Our second day at E3 was an eventful one rife with exclusive sessions and hands-on coverage. One of the sessions that MediaStinger got access to in a private Microsoft room above the showroom floor was a special presentation behind closed doors led by 343 Industries’ Franchise Development Director, Frank O’Connor, and Executive Producer, Dan Ayoub. Microsoft Game Studios’ internal developers, in charge of all upcoming Halo projects, focused their presentation on revealing additional details on this fall’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Set to release on November 15 to celebrate the original title that started it all ten years ago, Halo: Anniversary is a fully revamped remake with remastered visual and audio. To instantly demonstrate the difference that a decade has made, Dan showed off Anniversary‘s Classic mode, which players can quickly toggle on and off in the pause menu. Gamers feeling particularly nostalgic can even play the entire game with retro graphics.
343 Industries centralized their efforts on primarily the looks and sounds of Anniversary because according to Dan, “Priority one was not to screw with the gameplay. Halo: Anniversary runs Halo‘s original code and will feel and play exactly like it did ten years ago… meaning the Magnum is back in all its badass glory.”
But unlike the original, Anniversary will include 2-player online co-op, 1000 points of achievements, Reach-style and Reach-engine-powered multiplayer (jetpacks confirmed) on graphically updated fan-favorite maps (but no Classic mode option here), and newly incorporated terminals. Easter eggs previously seen in Halo 3, these hidden terminals together will reward players with additional backstory that will provide insight into Halo 4.
When somebody else asked whether 343 Industries is feeling a lot of pressure from taking over Halo 4 from Bungie, Frank ensured that 343 is full of “diehard fans that are working extremely hard” to deliver an unforgettable experience. When I asked if they’ve given any consideration to giving Halo 2 the Anniversary treatment, Dan avoided my question and said that Anniversary is the “culmination of a promise to fan demand.” I think he still might’ve been upset because earlier he had called me out on texting five feet away during his presentation; I was taking notes to write this, man!
The team clarified that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will be sold as a physical disc for $39.99 and that more features will be revealed at Halo Fest from August 26-28, when perhaps we’ll see whether the remake goes beyond a glorified franchise-milking placeholder this year between last year’s Halo: Reach and next year’s recently announced Halo 4. Until then, you can get more info on Anniversary at the official site here.