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Overview

Master Chief, ready to
Master Chief, ready to “finish the fight”.

Halo 3 is a sci-fi first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 on September 25, 2007.

The third game in the Halo franchise (and the last in the original Halo trilogy), Halo 3 continues the story of the SPARTAN-II super-soldier known as Master Chief and concludes the events of the Human-Covenant War. It is the first in the series to be released on the Xbox 360.

Set two weeks after the Master Chief escaped the Flood-infested Covenant space station High Charity (by boarding the Forerunner Dreadnaught of the Prophet of Truth), the game starts with the Master Chief disembarking and crash-landing in an east African jungle. With the help of both the United Nations Space Command (mainly by Sergeant Major Avery Johnson, Commander Miranda Keyes, and Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood) and the Sangheili (mainly by The Arbiter), Master Chief must defend Earth from the remaining forces of the Prophet of Truth (led by the Jiralhanae) while preventing Truth from activating the entire Halo array and figuring out how to end the Flood infestation, once and for all.

Halo 3 has brought various additions and changes to Halo 2’s gameplay mechanics. The MA5-series Assault Rifle makes a return as the Master Chief’s weapon of choice (while players can also use the powerful Spartan Laser, and various new Jiralhanae weapons, such as the Spike and Firebomb Grenades, the close-ranged Gravity Hammer, the Mauler, and the Spike Rifle). Players can now use separate buttons (defaulting to the “bumper” buttons) to reload each dual-wielded weapon (in which the secondary reload button doubles as switching grenades, if the player is not dual-wielding). Players can also carry and deploy (using the button originally used to reload) special portable “equipment” (including trip mines, gravitational lifts, and bubble shield generators). Players can also now detach stationary turrets for portable use (albeit slower movement speeds and forced third-person perspective). The game also includes new vehicles, including the UNSC’s mobile transport Mongoose and the Brute’s attack motorbike Chopper.

The game also includes various improvements to Halo 2’s multiplayer aspect. Players can now customize the armor permutations (including helmet, shoulders, and torso) for both their Spartan and Elite soldiers (each of which must be earned by completing goals and achievements throughout the game). Players can now be easily identified by their allies in-game through a custom Service Tag (composed of a letter followed by two numbers). Halo 3 includes a more robust matchmaking system with the TrueSkill ranking system, a new experience system (with a special ranking system in which players can earn different “grades” depending on their TrueSkill rank and experience points), special playlists (including playlists that grant double experience points), and the option to veto the first given map/gametype combination. The game now includes a special Theater Mode (where players can watch game replays and crop them into smaller film clips or take screenshots) and Forge Mode (a unique in-game map editor where players can alter the placement of any weapon, spawn, item, or structure on any map) While the clan system from Halo 2 was removed, Halo 3 includes a new File Share system, in which players can upload custom gametype variants, film clips, screenshots, and “Forged” map variants into Bungie’s servers, so that they can be downloaded by other players.

The Multiplayer portion of the game was later bundled with Halo 3: ODST (as “Halo 3: Complete Multiplayer Experience” or “Halo 3: Mythic”) with all DLC maps included (including three timed-exclusive maps).

Gameplay

Mechanics

One of tens of thousands of multiplayer armour permutations.
One of tens of thousands of multiplayer armour permutations.

The gameplay in Halo 3 has undergone some significant changes compared to its predecessors, including simple tweaks to make it more cohesive. Master Chief may now carry “equipment,” which can range from a portable gravity lift, allowing the player to lift himself into the air, to a bubble-shield, which will spawn a clear, protective bubble around whoever decides to throw it down, as well as deployable cover, which projects a small blue defense shield, as well as many others. Bungie has assigned these special abilities to the “X” button, which was previously used to reload. Players now use the RB (right bumper) to reload the main weapon and LB for the secondary weapon if they are dual-wielding, although they can decide to use one of several other pre-made control schemes.

The Load-Out

A player brandishing the Recon Armor, formerly given to exceptional community members.
A player brandishing the Recon Armor, formerly given to exceptional community members.

Bungie has added a different version of the original Assault Rifle (it has about half the clip size of the version in Halo: Combat Evolved, but it deals a little more damage and has better accuracy), strengthened the Needler (though it can no longer be dual-wielded), and also included some new weapons like the Spikers (Brute sub-machine guns) and the Gravity Hammer (the Brute counterpart of the Elite Energy Sword). There are also 2 new grenade classes: The Spike Grenade and the Incendiary Grenade (AKA the firebomb grenade). The former is a Brute-made grenade that sticks to objects before sending razor-sharp spikes flying in the direction of the blast, and the latter a UNSC weapon especially useful against the zombie-like Flood. Bungie also reduced the load-out on each grenade from the previous four, to two, allowing players to carry a total of eight grenades and switch between the types with the left bumper (when not dual-wielding). A player may also pick up turrets and flamethrowers, but by using them he/she will switch into a 3rd person view, in which movement will be slightly restricted and ammo will become limited. There are also a few new vehicles like the Mongoose, a quadbike with two seats, the Hornet, which is the human equivalent to the Banshee, and the Chopper, which resembles the Ghost in that it has only one seat and can fire front-mounted cannons. One final new vehicle, the Elephant, is an enormous, invincible mobile base armed with two turrets. The Elephant appears only in the multiplayer level ‘Sand Trap’, and serves as each team’s flag base in Capture the Flag mode, allowing players to actually move their flag around the level, albeit at a painfully slow pace.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer gameplay on the Mythic map,
Multiplayer gameplay on the Mythic map, “Assembly”

Halo 3’s campaign can be played co-operatively, locally, through System Link, and online on Xbox Live with up to four players, although only two players may play on a single Xbox 360. Unlike previous games, which just doubled the primary character, each player in Halo 3 is given a unique character; player one controls the Master Chief, player two controls the Arbiter (with small changes to the dialogue and cutscenes to reflect the fact that the Arbiter never leaves the Chief) and players three and four controlling unique Elites, who never speak and do not show up in cutscenes, though Bungie has named them N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham, respectively. In addition, Halo 3 can also be played competitively through a matchmaking service or in custom, user-created games. In matchmaking, players are matched with up to fifteen other players based on their rank and skill level in the individual “playlists”, which are categorized into two groups depending on their overall purpose. Ranked playlists are used to match players based on their Trueskill rating. Social playlists allow players to play with others with no ranking system involved for each playlist, although Experience and overall skill still determines player match-ups. Few of the original achievements work in social matches, but the DLC achievements all are unlockable in social playlists. One can also still earn Experience for the playlists, as well as global and playlist-specific Experience points (EXP). Finally, every weekend, Double Experience Weekend begins that focus on a very specific playstyle or gametype, including Grifball and Infection. The playlists are:

Ranked

  • Lone Wolves – Matches include 6 players and use free-for-all game modes, like Slayer, Swords, Slayer BRs, Crazy King, and Oddball.
  • Team Slayer – Matches are team-based and usually include 6 or 8 players in 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 games. Modes played are Team Slayer, Team BRs, Team Snipers, and Shotty Snipers.
  • Team Doubles – 2-on-2 matches with both Slayer and Objective gametypes, including Team Slayer, Team BRs, Team Snipers, Team Oddball, Team Crazy King, Multi-Flag CTF and One Flag
  • MLG – A playlist using MLG-created maps and MLG versions of Team Slayer, Team Ball, Team Hill and Multi-Flag.
  • Squad Battle – 6-on-6 matches with slayer and flag variants
  • SWAT – A hardcore playlist involving the use of no energy shields and no motion trackers, and using only Battle Rifle/Magnum combos, just Magnums, or just Shotguns. Most games are simply SWAT, SWAT Magnums, or ShWATguns, but as of an update, SWATball and 2-flag CTF are also used as gametypes.
  • Team Snipers – 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 games in Slayer-based gametypes such as Team Snipers, Shotty Snipers and Team Splasers.

Social

Gameplay of multiplayer map,
Gameplay of multiplayer map, “Avalanche”
  • Rumble Pit – Much like Lone Wolves, but in a social setting. Uses Slayer and “Fiesta” variants such as Slayer, Hammerzeit, Swords, Juggernaut, Oddball, Crazy King, Ninja Ball and Mosh Pit.
  • Social Big Team – Uses 5-on-5 and 8-on-8 matches. Gametypes played include Team Slayer, Multi-Flag CTF, One Bomb, VIP, Territories, Big Splockets, Land Grab, and 2 Flag Heavy CTF.
  • Social Slayer – 5-on-5 and solo gametypes, such as Team Slayer/Slayer, Team Rockets/Rockets, Team Duals/Duals, and Team BRs/Slayer BRs.
  • Social Skirmish – 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 non-slayer matches. Gametypes are One Flag CTF, Multi-Flag CTF, One Bomb Assault, Neutral Bomb Assault, VIP, Territories, and Land Grab.
  • Multi-Team – Uses four teams of 2 in gametypes like Team Slayer, Team Hammers, Team Swords, VIP, Team Oddball, and Team Crazy King.
  • Action Sack – Random 8 player matches offering 0 EXP
  • Team Mythic – Much like team slayer but the Halo 3 Mythic disc is required.

In custom mode players can play multiplayer matches using custom game modes, settings, and maps. All modes and maps are available to play on and can be changed between matches by the party leader. Players must invite friends to play these games, however.

Ranks

Reaching different ranks requires the player to gain certain amounts of EXP and, for officer ranks, reach different skill levels. Skill levels are increased when the player wins ranked games. EXP is gained from simply winning games which can be either ranked or unranked. One EXP is gained from winning a game, zero is gained from losing a game and one EXP is lost for quitting out of a game early. The Ranks in increasing order are:

  1. Recruit grade 1
  2. Apprentice Grade 1, Apprentice Grade 2
  3. Private Grade 1, Private Grade 2
  4. Corporal Grade 1, Corporal Grade 2
  5. Sergeant Grade 1, Sergeant Grade 2, Sergeant Grade 3
  6. Gunnery Sergeant Grade 1, Gunnery Sergeant Grade 2, Master Gunnery Sergeant
  7. Lieutenant Grade 1, Lieutenant Grade 2, Lieutenant Grade 3, First Lieutenant
  8. Captain Grade 1, Captain Grade 2, Captain Grade 3, Staff Captain
  9. Major Grade 1, Major Grade 2, Major Grade 3, Field Major
  10. Commander Grade 1, Commander Grade 2, Commander Grade 3, Strike Commander
  11. Colonel Grade 1, Colonel Grade 2, Colonel Grade 3, Force Colonel
  12. Brigadier Grade 1, Brigadier Grade 2, Brigadier Grade 3, Brigadier General
  13. General Grade 1, General Grade 2, General Grade 3, 5 Star General

Maps

The game shipped with 11 maps, with 13 additional maps as DLC (for a total of 24 maps). In addition, players can now use Forge to alter map geometry and weapon layouts (sometimes creating brand new arenas).

Five of these maps are remakes from Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, each with numerous alterations and different themes. Two of these maps were made for Forge in mind, allowing players to easily clear the map and build new arenas on top of it.

Standard Maps

  • Construct (2-8 players, Forerunner)
  • Epitaph (2-8 players, Forerunner)
  • Guardian (2-6 players, Forerunner)
  • High Ground (4-12 players, Human)
  • Isolation (2-10 players, Forerunner)
  • Last Resort (4-12 players, Human) – Remake of “Zanzibar” from Halo 2.
  • Narrows (2-8 players, Forerunner)
  • Sandtrap (6-16 players, Forerunner)
  • Snowbound (2-8 players, Covenant)
  • The Pit (4-10 players, Human)
  • Valhalla (6-16 players, Human) – Remake of “Blood Gulch” from Halo: Combat Evolved and “Coagulation” from Halo 2.

Downloadable Maps

Heroic Map Pack (Released on December 11, 2007 for $9.99)

  • Foundry (4-12 players, Human) – Unique in that every single object in the level can be deleted and rearranged in Forge mode, allowing for more unique custom arenas.
  • Rat’s Nest (6-16 players, Human)
  • Standoff (4-12 players, Human)

Legendary Map Pack (Released on April 15, 2008 for $9.99)

  • Avalanche (6-16 players, Forerunner)
  • Blackout (4-12 players, Human) – Remake of “Lockout” from Halo 2.
  • Ghost Town (4-12 players, Human)

Cold Storage (Released on July 7, 2008 for free)

  • Cold Storage (2-6 players, Forerunner) – Remake of “Chill Out” from Halo: Combat Evolved.

Mythic Map Pack (Released on April 9, 2009 for $9.99)

Also included in the Limited Edition version of Halo Wars.

  • Assembly (2-8 players, Covenant)
  • Orbital (4-12 players, Human)
  • Sandbox (4-12 players, Forerunner) – Unique as it features three separate areas for use in Foundry: the ground level, a free-floating “sky bubble” hundreds of feet above the ground, and an underground “crypt” room (which coveniently has the dimensions of a Grifball court). A map, similar to Foundry, made from the ground-up with Forge in mind. Similar to Foundry, every single object in the level can be deleted and rearranged in Forge mode, allowing for more unique custom arenas.

Mythic II Map Pack (Released on February 2, 2010 for $9.99)

The maps were originally included as a timed-exclusive in the “Halo 3: Mythic” disc included in Halo 3: ODST.

  • Citadel (2-6 players, Forerunner)
  • Heretic (2-8 players, Covenant) – Remake of “Midship” from Halo 2.
  • Longshore (4-12 players, Human)

Multiplayer Gametypes

Halo 3 includes nine gametypes built-in, including all base gametypes from the game’s predecessor (but not all of its variants).

Slayer

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

No Caption Provided

Standard deathmatch in free-for-all or team scenarios.

In default variations, players/teams earn points by successfully killing enemies and lose points by killing themselves (or teammates).

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to the player who has the most kills at the time (the Leader).
  • Changing the scoring system. This includes positive/negative points for kills, assists, deaths, suicides, betrayals, kills against the Leader, headshot kills, melee kills (both normal and from-the-back), vehicular splatter kills, sticky grenade kills, killing sprees, and eliminating the last member of a team.

Included Variants

  • Slayer – Free-for-all.
  • Team Slayer – Teamplay.
  • Rockets – Free-for-all. Players spawn with Rocket Launchers and infinite ammo. No weapon pickups.
  • Eliminatio – Teamplay. Games are played in rounds, as teams try to win each round by getting 5 kills (regardless of suicide/betrayal).
  • Duel – Free-for-all. The kill leader has a waypoint that is visible to everyone else.

Oddball

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

No Caption Provided

A “kill the man with the ball” objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players must find and maintain possession of the titular Oddball to score points. They earn points over time by having one player hold onto the ball. Players who hold an Oddball cannot use weapons or equipment, but they can melee enemies for bonus melee damage.

In default variations, ball carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat), have their motion tracker disabled, and have a waypoint that is visible to everybody else.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to ball carriers.
  • Changing the scoring system. This includes a kill-based system involving the ball carrier.
  • The number of Oddballs in play.

Included Variants

  • Oddball – Free-for-all. Ball carriers move -10% slower.
  • Team Oddball – Teamplay. Ball carriers move -25% slower.
  • Lowball – Teamplay. Ball carriers move -25% slower. Every player on the team needs 25 points for the team to win.
  • Ninjaball – Free-for-all. Ball carriers move +50% faster and have less gravity, but have -10% less damage resistance and -50% slower shield recharging.
  • Rocketball – Free-for-all. Ball carriers move -10% slower. Players spawn with Rocket Launchers and infinite ammo. No weapon pickups.

King of the Hill

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

No Caption Provided

A “king of the hill” objective mode (in free-for-all or team scenarios) where players/teams must maintain possession of a marked area (known as the “Hill”) to score points. They earn points over time by keeping their position inside the Hill’s specially-marked boundary.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to players inside the Hill.
  • Changing the scoring system. This includes subtracting points for those not on the Hill.
  • Whether or not the Hill moves after a predetermined amount of time (in a predictable or random order).

Included Variants

  • Crazy King – Free-for-all. Hill moves to a random location after 30 seconds.
  • Team King – Teamplay. Teams only earn points if the Hill is uncontested. Hill moves to a random location after 1 minute.
  • Mosh Pit – Free-for-all. Hill does not move. Players in the Hill gain +50% damage resistance, +200% faster shield recharging, and can leech other players’ shields (at 25% of damage dealt).

Capture the Flag

Originated in Halo: Combat Evolved.

No Caption Provided

A two-team “capture the flag” objective mode where teams must take possession of an enemy flag and bring it back to their flag zone to score points. Similar to Oddball, players who hold an enemy flag cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies for bonus melee damage.

In default variations, flag carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat) and move -25% slower.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to flag carriers.
  • Whether or not teams must have their own flag secure in order to capture the enemy flag.
  • Whether or not the game is played symmetrically (Multiple Flags) or asymmetrically (One Flag).

Included Variants

  • Multi Flag – Each team has their own flag, and must capture the enemy team’s flag while protecting their own. It takes 15 seconds for an ally to return their dropped flag (by standing on it), and 30 seconds for the flag to return automatically. Their flag must be at their flag zone to capture the enemy flag.
  • One Flag – Round-based variant. Each team take turns twice as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have no flag to guard, and have four minutes to capture the Defenders’ flag once. The round ends when the time is up or the flag is captured.
  • Tank Flag – Multi Flag. Flag carriers have +900% damage resistance, but have -50% slower shield recharging and move -50% slower.
  • Attrition CTF – Multi Flag. Players have a minimum respawn time of 1 minute (and respawn with 5 seconds of invulnerability), but respawn automatically when their team captures a flag. Flags cannot return automatically.

Assault

Originated in Halo 2.

No Caption Provided

A two-team “assault” objective mode where teams must take possession of a Bomb, bring it to the enemy’s base (shown as a waypoint), and protect it until it detonates. Similar to Oddball, players who hold a Bomb cannot use weapons, but they can melee enemies for bonus melee damage.

In default variations, bomb carriers cannot drive vehicles (only able to ride the passenger seat) and move 25% slower. It takes 15 seconds for it to detonate, 5 seconds for it to be disarmed by the enemy, and 30 seconds for dropped Bombs to return back to base.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to bomb carriers.
  • Changing the Arm/Fuse/Disarm/Reset times.
  • Whether or not the game is played symmetrically (Multi Bomb, Neutral Bomb) or asymmetrically (One Sided).

Included Variants

  • Assault – Each team has their own Bomb, and must detonate theirs at the enemy base while protecting their own base.
  • Neutral Bomb – A single Bomb is placed in the middle of the battlefield (which anybody can grab).
  • One Bomb – Round-based variant. Each team take turns twice as Attackers and Defenders. Attackers have access to the Bomb and has four minutes to detonate it at the Defenders’ base. The round ends when either the time is up or the bomb is detonated.
  • Attrition Bomb – Neutral Bomb. Players have a minimum respawn time of 1 minute (and respawn with 5 seconds of invulnerability), but respawn automatically when their team detonates a Bomb.

Territories

Originated in Halo 2.

No Caption Provided

A team-based “conquest” objective mode (with up to four teams) where teams fight to capture marked areas (known as “Territories”) to score points. Teams earn points by capturing Territories. Territories are captured once a player in that team keeps their position inside the Territory’s specially-marked boundary uncontested.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to players capturing a Territory and to players defending a Territory.
  • Whether or not dead players can respawn on a Territory capture (regardless of lives).
  • Whether or not Territories can be re-captured.

Included Variants

  • Territories – Round-based two-team variant. Each team take turns twice as Attackers and Defenders. Defenders start with all Territories captured, cannot re-capture Territories, and have four minutes to prevent the Attackers from claiming each Territory. The round ends when the time is up or Attackers capture all Territories. 30 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.
  • Land Grab – Three rounds. Neutral Territories are placed throughout the map. Territories can not be re-captured. Each round ends when all Territories are captured. 30 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.
  • Flag Rally – Three rounds. Neutral Territories are placed throughout the map. Teams earn points based on how many Territories captured when each round ends. 10 seconds uncontested to capture Territories.

Juggernaut

Originated in Halo 2.

No Caption Provided

A free-for-all deathmatch mode with a twist: one player becomes a unique “Juggernaut”.

In default variations, Juggernauts gain +100% overshields and deal +25% more damage, but cannot use vehicles, have -50% slower shield recharging, and have waypoints visible to everyone. One random player starts off as the Juggernaut and the player who kills the Juggernaut becomes the next one.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to Juggernauts.
  • Changing the scoring system (including a “goal” system where the Juggernaut has to reach specially-marked zones).
  • Changing who becomes the first Juggernaut (either random, the first player to kill, or the first player to die).
  • Changing when somebody becomes the next Juggernaut. This can be when the Juggernaut dies (the killer or a random player becomes the next one), when the Juggernaut kills a player (that player becoming the next one), or one player remaining the Juggernaut throughout the match.
  • Whether or not all non-Juggernaut players are teamed up against the Juggernaut.

Included Variants

  • Juggernaut – Players earn points by both killing Juggernauts and killing as Juggernauts.
  • Mad Dash – Players earn points by reaching goal zones as Juggernauts.
  • Ninjanaut – Players earn points by both killing Juggernauts and killing as Juggernauts. Instead of overshields and more damage, Juggernauts move +50% faster (with less gravity), +100% faster shield recharging, have no waypoint marked, and are camouflaged. However, they have -50% damage resistance.

VIP

New for Halo 3.

No Caption Provided

A team-based objective mode where players aim to eliminate marked enemy players (VIPs) while protecting their own marked player.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to VIPs, to players near their VIPs, and to players who are on the same team as a VIP.
  • Changing the scoring system (including a “goal” system where VIPs have to reach specially-marked zones).
  • Whether or not only one team has a VIP.
  • Who becomes the next VIP after they die (either random, unchanging, or the next teammate to die) and if the round ends on a VIP death.

Included Variants

  • VIP – Each team has a VIP. When a VIP dies, the next player who dies becomes the next VIP. VIPs gain +100% overshields, but have -10% damage resistance, -50% slower shield recharging, can not drive vehicles, and have a waypoint that is visible to everyone. Teams earn points by killing enemy VIPs and lose points by betraying their VIPs.
  • One Sided VIP – Round-based. One team starts with a VIP. Each round ends when the VIP is dead. VIPs can not drive vehicles. Teams earn points by killing enemy VIPs and lose points by betraying their VIPs.
  • Escort – Round-based. One team starts with a VIP. Each round ends when the VIP is dead. VIPs can not drive vehicles. Teams earn points by escorting their VIP to goal zones.
  • Influential VIP – Each team has a VIP. When a VIP dies, the next player who dies becomes the next VIP. VIPs gain +100% overshields, but have -50% slower shield recharging, can not drive vehicles, and have a waypoint that is visible to everyone. All players within 15 meters of their VIP gain invulnerability and camouflage. Teams earn points by killing enemy VIPs and lose points by betraying their VIPs.

Infection

New for Halo 3.

No Caption Provided

A non-competitive round-based objective mode with two undefined teams: Humans and Zombies. Each round starts with most of the players as Humans, whose goal is to survive for the entire round. The remaining players, as Zombies, must “convert” each Human to their team by successfully killing them. While teams are present in this mode, players can only win individually by earning the most amount of points after all rounds are complete. Rounds end when either the Human team is empty or after the game timer depletes.

In most default variations, Zombies only have access to infinite-ammo Energy Swords, access to enhanced motion trackers, no vehicle access, and lower gravity. Humans can see each-other through waypoints. The last Human remaining has a waypoint that is visible to enemies. Vehicles are limited to Mongooses. All players gain points for kills and lose points for suicides/betrayals.

Options that can be changed include:

  • Adding special traits to Zombies, to players who start the round as a Zombie, and to players who become the last Human remaining.
  • Changing the scoring system (including earning points for being the last Human remaining).
  • Who become the next Zombies in subsequent rounds (either unchanged, players at random, players who were converted first, and players who were converted last).

Included Variants

  • Infection – 25% of players start as a Zombie.
  • Save One Bullet – One player starts as a Zombie. Humans spawn with Shotguns and Magnums. No weapon pickups or grenades.
  • Alpha Zombie – One player starts as an Alpha Zombie, who also deals +25% more damage, moves +25% faster, and has limited camouflage.
  • Hide and Seek – One player starts as a Zombie. Zombies now have Rocket Launchers, longer motion tracker range, and +50% movement speed. Humans now have camouflage, but have -10% movement speed, and have no motion trackers. Vehicles disabled. Humans can no longer earn points by kills, instead earning 5 points for being the last Human remaining in a round.

User-Generated Content

Forge

Main Article: Forge

With the addition of the new Forge mode, any Halo 3 owner can completely customize every Halo 3 multiplayer map. From vehicle and weapon placement to fusion coils and equipment placement, just about everything the player can use and interact with on a map can be moved, tweaked, and adjusted to the player’s liking. Once completed, all forged maps can be put on the player’s file share and uploaded to Bungie.net were other players can download, comment, tag, and share their creations over the Internet. The recent maps Foundry (From the Heroic Map Pack) and Sandbox (From the Mythic Map Pack) were made specifically to cater to users of Forge. Many forging communities have arisen in the wake of these two maps releases, creating a massive number of user-generated maps. Bungie has recently taken notice of this user-generated content and has incorporated several Forge maps created in Foundry and Sandbox into both Ranked and Social matchmaking. Bungie has also regularly featured maps created by the community in their weekly updates and included interviews with their creators. A few special features of the Forge have been included in recent map packs as well, from different color affects to the Killball.

Theater

The Theater is a powerful tool allowing the viewing and saving of previously played campaign missions and multiplayer matches. The system used to create the video allows the video to maintain a size of mere kilobytes. The Theater can be used to take screenshots, save film clips, and save whole films. The camera in the Theater is not limited to a body either. The camera can be moved to any player or free-floated anywhere in the map, allowing for interesting angles and screenshots.

Screenshots

A User Created Screenshot
A User Created Screenshot

With the use of theater mode, users can take screenshots of their favorite moments and upload them to Bungie.net. There, players can also comment, rate, and download other users’ screenshots. Bungie has used screenshots uploaded to Bungie.net in their Weekly updates.

Saved Films

While watching a match in Theater, people can save entire custom and matchmaking games or cut out specific parts to make video clips. These videos can then be watched through Theater by anyone who has downloaded the file from the user’s File Share. Plus, as the Theater records gameplay information and not video, matches can be viewed from any angle. Unfortunately, for the same reason, the Theater clips cannot be viewed online (although the Bungie Pro Video feature alleviates this problem, see below), although the player can set a video to download the next time they play Halo 3.

File Share

The File Share is available for every Halo 3 user and allows them to upload their files for others to view and download at no cost. These slots can include Films, Film Clips, Screenshots, Map Variants, Gametypes or any combination. The standard capacity for the File Share is six slots and/or 25MB, although this can be upgraded to 24 slots and 250MB via the pay service called Bungie Pro (see below).

Bungie Pro

Bungie Pro enables a number of premium features to the Halo 3 user, including an expansion of storage for the Halo 3 File Share (see above) and the ability to use Bungie Pro Video (see below). A 12-Month Bungie Pro subscription can be purchased over Xbox Live for 750 MS Points. At the end of the subscription, the player will be asked to whether they want to renew their subscription or not. For a limited time, a trial of Bungie Pro was given as a gift to people who downloaded the Legendary Map Pack or Mythic Map Pack. The trial lasted roughly 4 months.

Bungie Pro Video

As of now Bungie Pro comes bundled with Bungie Pro Video. Bungie Pro Video allows the player take their game film clips (which, as they are purely game data, require Halo 3 to be viewed) and turn them into videos they can watch on their computer using the .wmv format. Users are allowed 5 render minutes a month, which expire at the end of the month. Bungie has stated that users will soon be able to buy render minutes using the File Share menu at 10 minutes for 100 MSP ($1.25).

Skulls

A Halo 3 Skull
A Halo 3 Skull

Human skulls can be found tucked away in odd corners of the Halo 3 campaign. Each one has some kind of effect on the game that can be turned on or off at the beginning of a play session. In doing so, Bungie has expanded the original skulls “Easter Egg” from Halo 2. In Halo 3, when the player finds a skull they can turn it on and off at will, as opposed to having to start a new save to turn it off. There are four “silver skulls” which don’t give an achievement but go towards unlocking the Hayabusa armor, and nine “gold skulls” which each have their own achievement and go towards unlocking the Hayabusa armor.

Silver Skulls

  • Cowbell Skull – Makes explosions larger.
  • Grunt Birthday Party Skull – When Grunts are shot in the head, their head explodes and confetti flies out. There is also the sound of children cheering.
  • IWHBYD Skull – Activates new, often humorous dialogue in the game.
  • Blind Skull – Removes the reticule, shield bar, ammo count, etc. from the HUD.

Gold Skulls

  • Catch Skull – Makes enemies use grenades more often and also drop more when killed. Friendly units will also throw grenades more often.
  • Iron Skull – If playing the campaign singleplayer, death will send the player back to the beginning of the level. In co-op, the death of a single player takes all players back to the last checkpoint, similarly to playing Halo 2 on the Legendary difficulty.
  • Black Eye Skull – The shields don’t recharge unless the player melees attack enemies.
  • Tough Luck Skull – Enemies are better at dodging explosions and vehicles.
  • Fog Skull – Removes the motion sensor.
  • Famine Skull – Makes dropped weapons supply with less ammo. This does not include weapons on weapon racks or certain weapons “planted” by Bungie for the player to use.
  • Thunderstorm Skull – Enemies’ ranks are higher. Higher ranked enemies take more damage.
  • Tilt Skull – Enemies are more resistant to certain weapons. Even ordinarily, plasma weapons deal more damage to energy shields than to flesh, while the opposite is true for bullet-based weapons. With the skull on, shielded enemies will take dramatically less damage from bullet weapons and unshielded enemies will take dramatically less damage from plasma weapons. This includes vehicle weapons, such that a Plasma Rifle can take down a Brute’s shields before a Warthog LAAG turret can, but this is much less noticeable in a tank.
  • Mythic Skull – Enemies have double health.

Guides are available on Giant Bomb to aid in locating each skull. Additionally, six more skulls were can be found in each multiplayer map added in the downloadable Mythic Map Pack, and also in the three maps be packed in with Halo 3: ODST, with one skull per map. These skulls do not have any effects, and their only benefit is the Vidmaster achievement for finding all of them (meaning they are therefore required to achieve the coveted Recon armor).

Multiplayer Map Skulls

  • Assembly Skull – This skull is located in the center of the map, up top, in between the big purple arm and the middle post. As with all the Mythic skulls, the player must be in Forge to obtain it.
  • Orbital Skull – This skull is located above the pit in the middle of the map, it is a few floors up and hidden under and overhang. As with all the Mythic skulls, the player must be in Forge to obtain it.
  • Sandbox Skull – This skull is located at the back of the dunes, in between the guardians towers. There are many custom maps the player can download with the towers shut off so they can just fly out and grab it. As with all the Mythic skulls, the player must be in Forge to obtain it.
  • Citadel Skull
  • Heretic Skull
  • Longshore Skull

Soundtrack

The original soundtrack to Halo 3 was composed by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori and was released a few months after the game in a two disc set.

Tracklist:

Disc 1

Soundtrack Box Art
Soundtrack Box Art
  1. Luck (3:25)
  2. Released (5:20)
  3. Infiltrate (3:49)
  4. Honorable Intentions (2:46)
  5. Last of the Brave (3:57)
  6. Brutes (5:07)
  7. Out of Shadow (4:37)
  8. To Kill a Demon (3:44)
  9. This is Our Land (4:00)
  10. This is the Hour (2:08)
  11. Dread Intrusion (5:25)
  12. Follow Our Brothers (3:25)
  13. Farthest Outpost (5:14)
  14. Behold a Pale Horse (5:38)
  15. Edge Closer (3:03)

Disc 2

  1. Three Gates (4:34)
  2. Black Tower (6:03)
  3. One Final Effort (3:08)
  4. Gravemind (5:21)
  5. No More Dead Heroes (5:01)
  6. Keep What You Steal (2:36)
  7. Halo Reborn (3:59)
  8. Greatest Journey (4:52)
  9. Tribute (2:52)
  10. Roll Call (5:58)
  11. Wake Me When You Need Me (2:19)
  12. Legend (0:40)
  13. Choose Wisely (1:18)
  14. Movement (0:27)
  15. Never Forget (3:07)
  16. Finish the Fight (2:27)

Title Update 1

Melee

In Bungie’s first mandatory Title Update, they fixed what many players were complaining about at the time, the melee system. Previously, if two players melee’d each other at the same time, the player with more shielding would die and there was a two second window that the system considered “same time.” Due to the high level of complaints, Bungie came up with a new Melee system. The “same time” window was closed to about a second and the kill would often go to the player that hit first, but if the game determined that both players hit at the same time, both players would die, ending in a somewhat humorous death as both players flopped backwards.

Title Update 2

Ranking

In their online Weekly Update for August 1st, 2008, Bungie unveiled a new addition to the online ranking system to be implemented in the second mandatory Title Update for Halo 3. The post included a chart illustrating EXP progression in various matchmaking playlists. The update offers players another visual representation of their progress in the online game, and serves to display precisely how many victories they have earned in any given matchmaking playlist.

This is achieved by adding a new layer of specificity to the tracking of player EXP (EXP is a value that serves to illustrate how seasoned a player is in matchmade games). While a player’s online Service Record still reflects their total EXP value, under the new ranking system, the player also has a visual EXP value (in the form of the same military ranks that previously existed in the online game) for each individual playlist. To clarify, this means that as a player wins more games in a particular playlist their overall EXP value responds as it normally would, but they also progress through the Halo 3 military ranks specific to that playlist. An example: A player may fancy the Team Slayer hopper over all others, and after some time and enough wins, obtain an EXP rank of General in the playlist — however, if said player has only been competing in the Team Slayer playlist, they will have a playlist military rank of Recruit in the other playlists that they’ve been ignoring.

A common misconception among Halo fans after the announcement of this news was that the hard-fought rankings that they had toiled away for since first setting foot online would be made meaningless after the release of the update, because now any player who invested enough time in a certain playlist would reach the esteemed upper ranks in a much easier fashion. This concern was later proven to be immaterial, because no aspect of the previous ranking system was being modified, and the individual playlist rankings were not to be reflected in a player’s Service Record.

Map Variants

The Title Update also introduced four new variants of existing maps, out of Epitaph came Epilogue, and out of Snowbound came Boundless. While Epilogue is entirely without shield doors, Boundless still has those in High and Low base middle entrances (to counter the possibility of grenade spamming). These new maps will replace the existing ones; they will appear in matchmaking simultaneously, however in the long run Bungie hopes to have these maps become the dominant set. In addition to these two, Sand Tarp is now a version of Sand Trap without the Elephant vehicle and with new flag capture spaces. Pit Stop is a new version of The Pit with the upper spawn areas now inaccessible. These same matchmaking policies apply to these two as well. These maps are treated as Forge variants by the game, and can therefore be played normally and saved to an Xbox 360 Hard Drive.

Xbox 360 Game Installation

Halo 3 requires 5.7 GB of HDD space to be installed. However, Bungie has recommended players to not install the game, saying that due to optimizations made to the game (so that it can be played on Xbox 360 consoles with no HDD attached), playing an installed copy (either through the installation process or through Games on Demand) causes longer loading times when playing multiplayer.

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