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Halo 4 arrives this November

Nascent Halo developer 343 Industries opted to snatch the spotlight of this morning’s news cycle by announcing the official release date for the upcoming, heavily-anticipated Halo 4: November 6, 2012.

But wait, didn’t Halo 3 mark the end of Master Chief’s adventures? Though that’s what we were led to believe in the run up to that game’s release, in truth that game merely marked the end of the first Halo trilogy. Halo 4 is something of a new starting point for Master Chief et alia.

“We are beginning a new saga with Halo 4 and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of Halo games and experiences,” writes Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer in this morning’s official announcement. “Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with Halo 4 leading the charge, we’re confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history.”

As for what Master Chief will be doing in this new saga, the announcement is a bit vague. “Set four years after the events in Halo 3, Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe,” it reads, in a transparent effort to answer the unasked question without actually offering any solid information. Fans (or anyone who has ever played a Halo title over the past decade) however, are likely already expecting intense gunfights, extraterrestrials who are equal parts noble and terrifyingly ravenous and a late-game twist that likely includes another, even more ravenous group of aliens. Oh, and exceedingly feature-rich multiplayer content filled to the brim with teenagers looking to denigrate your parentage, sexuality or racial heritage. These tropes have served the series well so far, so it seems likely they’ll make a return.

In a somewhat bizarre bit of cross marketing synergy, tonight’s episode of Conan O’Brien’s show will include a “special segment” devoted to the game and its upcoming launch. Specifically, the show will “celebrate this fall’s launch of Halo 4,” though given O’Brien’s irreverence we’re just as likely to see a masturbating bear as new footage from the game. Regardless, those of you interested in catching the show should tune to TBS at 11PM Pacific/10PM Central Standard Time.