Halo 3: Recon Becomes Halo 3: ODST For Some Reason, Has Nathan Fillion

Ok, so remember how Bungie made a big deal of rolling out their newest project, Halo 3: Recon? It’s not called that anymore. Now it’s Halo 3: ODST.

“Stay tuned to Bungie.net in the coming weeks and months for development updates and new details on our latest project,” says the website. “In the meantime, please remove ‘Halo 3 : Recon’ from your memory banks and replace it with ‘Halo 3 : ODST.'”

I guess that’s one way to do it, changing the name of your project after you do your huge initial PR push, replacing a straightforward subtitle with one that’s meaningless to all but your most committed fans. (ODST stands for “Orbital Drop Shock Trooper,” by the way.)

The news of the name change came too late for the magazine GameInformer, which arrived in the mailbox today with the title “Halo 3 Recon: World Exclusive Details Straight From Bungie.”

The article did have several interesting tidbits in it, however. Foremost among them, at least for me, was the news that Nathan Fillion will be playing the squad leader that your rookie character belongs to. You may be familiar with Mr. Fillion from such roles as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly and Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. If you’re not, I don’t want to know you.

Halo’s multiplayer almost didn’t exist

The Xbox was a joke when it was announced. Microsoft was going to make a gaming console? Yeah, maybe it’ll be great, when it’s not blue screening, amiright? (Gaming humor has not significantly advanced since 2001.)

Then a strange thing happened. The competitive multiplayer mode of one of its launch titles, Halo, really caught on. The single-player campaign was kind of rough, but you could also hook the Xbox up to a local network and battle your friends on up to three other televisions. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that Halo’s multiplayer carried the Xbox through its early life, up to the market dominance that Microsoft now enjoys. That’s why it’s surprising to find out that the multiplayer almost got cut.

I’ll let former Halo multiplayer designer Hardy LeBel tell the story.

I was the lead designer on Oni, which was a kind of a third-person action title. When we got bought by Microsoft, Alex Seropian and Jason Jones, who were the two principals of Bungie, came to me and [former Bungie engineer and animator] Michael Evans, and said, “Multiplayer is cut from Halo because we’re trying to make it really work on the console and we just don’t have the resources.”

But we threw a fit and were like, “No way! You can’t cut it! It’s just too cool!”

They said, “We were hoping you’d say that — because you two guys have to resurrect it.”

The rest of the interview is kind of wonky discussion of game design, but that’s quite a bombshell. Halo was and is Microsoft’s superstar. If those two guys at Bungie hadn’t saved the multiplayer mode, the market today would look very different.

More details on Halo 3: Recon

When Bungie announced an expansion for Halo 3 this week, I’d assumed it would be sold the same way their multiplayer map packs are. You can buy a retail copy early, but if you wait long enough, it’ll be free for download.

It doesn’t look like it, now. Word is that Halo 3: Recon, due to be released a year from now, is going to be its own standalone game with its own box and disc. Uh, sort of.

“We’re not viewing this as a full game.”

…Bungie said to Kotaku earlier.

So whatever Halo 3: Recon is, rest assured it’s definitely some kind of a thing.

No word yet on what the price is going to be like, but Bungie has said in interviews they want something below the $60 a full game would cost.

The expansion(?) has only been in production for a couple of months, according to an interview with Eurogamer. The Bungie reps state emphatically that it’s not a “stealth” game like, say, Splinter Cell. It’s still a first-person shooter, same as Halo 3, but since you’re playing a regular human instead of the tank-on-legs Master Chief, it’s going to feel a little different.

In an interview with IGN, the Bungie reps also said that it’s going to have that classic Halo 3 multiplayer, along with two overlapping Halo 3 map packs that will be sold for the original game in the coming year.

(So, if Recon isn’t an addon to Halo 3, what were those new skulls that got hinted at in a recent patch? I guess we’ll find out.)

The gamesindustry.biz article on reminds us that Bungie has at least two other projects in the pipe, and this is sort of a side thing for them.

I’m happy to see that. Bungie as a company has been working on nothing but Halo for well on a decade now, ever since Halo 1 was shown at Macworld Expo 1999. After they were bought out by Microsoft, it was Halo 2 and Halo 3.

In 2007, just after Halo 3 was released, Bungie announced they were splitting back off from Microsoft again in an unprecedented move. They were owned part and parcel, but they split off to form their own company with the same Bungie logo, pursuing their own destiny. Rarely do companies like Microsoft give up a valuable brand like that.

I’ve been a Bungie fan since the old Marathon days when they published exclusively on Apple computers. Halo’s a perfectly solid console shooter, and its propelled the company into the limelight, but I really want to see what they’ve got for us next.

New Halo 3 expansion is called “Recon,” new trailer, acronym up

Microsoft formally announced the expansion for Halo 3 coming this fall. It’s called “Recon,” and it puts you in the role of a new character. It appears you’ll be a UNSC “orbital drop shock trooper,” aka a “hell jumper.”

 

The full trailer videos are up at bungie.net.

You can get pretty much the whole story from the above links, but here’s something you might not read about elsewhere: the Bungie acronyms.

As far back as the Marathon games, all the Bungie product codes on the retail boxes have contained acronyms. The challenge for the fans is to decode just what the acroynm stands for. This kind of back and forth is one of the reasons the company has historically had a strong relationship with its core fans.

The first one was DMUKYA on the Marathon box, which stood for “Don’t Make Us Kick Your Ass.” Fairly easy, since the slogan appeared on a Bungie t-shirt.

My favorite was WACCSMD on the Myth: The Fallen Lords box, which probably stood for “Warcraft and Command & Conquer, Suck My *cough*”. Bungie delivers the throwdown to their competitors in the real-time strategy field.

As my former compatriots over at bungie.org have noticed, there’s a new acronym embedded in the url for the Recon page.

WHVIDLDSHBYJSDO

Well, at least it looks like an acronym. These Bungie folks are tricksy people. It’s not nothing, that’s for sure.

What does it mean? Start placing your bets now.

Bungie teases new content for Halo 3. New co-op, probably!

A countdown on bungie.net yesterday has culminated today with a new teaser trailer.

The video shows an abandoned city being pelted by what appear to be drop pods, as evidenced by the tagline “Prepare to drop.” that shows up later in the trailer. There’s not much, but if you look at some earlier posts that went up on bungie.net, it’s fairly easy to piece together what’s happening.

In this post, we see that an urban infrastructure A.I., the “Superintendent,” has gone haywire and is spamming out generic safety messages to a harried comm duty officer (and presumably to bungie.net.). There’s an emergency on, but they don’t say what. The trailer probably takes place through the eyes of the Superintendent’s street-level cameras.

In this message, it becomes clear that the Covenant Loyalist invasion of Earth is well underway. Someone from the Office of Naval Intelligence is requesting a specific squad of men from the heavy crusier Say My Name. (They sure do have weird names for ships in the human fleet.)

The requester identifies himself as “someone who doesn’t report to Fleet,” and the Admiral notes that he “didn’t think you S1 types ever left your cave.” S1 probably refers to Section One of the ONI, responsible for intelligence and information gathering rather than field operations.

So, what does all this mean? Well, it looks to me like the next content pack for Halo 3 is going to have new co-op missions revolving around a covert ops team doing a mission during the game’s regular campaign timeline. Maybe I was right after all.