Tag Archives: halo

Disintegration Looks Like Destiny But Definitely Doesn’t Play Like It

If you follow video game news relatively closely, you probably know Disintegration as “that upcoming game by one of the co-creators of Halo” or “that game that looked a lot like Destiny in its reveal trailer.” In reality, however, the similarities are only skin-deep.

Disintegration, a production headed up by former Bungie creative art director Marcus Lehto, was playable at PAX West in Seattle over the weekend. Curious about what it actually was, I took it for a quick spin. While I found the mid-match action to be relatively straightforward, explaining it is a whole different ball (read: hover bike) game.

Unlike in Destiny or Halo or any other game with big moody cyborg energy, Disintegration doesn’t toss you into boots-on-the-ground skirmishes against tenacious sci-fi foes. Don’t get me wrong: There are plenty of enemies to shoot, but your boots just aren’t on the ground. Instead, you pilot a hover bike above the action while simultaneously issuing commands to a small squad of NPC units who fight alongside you. In the 5v5 multiplayer mode I tried, players—each with hover bikes and robo-armies of their own—squabbled and skirmished over the energy cores that they needed to deliver to a drop-off point.

I’ll admit that I was initially surprised and a little disoriented after coming in expecting something more traditional. During my first match, I felt awkward hovering above an arena my brain told me I should’ve been running around in. The bike itself, meanwhile, felt floaty—both in the sense that it, you know, floated and in that it had a slippery sort of momentum to its movements.

The ensuing battles were chaotic. Players fired on other players and squads alike, while squads dutifully followed suit. The action was hard to read sometimes, with flashy effects and plentiful units throwing up static that interfered with my split-second decision making. I’d find myself frantically flicking between abilities and targets, only to suddenly get shot down because while my grav cycle was in the thick of things, my head was in the clouds.

It took a change in my frame of mind to right the course. While Disintegration might share some visual motifs with Destiny and, to a lesser extent, Halo, Lehto told me that it began life as a spiritual successor to Bungie’s ‘90s real-time strategy series Myth. Lehto and his team decided, however, that they didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle of a genre that is enormous and legacied, but also no longer in vogue. Thus, the shooter elements and hover bikes.

But while you’re bobbing war-fully over Disintegration’s dilapidated battlefields, it still helps to think like you’re playing an RTS. You don’t need to be in the thick of the action to be effective. With a simple press of a button, your squad will go where you command it and contextually decide whether to move, grab an objective, or mount a full-on assault on a particular target.

Each squad and bike is also linked to a different faction, granting you different stats and special abilities based on who you choose. I liked the group of robots who dressed like medieval knights. My bike could hurl ballista-like spear blasts at people. That was fun. The rest was about picking my battles and doing in other people’s squads before they could melt mine. I never felt fully comfortable with the game, but during my second match, I felt far more in control than during my first.

It turns out that genre-mashing multiplayer antics are just the tip of Disintegration’s iceberg. It’s also going to have a single-player campaign about human beings surviving in robot bodies after environmental and technological cataclysms have ravaged the planet. The player characters are trying to win their human bodies back from a militantly transhumanist faction, and you and your buddies aren’t super soldiers. Despite their meticulously engineered mechanical bodies, your ranks are made up of teachers, journalists, mechanics, and other regular folks who just want to live regular lives, Lehto said. That seems like it could make for some very interesting story and character dynamics.

But there’s still the elephant in the room: visually, the game kinda looks like Destiny in places—when it comes to character design, if nothing else. Why cover such a unique game in what could be perceived as somebody else’s coat of paint? Lehto replied to that question by saying that what we think of as Destiny style is really Lehto style.

“It’s a fair comparison to make, especially when you consider the fact that I was one of the core individuals developing the entire aesthetic style of Halo and a good bit of Destiny at the very beginning,” he said. “That’s my style, that’s my blueprint. It’s like what you’d expect from any good director: a certain kind of vibe from the movie that you’re gonna go see. The same thing is true with games. The kind of game I’m making is the kind of game I like making.”

People, however, aren’t necessarily going to know all of that history upfront. Still, Lehto isn’t bothered by the comparisons.

“It’s fine,” he said. “I expect it, first of all. I think our game also has more of a honed-in aesthetic as far as the type of characters. When you look at them side by side, they’re extremely different. There are limited exact similarities between the two. Like, yeah, they have a robot. We have lots and lots of robots. Lots of games have robots.” 

Source: Kotaku.com

18 Years Later, We’ve Got The Perfect Halo Action Figure

There have been a lot of Halo figures over the years, but this new one by 1000toys is easily my favourite. Based on Master Chief’s original Halo 1 design, but also tweaked by Japanese mech designer Izmojuki, it’s 1/12 scale and costs….USD$125.

That’s a lot for a figure, but then, it’s a very nice figure. Aside from Chief himself, it also includes a bunch of accessories, like five different sets of hands, an energy sword, two pistols and an assault rifle.

I just love how matte he is, how perfectly-formed all the joints are, how posable he is without sacrificing his looks. He’s also just the first in a whole line 1000toys are releasing based on Halo, so hopefully there’s some guys and gals from Reach coming up soon as well.

No word on a release date, but the “2020″ in the copyright on the images below is a very good clue.

Source: Kotaku.com

Little Kid’s Hand-Written Xbox Fan Mail From 2002 Is Very Wholesome

Seamus Blackley, one of the key people involved in the creation of the original Xbox console, was going through some old stuff the other day when he came across an adorable piece of fan mail written 17 years ago by little Mitchell Riley. Realizing he’d never replied, Blackley decided to track him down and make amends.

First though, the letter itself, which is infinitely more wholesome than any of the correspondence developers must receive in 2019:

And now for the amends! With a little bit of detective work from fans, it turns out Mitchell wasn’t just still into his Xbox games; he was still such a Halo fan that last week he was at Halo Outpost Discovery, a show in Houston where he met the voices behind master Chief and Cortana:

That must be pretty cool for original Xbox/Halo developers to see something like this and realize that their console and game series are old enough for childhood fans to have become grown-ass adults in a way we normally only associate with companies like Nintendo and Sega.

As for Mitchell, his wholesome online adventures may soon be coming to an end; he only made a Twitter account to respond to Blackley’s search, and so is sure to find things are all downhill from here.

Source: Kotaku.com

Halo Infinite Creative Director Leaves Company

Tim Longo, creative director for the upcoming Halo Infinite, left developer 343 Industries this week, Kotaku has learned. It’s part of a leadership shakeup that arrives late in the development of the next Halo game, which is scheduled for release in fall 2020.

Longo, an industry veteran who also served as creative director for Halo 5, had moved to a different role a few weeks ago, according to two people familiar with goings-on at 343. This week, he left the company entirely.

When reached by Kotaku, Microsoft confirmed Longo’s departure and sent over the following statement:

Roles and responsibilities of various team members regularly evolve to meet the needs of a game, throughout development. We have recently had two changes to the Halo Infinite development team. Our Executive Producer, Mary Olson will now take charge of the Campaign team on Halo Infinite as the Lead Producer, utilizing her many years of experience at 343 to help craft a great campaign for fans.

Additionally, Tim Longo has recently departed our team and we are truly thankful for his many contributions to our games, our studio and the Halo universe. We wish Tim nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

The overall creative vision and production of the game remains led by Chris Lee, Studio Head of Halo Infinite.

We have a world-class team building Halo Infinite and the overwhelming positive response by fans has us energized, more than ever, to create the best Halo game to date, alongside Project Scarlett in holiday 2020. These changes have no impact to the release date for Halo Infinite.

In addition to releasing on Xbox One and PC, Halo Infinite will be a launch game for the next-generation Xbox, which is codenamed Scarlett. It’s envisioned as a “spiritual reboot” for the series, according to 343 studio head Bonnie Ross. The studio hasn’t shown any actual gameplay just yet, but put out a cinematic trailer featuring protagonist Master Chief at E3 of this year.

First announced at E3 2018, Halo Infinite is the third mainline entry in the series to be developed by 343, which took over the franchise when original Halo developer Bungie split back in 2007.

Additional reporting by Stephen Totilo.

Source: Kotaku.com

A Brand New Look At Halo Infinite, Which Will Be An Xbox Scarlett Launch Title

E3 2019It’s time for the biggest gaming show of the year. We’ve got articles, videos, podcasts and maybe even a GIF or two.  

Microsoft finally showed off some footage for Halo Infinite—a weighty name for the sixth major game in the 18-year-old franchise. Halo Infinite will launch on Windows and Xbox’s newly-announced Project Scarlett console.

Microsoft’s January announcement trailer for Halo Infinite was a little nature documentarymeets co-op shooter, complete with ambient violin sounds and birds-eye-view shots of stampeding rhinos. 343 Studios is making the game, which studio head Bonnie Ross once said in an interview with IGN is a “spiritual reboot.”

Rightfully so, Halo fans were very curious about what the actually game would look like. Today’s trailer began with a long CGI intro featuring a stranded man on a space ship reanimating the Master Chief.

Source: Kotaku.com

Killing Rage 2’s Enemies Is As Satisfying As Popping Pimples

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I know something about you that you probably won’t even admit to yourself, a fundamental human truth as undeniable as breathing: You like popping pimples. Slowly applying pressure until those tiny face volcanoes erupt into a gooey spew is one of life’s small pleasures. It is gross, yes, but so are a great many enjoyable things. Rage 2, for example.

I’ve played a few hours of Rage 2 at this point, and I largely agree with Gita Jackson’s early assessment: it’s fun, but lacking the sort of over-the-top moments that knock my socks into the stratosphere trailers promised. Still, I can’t stop coming back to it, because it just feels so darn good to play. But as I transitioned from video game adrenaline mode to pre-sleep anxiety mode while laying in bed last night, it struck me that in other games, I would be vehemently opposed to some of the game’s enemies. Some of Rage 2‘s early enemies, you see, wear thick armor or hide behind tall shields that you’ve got to chip away at with your assault rifle and pistol (the game’s starter weapons) in the middle of howling-mad bandit melees. This is nothing too crazy in the grand scheme of shooters, but usually, these sorts of baddies annoy me. In Rage 2, I love them. So then I got to thinking about why.

I despise shooter enemies that can be described as “bullet sponges,” especially when a good headshot won’t reliably do them in. It’s one of my biggest video game pet peeves. It doesn’t make enemies more challenging or interesting, just tedious in a way that strains what little credulity first-person shooters have in the first place. I realized, though, that there’s a difference between bullet sponges and what I’ve taken to calling “bullet pimples.”

Bullet sponges suck down ammo like your gun is a smoothie straw. Landing single shots on them is not particularly satisfying, either because they barely react, or every shot is a reminder that you’ve still got a long way to go before they get on with their journey to digital hell already.

Uncharted 2‘s enemies were all a little too bullet-spongy, but the hulking purple-blue Shambhala Guardians near the end of the game were the worst of the bunch. They charged at hero Nathan Drake through hailstorms of bullets, repeatedly shrugging off death’s grasping clutches and forcing you to clumsily break cover and flee. It wasn’t fun, just a cheap, repetitive pattern you had to perform until they died. Gone were the rudimentary tactics of earlier encounters with regular humans, replaced by ugly bullfights against monstrous ape-men who didn’t even need to take cover. Shooting them produced hardly any feedback. A full clip would stun them, sure, but just for a moment. When they finally went down, their death animation was perfunctory. No interesting reactions or sounds. At the end of these fights, I felt far more relieved than satisfied.

The bullet pimple is a different animal altogether. In Rage 2, armored Mad-Max-like bandits, mixed in with more vulnerable enemies, still react to shots with surprise and anger. Each shot you land on them sends shards of charred scrap metal flying. You might not be doing much damage, but it still feels like you’re doing plenty. A few well-placed shots to the head, and their helmets come off. Or maybe you just drill them with enough shots to the sternum that they compress like they’re going through a junkyard trash compactor. Or you use your armor-stripping super suit power to send them flying. Regardless, you land a killing blow, and the result is an insanely satisfying squishing sound accompanied by an eruption of unidentifiable body fluids. It’s glorious. Weaker enemies, too, die with an intoxicating squish after you’ve clamped down on them just right. This is in no way revolutionary, but Rage 2 gets the look, sound, and rhythm of it all just right. I cannot get enough of these screaming, pus-filled pimple people. Even when I’m driving across the wasteland to reach a mission, I get out of my car to fight randos. I must squish more, more, more. Just before going to bed last night, I found Rage 2‘s shotgun, and given that it’s a perfectly calibrated pimple-person-popping machine—a revelation—it’s a wonder I slept at all.

The process of applying consistent pressure to these enemies over time and receiving a triumphant ooze of audiovisual feedback really is hilariously akin to popping a pimple. In both cases, it begins with tension. You identify a pimple, and you squeeze it, but nothing happens. Instead, the tension just builds and builds. You have to find the right angle, get the right grip, and wait for the right time before you can blow the thing sky high. Maybe it’s not ready to pop yet. Maybe you’re not good enough. Maybe you have to come back later. You’ve got to do something about it, though. It represents a lack of equilibrium in an otherwise unmarred space. So you poke and prod and fixate until you finally pull it off, and—crucially—it’s worth it. The pimple goes pop, and it’s a disgusting little party on your face and fingers. It is tactile and horrible and wonderful all at once.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that I’ve always been drawn to shooters that follow this flow, going all the way back to the original Halo. Yeah, many Halo enemies are shielded and difficult to faze with a burst of regular shots, but when their shield bubbles pop, it’s like you’re the kid at the party who busted open the pinata. Fortnite takes this analogy literally; everybody’s got Halo-like shields, and when you kill them, they shower colorful loot in all directions. It’s little wonder to me that those are some of the most popular shooters of all time. They’re drawing on something intrinsic, after all: popping pimples owns.

Source: Kotaku.com

Let’s Take A Second to Admire Sci-Fi User Interfaces

Computer interfaces in the real world are, generally, frustrating, boring, and at best functional. No one has great joy in using Google Chrome, and everyone is always mad at whatever update Twitter is rolling out. But in sci-fi? In science fiction, user interfaces aren’t just useful. They’re the coolest shit imaginable.

It’s a slow day today, so let’s indulge in one of my favorite hobbies: admiring the amazing user interfaces designers, animators, and CG artists come up with for science fiction properties. Fortunately, there are some fantastic resources online dedicated to archiving and showcasing these often-overlooked bits of design.

For instance, Kit FUI (FUI stands for Fictional Universe Interfaces), though it seems to not have updated since 2015 or so, has an extensive archive of UI design from movies, TV shows, and video games.

UI From Caprica’s first season.
Image: Decca Digital/Corey Bramall

From Kit FUI, I really love these computer screens from Caprica. They have a ‘90s-core TV sci-fi vibe, and actually look a little bit functional, which is always a nice touch.

UI From Caprica’s first season.
Image: Decca Digital/Corey Bramall

Another delightful archive comes from the internet’s home of incredibly specific image archives, tumblr. Science Fiction Interfaces, which also hasn’t been updated in a good long while, run by nnkd, has some incredibly high-resolution images of interfaces from all sorts of things.

I’m especially partial to these from Halo Wars 2. Halo has great designs for its ships and general world, and this UI work by GMUNK and Toros Köse absolutely does it justice.

But the absolute best resource for sci-fi interfaces I’ve found online is this, a blog post published in 2015 by Luis Landero, full of .gifs of UIs from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Friends? Evangelion had some of the best interfaces of all time.

From Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Image: Gainax

Just look at this.

The MAGI are under attack!
Image: Gainax

This is so good my AT field is dissolving. I am at peace.

Source: Kotaku.com

It’s Pizza Time In Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach is a very good game and will soon be coming to PC and Xbox One via an update to The Master Chief Collection. This news prompted a bit of a meme, where folks started sending pizzas to 343 Industries. That inspired one modder to brings pizzas to Halo: Reach.

Created by Halo modder Lord Zedd, this mod changes all of the textures and text in Halo: Reach into pizzas or pizza references. Every sound is even changed into the simple audio clip of someone saying “It’s Pizza Time!” The quote and music were originally heard in Spider-Man 2 on PS2 and Xbox. A single tweet inspired the mod to be created.

The full video is 17 minutes. It’s a lot of pizza. You might want to mute this video once the gameplay starts. Unless you want to hear pizza time a thousand times.

I asked Zedd how they created this delicious creation. It was done on a modded Xbox 360 using a modded copy of Reach. After adding in the sound effects and pizza textures, Zedd used a small program they created to mass replace all the textures in the game with pizza. A simple code change was all that was needed to get all text in the game to display “It’s Pizza Time!”

The end result is oddly satisfying to watch until human beings with faces appear. Then suddenly this fun little mod starts to create nightmare beings who will live in your mind for years to come.

I want pizza time to end, please.

Source: Kotaku.com

Halo: Reach Will Bring Back Customizable Armor Sets When It Comes To PC

Halo community director Brian Jarrard said in an AMA on Reddit today that players’ existing progress from Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One—including all stats, achievements, Forged maps, and game variants—will carry over to the upcoming PC version. He also said that while nothing is guaranteed, the studio is exploring options for adding official mod support some time after launch.

Jarrard was tight-lipped on a number of topics, such as when exactly the first test flight for Halo: Reach, the first game in the collection 343 Industries is working on porting, will begin. We also don’t know what the game-by-game price breakdown will be. But he did share some helpful insight into a number of other topics players asked about on Reddit today.

Here’s a quick rundown of most of the big stuff:

  • PC players will be able to mix and match pieces of armor to customize their character in the Master Chief Collection version of Halo: Reach just like they could in the original.
  • The studio is still deciding on how armor pieces will be earned in game, though it won’t include loot boxes or microtransactions.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved will be the second game in the collection to get ported.
  • There will be cross-play between the Steam and Windows Store versions of the PC port.
  • Both versions will utilize some form of anti-cheat software.
  • Each game will have a customizable field-of-view slider, although the options will vary depending on the game.
  • The PC version will support Windowed Mode, 21:9, 16:9, 16:10, 3:2, and 4:3 aspect ratios.
  • The studio is currently aiming to support uncapped frame rates in all of the games.

There are also a number of things Jarrard said the studio is looking into but can’t commit to at this time. Cross-play with console is probably the biggest thing players want. Local splitscreen is another option Jarrard said 343 Industries is looking into.

Probably biggest of all, Jarrard said the team is exploring ways to facilitate dedicated servers for community-hosted games, or at the very least a special browser for searching for custom games. But as with a lot of features, Jarrard stressed those things will come much farther down the road, if they come at all. 

Source: Kotaku.com

Old School Halo Crashes SXSW This Weekend In $100,000 Tournament

SXSW used to be a cool festival for musicians and artists to hang out. Now in its 30th year, it’s become other things: Woodstock for tech geeks, Davos for hipsters, spring break for nerds. So where do esports fit in?

The cultural cache of SXSW might make it the ideal platform for showcasing something like Fortnite or even Smash Bros. Ultimate to the larger world. Instead, Microsoft chose it for a soft relaunch of classic Halo. On Tuesday the company announced Halo: The Master Chief Collection would get ported to PC, beginning with Halo: Reach. Starting today and going into the weekend, the company is holding a $100,000 Halo 3 tournament at SXSW where top players can use their battle rifles to rekindle the magic of a previous generation of esports.

The tournament kicked off today at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, with matches going until 9:00 p.m. Play continues throughout Saturday, capped off by two of the best players in the series’ competitive history, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona and Tony “LethuL” Campbell, facing off in a rivals show match. Then the grand finals will get underway on Sunday in the afternoon. All the matches will be streaming live on the Halo Twitch channel.

The first Major League Gaming National Championship featured Halo: Combat Evolved in 2004. Skipping only 2009, the series reigned supreme throughout that era of competitive gaming, back before pro players lived in dedicated team houses and had chefs to prepare them actual food. It all had the feel and mystique of watching early UFC bootlegs, and the news of Halo coming to PC for the first time in over a decade has some people hopeful the a new scene might spring up around the older games. What else is SXSW for if not using new technology to pine for the the past?

The fighting game community, meanwhile, will have its attention focused elsewhere, with Final Round 2019 going on this weekend in Atlanta. Featuring Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd REV2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and a bunch of other fighting games, the matches will be throughout the day today and on Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern and on Sunday with top eight in each game beginning at 11:00 a.m Eastern. A full schedule is available here, with the Street Fighter V tournament streaming here.

Source: Kotaku.com