As part of its most recent weekly update, Bungie Software announced that "will be some pretty BIG surprises and maybe announcements," on November 15, the fifth anniversary of the release of Halo. The news caused followers of the flagship Xbox, PC, and soon Xbox 360 franchise to go wild, prompting predictions of everything from a ship-date announcement to a demo going up on Xbox Live Marketplace.
Guess what? As it turns out, everyone was wrong. Early this morning, Bungie's parent company Microsoft announced that next spring, it will stage an open beta test for the multiplayer aspects of Halo 3. "The Xbox Live multiplayer public beta, which is a prerelease version of the multiplayer experience of Halo 3, is scheduled for availability in spring 2007 exclusively on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system," Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft gave no further details about the Halo 3 beta, but did divulge some information about the PR campaign for the eagerly awaited game, due sometime in 2007. On December 4, a single advertisement for the game will be shown during an airing of Monday Night Football on ESPN. "The ad...will provide viewers with a unique and compelling look at Master Chief and the world of Halo 3," Microsoft said in a statement, giving no further details.
Microsoft announced today that Halo 2, the massive Xbox hit which has seen 4 billion Xbox Live games played to date, will also be getting a series of "all-new multiplayer maps" next spring. However, unlike previous Halo 2 downloads, the new maps will only be available to Xbox 360 owners. Previously, a set of maps were offered for both download on Xbox Live to regular Xbox owners and also via a $19.99 boxed retail game disc.