Arguably the biggest launch of the year so far (alright, it is), Halo Reach orbital-drops into your local Asda and/or Tesco next week.
We know you're clinking the pennies in your pocket in excitement at finally clutching a copy, so we've tracked down the Bungie team to help lubricate our enthusiasm with their sexy words.
In the second in a series of interviews running up to release, community director Brian Jarrard talks Reach, topping ODST and the studio's Activision-coloured future.
Don't forget to read our previous chat with creative director Marcus Lehto - he's got interesting things to say too.
ODST didn't score as highly as previous Halo titles. Do you think it was too experimental in nature?
Not really. When I read the Metacritic reviews and drilled down into the negative ones and what they specifically pinpointed, I can probably generalise and say that most of them were down on ODST because of a value perception.
Critics felt that it was an expansion; that gamers were charged too much money for it. We were really happy with ODST, and as to how that netted out through the register? That's not really our decision - but when I read those reviews I don't find many negative comments about the gameplay experience itself.
How does it feel for Bungie to be leaving Halo behind?
I think the project (Reach) is our best to date. We stand by it, it'll stand for years and we're creating something our fans will be happy and proud of. People are gonna miss other people, Marcus might shed a tear or two when we finally hand that disc over - but we're super invigorated and excited about taking that next big leap: I can tell you that we already have a decade worth of plans as to how we intend to explore our next universe.
Leaving Halo behind has definitely not quite sunk in for all of the team - three quarters of Bungie has been very much invested in Reach for the past three years now - but the people behind these walls (gestures) are working on the seeds of what our next project will be...
Are you worried you're gonna loose people to Microsoft's internal studio, 343, that's continuing to work on Halo?
Um, not worried. No. Honestly, I think we've had like a handful of people to date move over. I tend to think that if that was gonna happen it already would have occurred by this point. We're really excited about how Reach is aligned with what we've set out to accomplish, and our new projects are gaining a lot more momentum.
Bungie is known for some of the best post-release support in the business. Are there any devs or games you particularly admire with regards to what they've done with DLC?
It's easy to support a game as we have in the past when you have such a passionate and supportive fan base to work with!
I'd say someone like Valve comes immediately to mind as another studio who has done a lot of great things to support their titles long after release. That they're still doing interesting and new things to support Team Fortress 2 is a great example of going above and beyond what is expected these days.
Are you expanding your studio to work on your new projects for Activision?
Well, we're up to over 180 full time employees now - when we shipped Halo 2 we only had 60. So we've grown substantially; most of that is because we know what it's gonna take to execute our vision over the next ten years.