Halo 3 Rumor Control, Part One

We've seen this set of rumors, supposedly coming from someone whose uncle works at Bungie (oh dear God not again--Ed.) several times in the past few days. They were even translated into French at Halo.fr.

Given that Bungie seems to be enduring some kind of self-imposed silence bordering on self-denial with regards to the very existence of Halo 3, even to the point of failing to confirm or deny the existence of the game after it was referred to by no less a personage than Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

That, plus the fact that historically Bungie, like other game studios, usually doesn't comment on rumors, means that regardless of the particular situation right now, these rumors would no doubt spread unchecked anyway.

However, in the interest in helping promote a slightly less credulous Halo fanbase, I thought I'd provide a few comments on each of the rumored items.

So here we go:

1) It will have a darker and more gritty story than the previous games.

This is so vague I hardly know how to respond. In Halo 1, you are (supposedly) the final SPARTAN escaping in an old spacecraft chased by a Covenant armada and crashland on a strange ring, which turns out to be a weapon of unimaginable power and a prison for an unimaginable terror, the Flood, which poses a dire threat not only to you but the entire galaxy. Your marine cohorts are decimated and you're forced to detonate the engines of your ship, killing the Covenant and the Flood and destroying the ancient artifact. To the best of your knowledge, when the game ends, you and Cortana are the sole survivors.

It makes me wonder what qualifies as "darker and more gritty."

True or False: Not applicable. You can't evaluate such a vague claim. All you can do is ignore it.

2) They're attempting to maintain an online cooperative component for the campaign supporting more than two players at once.

They also might be attempting to wrap a lemon around a large gold brick. But let's not overdo it. Online coop didn't manage to make it into Halo 2, so I suppose it might make the cut in the next installment. However, the last two games have also been under tremendous pressure to get done on time, and the rumored schedule for the release of the next game is even tighter. Assuming it's true.

True or False: I'm going to say false. I'd love it if this made it in, but it seems to me far too much of a leap to go from no online coop at all to coop with more than two players. It sounds like this is being made up.

3) It has a lot of cinematics planned for it. The opening scenes apparently occur thousands of years before the timeline of the original Halo: Combat Evolved's story.

Saying a Halo game has "a lot of cinematics planned" is like saying the ocean is wet. It's a pretty easy prediction to make. That one or more such cutscenes might cover a much earlier part of the story is also quite plausible.

True or False: True, but probably unimportant. Of course the game will have cutscenes. The bit about cutscenes from thousands of years in the past sound like the deleted part of the Mural cutscene; I tend to doubt Bungie is going to reveal anything shocking like the identity or whereabouts of the Forerunner or something similar in a cutscene.

4) It will have a multiplayer mode which pits players against bots in scenarios that are directly connected to the story of the game.

Pure wishful thinking. If it wasn't already obvious, this one alone removes nearly all credibility the source has. Bungie hasn't ever done a shooter with bots, and it was explained while Halo 1 was still in development why the artificial intelligence they made for the game was better suited to in-campaign enemies and allies than bot-style multiplayer. If it didn't make it into Halo 1 or 2, it seems doubtful Bungie would commit the time and resources to adding this feature for the third installment.

UPDATE: As pointed out by a comment below, Marathon did has bots, so it would be more appropriate to say Bungie hasn't done a modern shooter with bots, or hasn't ever done a shooter with modern (post-Steven Polge bots). In any case, I stand below the prediction below: no bots in Halo 3.

True or False: False. Bungie's got an epic story to continue and new hardware to write for. While Halo 3 may end up having some new features, I think it will be more about incremental improvements and polish.

5) They're attempting to implement both a map editor and a movie maker, which would allow players to send and receive their maps/movies through Xbox Live. This would apparently be on a separate disc, and they have an entire team working just on these two projects.

This sounds much too ambitious. While it appears as if Halo 2 did, at one point, have a movie recording feature that was disabled or removed prior to shipping, the idea of an in-engine map builder like Pariah seems highly unlikely. It would be a huge undertaking to add this feature. It may be understandable why Microsoft might want this feature in the game; reviews of Pariah gave kudos to the map-building feature, with the downside being that once you made the maps, you can only play Pariah on them.

However, taken along with the other ambitious predictions, this one just looks gratuitous.

True or False: False.

6) Zanzibar, Sidewinder and Hang Em High are said to return to the multiplayer mode, completely reworked. Zanzibar will be mangled and torn apart as though after the battle, the sky will be dark red. Sidewinder will have four legs instead of just two, with bases at each end. Hang Em High will have a massive tree at its center and the structure will be deteriorated.

This again is more likely wishful thinking. Hang 'em High and Sidewinder were two of the most oft-requested maps to be ported from Halo 1 to Halo 2. Bungie instead chose to bring Blood Gulch and Beaver Creek, and then later Wizard, because they felt those maps were better suited to the new game.

While this could be true and might even happen, it seems like some specific details made up to give the other predictions more believability.

True or False: False.

7) They want to support more than fifty players on Xbox Live for certain maps.

Now the real source of the rumor is revealed; the game in question is actually Perfect Dark Zero and not Halo 3 after all, as fifty-plus player support was just announced for the title earlier this week.

True or False: False. This would require not only a major revamp of the networking engine, but also vastly larger maps and completely different gametypes.

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Comments

I'm impressed. Someone did some thinking and look what happened. If only more people actually thought once in a while, imagine what the possiblities might be. Well done and thanks for not being a idiot.

I haven't been keeping up with rumors because I believe that Halo 3 is not going to be a 360 launch title. There just isn't enough time considering how long it took to make Halo 2. However, I believe all of your points are valid. Especially the map rumor.

Agreed 100%

this is off the game subject but i'v also read all the halo books available and noticed that halo 2 is after the the third book. is bungi considering releasing other books to continue the story where the 3rd book left off?

I think bots are a good idea for those who can not afford xbox live i am tired of having 2v2 games.:(

"Bungie hasn't ever done a shooter with bots, " Try playing all of their games before you say things like that. You could do multiplayer with bots in Marathon. They had crappy AI but still, they were bots.

You are, of course, correct-- Marathon did have bots.

So the statement can be qualified any number of ways-- Bungie hasn't done a modern shooter with bots, a 3d shooter with bots, or hasn't done bots in any of their last five games (two Halo games, Oni, and two Myth games).

It is also worth noting that Marathon, being a contemporary of Doom in the early/mid-90s, was before the real golden era of bots, which started with Quake and programs like the Reaper bot, the Eraser bot, and so on, which were categorically different from those that came before and defined what is now a multiplayer bot.

In any case, I'll stand by the prediction-- I don't think Halo 3 will have bots. 'Bot-style AI is not Bungie's strong suit. Bungie's strong suit is scripted encounters that fit within a single-player campaign, and humans-only multiplayer environments.



Rampant for over six years.

Actually he's not correct, Marathon didn't have bots. You could toggle having the aliens from the single player game running around the arena aimlessly attacking anyone who wandered near them. If you consider those bots, then heck Myth had "bots" too in the form of wildlife. I don't think most people would consider the aliens bots.

Well, I'll give the benefit of the doubt here. To the extent that any game at that time had bots, Marathon had them, as you could play multiplayer levels with aliens in them that would fight you.

Of course, the aliens couldn't play games like ball games, they just attacked you, and Marathon didn't have any flag games.

However, I think conceding that Marathon had "bots" of some kind doesn't harm the main point-- which is that they are unlikely ever to come to the Halo franchise, and that multiplayer bots of the kind that many other games have is not Bungie's strong suit.



Rampant for over six years.

I believe that Halo 3 takes place where the ending of Halo 2 left off. However, you play as the Arbiter first, forming a friendship with Johnson and killing Gravemind. Then, after that level, you go back to playing as John (MC) and you must find Truth before he gets to the Ark. This is just my opinion. It just doesn't matter much.

i dont know if ppl have already said this but i think that in halo3/2.5 there will be a cinematic were masterchief meets kelly a spartan who dr. halsey took away so she could do something and then before the end of kelly dies ya i know its sounds unlikely and stupid but if u read the books it never says what happened to kelly or dr. halsey so everyone just suspected that they were killed. please actually read this and think about this before throwing my email in the garbage.

Seems unlikely. Yes, it is true, we don't know what happened to Kelly. But Bungie has said it was difficult to work other Spartans into gameplay. I think having one or more appear in a cinematic would just draw attention to the fact that we never play alongside other Spartans.



Rampant for over six years.