields easily.
Needler The Needler fires small projectile which track an enemy and explode after sticking.
Fuel Rod Gun The Fuel Rod Gun is similar to the rocket launcher, but with higher capacity, lower projectile speed, and ricocheting shots.
Covenant Carbine The Carbine is an extremely flexible weapon, working at all ranges and against all enemies. Loses accuracy at range.
Storm Rifle The Storm rifle is the successor to the Plasma Rifle, and functions similarly, with slightly better accuracy and fire rate.
Scattershot Fires beams of energy with wide spread, much like a shotgun, plus a ricocheting effect.
Suppressor Fully-automatic Forerunner infantry weapon, rapidly fires bolts of hard light. Just as dependable as the Assault Rifle at close-to-mid-range combat.
Lightrifle Promethean single-shot precision weapon, comparable to human BR and DMR. The Lightrifle projectile is stronger when the weapon is scoped in.
Binary Rifle Promethean Sniper Rifle that takes down foes with one or two shots. Biggest drawbacks are a very shallow clip of only two shots, and a surprisingly low amount of reserve ammo.
Boltshot Secondary Promethean weapon, precise at mid-range and features burst effect similar to Plasma Pistol.
Pulse Grenade New grenade type; sticks to the ground like a mine, deploys a hazardous orange sphere that will EMP vehicles as well as drain health and shields.
Incineration Cannon Promethean heavy weapon that blends traits from the rocket launcher, shotgun, and flamethrower. Fires streams of particles that spread and detonate on impact.

Maps

No multiplayer maps will feature recycled geometry from campaign missions, as was the case with several maps in Halo: Reach. The game shipped with 10 standard multiplayer maps: Haven, Adrift, Longbow, Solace, Exile, Complex, Ragnarok, Abandon, Meltdown, Vortex. In addition, there were 3 Forge environments included: Ravine, Erosion, and Impact. There are also 9 DLC maps that have already been announced as part of the game's Season Pass.

  • Haven is an ethereal Forerunner facility that is designed for small-team gametypes such as Slayer and CTF. It is a close-quarters map that has lots of verticality in its geometry, as well as many flanking routes and escape options.
  • Adrift is set in a Human space factory that is orbiting a large gas giant. It is also a small-scale map designed with Slayer in mind. The map is symmetrical and features tight corridors, man cannons for quicker traversal around the map, and lots of infantry encounters.
  • Longbow is a large-scale map made to suit big-team matches and support vehicle play. It is set in a snowy mountain location with some Human architecture throughout the map. It is designed primarily for gametypes such as CTF and Dominion.
  • Solace is a smaller scale symmetrical map with an area in the center that features a beam of energy running vertically through it, leading players to battle on the outer "symmetrical" portions of the map. It is a map designed with Slayer and CTF gametypes in mind. Solace is a Forerunner based map with mountains and forests in the background.
  • Exile is a medium to large map that is set in an open canyon, with UNSC structures located around the map. The map is designed for Objective gametypes such as Dominion, and Slayer games with high player counts, and supports vehicle combat.
  • Complex is set in an ONI science structure, and features a mix of indoor and outdoor combat. It is a medium scale map with some light vehicles such as the Ghost and Mongoose available for players.
  • Ragnarok is a remake of the classic Halo 3 BTB map, Valhalla, itself inspired by the beloved Blood Gulch map from the original Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • Abandon is a small-scale asymmetrical map set in a deserted UNSC science facility on the surface of an alien planet. The map is designed for Slayer and one-sided Objective gametypes.
  • Meltdown is a large-scale map designed for BTB. Set on the surface of a snow-covered moon with an exploding reactor in the background, the map's general design is in the shape of an "infinity loop" or figure eight. The map is symmetrical and features two identical bases on either side, making it ideal for two-sided objective games like CTF or Assault. The maps supports a variety of vehicles, including the Warthog and Scorpion.
  • Vortex is a large and open map perfect for vehicle combat but the level is balanced enough for infantry to interplay with the vehicles. In the middle of the map is a large Forerunner structure. There are ramps and gravity lifts to push the action towards the structure. There are also caves and tunnels to help players evade snipers and other long-range weapons. Despite the large scale of the map, players can sprint or drive across the map quickly.
  • Erosion is a Forge environment set inside of a large cavern, and features several locations suitable for map makers to build their creations. There is an indoor arena space that is designed by default to be a Grifball court, an outdoor quarry area, and a large subterranean lake.
  • Ravine is another Forge space, and is similar aesthetically to Forge World from Halo: Reach. The map setting features a large grassy plateau and a Forerunner structure, with a large canyon separating the two.
  • Impact is the final Forge environment, and is set on a large asteroid floating in space. There is a small Human structure on the asteroid, as well as a smaller asteroid adjacent to the main one. The map features a very unique skybox with many different nebulas and stars in the background, which allow Forgers to have some more variety in terms of backdrops for their maps.
  • Wreckage Part of the Crimson Map Pack (December 2012)
  • Harvest Part of the Crimson Map Pack (December 2012)
  • Shatter Part of the Crimson Map Pack (December 2012)
  • Landfall Part of the Majestic Map Pack (February 2013)
  • Monolith Part of the Majestic Map Pack (February 2013)
  • Skyline Part of the Majestic Map Pack (February 2013)
  • Daybreak Part of the Castle Map Pack (April 2013)
  • Outcast Part of the Castle Map Pack (April 2013)
  • Perdition Part of the Castle Map Pack (April2013)

Armor Abilities

Armor Abilities will return from Halo: Reach. Armor Abilities have been balanced to take advantage of each other's flaws in a sort of rock, paper, scissors system.

Sprint has been reworked and will be added to the game as a permanent function, available at all times. In order to sort out balance issues from Reach, players under fire will sprint more slowly to make escaping or charging an attacker more difficult.

Armor Lock, an ability introduced in Halo: Reach that allowed players to sacrifice mobility for a moment of temporary invincibility, was cut from the game. 343 claimed that the ability was "fundamentally flawed" and too detrimental to the flow and speed of the game to ever be fairly balanced. The "Hardlight Shield" detailed below is its replacement.

NameDescription
Jetpack The Jetpack allows players to move around the map without needing to worry about vertical design. It is not viable for combat, however, due to the fact that its handling is imprecise at best. Feels more sluggish, with less thrust and a shorter duration than Reach's version.
Active Camouflage Active Camo hides the player from their surroundings with varying degrees of effectiveness depending on movement speed. It can also act as a radar jammer for nearby enemies. Seems fairly similar to Reach.
Hologram The Hologram ability allows players to summon a decoy of themselves for a short period of time in order to trick and confuse enemies. The hologram will mimic whatever action the player was making at the time of deployment.
Promethean Vision Promethean Vision works similarly to VISR mode from Halo 3: ODST, tracing geometry to locate enemy signatures. It also has the ability to see through relatively thin material. Shorter usage time and distance (no longer effective at long-range); presumably based on user feedback from E3 build.
Hard-light Shield The successor the Reach's armor lock, it deploys a protective barrier of hard light and allows the player to protect their front while preserving some movement speed. The shield is very vulnerable to melee attacks and well-placed grenades, and will fail after absorbing large amounts of damage.
Thruster Pack The Thruster Pack seems to be the equivalent of the Evade in Reach. It allows players to move a short distance very quickly without warning, to evade or close the gap quickly.
Auto-Sentry A powerful, stationary turret that automatically targets enemies. Vulnerable when deploying, easily destroyed.
Regeneration Field Releases a short-range energy field that heals nearby players. Never encountered in singleplayer.

Tactical Packages:

  • Mobility - allows unlimited sprint
  • Shielding - increases shield recharge rate
  • Resupply - allows recovery of grenades from dead bodies
  • AA Efficiency - decreases time required to re-use armor ability
  • Grenadier - increases grenade carrying capacity
  • Firepower - allows use of primary weapon in secondary slot
  • Fast-track - increases rate at which player levels up
  • Requisition - allows player to re-select choices for ordnance drop
  • Wheelman - increases vehicle durability, reaction to EMP burst

Gameplay

343 has revealed a few details about gameplay in Halo 4 that set it apart from its predecessors. First, there has clearly been an effort to raise the pace to match or exceed that of Halo 3. Base movement traits will allow players to run faster, jump higher, and hit harder, and free-for-all Slayer gametypes will feature an optional instant repawn to increase play speed. A new gametype, called 'Regicide,' is based on a free-for-all Slayer gametype, where the kill leader is designated as the "King" and has a "bounty" on his head that increases with each additional kill. When another player kills the King, they collect the bounty. Another new gametype that has been revealed is known as "Flood" and is the successor to the popular "Infection" mode from previous installments. The new gametype is very similar to its predecessor, although now when a player is "infected" during the course of the game their player model changes to that of a Flood Combat form -- in previous games, the player who became "infected" simply changed armor colors. In addition to adding new gametypes to the mix, some classic gametypes have received tweaks to their formulas. In Capture the Flag, players can now wield a Magnum while carrying the Flag, and in Oddball the player carrying the ball has the option of throwing it, potentially allowing one teammate to pass the ball to another over a large distance. Grifball makes its return as well, and is now a built-in game mode.

Progression

There will be a currency system called "Spartan Points" that allows players to purchase new items, weapons, and armor abilities. Spartan Points can be earned by playing competitive multiplayer matches, scored campaign missions and Spartan Ops. Players will be able to aesthetically customize the armor of their personal Spartan IV, as they could in Reach. The look of the player's customized Spartan will carry over in all multiplayer modes, including Spartan Ops, but will make no impact on the campaign. All unlockable items will be available immediately to players in Custom Games and on System Link, so that tournaments will be able to use all available settings and options out of the box.

Vehicles

Five vehicles from previous games have been confirmed for Halo 4: the Warthog, the Mongoose, the Ghost, the Scorpion, and the Banshee. New to the game is the Mantis, a UNSC fighting mech. There will likely be other classic vehicles in the final game, and 343 has hinted at several other new vehicles as well (some possibly Forerunner in origin).

Spartan Ops

 

Aside from the typical Halo competitive multiplayer, there will also be a new co-operative mode called "Spartan Ops" that will advance episodically on a consistent weekly basis. Spartan Ops will feature campaign-like, objective-based missions for up to 4 players. New chapters will be unlocked at regular intervals each week after the game's launch for "several months," according to 343 designers. The missions will be carried out by the Spartan IV super-soldiers and will take place in many different locales throughout the Halo universe. The total amount of Spartan Ops content has not been finalized, but 343 has suggested that the complete Spartan Ops experience will be comparable in length to the game's main campaign mode. The initial Spartan Ops offerings will not be paid DLC, although Xbox Live will be required in order to download the weekly episodes. The mode is replacing the popular Firefight mode that was first introduced in Halo: ODST and subsequently refined and improved in Halo: Reach.

Forge

The popular "Forge" map-editing mode that was first introduced in Halo 3, and subsequently improved in Halo: Reach, is present in Halo 4 with even more upgraded functionality. These new additions to the Forge toolset allow Forgers in Halo 4 to make maps with more creative geometry and aesthetically appealing designs than was possible in Reach:

Dynamic Lighting: In Reach, the Forge pieces that players could use to build their maps cast no shadows on the canvas map (typically Forge World) or on other pieces, and did not accept real-time shadows from the global light source of the map. This fact, along with the uniform gray color scheme of the Forge pieces, led to most Forge maps looking very similarly bland, which was a major source of complaint amongst the community. In order to help address this problem of poor aesthetics, the Halo 4 Forge mode features a new "dynamic lighting" system which allows the Forge pieces to accept real-time shadows from the global light source, and to cast shadows of their own, allowing for more variability in map design.

Player-Trait Zones: In Halo 4's Forge, map makers have the ability to designate special areas of the map and give players within those areas unique traits or abilities with the addition of "Player-Trait Zones" to the Forge sandbox. Player-Trait Zones can be manipulated in the Forge space the same way that soft-kill zones or objectives zones (Hill markers, etc.) were in Reach. Forgers can use Player-Trait Zones to create a portion of the map where all players are invisible, for example, or create a zone with lowered gravity and increased jump height.

Object-Magnetism: While building a map in Reach, objects could be moved precisely by using a zoomed-in camera or even by changing their exact coordinates, but it was still cumbersome for a player to perfectly align separate pieces. The Halo 4 Forge mode has a "magnet" feature that streamlines the process of aligning Forge pieces. Players can magnetize specific objects, which allows them to snap to other objects automatically for easier map building.

Highlighting: Objects are illuminated in green when the player's reticle is hovering over them. This feature was added to make it less frustrating for Forgers to select the correct piece when modifying a map, because in Reach a player could not easily tell which piece they were selecting when there were many objects in close-proximity.

Duplication: Forge Objects can be easily duplicated simply by highlighting the object and then selecting the "duplicate" option from the Forge menu.

Locking: Objects can be locked in place, preventing them from being moved until the player chooses to unlock them. This feature was added to help players preserve their work-in-progress designs and keep pieces from being accidentally moved.

Pre-E3 Leak

On the "Top News" area of xbox.com an article was accidentally posted early, listing information on several games that had not yet been announced during the 2011 Microsoft press conference at E3. Halo 4 was on this list, along with Dance Central 2 and Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary .