Rich, expansive fiction and endless encounters against AI opponents may be what Halo is known for, but let’s not kid ourselves: the multiplayer is where it’s at. In honor of PAX 2012, 343 Industries has unveiled a brand new multiplayer map for Halo 4, entitled ‘Exile.’ Open spaces, impressive visuals and yes, explosions, abound in the newly released screenshots and gameplay video.

The gameplay video focuses on a round of Capture The Flag on ‘Exile,’ highlighting the new abilities made available to the flag carrier. Rather than being a hindrance, the screenshots and footage shown the opposing team’s flag as a deadly weapon. The multiplayer video is nowhere near as long as the one released during Rooster Teeth Expo, but the sneak peek at a brand new arena should make up for that.

The new gameplay does a good job of showing that whatever it was Bungie knew about level design that inevitably led to all-out carnage and mayhem, 343 Industries has clearly picked up as well. No one was expecting that Halo 4 would be playing it safe where multiplayer was concerned, since the overarching persistence and customization built into the online component represents the biggest change to the franchise to date. As for the actual moment-to-moment ferocity and savagery of online players…well, the assets released today speak for themselves.

The developers are keeping to their promise of offering a look at several different fronts of the war via multiplayer locales, even if the scenery is hard to notice amidst the explosions and looming threat of ‘Flagsassinations.’ Where the previously announce maps featured Forerunner constructs, and the most recent ‘Longbow’ took place in a snow-covered, polar installation, ‘Exile’ proves once again that nothing goes with brain matter and gore like green, green grass, and exposed red rock.

Have a look at the impressive screenshots: they may make you look at a flagpole in a whole new way:

‘Exile’ seems to be following the basic formula of a medium-sized, somewhat confined space that is still large enough to allow vehicles to work their magic. The tight corners and man-made structures that populate the environment should keep things interesting though, especially if players take advantage of the armor perks and unique abilities available (both cosmetic and functional). More than anything else, the gameplay footage actually appears to bring something new to one of the most well-established game types in modern multiplayer shooters.

The massive changes being introduced by 343 in an effort to make the Halo series their own, while still remembering what made it so unique and popular, may have put some fans on the defensive. While some might still argue that a Spartan IV should be less lethal when carrying a captured flag, as opposed to just as deadly, but in a far more hilarious way, we can’t help but disagree. The game has to be fun, after all, especially if the developers hope to bring in even more players than the online multiplayer currently enjoys.

Of course, if the singleplayer is all you’re interested in, 343 has also made it clear that the main campaign and episodic Spartan Ops modes will each be offering a full game’s worth of content. Seriously though, ‘Flagssassination’ – how could anyone resist?

Halo 4 will be released on November 6, 2012, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

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