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Community builders can finally reshape Halo 5 to their liking.

Build whatever you want in Halo 5.

Above: Build whatever you want in Halo 5.

Image Credit: 343 Industries

Developer 343 Industries launched the Cartographer’s Gift update for Halo 5: Guardians today on Xbox One, and the big new feature is the return of Forge mode. This is the latest free update for Microsoft’s triple-A science-fiction shooter, and it also comes with new maps, weapons, armor sets, and more. The new maps include new battlegrounds for the Warzone, Arena, and Big Team Battle modes, and the free weapons include returning favorites like M41 “SPNKr” rocket launcher. But this update is primarily about Forge, which enables Halo fans to create, edit, and play custom levels.

Free updates of this magnitude are new to the Halo series, and it is part of a shift in philosophy when it comes to Microsoft and downloadable content. The company is trying to keep players engaged with free content rather than splitting up the player base by charging money for things like maps. It’s likely that a chunk of the player base will return to the game today to try out the latest patch. Now, this of course means that Microsoft is no longer generating revenue from map packs, and it will attempt to make up for that by selling in-game currency that players can then spend on Req Packs that unlock items and other goods for the Warzone mode.

Cartographer’s Gift is the second free update after 343 released Battle of Shadow of Light last month. That introduced Big Team Battle and other features. And Microsoft seems to have plans to continue a similar DLC release schedule for the foreseeable future.

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But with Nintendo’s Splatoon success, other publishers will likely look to Microsoft to see if it can convert a large number of players into microtransaction customers. If it does, then this is a strategy we’ll likely see a lot more of in the future.

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