Source: Scans of Swedish gaming magazine LEVEL, partially translated by a poster on Gaming Age Forums.
What we heard: Last week, Bungie mentioned in its weekly update that it had shown off early builds of Halo 3 to a variety of gaming press outlets and that magazine articles on the visit would start hitting mailboxes shortly.
It appears that Swedish mailboxes are plum stuffed with Halo 3 news, as purported scans of the latest issue of LEVEL have hit the Internet with gobs of info about Bungie's highly anticipated first-person shooter. The multiplayer-focused sneak peek dished out details on new weapons, vehicles, and features for the game, some of it expected, some not so much.
First, the bad news for hermitic gamers: According to the magazine article, Halo 3 won't have bots. If Halo 2 is any indicator, there shouldn't be any shortage of human opponents to frag online, but antisocial players or those who tire of powergaming play styles won't be able to fake their multiplayer fix. According to a translation on GAF, LEVEL quotes a Bungie rep as explaining that the developers would rather spend that time working on the weapons, levels, and netcode for the game.
Speaking of weapons, Halo 3 will apparently feature a few new ways to off opponents. The Spartan Laser should help players open up vehicles like so many sardine cans, while the self-explanatory nail grenade should be a real hit at parties. There's also a Brute spiker to play with.
As for new vehicles, the Mongoose ATV that was once intended for Halo 2 will be available. Although it lacks firepower of any kind, the Mongoose seats two and should be good for getting Spartans where they need to be ASAP. And while it isn't quite a vehicle, the "Man Cannon" will launch players across the map unprotected on air streams. Gamers launched by the cannon will be vulnerable to enemy fire, but they'll also be able to fire back.
Bungie's also switching up some of the familiar Halo gameplay, according to the scans. For one thing, the X button will no longer reload. Instead, players will use the left and right bumpers on the Xbox 360 controller to independently reload their primary and secondary weapons. As for what the X button will do, Bungie is keeping that under wraps for now. In another tweak, players' secondary weapons will be visibly slung over their backs at all times, so players will no longer be able to conceal the fact that they're carrying around four-foot plasma swords in their pockets.
Finally, the scan indicates that the limited-edition release of Halo 3 will be called the "Legendary Edition" and will come packed in a replica of the Master Chief's helmet. The four-disc set will include the game, documentaries and developer interviews, Red vs. Blue content along with other Halo tie-ins, and HD cutscenes from the whole Halo trilogy.
The official story: Microsoft isn't talking, but Bungie today put up a news post acknowledging that magazine scans with new Halo 3 content had started hitting the Web and threatening a permanent ban for anyone posting them on the company's forums.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus, although we hope the term "Man Cannon" is the result of a translation error.