When Halo 4 launches on November 6, it will ship with a full season of a multiplayer mode called Spartan Ops.
I got to check out a quick chapter of said episodic content today on the E3 showfloor, where the Majestic Spartan team met those red-laced synthetic enemies from the demo that debuted at Microsoft's press conference yesterday.
If you're familiar with Greg Bear's novel, Halo: Cryptum, you might remember mention of creatures called Prometheans. Making an appearance in-game for the first time, we weren't given much more information about them — the Crawlers, Watchers and Knights — today, save for watching them in battle.
The Crawlers are most akin to the Covenant's Grunts. They're small, move fairly frantically and are relatively easy to kill. Let too many of them pile up, though, and you'll watch your screen overrun by red alerts indicating in the direction of multiple attacks.
Watchers are somewhat tougher, and they behave as both a defensive attacker as well as a support system. I saw Watchers (that look like intricate, flying bicycles) drop shields in front of Knights, making the tougher-than-Elites creatures even more difficult to take down. If you caught the first gameplay demonstration at Microsoft's press conference linked earlier, you'll remember those enemies as the scarier-looking Prometheans that expose their face plates to reveal their Terminator-like, synthetic faces.
Frank O'Conner, franchise development director at 343, tells us that the Prometheans would react sometimes antagonistically, and sometimes in collaboration with the Covenant, based on their need to tackle a mutual enemy: namely, you and your team.
With this new brand of enemies comes new weapons, too. We only got to see one in the showfloor demonstration, though: a Scattershot super shotgun whose shells can ricochet off hard surfaces, a trick best tested in narrow corridors.
Our hands-off mission, broken up into multiple objectives, took us on a murder rampage, watching a two-player (but up to four-player co-op) tackle against both familiar Covenant aliens as well as the more aggressive Prometheans.
Along the way we encounter an artifact, being adamantly protected by the Prometheans against both the Majestic Spartan team we play as, as well as against the Covenant.
These seasons of Halo 4 content will play a crucial storyline role within the entire campaign, delving into more character arcs and plotlines. The Spartan team will even meet Master Chief himself aboard Infinity and elsewhere in the story. Exactly how long each season will be hasn't been revealed yet, but we're told to "think months rather than weeks", and that we will see an episode of fiction every week, with five gameplay missions.