E3 Hands On

One of the lucky attendees at E3 this year Mastrbiggy and he’s offered to provide his very own hands and eyes on impressions from the show floor. Live impressions on playing Halo 4, updated through out the event so make sureyou keep checking back during each of the next three days!


First off let me say how grateful I am that I had the opportunity to play the game early and meet some the team as well as meeting wonderful people like DominoTheory, Voltron64, and LouisWu. 343 was extremely kind and I could see the passion running though their veins. As a Halo fan I couldn’t be more pleased with the people in charge and the vision they have for the universe. I completely support 343 and their vision.

Infinity Slayer:

The first thing and really the only thing I did at E3 was line up at the Halo booth. 343 took us through the campaign Demo that you have seen and then briefed us about Spartan Ops and War Games. After the presentation we were treated to a game of Infinity Slayer. We played on Haven which is the Forerunner map that you have all seen. Right away I noticed was how beautiful the game looked and how incredible the audio was. The first load out I selected was the AR/Pistol. Both weapons have bloom and were very powerful. I didn’t really notice how many shots the pistol took, but it seemed to take more shots than Reach. The AR sound is incredible and it packs a punch at close range. I also found that grenades had a very predictable bounce and were similar to Halo 3 in terms of damage although they sounded like they are going melt your face off. Then I chose the BR. Like most of the weapons I used, the BR had kickback. The kickback had a learning curve but it was completely predictable and after some “adpatationing” I was taking down enemies in 4-5 shots. I soon chose the DMR. It works pretty much like you would expect. The bloom was unnoticeable and the kickback felt appropriate. The DMR is harder to use at mid range, but I can see players mastering it. I usually came up short against BR players at mid-close range. From a distance the DMR was clearly the winner. I also chose to play with the plasma repeater type weapon, though this time it was useful as opposed to Reach. Same can be said about that plasma pistol.

When playing Infinity slayer you get to use the ordinance system. A meter fills up on your screen by earning points for kills, assists, etc. Then, depending on the map, game type, etc, you can call in a ordinance drop, which is visible to teammates and enemies. You have 3 choices on the d-pad, for this particular game the grenade pistol, plasma grenades, and a power up were available. Of course, I chose the grenade pistol. The weapon seems to be a replacement for the grenade launcher in Reach. You fire a relatively slow moving projectile which sticks to players and surfaces. At that point the pistol screen opens up and if you press the trigger again you can denote the projectile. I did notice that the projectile seemed to have a audio cue as well as visual cues telling players it was armed. Talking with one of the multiplayer designers he mentioned situations where you would call in ordinance drops, tag them with the grenade pistol, and the wait for an enemy to run into a death trap and blow him up. It seemed that the sandbox allowed for a lot of creativity.

Armor Abilies:

The armor abilities available were Hologram, Thruster, Hard Light Shield (HLS), and Promethean vision (PV). I first tried Promethean vision and found no use for it, but after a while I learned to use it against people crouching around walls and to track people as the ran away from battle. Promethean vision shows you players within a certain radius, but it doesn’t really show where they are on the map. The geometry was hard to make out while using PV. This meant that running around with it on was a mistake. It also wasn’t spammable.

Hologram works like hologram in Reach. Not much new here. David Ellis mentioned that it was pretty useful against ai, but I didn’t get a chance to test it out.

Thruster, which is probably my favorite AA I tried, simply allowed for a more drastic strafe. Think of Quake’s double jump, but toned down. You also can only use it once and then you have to wait for the cool down. Unlike evade, your player model is still completely exposed and is still fairly trackable, meaning that the player doesn’t go flying across the screen and you aren’t granted warrior status by turning into an invulnerable Spartan ball.

Hard Light Shield seemed like a logical take on armor lock. Think of Greek Spartans (or Jackal Shield) using their shields to block. HLS seems to only block bullets and melee. Any explosives will completely destroy a player using HLS. Using HLS also slows you down greatly and makes turning extremely slow as well. This makes you vulnerable to attack from the side and back. One thing of concern was how fast you could deploy the HLS.

After the E3 show floor I attended the MLG/Community event to get some more hands on time. Both Spartan Ops and Infinity multiplayer were playable.

Spartan Ops:

As most of you know Spartan Ops (SPOPS) is a episodic co-op experience. Episodes are released periodically with new missions and CGI stories. First you are presented with a story CGI scene. The build I played had ‘motion comic’, which was a place holder. I’m not going into detail about story, but the in terms of scope it seemed very ambitious. Playing Spartan Ops was a blast. As someone who got bored with Firefight after a month or two I can see myself returning to SPOPS to visit new locations and experience new stories. The mission I played was as ambitious as you would expect from campaign. I played with three other players and we had to work together to make our way through the level. We fought both Covenant and Promethean ai. Fighting against the Covenant felt great, but when I first starting taking on Promethean enemies I felt like I had to hug the closest person around me. Promethean’s, Knights in particular, were some of the most thrilling ai opponents I have ever fought against. I consider myself a component Halo player and I was being slapped around and out smarted. Knights dodge, evade, advance, and are just completely unpredictable and super lethal. David, who was kind enough to walk me through the mission, pointed out that we weren’t seeing the entirety of their battle prowess. Consider me wowed. I will sum this up by saying that Spec Ops isn’t some Firefight mode in a contained map with tacked on story. It played like a campaign mission and in terms of story it seemed to be as ambitious as a campaign. Spartan Ops was definitely a highlight for me. I would like to point out that on my first play through of Spartan Ops I could of sworn I picked up a grenade type that wasn’t a plasma or a frag. What I threw was orange, but I never encountered it again. I also had the chance to use the scatter shot, which I’ll talk about a little later.

More on Infinity Slayer:

I was able to try the map you know as Warhouse. Cinematic frame rate was nowhere to be found, not even around the mech. I still don’t quite understand the layout of Warhouse, but it seemed to get me back to the combat pretty fast. The third map I tried was a larger snowy map named Longbow. I can’t say enough about the art in the game, it simply looked beautiful. Anyway, I was able to try the Warthog, Mongoose and Ghost. Vehicles felt closer to Halo 2/3, which in my opinion is a good thing. At the beginning of the map I noticed that weapons were displayed on the map for all players to see. I rushed for sniper to try it out. It is lethal and it is harder to use than it is in Reach, but I felt more comfortable with using it then I did in Halo 3. The sniper has kickback too, so you better be confident about that headshot, you might not get another chance! One thing I noticed was that the scope (when unscoped) covered up a pretty significant portion of the screen. It was somewhat weird.


I can’t quite remember all of them, but here is what stuck in my head. The ability to carry more ammo, faster shield recharge, unlimited sprint, in scope motion sensor. There were several more that I will report on again tomorrow. To be really honest, I didn’t even notice the upgrades most of the time. They never felt like they interrupted the game or broke the game. I think as players dig deeper into Halo 4 these upgrades will open up more opportunities.

The Feel of the Game:

Controls felt great. I played default and ended up playing at 6 sensitivity as opposed to 4-5 sensitivity when playing Reach. Take that as you will. Everything is smooth, responsive, and works just as you would expect. Weapons take skill, but are very predictable and lethal. Auto aim felt significantly less when compared to Reach and 1v1s felt way more intense. Killing opponents took less time than Reach, which sped up the gameplay. Bleed-through seemed to be back, but I’ not 100% sure. Most importantly, as DominoTheory pointed out, Halo 4 is a gun game. Grenade and melee deaths/kills were few and strafing is as important as ever. I noticed that jump height is a lot higher than in Reach, but maybe not as high as Halo 2/3. On screen text (Killing Spree, Headshot, etc) was barely noticeable, but I do feel like the new color scheme of the medals made them harder to see.


They aren’t nukes! They also act like objects being thrown and not sling shotted. There is an arc to the toss and placement took more skill. I noticed that if grenades are close that the HUD notifies you. with an mini grenade icon and an arrow pointing to where it is in relation to the player. Bouncing grenades is as predictable as ever. I didn’t really find my grenades getting caught up in geometry or doing unexpected things.

Scatter Shot:

Yes, it gets its own category.The Scatter Shot was favorite new addition to the Halo sandbox that I was able to try out. It definitely felt like a power weapon, and it seemed to be an ordinance only type of deal. You know the Flak Cannon in Unreal? Yeah, it gave me that vibe. Projectiles ricochet off walls. Need to kill a player around the corner? No problem. Make no mistake, the Scatter Shot felt like a shotgun. One shot up close and your opponent dissolves right before your eyes. It takes a few shots (2-4) if you aren’t within melee range. The weapon also has a visible spread, so if you’re off target at all only a few projectiles seem to hit. Oh, it does that sweet lego piece animation when you pick it up!

The Sound:

Phenomenal. I know you think you heard Halo 4 over that stream, but trust me you didn’t. Sotaro Tojima made me jump out of the seat when a Promethean Knight teleport charged me. The plasma pistol made my ears bleed and the AR sounds more menacing than the CE AR. The game packs a punch in the sound department. I could spend hours talking about how intense and visceral everything sounded. Actually, I think I might do that at some point.

I’d like to end my initial impressions with a thank you to Jessica, David, Alison, Frankie, and the rest of the team for taking care of us and showing your commitment to the community. Being able to see your passion for everything Halo means a lot to me and the entire Halo community.

Pleas forgive spelling/grammar mistake, I’m still in shock from today and extremely exhausted. Hopefully my brief write up was of interest to you. I will try to provide more in depth details in the coming days.

EDIT: Thanks to GodlyPerfection I just remembered two more. Increased motion sensor radius and AA Efficiency. I believe that the AA upgrade recharges your AA faster.


Biggy has given us his thoughts on playing Halo 4 along with some pictures and videos from the Halo 4 party and community event.

Turns out, recording or taking pictures from inside the Halo 4 Experience booth is forbidden and additionally, the signal quality sucks inside the conference hall. Biggy will persevere, just be patient.

Biggy is now at the Halo 4 Experience at E3. Check out his pictures from outside the massive booth in the gallery.

The show floor has opened. Not long now until Biggy gets his first taste of Halo 4!

You can view Biggy’s adventure as he upload photos in our gallery below!


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