The Halo franchise has persisted for years due to the support and love of its community. Known as some of the most vocal, and often rude, gamers in the world the community that surrounds Halo is fiercely loyal to Bungie and the games they’ve made. At the center of it all is Bungie.net, which was revamped for Halo 2 to provide players with an insanely detailed online experience. If you want to know just what it is that makes Halo such a big freakin’ deal, we have details on some of the most influential communities within the realm of Halo.
The real Big Daddy of videogames is Bungie.net. More than a game website that promotes a title with screenshots and sparse details, this official site is brimming with information and fan service programming. For players, the main function of Bnet is to provide game details. Every game that is played online is recorded and kept for posterity on the website. There you can go and gather info on how many kills you have total, or what the score of your last game was. The information provided here by Bungie would fill a 10 page article in itself. But we’ll try and hit the highlights for you, so you know what’s happening.
For the release of Halo 3 the site is getting another revamp, the details of which are being kept under wraps at the moment.
Stat Tracker: This is where you go to find the details of your played games. Each game has a rundown of how you fared against all other players, the carnage report you see after a game when playing on Live, a breakdown of how you chose to dispatch your enemies, how amazing you are at headshots and grabbing medals, and even a Game Viewer that shows an overhead map of the game detailing where and how everyone was killed. While not all the details are known, we are sure that the variety of stats available is going to be much larger in Halo 3. Details of what weapons you favor, who you kill the most, your kill per death (KpD) ratio and many others will be provided when the new Bnet launches.
Groups: Players of similar tastes are allowed to essentially create their own forums and mini-communities right on the Bnet website. This is more than a forum though. The Groups functionality includes publishing articles, notices, news, and of course discussion forums. If you look around the Internet at the Halo community you will find that many established groups got their start over at Bnet. Bungie not only encourages their fans to get together and have fun, they make it as painless as possible.
Bungie Weekly Update: Bungie’s own Scottish wonder, Frank O’Connor, has been doing a Weekly Update for fans on Bnet since the Halo 2 days. It’s one of the most frank and honest looks at the development and maintenance of a video game pretty much ever. Also, this is your number one place to visit after the game releases to get info on how the banhammer is doing and who’s taking a ride in the famous Whaaaaambulance.
Forums: The official Bungie forums are highly patrolled by ninjas, and are a great place to go and be annoyed. If you think it’s bad playing with prepubescent boys on Xbox Live, just wait until you get into a discussion with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if people still were debating the existence of the Gold Warthog. On the plus side, you can weed through the trash and find some great people over at Bnet. Personally, I’ve been friends with a number of people I met there since early 2005.
The premiere Halo community website on the Interwebs. HBO is as close to an official site as you can get, and there are frequent contributions by Bungie employees. The site is one of the most extensive collections of information on the Halo universe you can find on the web. In fact, if you don’t have time to play the first two games before picking up Halo 3…well you should make time. What kind of lazy bastard are you? But if you must insist, HBO has the transcripts for the previous two games along with the CGI cut scenes.
The site was founded by Claude Errera, but no one knows him by that name. Louis Wu, of Larry Niven’s Ringworld fame (appropriate username, eh?), is the name most people associate with HBO.
Major League Gaming
Oh, just quiet down. I know that the MLG is not a real Halo community, but they are a large group that has supported Halo for years. While contentions arise between the wannabe pro’s who litter Live each night and the guys like me who just want to have a good time, the actual MLG pro-players are a great group of people. They know how good they are at the game, hell they get paid a decent chunk of change for that ability, and rarely feel the need to taunt lesser players.
The MLG started a style of gameplay that is more balanced and skill based than the general Matchmaking that Bungie offers. Radars are turned off, and BR is the default start weapon. With the changes to Halo 3 we’ll have to wait and see where MLG makes changes, because Bungie is more concerned with how fun the game is for people than how skillful you have to be to win. There’s a place for both in the world, and if you’re the competitive type you should give the MLG a look.
There are no shortage of groups on the internet for Halo, and chances are someone will be a perfect fit for you. There are communities dedicated to tricks, jumping, videos, older gamers, mediocre players, and on and on. These groups form the backbone to the general Halo community, and often serve as a refuge from the abuses occurring on Live.
This is the part of the Halo phenomenon that keeps gamers coming back time and time again. There is a strong sense of loyalty, and at times almost a familial aspect to a community. No matter how great Bungie makes Halo 3, it will not survive without this network of gamers who have varying reasons to be playing the game. In the end, everyone just wants to have a good time, and that’s what these communities provide for thousands of players.
Halo 3 Launch Event Details
We knew it was going to be announced soon, and like the game itself we knew it would be huge. What we were not expecting is redonkulous levels of launch activities and prizes from Microsoft. OK, maybe we were a little bit. But now we have the official details and they are crazy, crazy, crazy!
The Launch Parties
There are over 10,000 retailers holding special midnight parties around the world in honor of Halo 3’s release, but a select few locations are going to be extra legendary. Microsoft announced the following locations for their big parties with celebs, giveaways, and more.
Another event is occurring September 23rd, two days before the game’s official launch. NASCAR driver David Stremme will get into his Halo 3 liveried vehicle for the NASCAR Dover 400. Prior to the race the NASCAR drivers will get the chance to play some Halo 3, but this is not open to us poor schleps. And don’t forget if it’s late Monday night and you need a refreshing slurpee you can head to 7-11 to pick up a copy of the game, plus fuel up for an all night session.
You Hate Crowds?
For anyone who doesn’t want to venture into the smelly multitudes, Microsoft will have you covered. Xbox Live is going to be available for free for three days following Halo 3’s release. Best Buy is sponsoring the three days, where everyone will be granted Gold status on Live. During this time 144 randomly selected Live users will win a total of 8,000 Microsoft Points. We’re not sure how it’ll be split up, but it’s free Live and some points to buy Mongoose armor. Those 144 lucky bastards will also be entered into another drawing where they can win one of two grand prizes: a Halo themed Pontiac G6 GXP Street Edition and a Samsung home theater system.
Phew, well that certainly is enough to get us going. Wait…there’s more? Oh yes my friends, there is yet more contests and prizes for your Halo overdosing pleasure. Starting NOW you can head to Unite to Fight and enter your gamertag to win a number of Halo 3 themed prizes. All you have to do is play the game between September 28th and September 30th, which you were already planning to do. Here are the prizes.
As more events are announced we will pass along the info to you.