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E3 2012: Halo 4 to release free Spartan Ops episodic mission packs.

The story of Halo 4 won’t be over when you finish that fight. Taking place six months later, the four-player co-op Spartan Ops missions will drop five new missions every week as part of an animated episodic series…for free.

Franchise director Frank O’Connor confirmed the additional missions will be free DLC, and won’t be locked content exclusive to first-time Halo 4 buyers. If you have a Halo 4 disc, you get access to all Spartan Ops’ first-season episodes as they release. You just have to unlock them first.

“You have to watch them in chronological order,” says O’Connor, unlocking the next chapter as you clear each new level. The five missions comprising a single episode form a part of the story. A quick demo of the last mission in the first episode, “Core,” took a pair of Spartan 4 super-soldiers down to the Halo 4 setting of Requiem to secure an artifact from some alien Covenant squatters…which, in turn, alerted the new hostile race, the Prometheans. While these missions will take place in similar locations, O’Connor promises they won’t reuse the same maps from Halo 4’s campaign.

Each episode opens and closes with with animations that last 5-7 minutes total and cover “a fairly long story arc,” according to executive producer Kiki Wolfkill.

Some of the animation will be done in-house at 343, but O’Connor says they’re partnering with outside companies as well, to be announced later this year, production has begun; the first mission pack will be ready on November 6, when Halo 4 releases. “Right now, we have a plan for season one,” says O’Connor. Season two will depend on its popularity. But O’Connor promises that while they haven’t announced how many episodes will be in the seasons, “It will be months, not weeks.”

But above all, O’Connor wants to reinforce that this is far from throwaway content. “The stories aren’t just ‘blow up the generator,’ and then you see the generator blow up in CG,” he says. “You’re gonna meet really important and meaningful characters. Things are going to happen to people you love. Things are going to happen that actually change the course of the universe.”

“Some of the biggest story beats to ever happen in the Halo universe will happen in Spartan Ops.”


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