Microsoft's E3 2011 press conference brought forth some major announcements for its flagship Halo franchise, with the North American company confirming not just the oft-rumored HD edition of the first Halo game, but also a brand new sequel, in the form of Halo 4, which kicks off a new trilogy for the series.
First up, after plenty of rumors in recent months, Microsoft, the owner of the Halo franchise, and 343 Industries, the new developer of the series, which picked off where Bungie left, have confirmed that a high-definition revamp of the first Halo: Combat Evolved title will be released on the Xbox 360.
Dubbed the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition, the game takes the classic story of the first game in the series, completely remasters it in high definition, and adds a lot of new features like cooperative play over Xbox Live and a bundle of some of the most popular multiplayer maps from Halo, re-imagined for the Xbox Live online service.
The title is developed by 343 Industries in collaboration with Saber Interactive and Certain Affinity, and has some of the following features, as highlighted by Microsoft itself.
Stunningly remastered campaign. Relive the award-winning adventure that defined “Halo: Combat Evolved” as one of the best games of the decade with breathtaking next-gen graphics and audio remastered for the Xbox 360. Engage in epic-scale battles against the backdrop of the eponymous “Halo” ringworld, and relive nostalgic memories with the ability to toggle Classic mode to play the original version.
Online campaign co-op. For the first time, experience the story that started it all with a friend on Xbox LIVE and launch a cooperative assault against the Covenant, whether you live across the street or halfway around the world. [*Xbox LIVE Gold membership required for online multiplayer.]
Classic “Halo” multiplayer maps reimagined. Wage battle on six detailed remakes of some of the most beloved “Halo” multiplayer maps of all time, and bring the fight to the Covenant on a stunning and resonant new Firefight map.1 Remastered in the “Halo: Reach” engine and inspired by maps from “Halo: Combat Evolved” and “Halo 2,” these iconic battlefields reignite the heart-pounding multiplayer action of the original favorites and let you relive epic confrontations like you’ve never experienced them.
Developed in collaboration with Certain Affinity, the new multiplayer maps are included on the “Halo: Anniversary” game disc, which means players will not need to own the original “Halo: Reach” game to play. The first of the new remakes to be revealed at E3 Expo 2011 will be the fan-favorite map Damnation.
New challenges and enhanced story. Unlock up to 1,000 Achievement points as you clash with online opponents and battle through the campaign, and uncover never-before-revealed backstories told in motion-graphic form that foreshadow new mysteries in the story of “Halo 4.”
What's really important for existing Halo fans is the fact that Halo 4 has been officially confirmed for the Xbox 360.
According to Microsoft's Xbox Division President Don Mattrick, the game kicks off a brand new trilogy for the main character of the series, Master Chief, who awakes from cryonic stasis and finds that he now has a voice, after remaining silent during all of the previous Halo games in which he appeared.
Microsoft has confirmed that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary edition is coming on November 15, this year, while Halo 4 is scheduled to appear in fall of next year.
You can expect more details about both games in the following days, while the first trailers for both of them, as well as a few screenshots from the Halo: Anniversary title, can be found below.