The latest issue of Xbox World is on sale now.
John's been asleep for four years, seven months and ten days, in the rear end of a spacecraft that's been snipped in half by a slipspace portal. That's a pretty long time. Nearly a lifetime, if you're a smart AI like Cortana, but we'll get to that later. When he awakes it's to a familiar threat: Elites and Grunts. Lead designer Scott Warner explains: "We're grounding players in familiar Halo. We're getting them reacquainted with what they know, before everything is turned on its head and all the rules are changed."
Don't get too excited yet - 343 Industries aren't going to tell us about that in detail... yet. What we know: Halo 4 will be set on the mysterious world that appeared at the end of Halo 3, assuming you were playing on Legendary difficulty. It's called Requiem, and it's the home of a whole new class of enemy. If the phrase 'Elites and Grunts' made you wince, it changes when you get to the planet's surface.
It's already different, in subtle ways. John-117 is a lot more physical; climbing walls, leaping sideways to avoid falling debris. Not world-changing moves, but new for a guy who's traditionally been visible only as a first-person hand and a pair of legs. His armour has been redesigned to allow animators to move him around. The solid bulk of the upper torso has been replaced with sectioned panels. This means that for the first time, the Xbox's biggest hero can lift his arms in the air, giving the impression that he just don't care.
At some point, the Chief will come across the UNSC Infinity. If you've slathered yourself in the extended universe, you'll know that the Infinity was first mentioned inthe Glasslands novel written by videogame sci-fi specialist Karen Traviss. It's a huge ship, with SPARTAN-IV soldiers among its personnel.
The UNSC Infinity is also the location of the competitive multiplayer, and a separate, epic side-campaign. Red vs Blue battles aren't just spontaneous, arbitrary battles between differently painted super-soldiers. They're training in the Infinity's Combat Deck. And "included in the price" of the game - a specific phrase that almost certainly means "you won't get it if you buy second-hand" - are the episodic instalments of a full co-op campaign.