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10 October 2012
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The Halo Bulletin: 10.10.12

10. October 2012 22:00

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto


Much like a Hunter, our studio is made up of many moving parts right now. So many, in fact, that it's near impossible to keep up with everything.

Last week delivered a new book (Halo: The Thursday War, by Karen Traviss), the chance to win some amazing prizes (Halo 4 Soundtrack Remix Contest), and the premiere of our live-action web series (Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn). Between the new Forge information and video prologue for Halo 4's Domain Terminals (both of which were released yesterday), along with the second episode of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (which releases Friday morning at 3AM PT), this week is slated to be just as crazy. Some would even call it cray cray (Frankie, I may or may not be looking at you).

Enough with the recap, though. You're well aware of the fact that the next 26 days will be chock-full of new and exciting Halo stuff ("stuff" being everything from a new BTS [NYCC!] to a new trailer [DAVID FINCHER!] to an out-of-this-world launch event [UNDISCLOSED LOCATION ON EARTH!]), so let's slow it down a bit and talk about just one thing, that one thing being the Halo 4 progression system.

Wait, I just realized I used "out-of-this-world" and "undisclosed location on Earth" to describe the same place. I also used an overabundance of both parenthesis and brackets in a single sentence. Apparently I'm just that good. /takes a bow

Anyway, back to the Halo 4 progression system. While we've discussed bits and pieces of it, there has yet to be a comprehensive breakdown of the entirety of that system in a single place. I would say that's about to change, but everybody knows I'm not all that comprehensive. So here comes a semi-comprehensive breakdown of the Halo 4 progression system! (Hey, don't look at me like that. I could just talk about eels or how Josh Holmes was recently interviewed by a robot named Darren who had spaghetti spatulas for hands. I'll spare you both stories, though, 'cause I'm nice like that. You're welcome.)


Halo 4 Progression System

Halo 4 Screenshot

The UNSC Infinity is your gateway to the Infinity Multiplayer experience in Halo 4 and serves as the center of your Spartan career. Here you will build your custom Spartan-IV super-soldier, and progress your multiplayer career across both Spartan Ops and War Games modes. You'll start your career as a Spartan-IV, with a limited amount of choices. As you level up, that will slowly unfold into a large amount of choices. The pace with unlocks will be regular, but not so fast that it causes confusion.

When designing the progression system for Halo 4, our primary goal was to give progress more meaning, and in order to do that, the player's progress has to impact gameplay. In Halo 4, we primarily do this by allowing the progression system to modify the weapons and abilities the player can take into battle, empowering player choice, and exposing more elements of the sandbox to more players.

As you progress through your multiplayer career, you unlock items that allow you to build the character and experience you want. The things you really desire, such as the Battle Rifle and DMR, you'll gain access to fairly quickly. Some of the more difficult choices you'll face, such as which Specialization to tackle first, come later. All of these things give you the ability to tailor your experience and focus on your favorite parts of the sandbox more than ever before.

How quickly you progress through your career will partly depend on your skill. Skilled players will rank up faster, as you get more XP for winning matches. It's also worth noting that quitters do not get game completion XP. They can progress commendations and challenges, but they will not get partial XP at the end of the game (AHEM).

Below is a breakdown of the Halo 4 progression system.


Spartan-IV Career

Halo 4 Screenshot

When you first enter Infinity Multiplayer, you automatically enlist into the SPARTAN-IV program and begin your Spartan career. This career spans all of your gameplay in War Games, Spartan Ops, Forge and Theater.

New SPARTAN-IV recruits are issued the following gear:

  • Assault Rifle
  • Magnum
  • Frag Grenade
  • Recruit Armor, Emblem, Visor and Stance

Stances are a new customization option that let you select a pose for your Spartan on your Player Card. This card is seen in every multiplayer lobby in the game and is how your Spartan is identified outside of gameplay.

You will have to rise up through the Spartan ranks to unlock more gear and make your way through the SPARTAN-IV program.


Spartan-IV Ranks

Halo 4 Screenshot

Spartans begin their career in the base SPARTAN-IV ranks. There are 50 ranks to work your way through, from SR-1 to SR-50, unlocking gameplay and visual customization items as you rank up.

To rank up, you need to earn XP. You earn XP by:

  • Playing War Games (earn more for winning and high personal score)
  • Playing Spartan Ops (earn more for higher difficulties)
  • Completing each level of a Commendation
  • Completing Challenges
  • Using Forge

At each rank, you will earn one or more Spartan Points (SP). SP are used to purchase gameplay items for your personal loadouts. Once you purchase an item, it can be used in any of your loadouts.

The Spartan Point system is based around offering choice at each rank. The full suite of gameplay items is available for purchase by SR-26 but you won't have enough SP to buy everything until SR-50. It's up to you to decide the order in which you want to build up the arsenal for your Spartan-IV.



Halo 4 Screenshot

Each loadout contains a Primary Weapon, Secondary Weapon, Grenade, Armor Ability, Tactical Package and Support Upgrade. As you rank up, you will gain access to the Armor Ability slot (SR-3), the Tactical Package slot (SR-7), and the Support Upgrade slot (SR-12).

We have default loadouts in our War Games playlists to give you a preview of these items before you reach those ranks, and to offer an alternative to your own custom loadouts.

Over the course of the SPARTAN-IV ranks, you also unlock four extra loadouts (at SR-6, SR-14, SR-26 and SR-41) for a total of five loadouts. You can rename these loadouts, so pick names that match the role or gear for that particular loadout.

Decades from now, when historians evaluate the war, what will they say about us? Will they claim that our victory was ultimately fruitless? That it failed to secure a lasting peace, or worse, that it was only a prelude to far greater horrors that now lay ahead?

Visual Customization

Halo 4 Screenshot

All Spartan-IVs start out with the same Recruit look. As you rank up, this is reflected in the look of your Spartan, which is visible to other players in gameplay and every Multiplayer lobby.

Visual customization items such as Armor, Armor Skins, Weapon Skins, Visors, Emblems and Stances are unlocked through several means:

  • Earning a specific SR rank
  • Earning a specific rank in a Specialization
  • Mastering a Commendation
  • Completing a Waypoint goal

When you meet the prerequisite, you will gain access to the items automatically; you do not need to spend Spartan Points.

My hope - OUR HOPE - is that history would instead view this war as a catalyst. That the last thirty years were a crucible, a threshing floor for our species, sifting out our fears and frailties. And that ultimately it made us stronger and more vigilant in the end, fully prepared for whatever will come next. After all, what good is struggle if there is no change? What good is a fire if the sword is not made stronger?


Halo 4 Screenshot

Once you hit SR-50, you have the option to enlist in a new Specialization. You can choose which of the available Specializations to enlist in.

Specializations are composed of ten levels each. As you rank up in Specializations, you will unlock new armor sets, emblems, visor colors, armor and weapon skins and armor mods - which provide even more options to customize your Spartan-IV to fit your preferred role on the battlefield.

Once you commit to a Specialization, you have to complete it before switching to a new one. It will take roughly as long to complete a Specialization as it does to go from SR-40 to SR-50.

All players have access to two Specializations at launch:

  • Wetwork: WK-1 to WK-10
  • Pioneer: PR-1 to PR-10

The rest, which are listed below, will gradually be made available in the months following launch. We will be keeping a close watch on player participation post-launch and will roll out the additional six Specializations when the player base reaches certain milestones. Purchasers of the Limited Edition and pre-orders in certain territories have launch day access to the remaining six Specializations - although you still need to complete the initial 50 Ranks before you can enlist in one.

  • Engineer: EN-1 to EN-10
  • Tracker: TK-1 to TK-10
  • Rogue: RG-1 to RG-10
  • Stalker: SK-1 to SK-10
  • Pathfinder: PT-1 to PT-10
  • Operator: OP-1 to OP-10

Other players will be able to see your overall progress through the Specializations by your SR rank. This keeps going up by one each time you earn a Specialization rank, all the way up to SR-130. There might be a reward or two waiting for those who hit SR-130!

Attached are four reports accounting the major contingency structures our species currently faces in the wake of the war. Please evaluate them closely. Their outcomes will dictate how history views us, or if history even views us at all.


Halo 4 Screenshot

Halo 4 features over 120 commendations covering a wide variety of activities (per weapon, per enemy type and per game type, for example). There are commendations based around earning specific medals, and we also have aggregators that require you to master multiple commendations to complete them. Commendations also have a variable number of levels.

Certain Commendations can award visual customization items when you master them. To master a Commendation, you need to have earned its highest level.

We see the Commendation system as the long-term progression with the most exclusive items. Most players will still be mastering Commendations well after completing the Specializations.

Xenomorphic element [2/5]
Martial element [3/5]
Provenancial element [4/5]
Primogeniture element [5/5]


Halo 4 Screenshot

Like Commendations, Challenges have been expanded in Halo 4. We not only have daily content, but also a weekly and monthly cadence as well, giving players ample time to complete different challenges with varying levels of difficulty.

Challenges are divided into four categories:

  • Campaign
    • 2 Weekly Challenges
  • War Games
    • 2 Daily Challenges
    • 2 Weekly Challenges
    • 1 Monthly Challenge
  • Spartan Ops
    • 6 Challenges
  • Waypoint
    • Exclusive daily challenges for War Games

If you're looking to get a jump start on your career, you'll definitely want to stick around for the next segment of the Bulletin, because it's about to get all double XP up in here.

As Machiavelli once said: "the Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others."

Mountain Dew and Doritos Double XP Program

Mountain Dew and Doritos Double XP Program

If you're anything like me, your gaming experience consists of a couch, your controller, several servings of caffeine and a bowl of munchies (yes, I left out the trash talking, but only because it's a given). Assuming you have similar interests, you'll be excited to hear about the Mountain Dew and Doritos Double XP program.

To participate, open an account at DEWXP.com or DORITOSXP.com. There you'll be able to unlock and load future XP matches that can be redeemed to amplify the Halo 4 Multiplayer experience, accelerate Halo 4 specializations, and reveal brand new gear and weapons. Cool, right?

To reap the benefits of Double XP, follow these four steps:

  1. Register at DEWXP.com or DORITOSXP.com.
  2. Pick up specially-marked packages of DEW and bags of DORITOS chips.
  3. Enter the on-pack codes into your account, as of October 15, 2012, at DEWXP.com or DORITOSXP.com to load up on matches of Double XP.
  4. Pick up Halo 4 on November 6 and begin pushing Double XP matches to your Xbox LIVE Gamertag via DEWXP.com or DORITOSXP.com.

In addition, Double XP value is unlocked when Mountain Dew and Doritos chips are purchased together.

  • Unlock and load Mega XP at Walmart - specially-marked 24-packs of Mountain Dew and 10½ or 11½ oz. bags of Doritos chips will offer Mega XP - 12 matches of Double XP. Also, for a limited time, Halo 4 games sold at Walmart will include an insert with a unique code. Pair that unique code with the Double XP codes found on a 24-pack of Mountain Dew and specially-marked 10½ or 11½ oz. bags of Doritos chips and unlock a total of 38 matches of Double XP.
  • Beginning in late October, unlock Double XP matches, Halo 4 game content, and badges at any 7-11 nationwide with an exclusive 'King of the Hill' mobile app and the purchase of Mountain Dew and Doritos chips.

For complete details, visit DEWXP.com or DORITOSXP.com. And regardless of whether you plan on taking advantage of this opportunity or not, you should probably start stockpiling an assortment of food and beverages. Your groceries aren't going to buy themselves come November 6, you know.

Likewise, we must deal with these issues head-on, without fear and without hesitation. We can afford no other stance.

UNSC Infinity and UNSC Forward Unto Dawn

UNSC Infinity and UNSC Forward Unto Dawn

If you have a thing for vessels, you are definitely going to find this portion of the Bulletin to be "the ship" (see what I did there?). With all the talk about the UNSC Infinity (which serves as the center of your Spartan career) and the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn (hello, live-action web series!), I thought it would be fun to take a deep dive into both. The above image shows just how big Infinity is compared to a measly frigate, and the below text provides more information than you could ever want, and then some. Enjoy!

CLASS: Infinity
SUBLIGHT CONFIGURATION: XR2 Boglin Fields: S81/X-DFR (Deuterium Fusion Reactor)
SECONDARY ARMAMENT: M42 Archer (350 pods x 24 missiles)
TERTIARY ARMAMENT: M75 Rapier (250 pods x 30 missiles)
QUATERNARY ARMAMENT: M96 Howler (500 pods x 20 missiles)
QUINARY ARMAMENT: M965 Fortress 70mm Point Defense Network (830 guns)

A warship unparalleled in human innovation, UNSC Infinity is easily the largest and most powerful vessel ever employed by Earth. Although it was originally designed to contend with the Covenant, the war's end recommissioned Infinity for peaceful exploration and research - until it discovered the Forerunner world of Requiem and was mercilessly pulled into the maw of the planet. Now, the fate of Infinity and its crew is inexorably tied to that of the Master Chief, as the ending of a 100,000-year story finally takes shape.

CLASS: Charon (Light Frigate)
SUBLIGHT CONFIGURATION: Naoto Technologies: V4/L-DFR (Deuterium Fusion Reactor)
PRIMARY ARMAMENT: Mark II, Light Coil - 83B6R3/MAC (Magnetic Accelerator Cannon)
SECONDARY ARMAMENT: M58 Archer Missile Delivery System (50 pods)
TERTIARY ARMAMENT: M870 Rampart 50mm Point Defense Guns (4 guns)
QUATERNARY ARMAMENT: M4093 Hyperion Nuclear Delivery System (3 silos)

Classical light frigate design, the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn is most renowned for its service on the frontlines in defense of Earth and its pursuit of Covenant forces through the Forerunner portal at Voi. There, the Dawn fought alongside a renegade Sangheili fleet and defeated the Covenant, ultimately bringing an end to the war. Unfortunately, upon its return to Earth, the ship was rent in two while passing through a collapsing slipspace portal, sending the fore of the vessel back to Earth, while the aft section, containing the Master Chief and Cortana, absently floated in uncharted space for years.


Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Blu-Ray and DVD

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Blu-Ray and DVD

Last Friday saw the premiere of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, and in two days you will be treated to Part 2. The second episode is similar to the first, in terms of character and plot development, however it does bring you one step closer to the moment the excrement hits the fan. We know you're anxious for some action and there is plenty of that coming, so let's just say the wait will be well worth it...

Many of you have been asking when Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is releasing on Blu-Ray and DVD, and we finally have the answer for you: December 4, 2012. With the release of the Blu-Ray and DVD, you will be able to enjoy the entire film uninterrupted, plus the complete collection of bonus footage - including over 60 minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Blu-Ray and DVD offer the Complete Collection of Bonus Features including:

  • Over 60 minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Storyline vignettes
  • Audio commentary by 343 Industries
  • Audio commentary by Director Stewart Hendler
  • Concept art, visual effects models
  • Easter eggs and more!

The film will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 4, 2012 at an SRP of $28.99 and $22.99 for the DVD. In addition, the film will be available digitally on the same date for rental and purchase.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's some preparation for NYCC that needs to happen. No, I won't be there in person (you got lucky, this time around), however Halo 4 and an assortment of 343-ers will be there, providing a rok-ing experience on the floor and a panel that is sure to cause a meltdown or two.

Until next week...

bs angel

P.S. Discuss.