Monday, June 4, 2012

Halo 4 at E3 2012: Dissecting the Trailer

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So, if you were paying attention to E3 today, and more specifically Microsoft's show, you are at least mildly aware of the Halo 4 trailer and news that dropped today. This trailer has brought forth a lot of interesting tidbits and showcased some rather impressive Halo 4 gameplay. Hats off to 343 Industries for presentation, but can they deliver? Let's dissect this sucker, but where to start?

The Plot:
So it seems that the UNSC Infinity is probably going to take a more central role in the game then previously discussed. In the gameplay trailer, the Infinity crashes, descending past the Chief who of course plans to follow.

The UNSC Infinity crashing
Now, before that happens, a large Orb de-cloaks and zooms after the Infinity after emitting what looked like a scanning laser. That same effect is seen in the live action portion of the trailer. Clearly, this Orb has taken control of the Infinity and is causing it to crash. At the end of the trailer, a voice showing only a hexagon like symbol says "I have long dreamt of this day, Reclaimer." Bets are that the Orb is either Mendicant Bias or the Didact.

Mendicant Bias or the Didact?
As well, the game will also cover the eventual rampancy of Cortana. As she states she was "put into service eight years ago. AIs deteriorate after seven." There is also a short shot of her screaming in Rage at someone claiming that she will not allow them to leave the planet. Who she is shouting at, is still unknown.

New Enemies: 
Promethean Knight
In the gameplay trailer we got a look at three new enemies that have been named via Halo Waypoints Halo 4 renders. The first one we will look at is the Promethean Knight. I am really unclear on how to describe these guys but they are clearly robotic, AI-driven killing machines. One arm is free to hold a weapon while the other holds a slashing weapon. Heavily armored, the Promethean Knight looks like it will be pain on Legendary Difficulty and harder. In the demo, the Knight was seen with either a Scattershot or a Light Rifle, which we will look at later. They move fast, can teleport, have a deployable front-facing shield, and can spawn a Promethean Watcher which serves as an extra defense by grabbing any slow moving projectile (i.e. Grenades) and tossing them back at you. The Knight, of which I am sure we will see more devious permutations, will likely be the focal enemy you will face, so get used to it. Like all the new enemies, they disintegrate when defeated.
What's under that mask.
The Promethean Watcher is, in itself, similar to an Engineer but really different from any enemy we have seen in a Halo game. The Watcher spawns from the back of the Knight, so wherever one is, the other is probably close by. Though clearly hostile, all of its abilities have so far been defensive or indirectly offensive. It can clearly move fast as the Chief ends up chasing it for a while but I am unsure of its agility. One of its abilities seems to be catching slow moving projectiles, like grenades, and throwing them back at you. Multiple grenades might be a good solution for this enemy. As well, it is seen at one point summoning Promethean Crawlers therefore letting it call in backup.
The Promethean Watcher.
The Promethean Crawler is the final enemy shown at E3. These really remind me of the robotic mech-dogs from Mass Effect, though they do not seem to basically hold shotguns in their noses. The appeared often in groups which means they are likely more trouble in numbers, but where dispatched quite easily with the Assault Rifle or the Light Rifle.
The Promethean Crawler

New Weapons:
So, we finally get to see some Forerunner weapons, or at least as Cortana calls them. The two weapons shown are the Light Rifle and the Scattershot. Both are found with Promethean Knights and form together once picked up. Curiously, the Chief is never seen reloading either weapon. Let's start with the Light Rifle. This, to me, is actually the most interesting of the two Forerunner weapons. It seems to feature a fifteen-round clip of very powerful, orange projectiles. It is a semi-automatic weapon that is capable of killing Crawlers with a single shot. It does seem to have a sight, which floats above the weapon, and is used for a single shot to dispatch the Knight that drops the Scattershot. There is no bloom, as expected, but there does seem to be some decent recoil which might affect follow up shots.
The Light Rifle

Now, the Scattershot just seems to be equivalent to a shotgun, if that Shotgun was shooting explosive rounds. It is only fired once in the gameplay trailer and easily dispatched a lunging Knight in a single, destructive blast. The weapon features a five round magazine which may make it more akin to the Brute Shot or the Concussion Rifle. It does have to sights, but they are not used in the trailer.
The Scattershot in action

New Vehicles:
Two new vehicles were shown in the non-gameplay portion of the trailer. The first one is what seems to be a supped up Elephant. Whether it will still be called that is completely unknown, but it shares many of the same characteristics. The other vehicle, is an unknown. It looks like a mechanized suit, possibly like the Cyclops from Halo Wars but much more deadly. Only shots of it are in what seems to be a hangar.
The Elephant?
Mechanized suit?

New Features:
The new HUD is interesting and does not cut down on the player's vision. It is, however, not clear as there are lots of small details on the HUD making it so the player has lots of readouts and meters. This is different from every other Halo game as the view was always clear and unopposed. One must assume this is much more similar to what the Chief actually sees in there.
The new HUD

On the topic of HUDs, the Chief showed off at least one Visor mode, not referred by any name. This seems quite similar to the Visor Mode used in Halo 3: ODST, but the various enemies pop more against the level and are definitely easier to see. This visor mode will definitely have advantages when attempting to delineate friend from foe on the battlefield.
The new Visor Mode

In the trailer and screenshots released by 343i, we see at least three different gameplay setting. The first is the jungle-like area of the trailer, as well as a desert like location from the Elephant screenshot, and one would assume a more modern aesthetic from fighting inside the Infinity. I would also expect to see some familiar Forerunner like architecture. This is where the game will very likely mirror Halo 3 as it moves through these environments.
The Jungle setting

What did you think of the trailer and Halo's new direction? Discuss below.


  1. Mixed feelings after watching and reading all this latest "Halofo".

    My first thought is they seem to be trying to marry what 343i thinks is the best of all or most of the previous Halo games into one package.

    I did have a thought on what the "beefed up" Elephant vehicle could be called "" Mammoth "" ?

    Pausing, zooming and scanning like my eyes are the cheif`s helemt HUD... all over the new waypoint images, didn`t notice any ranks... did i miss it or wasnt it in the clip or game ?

    Onto these Knights AI drones with what looks like to me is a mix of flaming helmet and Weirdly a Human Skull...

    *in my own accent*

    Ma brane says " Does Not Compute.. Run Time Error.. " L:DL

    One thing i really would like to know, will it be like reach in that you can buy a Legendry edition and have a similar item to the flamming skull or blue flame helmets?

    Hope we see more in the upcomming spike tv video J.A will have up soon " wink wink J.A "


  2. it IS the didact, that symbol is used to represent the didact, mendicant bias was destroyed by offensive bias before the rings were fired, how the didact survived the firing i don't know, maybe the shield world protected him, maybe he was in a cryo chamber that only a reclaimer(chief)can open?

    1. But doesn't Mendicant Bias talk to the player through the Terminals in Halo 3?

  3. yes it does, and in the end it became good: "And so here at the end of my life, I do once again betray a former master. The path ahead is fraught with peril. But I will do all I can to keep it stable - keep you safe. I'm not so foolish to think this will absolve me of my sins. One life hardly balances billions. But I would have my masters know that I have changed. And you shall be my example."
    — Mendicant Bias to John-117.