Halo 3 Heroic DLC Hands-On

We've got a sneak preview of the three brand-new maps arriving on Xbox Live Marketplace next week.

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If you thought that with the release of Halo 3 Microsoft and Bungie were done separating you from your money this year, you're in for a bit of a surprise on December 11. That's when both companies will release the Heroic downloadable content pack for Halo 3, a collection of three new maps that will cost 800 Microsoft points on Xbox Live Marketplace, or about $10. These new maps aim to flesh out Halo 3's highly popular multiplayer gameplay even further, offering an intense new large-scale battlefield, a deeply modifiable small-scale arena, and a beautiful new outdoor map reminiscent of the popular level Blood Gulch. All three levels are a blast, too, as we had a chance recently to travel up to Bungie's offices and try them out ourselves.

Standoff looks huge, but it's a very intense medium-sized map.

The idea of downloadable content for Halo isn't new; Bungie and MS released similar map packs for Halo 2. In keeping with the tradition established by those map packs, Bungie will eventually release this new Halo 3 map pack for free sometime next year. However, if you want to play them before then, you'll have to pony up. We'll start with Standoff, a gorgeous new midsized map set on the open African plain. From the first moment you see it, you realize just how different it looks from almost every map seen to date, as there's nothing to obstruct the view for miles in any direction. It feels as if it's set under a huge sky, with a setting sun that makes for beautiful lighting effects. The surrounding countryside isn't empty and barren, either, as there are satellite relay stations dominating the horizon. Watch closely and you'll notice that they actually move. Another nice touch is the blinking warning lights on each of the dishes.

Standoff takes place on a UNSC missile base, with two bases facing each other. This map is reminiscent of the levels Valhalla and Blood Gulch thanks to its relatively large outdoor setting and almost perfectly symmetrical nature. It's a fairly wide open space, which would make it perfect for sniping save for one critical feature: Bungie has purposely omitted the sniper rifle on this level. Standoff is designed for intense infantry and vehicle combat with assault and battle rifles, shotguns, and grenades. Each base is equipped with a single Warthog and a handful of Mongooses. A single Spartan Laser lies in the middle between the two bases, while each base also has a rocket launcher located on the outside. These are the primary anti-vehicle weapons for infantry. There's plenty of room to maneuver vehicles, but the middle of the map separating the bases has plenty of large rocks to shield infantry from getting run over.

On objective-based games such as capture the flag and assault, the flag or bomb drop-off spot is located near the primary entrance of each base. However, getting to it is difficult, thanks to the layout of each base. There are actually two front entrances, which makes any direct assault difficult because attackers are funneled into the front of the base. There, they can easily be chewed up by defenders, vehicles, and the machine gun turret located atop each base. There's a back entrance to each base, and the easiest way to get to it is to drive behind the base and jump out. The downside to the back entrance is that you've got to battle your way through narrow corridors to get to the objective. There is an optional side entrance that makes things a lot easier, provided someone on your team can hit the switch inside the base that opens the door to it. Once the side entrance is open, it gives you an easier path to the objective, and gives the defenders yet another opening to worry about.

Standoff is suitable for all the major game types. We played slayer, team slayer, capture the flag, assault, and infection and all of them felt natural on the map. While it's a midsized map, it's still a lot of fun with 16 players; the action is chaotic and fun with a full set. With that said, it's too large for a very small-scale game of something like three-versus-three.

Foundry is a very tight map in its default state, but it can be completely stripped out and made into an open warehouse.

The next map is Foundry, and it's unique among all Halo 3 maps in that it was designed specifically for the Forge, the real-time object editor that lets you modify maps on the fly. Foundry is a relatively small-scale map designed for small three-on-three and four-on-four action. In its default state, it's laid out for a very wild, close-quarters combat experience. Imagine an industrial warehouse filled with giant crates and fenced off in certain locations. We played team slayer, slayer, and territories matches on this level. While it's primarily an infantry level, there is a single Ghost that can absolutely wreak havoc in the hands of the right player. Sure, there are plenty of weapons, like a rocket launcher and sticky grenades to take the Ghost out, but we were still steamrollered more times than we could count by that thing. This is also a very tight level, with narrow corridors on the ground level and plenty of verticality if you get atop some of the crates. Someone with the rocket launcher on a high perch can have a field day.

The special thing about Foundry is that by using the Forge editor, it can be quickly and easily modified in many ways. Strip out all the objects and suddenly you have an empty industrial warehouse, and the possibilities after that are almost endless. The DLC will include some crazy new Forge items as well. One example that Bungie made up for our demonstration was an indoor soccer match, but with a gigantic soccer ball the size of the Master Chief, and the ball is "kicked" using gravity hammers.

Rat's Nest is defined by the track that surrounds this large, indoor level.

The third and last map is by far the largest. It's called Rat's Nest, and it's supposed to help fill out the rotation of Big Team Battle maps. The inspiration for Rat's Nest is Crow's Nest, the single-player level early in the game that's set in a mostly underground UNSC base. Even though it's a large-scale map with plenty of vehicles, it's all set indoors. There are two bases relatively close to each other, but the direct route between them is a small warren of rooms. Meanwhile, a track encircles the entire level, and each base starts out with a couple of Warthogs and Mongooses. The track also cuts through the very middle of the level, separating the bases. There's a catch, though: One side of the map is higher than the other. Depending on which way you drive through the middle, you'll hit a wall or a ledge. You drive off the ledge, but if you try to go the other direction you hit the wall and it's a dead end, literally and probably figuratively, because you've driven into a narrow alley where infantry can pummel you from every angle. If you drive off the ledge, though, you've got to be careful of your speed, because you're in danger of flying off another ledge. That's because the level is built into the side of a cliff, and one side of the map is open to the sky.

The narrowness of the track and the other drivable parts of the level makes Rat's Nest perfect for vehicular carnage. It's like a demolition derby at times, with vehicles slamming into one another. Infantry in the open stand a good chance of getting run down. However, there are plenty of places where the vehicles can't go, like the warren of rooms in the middle. Infantry can also hide atop a large pipe hanging from the ceiling. The middle of the map is also a perfect kill zone, as a gun turret is positioned to sweep the area with fire. A lot of the best goodies, like bubble shields, are also located in the middle, tempting you to venture out in the open for them. We played slayer, team slayer, capture the flag, and infection on this map. Infection was really a blast, thanks to the many hiding places. The gun turret in the middle is on a balcony, making it perfect for a last stand. Or, you can jump in a Mongoose and try to outrun the zombies.

We expect that the new maps will be received warmly. After all, they offer up even more Halo 3 multiplayer action, and that can hardly be called a bad thing. It will certainly be nice to have some more variety in terms of large-scale maps with the addition of Rat's Nest, and Standoff has the potential of being a big fan favorite as well. Finally, Foundry will be fun for small-unit action or for goofing around with the Forge editor. They're all great maps, and they each feel fresh and unique. They'll be made available for purchase and download next week.

Discussion

487 comments
krevneck
krevneck

Ive sadly taken about 5 years of from gaming with alot to catch up on & believe this will be my next game purchase

rockutd
rockutd

Wait like me get this straight, so everytime they create a couple of new maps they are gonna charge?????This SUX.It should be considered some value added thing for purchasing their game. Well i guess thats capitalism...

xocosis
xocosis

i say microsoft takes halo a step higher and lets users upload maps from thier computers using a mod tool, to upload it would cost microsoft points or somethin, just an idea cuz i know that i could make some sick maps witha mod tool.

daniel1201989
daniel1201989

Ill wait for it to be free. Looks good though!

deadshot-1
deadshot-1

Foundry looks similar, like the map The Pit.... but not quite.

bigp31
bigp31

Those maps look cool

hobo290
hobo290

Sounds cool...but I'ma wait....I don't play Halo 3 that much.

twoapenny
twoapenny

I'd like to see them bring out some of the older maps for Halo 3. The new ones don't quite compare with the old ones. However, I haven't tried these new ones yet... so we'll see. =)

darkangel494
darkangel494

i got the maps :) foundry and standoff are really good but rats nest is one of the worst maps on halo 3

Chris_Cheape
Chris_Cheape

All three look kick @$$, can't wait till they come out!

Gadeos
Gadeos

Nah!!! I'll just wait till they're free. Anyway, free should be the standard since we're already paying for online service and paid already for the game (having in mind that so many people will buy'em, and that it's an efford for Bungie programmers, then they should be cheaper)

xxDarkShinobixx
xxDarkShinobixx

Hey konez, guess what? This is business. People work on these maps so they can get made. These people need to be paid so that they'll work to make these maps. A profit also needs to be made on the sale of these maps, otherwise there's no freaking point in making them. You don't like it? Then quit your whining. Go sit in the corner quietly and stop acting like some pathetic little kid that doesn't get his way.

mikekare79
mikekare79

Awesome. I'm buying that at midnight tonight!!!

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

GOOOO Rocket Race!!! I can't wait for these maps.

DarkBankai
DarkBankai

its not about having the money its about other stuff to spend money on like bills.. its just not fair when you pay around 65 dollars for a game and then 3 months later 3 maps come out for ten dollars or whatever the amout and basically to enjoy the game online you have to stay up to date with dlc and that means spending more money everytime a new dlc package is released... with that being said ima still have the maps the first day broke cats get ya money up

cschalluspgh
cschalluspgh

the only people that **** about having to pay for the new maps are the kids with no jobs. seriously, if you havent realized that the xbox and bungie are out for your money, welcome to the real world. and dont hate on halo 3 because they charge you for new maps because call of duty 2 and 3 also released map packs in which they charged money to download. wake up and get a job children.

daydestroyer
daydestroyer

This is Microsoft's test of patience .> j/k I don't own Halo 3 but really wouldn't mind getting it.

CyberCommander1
CyberCommander1

Sellardwellar if you dont like halo 3 then why the hell are you posting here?

sellardwellar
sellardwellar

halo 3... who cares.... cod4 is the best.. and so is crysis... forget that halo garabage... they make u buy the game then they charge u for map levels that should have come with the game anyways... boooo.... Piraters unite...

hydro6666
hydro6666

YES! finally a large outdoor map that isn't marred my a bunch or randomly placed rocks and hills that makes it impossible to maneuver through with a warthog. And the warehouse looks nice also

mikefoy
mikefoy

if you are buying the maps enjoy them while you can before the whinging folk get on with their freebies at some point.

MCHesh420
MCHesh420

I'll wait till they are free i mean there are plenty of games out an/or coming out to keep me busy till the maps become free. I'm still broke from buying the Legendary Box.

JDubs07
JDubs07

These new maps look great.

Travisw190
Travisw190

WoW about time now i got ass 2 kick on new boards o yea i go by the name of GEARSMANco15101 my gamer tag

JonHarre
JonHarre

if u guys are cheap ass people then just wait till the maps come out for free. its not like last time where u had to buy them. they will be in a playlist all their own. it is a huge rip off but the maps and extra forge items will be kickass. dont **** about it just be patient. the old maps arent that bad. they just get old pretty quick. so keep the negative comments to urself

Hat_Damage
Hat_Damage

These look like some solid maps, unlike the **** maps they gave us

konez
konez

So let me get this straight... We pay $60, $70 or $130 for a game, then they want us to pay $10 for what equates to about 1/20 of the game size for these maps.... RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!!!!

ghostjr
ghostjr

In the map Foundry, you can actually play Spartan Soccer with Gravity Hammers and a Large Soccer ball it looks very fun.

Spartan-4295
Spartan-4295

teh best halo3 map is GUARDIAN!!!FTW!!! construct,narrows,isolation,epitaph,snowbound, all suck very badly!!!

Qwagod
Qwagod

All the people who defend the maps being sold for 10 bucks have been lost to the bungie plauge and no longer has a mind of thier own.

JEEBUS_BOGONDO
JEEBUS_BOGONDO

nope too bad. I'm not paying 10 bucks for 3 maps!!! they'll be free later anyways.

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

I don't really play Halo 3 anymore so I'm not torn between choices here.

Wezker619
Wezker619

Dude these maps should be free they only give only like 11 maps but is really only like 8 maps because no one likes playing Construct, Isolation and Eptiaph. Sounds like Bungie is trying to rip people off again. Call of duty 4 gave you 16 MAPS and 9vs9 multiplayer.

strawberry9
strawberry9

I really like the Foundry map... you can play soccer on it... with a huge soccer ball and a gravity hammer for each player. Check it out at bungie.net

ScionofEntropy
ScionofEntropy

It's not like $10 is a huge sum of money, people, and for how fun the latter two look, I'd say it's more than worth the relatively low cost.

tge4
tge4

I'm pretty content with the maps they already have. If I get some Microsoft points for Christmas I'd definently get it though.

maxglazer
maxglazer

its really funny reading through peoples comments, you have the people who are like "10 dollars for three maps no way" and that could mean either mean awesome or sucks. So now it seems like people are cheap, is 10 dollars really a lot of money? and if it is who cares it'll become free eventually. This is for the people who love Halo 3 like me and don't constantly buy more games (Which are also probably the people who are cheap and don't want to pay for content) Kind of hypocrites huh? Well whatever it's just kind of fun reading through this. Personally I'm going to buy it, I don't buy a lot of games and when I get a good game I like to get the most out of it and will pay to get the most out of it.

connor93
connor93

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

commaneR
commaneR

Out of all the maps I think I'm most excited to play on Foundry, and the other maps all look really good to. I wouldn't mind paying the 10 dollars for some extra Halo 3 fun :] but who knows, maybe I'll just be patient and wait for them to be free.

Taginuse
Taginuse

Instead of spending 10 dollars here, I spent 15 on xbox originals, you may regret those 3 new maps, but I will never regret buying Psychonauts.

Zestytoaster
Zestytoaster

im particularly excited for rat's nest, as rocket race is one of the more fun types if you have a friend. however, i just bought call of duty so ill be good with that till the new maps are free... in no way does three maps interest me enough to spend $3 each... i dont know. but im not paying.

jesus_markii
jesus_markii

lighting every one whos been following the map pack will already know that there free in spring infact any one who plays halo should know all i hear when i go on is kids screaming maps are free in spring, kinda irritating

KingSigy
KingSigy

These maps look very good. It's much better than the default map list, since most of those levels are garbage.

vidiofreak
vidiofreak

Look good. And i think the BR spawn slayer games will do real well on these maps.

Lightning318
Lightning318

Did you people read the first few lines, yes there will be a charge but only for a short time and then they become free. "Bungie will eventually release this new Halo 3 map pack for free sometime next year."

dagamedudeguy13
dagamedudeguy13

You people are a bunch of brainless tightwads, i agree with dagamedudeguy10 .

dagamedudeguy10
dagamedudeguy10

I think you are all absolutley INSANE!!!!!! 3 new Halo maps that are completely awesome for ONLY TEN DOLLARS! If it was 20 or 30 dollars, then it would be a rip-off, but 10 dollars is a steal. You people are horribly cheap, although very patient. I have every halo game, and I got them all the day they came out. I have been playing h3 since it was released, and am still not bored of it, and 3 new maps will just add to the fun!

Ced_Quijote
Ced_Quijote

pizzajon, good thinking. however your logic is somewhat flawed in that what you normally put on file-sharing is map-VARIANTS, meaning that every time you down-load one, you're just getting a configuration of items, rather than a complete map. Also, M$'s ass is water-tight. can't hurt to try, though.