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15 March 2012
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The Halo Bulletin: 3.15.12

15. March 2012 20:00

Last week, when someone asked what stage of development we were at in regard to Halo 4, the answer given was "crunch." The truth of the matter is that particular term doesn't even begin to describe the level of activity currently housed within the walls of our workspace. Along with the hustle and bustle of a few hundred 343-ers, we've had press, partners, and numerous other people—every single one of whom is somehow relevant to where we're at with the game—holed up in meeting rooms, hunched over computers, and slaving away in soundproof studios, working hard to bring you something that you'll read, play, or hear at some point in the near or not-so-near future.

FYI, I invested approximately 120 seconds into making that last sentence as informatively vague as possible. I do hope you are pleased with the results.

Now that two minutes of my workweek are accounted for, you may be curious about the other 3,598. Believe it or not, while other people have been focusing on Halo 4, I've been busy singing the praises of you, our passionate, dedicated, and talented community. Don't worry, though; I sing better than I write. And yes, I'm fully aware that's not saying much.

Anyway, now it's time for me to stop talking about you, and instead talk with you. What's the topic this week, you ask? There are a few, but we'll start with the return of an old friend.

Twitter Battle Rifle

The Halo 4 Battle Rifle

Approximately one week ago, we released a slew of Halo 4-related information, much of which we provided clarification about in last week's Bulletin. One thing that didn't need clarifying, however, was the return of the Battle Rifle. After sitting out for a few games and letting its brethren shine, the Battle Rifle is officially coming back in Halo 4, in all of its three-round-burst glory.

As someone who invested a decent chunk of time in both Halo 2 and Halo 3, I'm excited to welcome the BR back into the fold. Whether I was wandering around aimlessly with a fully charged Plasma Pistol or playing SWAT on Lockout, camping lower BR tower and spawn-killing everybody in my direct line of sight (yes, I was one of those people), the Battle Rifle was my trusty sidekick for nearly six years, delivering three bullets per trigger pull to either my opponent's head or the area adjacent to their head. Some people would say the latter more than the former. And those people would be right.

Whether you are welcoming back an old friend, or introducing yourself to a new one, take a second to fully absorb the BR's appearance, because this will be your rifle. There may be others like it, but this one will be yours.

Halo 4 Battle Rifle

Halo 4 Battle Rifle

The BR85HB Service Rifle is a gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle optimized for three-round-burst firing, and proven to be extraordinarily effective against dissipative energy shielding on both exotic and domestic armor types. Performance-wise, the Battle Rifle is hitscan (meaning the effect is immediate), it features a scope attachment (x2), and it has recoil in its current tuning (rising slightly when fired but in a suppressible way). It doesn't have bloom, the rhythm feels good when firing it, and it can be used for longer-range engagement.

For the uninitiated, the Battle Rifle is most known for its three-round burst. In previous games, this three-round burst was known, but not felt or heard. In Halo 4, it's known, felt, and heard.

The first time I picked up a Battle Rifle in Halo 4, I was excited, but not overly so. I knew it was there and I was happy it was there, but I was more curious than anything else. Upon picking it up from a fallen foe, I started searching for someone to test it out on. After finding one such person, I began to unleash my fury upon them, and after the first pull of the trigger, my ears were greeted with three distinct and powerful pops, my controller began rumbling, and I suddenly felt like the most powerful and badass Spartan to ever walk the earth.

Then, I died. The experience of wielding the Battle Rifle was so satisfying, though, that upon spawning, my only goal was to get it back. I did just that, a few different times, and what I learned from that first experience was my excitement caused me to flail, but exercising control and focusing on precision were ultimately rewarded.

Twitter Battle Rifle

The major driving force behind the design of the Halo 4 Battle Rifle was a decision to base it on real-world weaponry and then add sci-fi elements. Since the BR already existed, we didn't want to deviate too far from its last iteration. So we updated it, while putting our own creative spin on it. The overall silhouette is similar to the existing BR, with a few artistic changes.

Old-school UNSC weapons were grounded in modern day to give the sense that Spartans are underpowered. We wanted to retain that while pushing the sci-fi elements. You can see that in the scope, the LCD display, the ammo count, and other stylistic details on the gun.

In regard to the scope in particular, traditionally, Halo has had one type of each weapon per game. Taking into consideration Halo 4's sandbox, we went with the square scope to differentiate it from other guns and rifles that have bulky scopes on them.

Twitter Battle Rifle

Another way we're conveying the power of the Battle Rifle is through audio. This weapon is truly a force to be reckoned with, and it's important that viciousness is incorporated both in how it feels and in how it sounds.

The three-round burst is one of the most important aspects of this gun, and that is represented through a slightly ascending pitch scale and a strong accent on the final shot. The base sounds are from FN SCAR and M16-A rifles, and then other elements were added to help fill out the frequency spectrum. A caulking gun, a belt-sander being turned off (pitched down half an octave), and a short snippet from a 2-inch mortar explosion all contribute to what will eventually be going directly into your earholes.

If you play with Nerf guns as much as we do (there may or may not be a few scattered around the studio), you'll enjoy knowing that rather fun noise is one of the components that make up the BR's reload. Accompanying it are a metal C-stand, an old rusty scooter, and real weapon mechanics from WWI-era to modern day firearms.

Twitter Battle Rifle

Since the Battle Rifle is one of the most popular Halo weapons, we've repeatedly asked ourselves, "What do we keep the same, and what do we change?" We want the Battle Rifle to be an iconic status weapon. When players get it, we want them to feel empowered, especially by the way it operates.

We're hoping that we nailed it. You can let us know Holiday 2012. :)

Halo Waypoint

Halo Waypoint Updates

Halo Waypoint recently dispatched a team of ninjas, their mission, which they chose to accept, being to update the Halo Waypoint experience across multiple platforms. As always, their work is ongoing, but a few of the updates have already been pushed out into the wild. Here is brief summary of them.

  • Forum

    The Halo Waypoint forums now include an adaptive layout, meaning they are much more mobile-friendly. Previously, while on your phone, pinching and zooming were commonplace when surfing the various intellectually stimulating conversations that regularly occur on our boards. Now, the mobile forums feature a delightfully compact design that makes perusing your fellow forum members' posts a much more pleasant experience.

    Semi-related, I heard there were a few new Halo 4 avatars recently added to our collection. I can neither confirm nor deny that rumor; however, I can say they are HAWT.


    ATLAS recently got some serious love. Along with a heaping serving of performance and polish optimizations, individual weapon and vehicle icons were added, as was support for Forge World default variants (Asylum, Pinnacle, The Cage, Hemorrhage, and Paradiso) in custom games.

    Remember, when you buy ATLAS, you get access to all the Halo: Reach maps. And you only have to buy it once on Android Market or Apple App Store, and you'll have access to it on all of your Apple or Android devices.

  • Halo Waypoint for Windows Phone, iOS, and Android

    The Halo Waypoint app on Windows Phone, iOS, and Android has been updated. In addition to all of the ATLAS goodies mentioned above, we've also made several enhancements to the apps.

    Android: The Android app is now fully compatible with HTC devices and Android tablets. So no matter what Android device is currently in your ever-growing pile of tech toys, you should now be able to enjoy Waypoint!

    iOS: The iOS app is now fully compatible with iPod Touch and iPad 1. Also, we've improved the graphics quality for retina display and added support for multitasking.

    And finally, both the iOS and Android apps are now available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mexico, and Luxembourg.

    To get the update, just visit the Windows Phone Marketplace, Apple App Store, or Android Market, and check for updates.

Halo: Reach Screenshot

343 Industries Community Playdate

On the third or fourth Thursday of every month (and by every, I mean almost every), we host Xbox LIVE Community Playdates. Today is one of those days, so hop online between the hours of 5 and 8 pm Pacific Time, and send an Xbox LIVE text message to any of the following gamertags if you'd like to participate. We'll be Reaching it up, so make sure that disc is already spinning in your tray before sending your message.

Please note there is a teeny tiny chance you might get driven off a cliff, betrayed by a teammate, or suffer hearing loss due to constant high-pitched squealing if you find yourself in a lobby with me. You have been warned.

Halo 4 Wallpapers

If you somehow managed to stomach my ramblings all the way to this point, I do believe you deserve a little something special. Coincidentally enough, I just happen to have a little something special. Take a gander at the following Halo 4-themed wallpapers, select your preferred size, then right-click and set as background. Oh, yes, it really is that easy!

Halo 4 Wallpaper

Halo 4 Wallpaper

Halo 4 Wallpaper

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to dust off my DMR. I'll see you either on the virtual battlefields later this evening, or next week for yet another untimely edition of your Halo Bulletin. Until then....

bs angel

P.S. If your personal computer is capable of handling just a little more excitement today, feel free to adorn the latest Friday Caption Fun picture directly to your desktop. Then contribute your witty quip to the latest round of caption festivities. Off you go!

Friday Caption Fun

P.P.S. Needz moar codpiece. That is all.

bs angel loves neoGAF