Halo 4 was the finest part of Microsoft’s press conference at E3 2012, an elegant return to the thick organic technology, where jungles meet ancient alien tech, that is the trademark of the Bungie-born series. The new enemies created by 343 Industries, the new stewards of Master Chief’s adventures, aren’t as memorable as the Covenant. Their weird Ghost Rider faces and Sunny D-colored technology lacks the charm of a cackling Grunt. Halo’s raison d’etre with most players though is its competitive multiplayer, not its science fiction universe, and on that front 343 have acquitted themselves well.
Digital Trends got to spend a little time with Halo 4’s competitive multiplayer at an E3 party held for the game in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Same but thankfully not identical. Team Slayer and Regicide, games where players compete in teams and one on one trying to maintain a lead in points respectively, feel like a cross between the smoothness of Halo 3’s versus modes and the more staccato style seen in Halo Reach. Being able to change your load out on the fly and receive ordinance mid-fight based on strong performance—rack up consecutive kills and you can access your choice of three weapons delivered just to you—is a nice change of pace that doesn’t alter the appealing flow of Halo’s competition.
I actually went head to head with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyky, best known for playing Malcolm Reynolds and Wash on Joss Whedon’s cult show Firefly. They acquit themselves admirably but weren’t the best competition. Not to toot my own horn or anything.
Full disclosure: I only came in third.