Looks like Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be getting an update for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One X console release.
Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries talked about the Master Chief Collection and how 343 is planning on upgrading and fixing the title for the Xbox One X console in a stream today. She went on to state that 343 is looking at the release of the One X as an opportunity to crack open the title and make it better than ever.
Bonnie also took the time to talk about 343’s honest approach to communicating with the fans about their games, and the ideas that they have going forward, even the ones that are half-baked, with the main goal of transparency between the studio and fans in mind.
Microsoft as of late has been determined to bring their HoloLens and VR technology in general to the forefront of consumer electronics.
Currently, most PC based virtual reality setups are expensive and require additional set up. Microsoft has promised that they are going to be bringing a range of much more accessible and democratized headsets to Windows platforms.
This week at the IFA keynote in Berlin, Microsoft is expected to announce news regarding their upcoming range of VR and AR headsets. The legendary software company is touting that their line-up of upcoming devices will be more reasonably priced and affordable.
Additionally, Microsoft has stated that their range of headsets will work out of the box, eliminating the need for mounted cameras while providing a less involved and more intuitive setup process. The upcoming range of headsets will feature built in tracking — which is how Microsoft will eliminate the need for additional setup and hardware.
A wide gambit of renowned electronic manufacturers is slated to be on board with Microsoft. They include the likes of HP, Lenovo, Dell and Acer. Headsets and motion controllers will start at low as $399 USD or $498 CAD. Furthermore, a new range of exciting PC models will also be available that support the forthcoming VR and AR headsets, starting at $499 USD or $623 CAD.
Microsoft will be offering both mid-range to higher end machines that are built from the ground up to support the Windows Mixed Reality platform. The Mixed Reality PCs will run immersive content at 60fps, while what Microsoft is calling their Ultra range of Mixed Reality PCs, will run content at 90fps.
Both mid-range and Ultra Mixed Reality PC configurations will deliver similar content, such as immersive video and gaming experiences. With full support for Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers.
In order to ensure quality content from the start, Microsoft has also announced that they will be bringing 343 Studios and with them, the Halo property to the Windows Mixed Reality platform. Not much information is known in regards to what Halo content will be coming to the platform. However, just the fact that Halo is indeed coming highlights how serious Mircosoft is in their VR and AR push.
I didn’t love the original Halo Wars. It was simple and showed why very few real-time strategy games release on console— the controls just don’t translate. Nine years later I reluctantly signed up to review the sequel, thinking it would be more of the same. Surprisingly enough, Halo Wars 2 is easily the best RTS ever released on consoles. The controls are tight, intuitive, and surprisingly easy to pick up. No need for hours of learning, or tons of boring tutorial— though there are three short optional ones if you’d like to do them, they aren’t required as the campaign teaches you all you need to know.
Despite what David Cage would like you to believe, movies and videogames are fundamentally incompatible. Unlike comic books or novels, which act upon the reader, videogames require the player to act upon it, and losing that element removes an integral part of the experience. This is part of the reason why we have yet to get a videogame movie with wide positive response, but another important aspect is the hiring of people who aren’t equipped for the job. Just like every comic book movie doesn’t have to be directed by someone with an intimate knowledge of the series they’re adapting, every videogame movie doesn’t need to be directed by a hardcore player. They should, however, be directed by someone with the visual flair and talent for capturing action necessary to do the job justice. Here are five directors CGM thinks fit the bill:
A seasoned stunt coordinator on blockbuster franchises such as The Expendables and The Hunger Games, Chad Stahelski burst onto the directing scene in a blaze of glory along with co-director David Leitch with 2014’s John Wick. This film demonstrated Stahelski and Leitch’s talent for taking a script that was essentially a shooting gallery and turning it into electrifying action with an interesting setting to keep the audience entertained. Adapting shooters to the big screen seems like an easy task—the action is all there. However, when taking into account the action-to-story ratio needed in film as opposed to games, doing the work becomes much more complicated. When John Wick: Chapter Two, which was directed solely by Stahelski, releases early next year, we’ll see if he’s up to the task on his own.
What He Should Direct: To put it bluntly: John Wick is what the Max Payne movie should’ve been. Combine John Wick’s tongue-in-cheek action with Max Payne’s neo-noir aesthetic and you have a guaranteed winner.
Starting out as a novelist, Alex Garland has been one of the finest minds in genre cinema for over a decade. After getting to know director Danny Boyle when he directed the adaptation of his novel The Beach, he wrote the scripts for his films 28 Days Later… and Sunshine, two of the best horror and sci-fi movies of the 00s. If that wasn’t enough, he also wrote the script for Dredd, finally doing the scowling comic book anti-hero justice. Following that, he got the directing bug and directed the 2015 cerebral sci-fi thriller Ex Machina and is currently at work on his follow-up, Annihilation. To top it all off, he has experience in actual videogames, writing the extremely underrated Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. With a resume that includes some of the best sci-fi and action of the 21st century, few people are better equipped to tackle the world-building and intricate universes of videogames.
What He Should Direct: The good news is that he’s already involved in the first choice: He wrote the original screenplay for the Halo film. The bad news is that said script has since been rewritten and is now in development hell for who knows how long. With that seemingly out of commission, the next best thing would be for him to mastermind a Mass Effect film or TV series.
Perhaps a more controversial choice, DeMonaco is best known for being the writer-director behind all three Purge movies. The first film was a relatively by-the-numbers home invasion movie that wasted its unique, if ridiculous, premise. The next two films, however, went full balls-to-the-wall bonkers, embracing the implausibility of their setting while providing the best social commentary that a B-movie made in 2016 can provide. What makes him relevant to this list, though, is how the technique behind The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year can be transmuted to adapting videogames. DeMonaco shows a talent for taking characters going on a journey through a huge open setting and making it thrilling and exciting, and his films emulate the plot structure of a lot of modern games: go to place, action happens, go to another place, repeat. If anyone can make this cycle interesting, it’s DeMonaco.
What He Should Direct: Now that Paul W.S. Anderson is finally winding down his seemingly never-ending Resident Evil film franchise and presumably returning to the tombs of Egypt to slumber, the possibility of a reboot true to the original games is open. DeMonaco has shown that he is comfortable in both tight, enclosed spaces and large, chaotic open ones, making him well-equipped to tackle the claustrophobic Spencer Mansion and the constant danger of Raccoon City.
Getting his big break in the mid-90s with Swingers, Doug Liman entered the mainstream action scene when he directed The Bourne Identity in 2002. After that, he vanished into mediocrity, with his biggest claim to fame being that he was the guy indirectly responsible for getting Brangelina together while directing Mr. & Mrs. Smith. That all changed in 2014, when Edge of Tomorrow exploded into cinemas. The saga of a soldier going through the continuous loop of dying and “respawning” at the exact same point during an alien battle was videogaming to a tee; the cycle of trying, dying and trying again until you gradually got better was perfectly captured for the first time in cinematic form. Hollywood seemed quite fond of it, too: he currently has seven projects in the pipeline, including an Edge of Tomorrow sequel and Justice League Dark. Why not add another?
What He Should Direct: Liman’s already attached to a videogame film: an adaptation of the Splinter Cell series starring Tom Hardy. But with his current slate, it seems like that’ll be pushed to the backburner for now. With that in mind: his style of sci-fi popcorn action would be perfect for a Gears of War film.
Until this year, you could be forgiven for thinking Jonathan Nolan was stuck in the shadow of his brother Christopher. The co-writer of The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar, Jonathan actually struck out his own a while ago as the creator of the TV series Person of Interest, but still wasn’t quite a household name. That all changed last month with the premiere of Westworld, where, along with his wife Lisa Joy, he is chief showrunner. The prestige HBO series quickly established itself as the most exciting new sci-fi show on television, and has a pronounced interest in videogames, with The Elder Scrolls and Red Dead Redemption being cited as influences. Plus, he’s now taking his first steps into the world of directing, helming the premiere and finale of Westworld’s first season. He’s shown he can do gaming-influenced works perfectly – now how about the real thing?
What He Should Direct: In terms of cerebral video game sci-fi there’s plenty of good material, but two kings reign above all: BioShock and Half-Life. Nolan would be great for both, but the thematic similarities between Westworld and BioShock’s Rapture make the prospect of him being in charge of a BioShock adaptation too salivating to ignore.
Halo Wars is a series that managed the impossible: taking the lore and concept of Haloand blending it with the RTS Genre. Hitting the Xbox 360 in 2009, it was met with critical and audience success. Now, seven years later, 343 Industries, with the help of Creative Assembly, are bringing the series back. Bigger and more advanced than the previous game, Halo Wars 2 is bringing the Halo Wars franchise into the modern realm of RTS games, and this time it is hitting the PC as well as the Xbox One.
Taking place in the modern Halouniverse, Halo Wars 2 brings back the iconic Spirit of Fire starship along with its commander Captain Cutter as they discover the mythical Ark that was first introduced in Halo 3. The power structure is no longer as it was in previous games, and the crew of the Spirit of Fire find themselves facing a new enemy, one more ruthless than anything the covenant had on offer: the Banished and their leader Atriox.
Atriox is a new breed of villain that you as the player must face. Brilliant and brutal, Atriox will stop at nothing to achieve his goals by crushing the opposition and forcibly pushing to gain power in the galaxy. Utilizing covenant-modified technology, the Banished, with Atriox at the helm, are a force unlike anything the UNSC have ever faced.
Now that these two factions are locked in a battle neither will back away from, Halo Wars 2 takes players to the varied terrain the Ark allows. Crafted by the Forerunners, the Ark is the seat of power and literal birthplace of Halo Rings. This is a trophy that neither side will give up easily. It is also a setting that offers countless terrains and areas for combat.
Now with the help from the team at Creative Assembly, the team behind the Total War series, Halo Wars 2 is in capable hands. The developer brings with it years of experience in the RTS genre and a skill for making tactical and fun strategy games. Few studios currently working today know the genre as well as these people. Combine that pedigree with 343 Industries, a studio that lives and breathes Halo, and you get the perfect combination for building a memorable experience in the Halo universe.
From the first minute I picked up the game and jumped into a mission, this history was clearly on display. The teams have managed to build a game that feels like a modern RTS. The controls were easy to master, and anyone who has been playing StarCraft or even Dota will feel right at home playing Halo Wars 2. It feels as if you are taking the reigns on a living, breathing world; one that reacts, in real time, to the situations presented.
The sound will change as combat ramps up, from the dynamic musical store to the way units react, and everything works to create an immersive experience, one that you quickly get lost within. There is clearly a level of care and craftsmanship on display that few games can achieve. Even four months out from release, the level of polish in the mission I played was second to none.
No matter how polished a game looks and feels, if it is not enjoyable to play it ultimately fails at its task. This is why it was so refreshing to see Halo Wars 2 surpass the previous installment in nearly every way. The way units are controlled and move was refreshing. It managed to achieve the right balance of challenge with a sense of accomplishment. From the way you need to hold out against units, to the back and forth trading as you push forward in an attack, it all worked as well as you would hope. There is clearly still balancing to be done before the game is ready for prime time consumption, but even in its current state the game was a blast to jump into.
The real winner for Halo Wars 2 has to be the Blitz mode, the card-style multiplayer mode that is new to the series. This new mode, which can be played solo or multiplayer, has the player work to maintain control of points on the map as your opponent tries to do the same. Unlike in other modes, Blitz limits what can be utilized in battle by offering a selection of cards from randomized packs. Much like a game of Magic or Harthstone, there are a variety of cards to draw from, all offering different costs and advantages. It is up to you to build a deck, and try to match wits with your opponent.
Despite how it may sound, the Blitz mode works far better then I would have imagined. The card mechanic makes for a unique challenge. By playing an RTS game with no base building and a random assortment of troops, you are forced to think on your toes. Will you play only power cards, biding your time as you collect resources to make big pushes on the opponent, or will you go with lower power cards and a steady stream of attacks? The choice and how you play are up to you. As I played I tried both methods, along with a mix, to varying degrees of success. The simple fact that you must hunt down the resources to be able to drop down the cards makes for a constant struggle to stay ahead of your opponent, and offers some amazing emergent gameplay moments. In a series of solo horde-style games along with some high intensity 2v2 matches, the mode never got old. I found myself tweaking the deck of cards I was using and trying to find the perfect combination to dominate the battlefield. It is a mode that I could see people getting lost in, especially if the team manages to get the balancing right. With countless possibilities for future expansion, Blitz is something that could help Halo Wars 2 stand out from the RTS crowd.
As with any game moths away from release, it is hard to say if this will end up being a must own. What I can say is Halo Wars 2 seems to have all the parts that could push it to be something special. The teams working on the project clearly care about the game, and the level of polish on display is second to none. Yet the devil is in the details, and that final balancing and tweaking are what separates the good games from the great ones. If what is on display is any indication, the teams at 343 Industries and Creative Assembly are building something that any real time strategy fan would love to play. It combines the Halo universe with the genre perfectly, and most important of all, it was fun to play. Halo Wars 2 is slated to launch on PC and Xbox One this February 21st, 2017.
Halo 5’s Forge level editor has been added to the Microsoft Store this morning, in preparation of its release tomorrow. The free editor, which was first announced this past May, allows Windows 10 users across the globe to create maps for Halo 5 that can be played on both Xbox One and PC.
Free-to-play online shooters certainly hold a place in today’s marketplace, especially on the PC. Despite all the ups and downs, the console releases, the new genres, the evolving e-sports scene, games like Team Fortress 2 are always there for us with solid gameplay and new hats. One would think that a free-to-play online shooter based on one of the most popular franchises among gamers who enjoy things that go bang-bang would be a great idea. The recent cancellation of Halo Online suggests that Microsoft thinks otherwise.
For nearly a year Saber Interactive, developer of 2014’s Halo: The Master Chief Collectionand the upcoming Quake Champions, has been exploring this grand experiment in inexpensive entertainment set in the Halo universe, with partner Innova Systems. Innova is a Russian games publisher which has worked with game developers to bring games to the players of Russia, games such as Sony’s Planetside 2, and Dorado Games upcoming MMO, Gladiators Online: Death Before Dishonor.Halo Online was a joint project between Saber and Innova, similar to Activision’s endeavors in China with Call of Duty Online and publisher Tencent Holdings.
Innova hosted closed alphas and betas for Halo Online on their 4games gaming platform, however the servers went dark in December 2015. This appeared to be a temporary issue and it seemed that Saber and Innova would be righting this.
The reasoning for this cancellation are unclear, though the development of Halo Online never really seemed to take off, but a member of the development team going by Fogeyman alleges that this is largely due to Microsoft being unable to reach a decision on the future of this project.
Modding groups went to great lengths to release a version of Halo Online without all of the micro-transactions, and it is unclear as to whether these efforts will continue or will die with the game’s cancellation.
For those yearning for the fast-paced action of the Halo franchise, combined with the thrilling gameplay of an RTS can get their fix in Halo Wars 2, which, thanks to leaked images will be available through an open beta.
The images surfaced after the Halo Wars 2 open beta appeared on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Seemingly, the beta was to be announced Microsoft’s conference at E3, and run through the whole week as the start date for the beta is June 13th 2016, ending on the 20th.
Supposedly the beta was listed under Microsoft spokesperson, Major “Larry Hyrb” Nelson followed games, however the listing has since been taken down.