As you've undoubtedly gathered, Bungie got to show off Halo 3: Recon for the first time yesterday. It was a big deal for the studio, not least because the expansion was originally down to be unveiled at E3 - until Microsoft pulled the plug at the last minute.
But all that's in the past now, according to community and PR director Brian Jarrard. We sat down with him and writer Luke Smith to find out more about exactly what went on there, and more importantly what we can expect from Recon. Read on.
Eurogamer: How long has the Recon project been in the works?
Brian Jarrard: It's only been in full production for a couple of months now. This isn't the typical, huge, three-year cycle for our studio; it's one of three products we have going on, so it's a little smaller in scale.
Following some of the events earlier this summer, we were very eager to announce what we were working on and share it with our fans. We're happy to finally be able to do that today, to get it out in the open and put that whole E3 thing behind us.
Eurogamer: What exactly happened there?
Brian Jarrard: Originally, we had intentions of making this project public at E3. But those plans were changed.
Eurogamer: Yes, so I recall. Has all that been resolved now?
Brian Jarrard: Yeah.
Luke Smith: The resolution really just comes with us finally being able to share our work with our fans. This project is one that we just had to do. It's a project that is for our fans. Just like pretty much everything we do at Bungie, it's always about how we can serve our fans best.
Eurogamer: So the idea to do this expansion definitely came from you? It wasn't something Microsoft forced you into?
Brian Jarrard: Yeah. We had a lot of ideas on the table the team were eager to explore. This is not going to be more of the same; there's going to be a little bit of a new twist. Playing as the Orbital Drop Shock Trooper will bring about some new experiences for fans, and hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise.
Eurogamer: What can you tell us about the new hero character?
Brian Jarrard: The ODSTs are the guys who are in between the Master Chief level and the regular marine level. They don't have the augmentation of a Spartan or the super-reflexes and armour.
The game is a precursor to the events in Halo 3, so Master Chief hasn't come back to Earth yet. You're an ODST, the first person back in the city after the Covenant have left, and from there you piece together what happened.
Eurogamer: Does this character have any advantages Master Chief didn't have?
Luke Smith: We probably don't want to talk too much about the differences between the Master Chief and the ODSTs.
Brian Jarrard: We have a year to go, so I think we have to hold some things back. But there will be some differences.
Eurogamer: Is the character male?
Luke Smith: We definitely don't want to talk too much about the ODSTs.
Eurogamer: Righto. How long is the campaign, compared to the campaign in Halo 3?
Brian Jarrard: It's hard to put a number on it. It's going to represent hours of new campaign gameplay, but it's not a full, entire game like Halo 3. I think we have a lot of value on the disc.
There will be a lot of replayability as well; we have tons of new Achievements, four-player co-op, all the social features we had in Halo 3. It's a standalone disc as well, so you won't have to have Halo 3 to experience Recon. There might be a surprise later that we'll talk about, that might benefit people who have Halo 3, but it's not a requirement.