Halo 4: The Spartan Ops Story

E3 2012: We take a look at how Halo 4's narrative-driven episodic content Spartan Ops plays out. Also: more info on those nasty Forerunner enemies.

'

Microsoft is a tease. The slowly unraveling thread of information about Halo 4 has so far yielded near naught on one of the game's major selling points: the return of the one and only M. Chief. (That's short for Master Chief, mind you, not Mr. Chief. Although that's also acceptable.)

Microsoft's E3 2012 press conference kicked into action with a frenetic, kickass trailer detailing Halo 4's single-player campaign, but since then we've heard nothing on the game's narrative elements. (It has all been about competitive multiplayer.) That is about to change--the publisher finally allowed us a sneak peek into its efforts with story. No, not with the single-player campaign. That's obviously something they're saving for later. But we did get a chance to see how storytelling will work in the second part of Halo 4's multiplayer component: Spartan Ops.

For clarification, Halo 4 will ship with two multiplayer elements: War Games, the competitive multiplayer, and Spartan Ops, a weekly episodic narrative-driven cooperative multiplayer. Spartan Ops will take on the role of a second campaign, with a separate storyline and separate protagonists. The campaign will follow the story of Majestic Squad, a Spartan squad from the UNSC Infinity on the planet Requiem (those of you who finished Halo 3 on Legendary will know what this is about).

Through a weekly series of cinematic episodes, each episode containing five linear story missions, this second campaign will be playable both as single-player or cooperatively with up to four players. (Spartan Ops also supports matchmaking, just in case you misplace all your friends.) The best part? You don't have to pay extra: access to Spartan Ops is included with Halo 4.

OK, now to the fun stuff. We were shown the fifth mission in the first episode of Spartan Ops (for clarity, Microsoft is currently working on just one season of Spartan Ops). By the way, this was all hands-off, so we won't be able to talk much about how the game feels to play, but hey, it's Halo, so you should already have a pretty good idea. In the mission, our team was charged with gathering information on a Covenant archaeological structure on Requiem. 343 Industries made it clear that none of what you'll see in the single-player Master Chief campaign will repeat itself, either in Spartan Ops or in the competitive multiplayer.

After encountering a pesky squad of Covenant (standard Grunts and Elites), our team cleared the top level and encountered a couple of Forerunner shields. Once fired upon, these triggered a call to arms for the Forerunner troops, who apparently don't like anyone touching their stuff. What you can expect from these bad guys is faster, angrier versions of the Covenant enemies, with a slight orange tinge. First there are the Crawlers--small, pack-hunting creatures that can scale walls and ceilings and look like overgrown sewer rats. These guys are easy to kill on their own (one or two shots does just fine), but watch out if they come at you in a pack. (Oh, and they attack by shooting weird orange lasers.)

The team suddenly realizes that the Crawlers are materializing too quickly--they're being spawned by something. Enter another Forerunner enemy: the Watchers. Watchers are tactical enemies that act like AI support for the Forerunner troops. They take the shape of what looks roughly like a giant flying motorcycle and hover above the fight, ready to spawn more enemies. Taking Watchers down is a priority; otherwise you're going to be facing a never-ending battle. However, they're smart: they learn your shooting tactics and react in different ways once you try to take them down a second time.

Finally, one of our team picks up a new Forerunner weapon. Called a scatter shot, this is kind of like a shotgun (powerful at close range) but with more firepower and a cooler-looking body. These are handy against the Knights--another type of Forerunner enemy that physically look like Elites but way more badass.

After a drawn-out fight dealing with these three kinds of Forerunner enemies, our team finally manages to dispense of the last one and achieve its objective: the obtainment of a Forerunner artifact that will be taken back onboard the UNSC Infinity for closer observation.

A note on the difficulty levels in Spartan Ops: 343 Industries stressed that all players in the game must play on the same difficulty level. Which, when you think about it, is only fair.

'

Written By

Want the latest news about Halo 4?

Halo 4

Halo 4

Follow

Discussion

22 comments
PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

This game starts to look like  a rental. Campaign is probably another 6-10 hour ride, local multiplayer is the same old 1-4 player, no Firefight and Spartan Ops doesn't work without Gold.

never-named
never-named

"Spartan Ops will take on the role of a second campaign, with a separate storyline and separate protagonists." "The best part? You don't have to pay extra: access to Spartan Ops is included with Halo 4." - It's a bit troubling when people become excited at the prospect of game content being free, content which, for all intents and purposes, should be expected as a given for the relatively large sum of money being charged for it...

ScorchTheHeghog
ScorchTheHeghog

I'm fine with innovation but 343i is making halo too much like COD it doesn't look like it plays like halo any more. from all the info we've seen and gotten there are weapon perks and camos, class perks, complete loadout customization featuring perks, killstreaks, and power weapons for the classes, there are no weapons on the map...it just feels more like battlefield or Cod now. i played MW2 and 3 before going to E3 and i got to play the stage demo for Wargames (multiplayer) and i ended up not having to adjust my playstyle at all. IT FELT JUST LIKE COD...i ended up getting a killing spree and after five kills my thumb automatically went to the D-pad to call in my killstreak...I LITTERALY FORGOT I WAS PLAYING HALO...that is not something to be proud of for 343i.

 

  The Game looks great and I've already got my special edition pre-ordered, but like i said it just doesn't feel like halo anymore

GIgewg066
GIgewg066

Sounds awesome, just need to find some friends to do it with X)

Massofate
Massofate

I wonder how long these missions will be playable for after their release date... Maybe they'll just stay for a week like challenges in reach.

BARC_Trooper
BARC_Trooper

I hope spartan ops has an "infinite ammo" option. I loved having infinite ammo in Reach's firefight and Halo Anniversary(via the bandana skull). It would only be reasonable to have at least that option if spartan ops is replacing firefight.

xdrmonkeyfishx
xdrmonkeyfishx

I couldn't believe that I could be any more excited. Yet I am. This looks awesome! It just goes to show that a franchise can change and still be cool

Ford46liters
Ford46liters

I’m glad this new group is making Halo now because in my opinion it was going down hill with the people who started it. the best halo’s were Halo 1 and number 3.  call of duty completely overshadowed halo and made the series seem more of a game of the past with unrealistic elements but now that you have someone else making it looks like the can take the best parts of  Halo and expand the universe giving halo not the lead in shooters but their respect back to all the naysayers seeing Halo as a worn out franchise of the past

TheJessMan
TheJessMan

 The premise sounds great, but I can't help thinking somewhere down the road we are going to have to pay a subscription fee to keep receiving the content. 

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

Thanks for this story Laura, as a huge Halo fan myself this sounds interesting. I love the new approach with 343, since I fell in love with Halo's story and play for that content. Episodic content seems promising, especially since it will be delivered weekly. That being said I'm glad they are sticking to what makes Halo so amazing and can't wait for future updates.

Themarksman812
Themarksman812

 @PrpleTrtleBuBum Halo never made huge changes, but I honestly have to ask if you have been paying any attention whatsoever? They are adding episodes of free missions to play co-op instead of a Firefight mode that had barely any real customization options, allowing you to unlock items and be your own Spartan, while still having that fun and simple gameplay that makes other linear FPS's stand below it. If you want an RPG with insane elements, I'm not going to ask you to get Skyrim as that basically is the Call of Duty of RPG's; no, there are PLENTY of difficult and different games out there, if you don't want a tried-and-true experience, then you don't have to buy it. 

NVDuy
NVDuy

@never-named The Spartan Ops is just dlc, with the first season free. Considering that the first season is as long as the main game and is said to be not copy and paste missions, with genuine hard work being spent into, it's right to be excited.

Themarksman812
Themarksman812

 @ScorchTheHeghog I feel a little bit worried now that you said that, but they still do have the classic experiences there, but to be honest, when I'm playing Reach, I love the old Halo formula, but I want it to evolve. The only problem is, when we hear "too much like COD" is that how else in the world can you customize your soldier without seeming like COD? Battlefield 3 does this tactic, with specalizations and attachments and such. But does the game play like CoD? Not one bit! Halo is my favorite series of all time, and I'm looking forward to this change.

ScorchTheHeghog
ScorchTheHeghog

 @lizardboy2000 it does if you watch the videos that have been released you can clearly see quite a few times players and enemies being assassinated

Massofate
Massofate

@BARC_Trooper I can see that working (I loved the firefight customisation!) but you'd probably lose out on rewards for that mission. I'd be fine replaying the missions with infinite ammo though! :)

ScorchTheHeghog
ScorchTheHeghog

 @Ford46liters you realize you just complained that a futuristic sci-fi game unrealistic right?... also I'm fine with innovation but 343i is making halo too much like COD it doesn't look like it plays like halo any more. from all the info we've seen and gotten there are weapon perks and camos, class perks, complete loadout customization featuring perks, killstreaks, and power weapons for the classes, there are no weapons on the map...it just feels more like battlefield or Cod now. i played MW2 and 3 before going to E3 and i got to play the stage demo for Wargames (multiplayer) and i ended up not having to adjust my playstyle at all. IT FELT JUST LIKE COD...i ended up getting a killing spree and after five kills my thumb automatically went to the D-pad to call in my killstreak...I LITTERALY FORGOT I WAS PLAYING HALO...that is not something to be proud of for 343i.

 

  The Game looks great and I've already got my special edition pre-ordered, but like i said it just doesn't feel like halo anymore

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

 @TheJessMan  I hope it doesn't come to that either, from yesterday's footage I heard Connor saying you need Gold membership to receive the episodic content. Makes sense if you're playing online I suppose, I'm really just glad they are showing what episodic content should be. I'm looking at you Valve...

never-named
never-named

 @NVDuy While 'Spartan Ops' can be considered DLC it is not so in the traditional sense. DLC by its very nature is considered to be optional, content that the player can do with or without. Spartan Ops is a major selling point for Halo 4 and any game's key selling point is expected to be accessible right out of the box.

 

Also, I never said it's wrong to be excited for the mode--you SHOULD be excited, excited for Spartan Ops, excited for the game! No one's stopping you--but getting excited thinking that the mode is free is a troubling attitude, since it is not. A hefty sum is being charged for the game and Spartan Ops is a in-box feature (with new episodes being uploaded in time much like Left 4 Dead 2s 'Weekly Mutations') and, again, a major selling point for the game, which automatically means that the content is not optional and thus unlike traditional DLC.