It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about Halo 3, hasn’t it? When last we checked in with Bungie, there was a great deal of concern that they weren’t going to be able to provide online co-op play due to the scale of the game and the corresponding synchronization issues. Well, on that end, it looks like things are going well, as back on July 31st, Kotaku reported that Bungie had announced that the game would support co-op play… four player co-op play.
“According to a recent Bungie announcement in Amsterdam, Halo 3 will indeed have 4-player co-op. One player will take the role of Master Chief, another will be The Arbiter and the last two (the suckers) will be Elites.” - Kotaku
In a recent Gamespot Q&A session with Bungie’s Frank O’Connor, O’Connor expanded on that news while also letting everyone in on a little more of what’s going on with the game’s development right now. As the Kotaku article indicated, there won’t be four Spartans running around – O’Connor confirmed that only the host will get to play as the Master Chief – the other players will play as the Arbiter and two Elite guards.
“GS: Why extend co-op to four players this time? Come on, four Master Chiefs?
FO: Nope. One Master Chief, one Arbiter, and two brand-new Elites: N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham, respectively. Only one player actually plays as a Spartan in co-op. And yes, that would be the host.” - Gamespot Halo 3 Q&A
That news initially worried me because it implied that the Arbiter will once again play a large role in Halo 3, and that was something that I felt would bring down Halo 3 just as it did Halo 2. Playing as an alien just sucked the life out of large segments of the game. Luckily, that does not seem to be the case this time;
“GS: The Arbiter showed up in the E3 trailer. How will he figure into the game this time? Will you play as him or–for that matter–anyone else besides Master Chief?
FO: We recently announced a four player co-op mode wherein one of the playable characters will be the Arbiter. When playing solo Campaign, the Arbiter will accompany you on many of your missions, this time controlled by artificial intelligence. - Gamespot Halo 3 Q&A
Let’s hope every time the Arbiter is on screen he’s being controller by either another player or the game’s artificial intelligence. With that little bit of good news tucked away, I was also thrilled to see that Bungie has apparently taken the criticisms of Halo 2 to heart when designing Halo 3.
“Player feedback largely reflected our own internal criticisms of our game. With that in mind, we set about fixing the things we didn’t like about Halo 2, reinserting some of the stuff that made Halo 1 cool, and inventing some new stuff that should ensure Halo 3 is everyone’s favorite Halo–fingers crossed.” - Frank O’Connor, Bungie
I’m hoping that means less indoor room to room fights and more of the wide-open battlefield encounters that made the original Halo special in my book.
With only about a month and a half to go before it’s September 25th launch, I’m sure the Microsoft press machine will begin it’s full on push for the holiday sales crown. It should be one heck of a ride.