It’s no secret that the Halo franchise has by now developed one of the most devoted and completionist fan followings in the games industry. With Halo 4 set to take the Master Chief into a brand new trilogy delving deep into the Forerunner and UNSC mythology, 343 Industries is looking to deliver a special edition of the game that won’t disappoint.

New images of the Halo 4 Limited Edition have appeared online, showing off all the eye candy gamers have come top expect, along with new details on the bonus content that will accompany the higher price tag.

The commitment to the fiction that the developers have shown with the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 Bundle shows that the design philosophy within the studio is going to apply to anything sporting the Halo name. But for those who aren’t quite ready to invest in a brand new console, the Limited Edition of the game itself will still be including plenty of perks and goodies. Not to mention a design that will have gamers itching to get back into combat.

The new details have appeared in several places online, most notably New Zealand retailer MightyApe. Besides showing off the hand-numbered matte black case, UNSC-branded steelbook and two-disc set, the content attached to a mysterious ‘Gabriel Thorne,’ a previously unknown Spartan soldier is sure to get fan speculation churning.

Before we get to Thorne or the various multiplayer content included with the Limited Edition, have a look at the new images that Microsoft is betting will put undecided customers over the edge:

There seem to be plenty of goodies for serious fans of the Halo universe – although it will be hard to top Dr. Catherine Halsey’s notebook, included with the Limited Edition of Halo: Reach. Again, the time and energy that was spent painstakingly designing the special Halo 4 Xbox 360 doesn’t appear to be unique to hardware.

Obviously, the bonus item that will catch the most eyes is the full, fold-out schematic of armor customization, the UNSC Infinity itself, and what secrets and insights the included notebooks may hold. Every bit of the ‘UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet’ is likely going to be relevant to the story 343 is hoping to tell in both the game’s singleplayer and multiplayer, but the prominent placement of the name ‘Gabriel Thorne’ won’t be overlooked. Presumably a Spartan IV, the implication is that the persistent multiplayer game modes may be centered around a brand new hero in the Halo universe.

It’s also possible that Thorne will play a central role in Halo 4‘s Spartan Ops mode, as a key member of the protagonist Majestic Squad. Hopefully 343 will give some more information on Thorne’s role when the Limited Edition is officially announced, but then again, a surprise for fans come release day wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

Along with the UNSC Briefing Packet comes special armor and weapon options, not to mention access to post-launch multiplayer maps. This armor is exclusive to the retailer, but it once again emphasizes just how much customization is in store.

Have a look at what has already been confirmed for the Limited Edition:

  • War Games Map Packs: The Limited Edition includes access to nine maps — three future competitive multiplayer map packs, each including three locations, available for download post-launch on Xbox LIVE.
  • Bonus digital content through Xbox LIVE: Unique in-game Spartan IV armor skin, unique in-game weapon skin for the Assault Rifle, an exclusive in-game emblem, Xbox LIVE Avatar prop, and Xbox LIVE Avatar Spartan IV armor set (requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership).
  • Specializations: Receive early access to six Specializations, available at launch on Xbox LIVE, and use them, one at a time, to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career. In addition to gaining access to new ranks, Specializations unlock new customization options.
  • The Special Edition of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, a 90-minute extended version of the live-action digital series which will take fans back to the terrifying beginning of the Human/Covenant war, when the Master Chief inspired a young cadet who would eventually become a leader aboard the UNSC’s greatest vessel ever: the UNSC Infinity.

We’ve already seen a brief look at what Specializations and Loadouts are possible, and after some time with the game, we can confirm that any edge in multiplayer will go a long way. Add these armor options onto those already advertised as pre-order incentives, and serious online Halo fans have quite a bit of content to resist investing in at launch. There’s no need to explain why the extended version of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is going to be a must-buy item post-launch, since what’s been shown of the live-action series is promising enough.

Halo 4 Gabriel Thorne

The Limited Edition will apparently retail for $99, a bit more expensive than past versions, but featuring far more content as well. The price is nothing to scoff at, but considering what extensive plans 343 Industries has for the game’s future, it might be wise to buy in right off the bat.

Will you be picking up the Limited Edition come November? Or are you more interested in finding out the identity of Gabriel Thorne than raiding the contents of his footlocker?

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

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: MightyApe (via Halo Forums), GamingExaminer