The lights are on
We met with 343 Industries for a presentation on The Halo Channel and Halo: The Master Chief Collection and came away with new info not included in Microsoft's press conference.
First off, The Halo Channel. 343 sees the channel as a different way to enter the Halo universe. The main guide area of the channel includes the following tabs: featured, queue, originals, news, games, e-sports, and play Halo. It's got a constant live feed in addition to video on demand. It also keeps track of all of your Halo stats and achievements, including rewards granted for watching the weekly 343-produced Halo Bulletin and shows like Forward Unto Dawn and the new Halo Nightfall. While you're watching these videos, you can check out related tweets and dig into the explorer, which brings up details on characters appearing onscreen. I saw a bio on Master Chief and in his "related items" tab was Cortana. This wiki-style information will be constantly updated as necessary and is made to keep you digging to learn more. During our viewing of Forward Unto Dawn, a notification popped up for a "secondary story," which appeared to be a featurette related to the scene at hand. If the player diverts off and watches it, he or she will receive "reward" credit similar to achievements.
The e-sports tab allows you to tune into Twitch matches to watch pros and friends compete. Realtime stats are fully integrated including team scoring and roster info, kill counts, info on who kill whom, and a live chat section.
Wondering how it all looks in action? Check out the trailer below.
Next up, 343 discussed Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Halo 2 looks to be the star of the collection. You can tap back and forth between the classic and remastered visuals to see the impressive new details. Unlike the remastered Halo 1 released on 360, this swap happens instantaneously instead of relying on a slow fade. Original and completely revamped audio change back and forth with this toggle as well. Six of Halo 2's multiplayer maps will be remastered (the original versions will be included as well) including Sanctuary in the trailer below. Surprisingly, Halo 2's multiplayer ranking system will apply to all four games in the collection, replacing their previous core systems. 343 hired Blur to redo all of Halo 2's cinematics and I'm already sold. The brief clip from late in the game looked amazing, with Cortana's facial animations looking the best they ever have.
We also got a look at Halo 3. Even though it's nice to see it in 1080p running at 60fps, it's hard to compare it to the fully remastered Halo 2. An early cutscene shows Sgt. Johnson's crudely detailed face and the environments don't shine as well despite new lighting, shadow, and water effects. We didn't get to see Halo 4's similarly updated look, but since the base game is far more recent it should hold up better to the conversion.