While Master Chief was off dishing out a beating to the Covenant on Delta Halo and High Charity in Halo 2, the Earth took a pounding from the Covenant while they set about digging up a Forerunner artifact buried in the African desert. It’s in the terrestrial side of the gap between Halo 2 and Halo 3 ODST is set, and in this gap the planetside war between UNSC and Covenant forces played out.
If there has been one main criticism of Halo 3 it’s that the Earth never feels as though it’s besieged by the Covenant forces, who are, we’re frequently told, running wild across the planet like Hulk Hogan. This mass pillaging is never really demonstrated well in-game, so the ODST expansion could be Bungie’s chance to show just how overrun the Earth was, and exactly how the war plays out, as well as bridging the Earthside continuity gap between Halo 2 and Halo 3.
So, what do we know? Well, ODST is being built by a small splinter team within Bungie for release in late 2009. It’s considered an ‘expansion’ by Bungie and not a full game, but will ship on its own disc and won’t require the original Halo 3 to play it. It’s a game that’s only entered production in the last few months, and isn’t a full two years’ worth of content. Bungie tell us it’ll be using brand new assets for a brand new story, but the project is in such an early state that all they’re prepared to show is their pre-rendered trailer. This was supposed to have debuted at this year’s E3, but was yanked at the last minute in favor of Microsoft’s show-stealing FFXIII reveal.
The aborted announcement makes sense given just how little was revealed by Bungie’s initial teaser, which would have made for a thoroughly underwhelming announcement; the proper trailer starring a new, for now unnamed, ODST hero reveals more, but it’s still short on facts. The trailer shows an ODST regiment falling to Earth using drop pods just as the Prophet of Truth exits the city by slipspace and leaves it in ruins. How many survive the drop is unknown, but one in particular exits in a ruined building in the heart of New Mombasa, finding it already occupied by Covenant forces, who at this point still incorporate Elites. The trooper sports custom armour and is carrying an all-new suppressed version of the SMG, looking notably smaller in his hands than in those of Master Chief.