Bungie revolutionised online gaming with their stunning stat trickery in Halo 2 - but their plans for Halo 3 are nothing short of genius.
Halo 3 will feature not one, but two separate ranking systems. The first is identical to the one currently seen in Halo 2, a skill-based ranking system that'll once again go from zero to fifty and is specific for each ranked matchmaking playlist.
The second ranking system, rather than being skill-based and relevant to ranked-only matches, is calculated via the experience earned or time played overall. New players begin as recruits and then move up through a series of actual military ranks. In any playlist and at any time, players can see if their foe is new to the game or a seasoned Halo fraghead. Will the primary, skill-based ranking system remain visible as it is now? We're hoping not, as removing this would cut down the amount of cheating currently online.
A new multiplayer host option called 'XBL Public', will allow the host to change the room from private to public too, giving solo players the ability to jump into a stranger's custom game, filling any missing gaps in the existing party, meaning custom games won't lack due to the absence of buds.
You can also count on Bungie.net continuing to record information about each game played, with Postgame Carnage Reports expected to be more inclusive than ever, boasting stats on the tiniest of details from kills to kill type, from when to where quite literally, everything will be tracked.
With their all-new freeform camera mode, Bungie have given you the chance to become a big-time film director. Welcome to the world of Machinima...
Talk about a revolution! In a bid to show just how committed Bungie are to their millions of fans out there (not to mention the incredible success and publicity they've had from Machinima series' like Red Vs Blue) they've shoehorned into Halo 3 the ability to save in-game movies directly from single-player and multiplayer games and rewatch them at a later date. Gamers will be able to record everything from Speedruns to trick montages and Machinima easily. Party hosts will be able to show lobby members the videos and will maintain control over playback, fast forwarding and pausing, throwing the action into slo-mo, whilst viewers will be able to control exactly how they see the action, changing the camera angle to best suit them - first-person, third-person or even a free-flying camera which can go anywhere. No longer will your stories of how you 'pwned' the other night on Live be unsubstantiated - you'll be able to show the world!
The why's, how's and do-you-mind-if-I-don't's behind the world's most complex, ambitious and rewarding multiplayer game. we dig a little deeper into bungie's online masterpiece...
The latest news from camp Bungie is that the player emblems that appear over your team-mates' heads in multiplayer, are being trashed. Instead they're introducing Service Numbers. The idea being to improve communication between players by making it easier to immediately call out to chums. Instead of saying, "Hey you, the one with the orange and blue swirly-thing logo" you'll be able to quickly and easily shout "Oi! T46, grab the Warthog... now!" This in turn speeds up gameplay and, being far more legible, increases the scope of much-needed teamplay. Incidentally, you'll still get a logo... but it'll be confined to your armour and no longer be floating aimlessly above your head as you batter your way through.
Naturally, we'll all get our chance to experience the thrills and spills of online play before release, thanks to the ace public multiplayer beta, which is set to kick off in Spring. Until then, it looks like we'll be patiently waiting for more details to surface... talking of which, head over to page 40 right now, where we reveal some pant-ruining new details about a certain power-up. Do it. Do it now. Unless you're... scared?