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Halo 4 preview - Raising the bar a few miles with Spartan Ops mode

We know that you're excited for Halo 4's singleplayer campaign, and we're aware of how much you're looking forward to losing a few hundred hours into competitive multiplayer. But Halo 4 will include another element - one that sets it apart from literally every other FPS ever released. It's called Spartan Ops, and it's one of the most advanced concepts of this generation. We had a chance to see exactly how it will work at E3, and walked away thinking we had seen the future of gaming. And yes, it came from Halo.

Spartan Ops is a series of short, 15-minute cooperative missions, tied together with a loose narrative and prefaced with a stunning opening cinematic. While this alone isn't all that impressive, the way Microsoft is planning on rolling it out is what genuinely impressed us. After the game's launch, five new missions will be released each week, giving Halo fans over an hour of new co-op action a week. That's four to five new hours of Halo every month for the rest of the year - and, at least for now, it's going to to be free.

Worries that these missions would be watered down were quashed when we saw one in action, being played by franchise development director Frank O'Connor and producer Kiki Wolfkill (who handily wins the "coolest name in the world" award), each of which had chosen a different loadout of weapons and skills.

The duo of Spartans were sent to a Forerunner (the name of an old, ancient, mysterious alien race) planet, where Covenant soldiers believed to have found one of their gods. Though the UNSC doesn't actually believe in this religious nonsense, they're set to stop the covenant from finding whatever it is they want to find. The mission started out almost like a regular mission in Halo 3, with a sergeant giving the Spartan troops an order to "kill anything that moves" - an order they gladly obliged. 

Eventually, however, they found what the Covenant had mistaken for godliness - Forerunner tech was on the planet, and activating it brought the massive Promethean Knights, the creepy Crawlers, and the flying Watchers scrambling to battle. Fighting them looked unlike anything from past Halo games, and using their weapons (like new grenades and an awesome new shotgun) to take down the different foes.

It wrapped up after about 15 minutes, concluding with a big firefight. Knowing that the game would come with an assortment of Spartan Ops would be cool enough, but the fact that it's going to be released weekly for months at a time and broken into seasons turns it into something truly innovative. It's episodic Halo content, and that's really, really cool.

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18 comments

  • Viron - June 5, 2012 6:34 p.m.

    neato.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - June 5, 2012 6:48 p.m.

    Forerunners aren't new. They're actually really, really old.
  • Fuzunga - June 5, 2012 7:22 p.m.

    You mention the Forerunners like Halo players have no idea what you're talking about.
  • XD00175 - June 5, 2012 7:31 p.m.

    Nice. I saw an interview earlier about how they're structuring it like a tv show, so it'll be interesting to see how that pans out. Something else I saw in a trailer; the players' gloves were fingerless, not like Spartan armor at all. My brother thinks that means ODSTs, but I think it looks like we'll get to play as our Spartans as trainees. For some reason, I think that idea, if it's true, sounds awesome.
  • Rambo 11 - June 6, 2012 2:25 a.m.

    Spartan IV's are different from the other two generations. While the Mk. II's and III's were trained from a young age and had extensive augmentations while the Mk. IV's are elite soldiers who volunteered for the Spartan program, receiving less augmentations and armor not as strong as the Mk. II's MJOLNIR (master chiefs armor) but more effective than ODST armor
  • MadMan - June 5, 2012 7:34 p.m.

    If its free awesome, but I'm not getting too excited yet.
  • Slayer11496 - June 5, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    sooo it's Spec Ops in MW2: Halo Edition
  • ObliqueZombie - June 5, 2012 9:37 p.m.

    You didn't read that at all, did you?
  • FOZ - June 5, 2012 8:13 p.m.

    The enemies aren't called Forerunner, they're some mystery race that uses Forerunner weapons. Of course Forerunners will be involved in the plot, but generally only Sentinels are referred to as "Forerunner," so when you mention Forerunners coming to the planet for a fight, it's hard to tell what that means. Forerunner.
  • Rambo 11 - June 6, 2012 2:24 a.m.

    In halo 4 forerunner enemies means actual forerunners, the ones who built the halos, not sentinels.
  • FOZ - June 6, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    Which would mean there are actual Forerunners coming to the planet in this preview, and seeing as how mysterious they're trying to be about the plot, I doubt they would give it away just like that. So it's confusing that Cooper says "Forerunners," because he could be confusing them with the new enemies.
  • BrunDeign - June 5, 2012 9:16 p.m.

    Glad to see Metroid Prime 4 is turning out so well. ;P
  • ObliqueZombie - June 5, 2012 9:38 p.m.

    AaaaaaaaaAAHHHHH! I see what you did there. ;)
  • ObliqueZombie - June 5, 2012 9:38 p.m.

    I'm legitimately excited for this. Good job, 343, you're off to a good start.
  • Arabacus Fox - June 5, 2012 11:45 p.m.

    It's a forerunner planet, but the enemies are prometheans. ..is what I think I remember. Just throwin that out there.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - June 7, 2012 4:52 a.m.

    I'm a bit confused as to what this is, and how its the future of gaming? Sure, I don't want to get picky about extra free content...actually thats great? I'm just sure something has to be in it for the developer, in order for the idea to actually take off and if you charge for the content then it just becomes DLC which it pretty much is anyway. Maybe im being harsh, I guess this could turn into a nice new way to market extra content and give gamers something to look forward to and importantly as I said before, it'll be free missions for Halo 4 so I really have no reason to complain...
  • scott-park - June 10, 2012 7:07 p.m.

    Microsoft and "free" just don't mix, good luck with that!
  • bash street kid - June 14, 2012 11:25 p.m.

    Television had better up it's game..

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

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