In 2008, a fan with the username OTfor2 issued a challenge to a forum: In Halo 3's Sierra 117 level, get inside a barred-off room. For years, Halo fans tried to nail the stunt, but nobody could complete it... until now.
Within the Halo community, there's a concept known as "tricking challenges", where players dare each other to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. That's how "The Cage" challenge was born:
The tricking community developed different teams that would compete against each other to complete these player-specified challenges. Termacious Trickocity was one such group, and for years, they tried all sorts of tricks, glitches and exploits to get in here:
"The room is pretty much empty but the reason everyone wanted to get in so badly is because we weren't supposed to be in there," Aaron Sekala, one of the members of Termacious Trickocity, told Kotaku.
Most of their tries didn't work, but they held on to hope. "Each failed attempt would give us more knowledge on the cage," Sekala said. "I think that's where the motivation came from; we felt it had to be possible because each plan we got closer and closer. At first started with getting our body partway into the room, and then we eventually got our dead bodies in the room, we even of some of the enemy AI's into the room. All these building blocks motivated us to keep trying to get ourselves in alive."
Earlier this month, after hundreds of hours of attempts, perseverance paid off:
The feat requires an extremely elaborate set-up, so it's no wonder that it took this long for anyone to figure it out. In brief, they had to game checkpoints, kill enemies in a certain order, position three players in different areas of the level, trigger dialogue in a particular way, delay enemy spawns just so, use the hammer, melee a vehicle away, clear an area of most boxes, stack a bunch of objects on top of each other, activate cutscenes at the right time, launch themselves with a hammer to clip inside of a mountain, melee the Pelican over to the cage, and then kill themselves.
If done right, the player should spawn inside the cage like so:
"The moment we got in there was so much excitement, as well as relief," Sekala said. "Ourselves, and many others, have tried the Cage, on and off, for years and to finally have it done was surreal... But was it worth it? At first glance, I think most people might just see an empty room, but when we looked at it we saw it as a challenge... the journey to completing that challenge was worth every minute... whether we were trying an idea for hours and seeing it fail or goofing around, cracking jokes while we try to come up with a plan. For me personally, that's what makes tricking fun, that's what makes it worth it, the memories we create with our friends while doing a unique hobby we love."
"It's kind of cool to think, 'Hey hundreds of thousands of people have played Halo's campaign but we are the only ones to do this,'" Sekala said.
Sekala notes that the tricking community still has a number of other challenges that were issued years ago that nobody has completed yet. Most of these challenges are specifically for Halo 3 and Halo Reach, because newer Halo games aren't built in the same way. Crucially, the lack of theatre mode discourages people from wanting to pull off tricks, because there's no easy way to show off stunts in style.
"Some challenges are: Getting out of certain areas of the level that haven't been explored, specifically the final mission of Halo 3... or getting to a Cutscene room on Halo Reach, called The Red Room, or trying to land an insanely high launch to a floating pole in the sky on Halo Reach," Sekala said. "There are still a lot of fun challenges for us left to do and we're still discovering new things as well go along. We hope to knock them all out some day!"