Halo Spartan Assault
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Halo Spartan Assault coming mid-July, will include future game updates

Halo: Spartan Assault is coming to both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. It marks the first time in the franchise’s history that it won’t be on console or PC. It’s also the second time there will be a departure in gameplay from the series trademark first-person shooter experience. This past week at //BUILD/ we learned a bit more about the upcoming game. We also have a better picture of when it should be on your Windows Phone 8 device – the middle of July.

Dan Ayoub and Greg Hermann discussed the challenges in bringing the Halo franchise from a console experience to mobile world in the Build session titled Bringing Halo: Spartan Assault to Windows Tablets and Mobile Devices. It was a fascinating discussion on decisions the team made in bringing Halo to mobile and why you won’t be getting a first-person Halo game anytime soon for your Surface tablet or Windows Phone.

Dan Ayoub

Why Halo won’t be a first-person shooter on your tablet anytime soon

How many of you have wanted to play Slayer on the rode with your mobile device – either a smartphone or tablet? A lot of you I bet. There’s something romantic about getting in a few multiplayer sessions of Halo when waiting for the bus or a dentists appointment. But why 343 Industries didn’t do that with Halo: Spartan Assault? Because they believe in making the right game for the right screen. They didn’t just want to port their console experience onto these mobile devices.

Halo on Console
Halo on console vs... 

Halo on mobile
... Halo on mobile

The console experience typically involves a television and controller. While you could argue for something like support for the MOGA Pro controller, not everyone is going to have that on their Windows Phone or tablet. But those people will all have touchscreens, so they wanted to make a Halo game that played to the strengths of the input system that everyone will have access to – touchscreens. Of course on Windows 8 tablets you’ll also have keyboard support from the start and support for the Xbox controller coming in a future update. Speaking of future updates…

Halo: Spartan Assault will get support for a long time to come

When you download Halo: Spartan Assault to your Surface in mid-July it won’t technically be the final version. We know already know you’re getting 5 operations with 5 levels each. That’s 25 total missions that according to the session at Build, will get you around 2.5 hours of gameplay. That means, on average, each level will take you about 6 minutes to complete. Which is something else 343 Industries did on purpose. In mobile settings users usually play games in sporadic bursts and typically save marathon gaming sessions for the couch.

But you’re not going to just getting two and a half hours of gameplay for your $6.99 purchase of Halo: Spartan Assault. Dan Ayoub, hinted at future updates that will provide longevity for the game. Whether it’s going to be like Angry Birds where you’ll get more “worlds” in those updates remain to be seen. But don’t give up hope on multiplayer, when asked why they chose to exclude multiplayer he replied with a smirk that they designed the game to have a long life by delivering updates. They also wanted to nail the base experience – campaign.

In fact, you can expect support for the Xbox 360 controller for the Windows 8 version of Spartan Assault about one month after launch. I spoke with Dan after the event and asked why they didn’t have Xbox controller support day one. Basically the team wanted to focus on touch and keyboard and get those right. They had about 15 iterations of how touch would work on the tablet before settling on the current implementation. Right now you don’t need to keep your thumbs in the same spot to control the game. During gameplay if your thumbs drift the controls basically drift with you, working wherever you go. I also learned that the reason Xbox controller support is coming a month after release was because the team already planned on having an update come out then and decided to add controller support in that update. What will that update include? If I was a betting man I’d say you can expect new levels.

Fun facts learned at Build about Spartan Assault

  • A lot of fun, somewhat miscellaneous info was also learned about Spartan Assault during Build. For example, we already knew the Surface RT would get about 30 frames-per-second in gameplay and the Surface Pro would get 60 frames-per-second. What about Windows Phone 8 and Atom based machines? Windows Phone is getting a solid 30 fps, while Atom is about the same.
  • The game will include over 60 minutes of original audio.
  • Development began about 18 months ago. That’s 6 months before the world learned about the Surface RT and Surface Pro. The team at 343 Industries and Vanguard Games (the primary developer of Spartan Assault) had no clue about the existence of the Surface program, but had already began development on for Windows 8 tablets and mobile devices.
  • Began porting the traditional Halo FPS gameplay experience to tablet to see if it work. They had a small team that made a prototype and learned that Halo on tablets wasn’t a good idea. Fast gameplay that has a lot of twitch movements would need to rely too heavily on aim-assist to even begin to feel like Halo.
  • Releasing mid-July

I can’t speak for the rest of the crew at Windows Phone Central, but I’m personally stoked to play Spartan Assault in a few weeks. We can expect the game in “mid-July”, so I’m tentatively marking July 17th as the day most probable. Feel free to place your guesses below. If you want to watch the Build session, go to this link right here on Channel 9. The first half is easy to understand, but the second half with Greg Hermann does get a little technical.

Stay tuned as we tour 343 Industries in the coming weeks. 

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Reader comments

Halo Spartan Assault coming mid-July, will include future game updates

94 Comments

The power struggles going on in Microsoft Studios must be fascinating. How the dumbass faction got Kinectimals and Wordament published on other mobile platforms is beyond me.

Sadly, I'm going to be a downer and a doubter of that, but hey, Windows 8 requires more than 512mb of ram

I'm definitely going to get it for WP8. I hardly game on my laptop but I am sure I can play some Halo in the waiting room, or on the toilet. You get the idea.

Nah, we just want more people to see the beauty of our OS, and if it takes enticing them with exclusives then so be it. Plus Microsoft has a tendency to make their apps better on other platforms, so obviously they are failing to entice there.

This is a Halo title, no matter what history MS have of making "better" versions on other platforms there is, this will definitly stay WP8 + W8 exclusive with it being one of if not, microsofts biggest title

"It marks the first time in the franchise’s history that it won’t be on console or PC." Um....Windows 8 is PC.

Windows Phone is not a PC. I think he means it's the first time a version will be available that is not for console or PC.

Some people refer to the new finger-paint ipad-like portion of Windows 8 as "Windows 8" and the other, more traditional portion of Windows 8 as "Windows 8 Desktop." Maybe that's what the author is doing here.

Yes and no. What I meant, as another commenter pointed out below, that this is the first Halo game to not be on the desktop. For example, you can't run this on XP, Vista, or 7. But only on through the Windows 8 App Store.

Halo 2 was the only PC game though.

PC (in this gaming context) = Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7. Aka the desktop. You can only get Halo: Spartan Assault through the Windows 8 App Store.

Epic make Gears of War. Epic makes Infinity Blade. I wish Epic would make an Infinity Blade-style Gears of War game.

Epic makes Gears, Chair makes Infinity Blade. If Chair made anything for WP OS or Win8 it'd probably be something like Shadow Complex. In fact, Chair, just port Shadow Complex over please.

"...coming to both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. It marks the first time in the franchise’s history that it won’t be on console or PC."

This isn't the first time in Halo's history that one of their games was not on PC. Halo 3, ODST, Halo Wars, Halo Reach, Halo Anniversary, and Halo 4 have not come to PC either.

And besides that, why is this game being considered as "not coming to PC"? The game runs on Windows 8, Windows 8 is a PC operating system, therefore the game will be on PC. Is there something I'm failing to understand here?

So, is the game gonna be $6.99 or $7.99? The original article regarding Spartan Assault stated it was going to be $6.99 while this says $7.99.

well, Halo is big. So It should be big with of updates, supports for controllers and also multiplayer. With Halo, forza, GOW and fable should also be released with in few months. A Big gaming community can be attracted with these exclusives. I don't think microsoft is still thinking about wp8, I think Halo is been released for windows 8, but since we have same core , we too are getting it. What so ever, may be coz of windows 8, but we are still gettting it. Now bring other exlucsives too will be beneficial for both wp8 and windows 8 popularity and we can really make some dent in ipad and iphone sales.
Now the real question is, will microsoft port these exclusives to android or IOS. Well , in case of wp8 it could have been ported, but it is also backed by windows 8 and windows is MS cash cow and primary buissness concern.so MS may well avoid porting this exclusive to other platforms
 
 

We finally get windows phones "killer app" imagine if they would have been releasing games like this all along

Provided I can install it, I'll definitely be getting it. Since the "other" storage issue won't likely be fixed before mid-July I'll have to uninstall a bunch of stuff just to install it. I'm guessing it'll be over 800MB install

16 more days. First day purchase here. Another first day purchase is Order & Chaos. What is taking Gameloft so long?

Am I the only one observing Windows RT is not getting the same amount of love as Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8? Just saying...

Xbox gamepad support in future update? :/ Only 2.5 hours of gameplay? Oh no, I wanted to buy it right after launch.

Notice the greatly reduced graphical complexity (see the slides comparing to Halo 3). This sucks for Surface Pro - that machine is more powerful than the six year old XBox360, but H:SA is being graphically designed around ARM devices...

I'm pretty sure it has been confirmed that Spartan Assault will be an XBL game with achievements? But I'm not sure

932 polygons?
 
Still better than the original Halo, i doubt this, but will it run on 512MB devices?

Played the game for hours on both surface pro and lumia 928 at e3 and loved it! And the developers there all said the date was 7/16/13 sooooo :D

"How many of you have wanted to play Slayer on the rode"
 
You should never play games on a rode. You might fall off and drown!

Any word yet on how large the game is? I have had to pass on some good games, because I have a hard time freeing up 5 gigs to download a game. I will, if I have to, but I would be much happier to see a 500-700 mb game.

yes, looking more and more that recent news of porting lesser Xbox titles to iOS and Android, Microsoft restructuring, news of gaming engines and creators showing up for W8 and WP8, and other seemingly "unrelated" news point to a pattern that gives a lot of hope for the platform: Balmer may just have finally received the memo that the route to winning a war against fierce odds and market share numbers in the mobile arena may indeed be to determine the field of battle. Then, strategy dictates that the field you choose emphasizes a strength of yours and a weakness of the enemy. That, my friends, would be "gaming"-- an area where Apple and Android have no real XBox equivalent. This is perfect. Don't release to XBox proper but instead make it exclusive to Windows 8 and Windows Phone. The kids and adult "kids" carrying iPhone and Android will soon spread the word that to continue the HALO saga, you have to have Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8. That alone is a great start. Note that killer integration with cloud-based achievements, levels, etc is a MUST for this plan to succeed!

  I would buy the explanation as to why they couldn't port Halo over to WP8 as an FPS if not for excellent games like Modern Combat 4 and N.O.V.A. 3.