Sunday, November 08, 2009

Halo Waypoint Deploys

On Thursday, Halo Waypoint went live to the public. Where I originally thought it would be a dedicated Channel to all things Halo, this was only partially correct. It's not a Channel on your Xbox 360 Dashboard, but more like an Application that not only gives you the latest and greatest on Microsoft Game Studio's flagship franchise, but it also tracks your own Xbox 360 Halo career.

You'll find Halo Waypoint for download free under Games on Demand, however note you need to be an Xbox LIVE Gold member to use it (Silver members get a preview now for about 2 weeks, but I don't think they can use it after that). Once downloaded, you'll find the Application in your Games Library and it's launched the same way as any other title from there.

Once launched, the Application loads and takes you to the main screen where you can choose to track your career or check out the latest (and often exclusive to Halo Waypoint) Halo news. Halo Waypoint presently has 40 Milestones for you to reach with your Xbox 360 Halo career, and in order to reach each Milestone, you simply need to obtain a certain amount of Gamerscore combined from all available Xbox 360 Halo titles. Presently, Milestone 40 can be reached by obtaining 2900 Gamerscore which surprised me greatly since this can be achieved with the three existing out-of-the-box Halo games; no DLC required. I'm simply shocked that Microsoft would pass up an opportunity to milk its customers in such a way, but thus far, save for Gold member-only access, Halo Waypoint is really impressing me on the lack of "premium" content.

You can also earn Waypoint Awards by earning various related Achievements from the Halo games, and overall, combining this with the above Milestones adds a great new incentive to get online and earn your Gamerscore. These Milestones and Awards don't do anything as of yet, but they're another fun thing to collect while earning Achievements, something you'd do anyway.

Halo Waypoint also acts as a portal for the latest Halo news. Updated daily with content such as tips to exclusive videos (such as episodes of the Halo: Legends anime series), Halo Waypoint is something any Halo fan will want to check out constantly.

Halo Waypoint also spices up your Avatar. Simply for downloading it, you earn an Avatar Award, a prop in the form of a Forerunner Monitor! In addition, if you've earned specific Achievements in the latest installment of the Halo franchise, Halo 3: ODST, you can unlock various other Avatar Awards from t-shirts to full suits of ODST armour. Very, very cool and shockingly all free.

Having been available for only a few days now, I must say I'm very impressed with Halo Waypoint. It does weave the Halo Xbox 360 experience closer together, and provides some excellent news, information, and rewards for hardcore and casual fans alike. My only real gripe with Halo Waypoint would be that it shows up in your Games list, which means every time you log in to it, bam, it's there on your Gamercard. If you're going to check it each and every day, that means it'll almost always be in your top three games, obscuring what you're really playing from others. Still, this is mainly a cosmetic gripe, and I'm sure Microsoft wants that little icon shown all the time to help promote the franchise.

Overall, I'm very interested to see how Halo Waypoint will evolve with upcoming Halo games, and hats off to 343 Studios and Microsoft on a job well done thus far.

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