Prior reports indicated that 343 Industries and Microsoft would be unveiling new Halo 4 info at the end of February.
Although the timeframe was a little bit off - the studio and publisher didn't keep fans waiting too long as, today, we've got new Halo 4 gameplay details as well as a first-look video that was previously only shown in closed-door press events.
The video confirms some long-standing Halo 4 rumors and speculation - specifically that the game will flesh-out Master Chief as a character, not just a cypher for the player, as well as feature a new imposing "threat." 343 is actually pretty forthcoming about what players can expect from the upcoming title - and even shows-off a lot of in-game (albeit unpolished) footage.
Check out the Halo 4 Spring Showcase ViDoc below for a sneak peek at the high-profile game in action:
The video definitely focuses a lot on 343 Industries and their attempt at pushing the Halo legacy forward, to compete in the "modern" shooter market - while staying grounded in the robust series canon and fan-favorite gameplay formula.
As mentioned, in an industry that is becoming increasingly driven by cinematic story-telling and complicated main characters, it's clear the studio intends to explore Master Chief significantly. While the relationship between Chief and Cortana has been central to the main Halo storyline, the characters have always been mostly static - pretty much unchanged throughout their various adventures. Prior Halo 4 spoiler-details indicated that the characters would be faced with tougher personal story lines in the coming adventure - and the new video definitely supports the notion that 343 is going to dig deep into Chief's emotions.
The ViDoc also shows-off a number of the technical upgrades and (returning) weaponry that should be a feast for the eyes - as well as improve upon the core gameplay mechanics.
Check out the first official screenshots from Halo 4 (click to enlarge) for even more eye candy:
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Similarly, while multiplayer has always been a key factor in the Halo series, it's clear that 343 is focused on re-establishing the non-single player elements as one of the premier online experiences available on a console. No doubt Halo: Reach enjoyed a lot of praise for improvements to the multiplayer portions; however, for many, the offering's "depth" came up a bit short when compared to more robust packages, such as the Call of Duty franchise, which detracted from the experience's long-term appeal.
That said, it'll be interesting to see how 343 and Microsoft find a healthy middle-ground for returning players as well as attempt to attract first person shooter fans who might not have been interested in the series' prior installments - all while fighting enduring fan concerns that, without Bungie, Halo (as we know it) is essentially over.
Halo 4 is slated to release in 2012, exclusively for the Xbox 360
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates.