Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack Hands-On

We head to Bungie and spend the day running and gunning through three new multiplayer maps.

With the release of Halo Wars right around the corner and Halo 3: ODST scheduled for release later this year, 2009 is shaping up to be a big year for Halo fans. Equally exciting for many Halo-philes is the looming release of the Mythic Map Pack, a group of three all-new Halo 3 multiplayer maps. We recently took a jaunt up to Bungie Studios in Kirkland, Washington and spent a day running and gunning our way around the new maps. Two of them provided exciting new battlegrounds for the game's frenetic action, whereas the third aims to capitalize on the creative power of Forge and the Halo 3 community. No matter whether you're up to date on the official Grifball rules or haven't touched Halo 3 in months, you'll want to hear what each of these new maps has in store.

There are plenty of ways to make your way around Assembly.

The first map that we played was Assembly, a circular, open arena situated inside a massive Covenant structure. Assembly gets its name from the Scarab assembly line that passes overhead, and if you spend enough time gazing at the massive, intricate alien scenery, you're sure to see an unfinished hull on its way to get some legs. The structure is immersed in a vast pool of glowing goo, but try to investigate and you'll fall to your death. The map feels a bit like Midship (a Halo 2 map) turned inside out, though the level designers were quick to assure us that the Mythic map pack features no remakes.

Assembly is structured around a large central chamber in which you can find a needler, a mauler, active camo, and the gravity hammer. The glowing tube that houses the active camo will deflect projectiles, but it functions less as a safe haven than as a deterrent to shooting through the central chamber. The chamber has two floors, and four elevated walkways radiate out from the chamber to the rim of the arena. These walkways provide good opportunities to traverse the map quickly and rain down bullets and grenades on ground-floor opponents. At the same time, elevated enemies are more exposed, and players on the ground have a wealth of cover to keep them protected. It's easy to jump between these levels, making for dynamic firefights in which players snake their way up, around, and under in pursuit of a kill.

Plenty of equipment, weapons, and grenades can be found in this area, but the deadlier elements are located on the periphery. Brute shots and the plasma pistol/magnum combo can be found adjacent to the two bases that sit on opposite sides of the map. Each base has two interior levels that you can negotiate via ramps and a gravity lift. The most explosive weapon on the map, the rocket launcher, is perched atop a tower that sits on the rim of the map, between the two bases. Accessible by gravity lift or a sneakier side ramp, the rocket platform is quite exposed, so you'll have to decide if it's worth the risk. Assembly's circular layout and small size make it a great choice for frantic Free for Alls and Team Slayer matches. Objective-based variants such as Oddball and Capture the Flag will also make for some fierce action, reminiscent of the Warlock map from Halo 2.

Long corridors are perfect for a nimble vehicle like the Mongoose, right?

For the next map, Bungie ditched the purple curves of the Covenant for the gray corridors of humanity. Orbital is set on the Quito Space Tether, and you'll notice similarities to the Cairo Station level from the Halo 2 campaign. Long corridors crowded with crates are the primary battlefields, but the two bases offer cramped multilevel arenas for intense showdowns. The corridor combat makes Orbital reminiscent of Halo: CE's Longest map, but the layout is a bit more complex. Orbital is essentially two long, U-shaped corridors placed on top of one another and then slightly offset. There are bases at either end of the U's, and teams can see one another through windows, giving a possible advantage to the team on the upper level who can easily scout their opponent's base.

The base areas also have large blast doors that can close, offering a nice strategic twist to the proceedings, and a pair of Mongooses let skilled drivers traverse the small map in seconds. However, abundant crates and tight corners aren't the only obstacles, given that you'll have to mind the large pit at the curve of the U-shaped corridors. The rocket launcher and sniper rifle assure that this area will be hotly contested, making the seemingly small pit more of a hazard. The small, asymmetrical layout makes Orbital ideally suited for tactical Team Slayer battles and One Flag CTF matches. The cluttered, surprisingly detailed hallways ensure that though victory won't be easily won, you can at least learn a bit about famous human engineers while you play.

The third and final map, Sandbox, is in a class by itself. Whereas Orbital and Assembly are focused on fast-paced action, Sandbox fancies itself the ultimate Forge playground. When Foundry was released as part of the Heroic Map Pack, its Forge friendliness spawned a huge community outpouring of map designs, game variants, and downright wackiness. Building on the success of its conceptual predecessor, the Sandbox map offers three unique arenas to play with, each with different characteristics to cater to the Forge-happy community.

The relatively simple layout makes Sandbox all the more constructible.

The first is a flat, open area surrounded by banked sand dunes and situated inside of a massive, sandy bowl. Ringing the bowl are massive monoliths that will blast you to smithereens if you venture too far into the sand, and their black masses stand in stark contrast to the smoldering sunset on the horizon. It's a beautiful, otherworldly place that suits its malleable nature. In the tiled ground-floor area, there are a number of massive blocks arranged in symmetrical patterns. Two bases at either end house the two teams, and the area feels uniquely suited for vehicle play. The default deployment features two Mongooses, a Warthog, and a Brute Chopper, but other vehicles can easily be included through Forge.

This open area features a central obelisk that holds more than the Overshield perched atop of it; it's also the gateway to the large, underground vault. Removing a key stone in Forge will let you fly down a tunnel to a wide-open arena custom-made for Grifball, a popular variant of Assault that plays a bit like rugby with gravity hammers. The high ceilings and ample floor space are perfect for crafting unique Grifball courts, but even the empty arena makes for some great matches.

The last area of Sandbox is a vast, open grid that sits in the sky above the dunes and vehicles of the ground level. Accessed via teleporter in Forge, the skybox is a blank slate just waiting for Forge enthusiasts. It is much larger than even the expansive space below, and considering that falling from a structure here will kill you, it offers Forgers a unique mapmaking opportunity. Anything from Mongoose obstacle courses to remakes of old levels to entirely new creations is possible here.

You could make anything in Sandbox. Even the world's worst minigolf course.

The three areas of Sandbox each offer unique creation opportunities, and new Forge items such as a golf set complete with club, ball, and hole are just the icing on the cake. There is incredible potential for new game and map variants, and Bungie is planning on promoting the best ones so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of Halo 3's vibrant community.

The Mythic Map Pack will be available to folks who purchase a Limited Edition copy of Halo Wars (out March 3rd in the US). Everyone else will have to wait until the pack hits Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 points sometime this spring.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

124 comments
diablo8514
diablo8514

everyone try not argueing sure editors are great but stop argueing. i've played battlefield 2 and i agree. far cry instincts predator or i think it's predator instincts has a great map editor have'nt tried far cry 2. either way i hope sand box is worth 800microsoft points. as the other 2 look boring.

12345678ew
12345678ew

and roemdawg, even on a console it would only take maybe 20 buttons. hold x and drag to raise terrain, hold square and drag to lower it, drag and drop textures, and an edge editor that only has orthographic views, like little big planet (yes, i did bring little big planet up, deal with it)

12345678ew
12345678ew

there are such great map creating tools. for 99 cents you can buy a 2005 pc game called battlefield 2. the game itself isn't that good, but it has over 400 mods, including a terrain editor and a mod called sandbox, that lets you place objects from the game and build forts with them. you can use the terrain editor, put your map on your server or send it to somebody else's server and play sandbox on your own map. and of course, it's simple, a button for each thing to create, plus 16 for general settings and moving things.

roemdawg
roemdawg

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

bennae66
bennae66

halo wars was ok, not a purchase for me tho. but i will certainly get this map pack. dont flame bungie for including it with halo wars, thats a clever cross promotion. you have options, use them. never complain about options.

thk123
thk123

@ xtremeflem2day Bungie don't even make Halo Wars, I doubt they'll get a significant portion of the profit... If you want to attack Bungie, don't buy the map packs. But honestly, why do you care?

moose_knuckler
moose_knuckler

@xtremeflem2day What's with the caps? Also, just because gamespot posted a controversial (and stupid in my opinion) rating for halo wars doesn't mean it's good considering every other website is posting 4.5/5 (gamespy) and 9 or 9.25 (gameinformer). Besides Bungie isn't ripping you off, if you want all the maps coming wait for Halo 3:ODST, Get some of maps with Halo Wars, just buy them ahead of time, or wait til they're free. Since they're not giving you an ultimadum, I don't think they're ripping you off.

StarlightHunter
StarlightHunter

looks good but no thanks, i would rather buy the pitt DLC for FO3 and the nazi zombie maps on WAW.

xtremeflem2day
xtremeflem2day

btw, i doubt the sandbox will really allow you to do anything great, someday there will be a map maker that allows you to make makes like the ones given, not just place objects on it. They need you to really be able to design you own buildings, and terrain, and i hope this is provided in sandbox, but i wouldnt get my hopes up.

xtremeflem2day
xtremeflem2day

DONT BUY HALO WARS. THIS IS JUST BUNGIE TRYING TO GET A BIGGER PAYCHECK BY RIPPING YOU OFF, HALO WARS IS FINE BUT NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT IT 6.5 OUT OF 10.

xtremeflem2day
xtremeflem2day

patients my friends, patients. if it came out now, it would probably suck. but if we wait a bit.... things will turn out great. the map packs just seem to be getting better and better.

datniccah187
datniccah187

Wow i'm going to have to wait until sometime this spring. Thats dissapointing i thought the map pack came out for everyone on March 3rd. I don't know if i want to buy Halo Wars just to get the map pack, and even if i do i'm sure not a lot of people will have the map pack and be playing online. Guess i'm going to have to just wait and see.

advocacy
advocacy

Want this now, very badly!!!

rabbitcancer
rabbitcancer

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

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

well, looks like i gotta enjoy me some Lost and Damned and then break out the old Halo 3 disc.

shenron43
shenron43

sounds like its pretty solid.

Jak_Napier
Jak_Napier

i like the whole sandbox feel. almost reminds me of little big planet level creation, but not as vibrant and colourful.

Koruptshin
Koruptshin

when will the maps come out and will bungie revive marathon stay and find out on GAMESPOT

batmanboy11
batmanboy11

Not that I didn't like the previous Halo 3 DLC I think this will own the other two map packs...

Niffirg6
Niffirg6

kewl stuff. i wonder, besides ODST, what game bungie will make next....

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Freakin' awesome. I look forward to these maps as well as to Halo Wars.

ljl1771
ljl1771

looks good. i hope but i dont play halo 3 anymore anyways

iuns
iuns

Aha i'm loving all the halo hating. Call of duty and halo are both good games, and both require skill, but call of duty just requires decent reflexes, i'm on fith prestige and have a K/D of over two. On halo i've got over 700 exp, and have a K/D of just over one. So personally, i've got to agree that halo takes more skill, its not just about flicking the analog and pressing the trigger once.

ElChino223
ElChino223

halo 3 sucks halo one is the only good one.

brentredinger
brentredinger

gnrlstuart: Looks like you played cod just long enough to die twice. I play both games they both require "skill." Define skill by the way... are we talking about tactical knowhow, experience, twitch, teamwork? Help me out here.

gnrlstuart
gnrlstuart

yaay, btw halo haters, people that play halo and not cod prefer the skill based game of halo rather than running around like a mouse and shooting people before they shoot you.

Teka522001
Teka522001

@roflmuffins8 Halo 3 was released iat the end of 2007 which means bungie have had a year and a few months to develop a new game right? Well a year and a few months is not nearly enough to make another big game like Halo 3. They have said before that they have other projects on the go currently. This means your an idiot =]

Peaches1347
Peaches1347

eehhh maybe i might get them, but theres so many other great games beside halo.

DonDeCairo
DonDeCairo

I couldnt agree with you more Kvan

kvan33
kvan33

I used to love Halo multiplayer, then I played COD4. It was nice to be able to kill someone without having to beat them over the head with a melee attack. I think Bungie has lost me until they retool their franchise.

Chico_Azteca
Chico_Azteca

Assembly looks like that level in Star Fox Assasult before the Great Fox is destroyed

mr0806
mr0806

nice and with odst and the rest of the maps being released its gonna be sick year for bungie...

swamptick
swamptick

Looks good. Bungie has never let us down yet! Keep it comming guys.

roflmuffins8
roflmuffins8

Bungie can keep releasing content for Halo 3 as long as they want, but they seriously need to make a new game series. They released Halo 3 in 2007 as the end of the trilogy, and they haven't made a game outside the Halo universe since then. Bungie is perfectly capable of making another blockbuster series judging by what they've done with Halo...so why not?

JB2B
JB2B

From the pics the level design has a little Unreal feeling to it. Which isn't a bad thing. But I'm not going to pay for this, I just wait until they release it for free. What they should to is release a map editor (not forge, that's what Magix Music Maker is to Cubase users) like UnrealEd and let us make maps on the pc and then though Bungie Net make them public. Well maybe in the next Halo.

maxmax1234
maxmax1234

It was pretty stupid, i bought the map pack and thought i was going to get all those extra achievements and maps, but there only where like 4 maps in that pack, 3 euro per map, thats like 4 bucks. total Rip-off.

rocketman97
rocketman97

steelsoldier13 There are going to be 6 maps, but currently only these three are going to be released now. as far as my knowledge goes, the other three will be released in fall with halo 3: ODST

PattyBoo1391
PattyBoo1391

Ive bought the Heroic and Legendary map packs which i thought were awesome, they have given me hundreds of hour gameplay so i have no doubt these will be great to!

Kowpow
Kowpow

Cool that they are still making maps and content for a game that a lot of people still play after over a year and a half of its release. I'd rather have them still working on the next real Halo, but this is still very nice.

Justinian103
Justinian103

dgsag your absoulutely right, capt wowwie your a moron. Valve supports their games and the people that buy them much more than Bungie does to the point that it`s insulting. Why doesn`t Bungie put all their resources together and develop a new IP and give Halo a rest for a while.

moose_knuckler
moose_knuckler

Although I do have to give props to M$ for giving us a new way for some entertainment. DLC's is definatly a great thing they've brought to the table, I'm talking more on the lines of GTA IV Lost and the Damned and Halo 3:ODST. It seems like a very interesting tactic because when it comes to GTA IV it's probably around $40 so they say "Hey why not download this DLC so you get your money's worth on the game AND this DLC and you'll have basically saved $20 compared to people who first bought GTA IV." I betcha around next year PS3 and 360 will be having exclusive DLC's because they could a great money-maker. Who knows, maybe when 2010 rolls around a new category for gaming awards will be "Best DLC Package" or something like that.

moose_knuckler
moose_knuckler

@ShroudedEagleanddoomsoth Your right on target. I don't understand why Bungie can't give the 6 map packs that were expected or at least garuntee that all six will come on Halo 3 ODST, in that case I won't be as mad. Although, given that it's probably going to be $30-40 I was planning on buying or rent it depending on the scores it gets. Plus M$ really needs to reconsider these prices for map packs and how tight a budget might be to some people (in my case, I wouldn't buy any games or map packs if my budget was tight and neither should any else but you see what I'm getting at).

durge666
durge666

I simply cannot wait to start forging Sandbox! It's so awesome! Best map pack to date!

ShroudedEagle
ShroudedEagle

@doomsoth: I know looks like we're the only sane people here. It's stupid really. The Mythic Map Pack was supposed to contain 6 maps, not effing 3. That's just typical of Microsoft and Bungie. Only reason why the held back the other 3 is because they're probably frightened that no one will buy ODST. And don't even get me started on their Recon idea. I've got to admit, it's a clever way of getting money out of us all.