Podtacular 603: Halo X-hanced

The Xbox One X has finally launched and with it comes Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Wars 2 and Halo 3 backwards compatibility enhancements to take advantage of the new 4K HDR capability the console brings. Even if you don’t have a 4K screen, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the dashboard and games that utilize the additional graphics packages used by the Xbox One X. Since there’s not much else going on in the Halo news side of things, we get a little (and by a little we mean very) off topic.

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Podtacular 602: Overtuned

The Overtime update has arrived to Halo 5: Guardians bringing with it many updates and changes. With the release of Xbox One X, Halo 5 is receiving a 4K, UHD update, specifically for X owners. Across the board, the much discussed weapon tuning has gone into affect, bringing balance updates to 10 weapons and Active Camouflage. Oddball is now it’s own official, dedicated game mode separate from the ‘ball’ game mode. Halo 5 Local Server is now available in the Windows Store for Windows 10, offering local dedicated servers for grassroots tournament holders, or your run-of-the-mill LAN party.

Just a reminder, every live show from episode 600 to the end of 2017, we’re giving away Halo Gear on our live stream. You can find us over on Mixer on Tuesdays or Wednesdays at 9:00 PM Eastern. Follow us on Twitter for announcements regarding our live show schedule.

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Machinima Monday: Silence

This video is actually a finale of a machinima cross montage series so you may have to watch a few of the previous videos to get the full story line, but the use of Forge, special effects and editing makes this an incredible piece of machinima.

Video Published by: BulletRebel

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Podtacular 601: The Frank State of MCC

It’s no question that Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched with some rather game-breaking bugs and suffered a quick decline in online activity within the first months of its lifespan, but we weren’t the only ones suffering with the monument that was, at the time, five separate games pulled into one. With the announcement last week that The Master Chief Collection would be receiving a much needed update in early 2018, Frankie took to the Halo Subreddit to address the current state of the game and what’s to come in the following months. Giving us a glimpse into the technical challenges plaguing the game, he tries to make more transparent the issues that has left MCC in the state it is currently in and why anything hasn’t been done in the past two years. Thankfully, with some of the improvements that has been made to the Xbox One operating system, some of these issues can finally be addressed and hopefully give a second breath of life into the title. Now if we can only get it to Windows 10…

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Podtacular 600: Overtime

After 600 episodes, we’re treated to quite the surprise, as the latest Halo live stream drops some jaw-dropping info. In addition to more details about upcoming Halo Championship Series events, updates to the Halo 5: Guardians Overtime update coming next month, and merchandise for the holidays, the community wasn’t expecting to hear Bonnie Ross come out to tell the community that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be receiving an update early next year along with updates for gameplay on Xbox One X. You can read more about the live stream over on our post here that was written by our own VinWarrior who joins us for this episode.

We are now exclusively on Mixer for our podcast recording stream, taking advantage of the instant feedback we gain from the platform. We’re also giving some Halo gear away on every live stream until the end of the year, so make sure you check out the live recording every Tuesday at 9PM Eastern.

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A Pale Horse With No Name – The Forgotten Beauty of Halo 5’s Trailers

The controversy surrounding Halo 5’s story seemed to draw in fans’ collective attention, leaving much of the marketing’s genuine passion woefully under-examined and overshadowed. Whether unfounded or not, it is clear that threaded and woven below the surface of the game’s advertisements is a truly intriguing collection of narratives that are oft overlooked. In the midst of hunting the truth and discovering the official story, we never stopped to examine what made us chase both so fervently.

The Master Chief is, on the surface level, a fairly simple character. He is defined by three things: his suit, his weapon, and his A.I. companion, Cortana. Halo’s novel extensions and more recent game titles have begun to explore the deeper meaning of his morals and humanity, or lack thereof, as we’re now forced to closely examine John under the thick veneer of sage metal that entombs him. John is subjected to the flattening demolition of the foundations of his character, and thus, the holy trinity is torn from his grasp. Without his sword, his shield, and his voice of reason, he’s abandoned, and it’s in this state that he can begin to regain his obscured humanity. 2013’s “Halo on Xbox One” trailer, a surprisingly poignant endeavor, manages to successfully depict John’s state of suffering and how it has affected the world around him, delivering thoughtful storytelling in a matter of minutes.

The teaser’s careful examination of John not only strips him of his identity, but it experiments with the viewer’s expectations of the Spartan. The attachment to John is not entirely one of character and narrative, but of perspective, as we’ve become accustomed to view the world of Halo the same way he does. The audience latches unto the trinity mentioned earlier and is disquieted when these attributes dissolve. For the duration of the trailer, John is not shown suited in his usual Mark VI gear, instead shrouded in dusty cloth. He does not carry a firearm, uncharacteristically defenseless. Additionally, the only representation of Cortana is a fractured physical manifestation of her connection to the Chief. The rippling cracks in John’s visor are purposefully placed on the right, covering the area on the heads-up display that typically represented John’s weapons and subconsciously informing the watcher that this part of his identity is permanently fragmented.

An element that Halo’s marketing, lore, and mainline gameplay has continually succeeded at is humanizing its Spartan characters without the need to see their facial expressions. While not limited to just this series, Halo is certainly forced to rely on other methods of emotional communication, with its main protagonist being exclusively hidden behind his helmet. The advertisement “All Hail” is arguably one of the best depictions of these methods, resonating passion as emotional impact saturates the mind of the viewer. Jameson Locke’s somewhat uneasy, deranged vocals work in tandem with his striking walk, each step seemingly choreographed to display emotional shifts. His pace quickens when his tone becomes more intimidating, threatening, much like a predator closing in on its prey. But he is slow and goading when he berates John, the swinging motion of his helmet spearheading his strange mannerisms. It is an arguably more emotional display of Locke’s intentions than we’ve seen since, commendably immersive and investing in a teasing manner that sadly isn’t built upon.

To talk about “All Hail” without mentioning its follow-up, “The Cost”, would be doing it a great disservice. As an introspective analysis of the Chief’s psyche, it follows the prior E3 trailer with themes of guilt, self-loathing, and ambivalence of identity. In contrast with the complexity of Jameson’s stride and layers of characterization upon each step, Chief is purposefully simple in his movements. Even in the tempestuous disarray which surrounds him, likening the hellish husk of a warzone, John’s walk is organized and coordinated. His gait reflective of the military identity which surrounds him and masks the human beneath the armour. The audience is left to theorize about the subtleties hidden under the Spartan’s golden visor, perhaps a facade in the face of duty and honor, a bulky veneer of courage which protects a scared six-year old boy who never got the chance to truly live. John’s state of hardship is not only reflected in the visual stimuli we’re projected, but it exists in the trailer’s diminutive dialogue as well. The Master Chief confronts Jameson Locke, a man whose only character traits that we’ve seen are pompous arrogance and ruthless disrespect for John, and in this moment, he chooses to first lambast himself.

“This… is this what you wanted? Is this what you were looking for? Was everything you’ve compromised, everything you’ve done… worth it? Was it?”

As John contemplates his own betrayal, his supposed failure as a Spartan, he examines a monument to his dedication to humanity, the plaque a striking visualization of his sacrifices and mistakes. “Duty and Honor Above All”. An amiable gesture, perhaps, but far too often a loose rubric rather than a persistent objective. It is all too poetic that, drifting, aimlessly defeated, above a statue dedicated to John’s success, a reminder of his failures looms. Without expressly stating tragedy, and the potential loss of the meager few Chief had left, it subconsciously imprints Chief’s disappointment and indecision upon the audience. It also creates an air of mystery around the exact reason for Chief’s failure, leaving us to fill in the blanks and strengthening the emotional attachment to the visual devices used. There is no doubt that the shadow cast upon the stone visage of Chief is a symbolic reminder of his inner collapse, a chunk of the statue missing to imply the absence of Cortana, and perhaps her hand in John’s betrayal.

A smoldering hole is placed right over both John and Jameson’s hearts in these trailers, a reminder that these situations are symbolic omens and reflections of the life and death of identity. It is a warning of the bitter, ferocious conflict that will permeate in Chief’s mind when forced to choose between his duty to humanity and his duty to Cortana. It is the choice between being a machine and being a man, and perhaps the inescapable subjugation of autonomy for loyalty that encompasses the identity of a Spartan.

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Halo 5: Overtime Update Heralds Classic Oddball, LAN, and More

A monumental feat and testament to the hard work and dedication of 343 Industries, Halo 5’s latest ambitious update, Overtime, will bring forth a wave of changes to the game that fans will find quite interesting. In the competitive field, three brand new sets of skins will be making their mark on the game, based on Str8Rippin, Luminosity, and Splyce. Also on the weapon skin front, country based skins include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Mexico, all available in promotion for Halo’s bolstered eSports front. The fairly popular Oddball skull will be making its debut in Halo 5 with a classic playlist returning Oddball and Oddball FFA to their former glories, a pleasant surprise for fans. Also on the list of updates that many fans have requested, Halo 5 on Windows 10 will be receiving LAN support in a jovially shocking addition, bolstered by Bonnie Ross’ comments on split-screen in the next mainline Halo title to prove that 343 is dedicated to bringing back this aspect of Halo.

Easily the most shocking announcement came on the coattails of the Overtime update, a heavily controversial topic which has seen discussion since 2014 finally getting its resolution. Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s uncertain future is no longer a mystery, as Bonnie Ross herself confirmed during the live-stream that the game will receive updates to bring it up to par with the Xbox One X and resolve ongoing server issues and inconsistencies. This comes after much disappointment, anger, and silence over unfortunate problems that plagued the collection since its release, which left many players wondering about the status of the game following its questionable launch state. For ecstatic players, Spring 2018 is the rough date for updates to the game, and as it nears closer more information will begin to filter out about what exactly is being improved.

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