Justin Lee On November 19, 2007 at 9:03 am

Microsoft has announced that a new Heroic Map Pack will be released for Halo 3 for 800 Microsoft Points on December 11th. Bungie even sent along some renders of the maps for you to check out.

Attention Spartans!

The internationally award-winning “Halo 3” multiplayer experience is about to get even better. After launching to incredible acclaim and fanaticism, “Halo 3” players will be able to enjoy three all new multiplayer maps on Dec. 11 as part of the Heroic Map Pack, the first in a series of downloadable content from Bungie Studios to come via Xbox LIVE.

Available for 800 Microsoft Points exclusively on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, each map presents a totally different play style. Standoff’s symmetrical valley, with its entrenched bases and fields of boulders is ideal for mid-sized objective and Slayer game types, while Rat’s Nest’s vast, labyrinthine passages bring something new to the “Halo” multiplayer experience: an indoor vehicle paradise, strongly influenced by the Campaign mode, ideal for big team battles. Finally, Foundry is the ultimate Forge map – players can edit every single object in this voluminous industrial warehouse, place stairways, walls, bridges and tunnels to create an entirely new play space and build almost any kind of map they can think of.

All three maps will become available for free download via Xbox LIVE Marketplace in Spring 2008, just prior to the next wave of all new “Halo 3” multiplayer maps.

As if the legions of "Halo 3" players needed more reasons to stay logged on and fragging, the Forge also allows players to edit and customize all three maps, keeping “Halo 3’s” multiplayer experience fresh, exciting and evolving. In addition, ongoing updates to “Halo 3’s” matchmaking playlists ensure that ranked and social gameplay remains dynamic and competitive.

While you wait for the “Halo 3” Heroic Map Pack, check out the 101st game to launch on Xbox LIVE Arcade as Chair Entertainment Group brings “Undertow” to the platform. The fast-paced, aquatic action game arrives this Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. GMT (2:00 a.m. PST).

"Undertow" redefines aquatic based shooters through a mix of high-definition graphics, intuitive controls and multiple modes of game play action. "Undertow" features a story driven single player campaign, on and offline co-op, and multiplayer for up to 16 players over Xbox LIVE. Players battle for control of the oceans as one of three selectable races, each with four unique, upgradeable units. "Undertow" will be available worldwide this Wednesday for 800 Microsoft Points and is rated E10+.

For more details on “Undertow,” please visit http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/u/undertowxboxlivearcade/

UPDATE! Bungie has put up a Q&A on their site about the Heroic Map Pack:

Earlier today, Microsoft Game Studios announced that the DLC Bungie has been working on will be available December 11th to the tune of 800 Microsoft points. The Heroic Map pack is comprised of the first three maps of our intended downloadable suite to support Halo 3’s multiplayer. Christopher Barrett, (AKA Barry) the creative director of Downloadable Content and Steve Cotton, the DLC design lead answered a host of questions, some reasonable, some borderline nonsense to give folks a little better idea about what they are seeing when they look at the three screenshots of the maps we’ve released (there will be more coming sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday).

A quick note about how Matchmaking will work:

When Halo 2’s downloadable content joined the Internet, it effectively split the Matchmaking population into the "haves" and the "have-nots," Bungie was readily aware of the problem that  caused, and has rectified it in Halo 3. First, when downloadable content arrives, it will have its own playlist for those folks who just want to play with their new toys. Simultaneously all of the DLC maps will be rolled in to the regular Matchmaking playlists as well and then as folks are getting matched up, the game will take into account who has what maps in the matchmaking process. So you’ll see Team Slayer on Standoff show up in the Team Slayer hopper as well as in the new DLC-focused playlist.

Q: For reasons that should become obvious now, Frankie referred to Standoff as Jodrell Bank. What inspired the creation of this outdoor playground?

Christopher Barrett: Standoff, or Bunkerworld as it’s known internally was one of the maps we had originally planned as one of the Halo 3 release multiplayer maps. Because of time we ended up postponing it until DLC, and here it is!

Steve Cotton: We wanted a small, outdoor, vehicle map.  It started out simple enough.  2 relatively small bases seperated by a landscape of hills and rocks.  Good visibility and quick access to the Warthog parked right out front.  And a turret on top for defensive types.  After that, the rest just built itself.  Actually, Justin [Hayward] built it.  That guy is good.

CB: Obvious? I still have no idea why Frankie keeps talking about his bank all the time [ed. Google Image Search – L.S.].

Q: Give us a general description of the map’s spaces since we’re not showing too much right now, what’s the overview of Standoff?

CB: There’s two opposing bases and some rocks and a tree and a road and some giant missile silos and enormous satellite dishes.

SC: Oh, and a lot of transportation and firepower.

CB: Imagine Blood Gulch, except squished together, with 4000 foot satellite dishes.

Q: What sort of revisions and iterations changed from early-period Standoff to the version of the map that folks will be playing in December?

CB: The original version only had the two front doors into the base. We eventually added two side routes into the base one of which is opened via a switch inside like Zanzibar/Last Resort.

Originally the sun was at or around high noon, about a month ago we lowered the sun towards the horizon giving the map a very moody sunset feel which really adds to its atmosphere.

We weren’t satisfied with two ways into the bunker so we added a third entry.

Q: How many players can Standoff comfortably accommodate?

CB: Surprisingly it works for almost any number of players pretty well, but 4 vs 4 feels about right.

SC: 2v2 Multi-flag is actually very cool.  So is 8v8.  I think it pretty much covers the spectrum.  It’s just a very fun team objective map no matter how big the teams are.

CB: I was very comfortable playing a one player game on Standoff but it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. At least I didn’t die as much as usual.

Q: What are some of your favorite gametypes to play on Standoff?

CB: Multi Flag CTF

SC: Kill Barry.

CB: I found out your teammates love it when you yell out “I CAN’T FIND THE FLAG” during team slayer games.

Q: What kind of items will populate Standoff’s Forge palette?

CB: Apart from the standard crates and barricades we’ve created some new placeable mancannons, shield doors, and a very special secret object.

SC: You can add a Wraith as well.  In addition to the mancannons of course.

Q: Foundry is completely different from any map Bungie has made for a Halo game, how so?

CB: Foundry was designed from the beginning to be a Forge level. There is an almost limitless amount of potential map designs that can be made by arranging objects in different configurations.

You can remake Hang ‘Em High out of crates. Kind of.

SC: The second you see someone delete the entire level in Forge, you realize the potential a space like this has.  The default layout Tyson put together is great, but the possibilities are definitely greater.

Q: Was Foundry’s art inspired by areas from a Campaign space like Rat’s Nest?

CB: We loved the feel of the Warehouse area in the campaign [on Voi] and it really made for an ideal playground that could be filled with lots of modular crates.

Q: Tom Doyle called the Forge objects for Foundry “Legos” – what kinds of items are players going to have at their disposal?

SC: Legos that look like all the things you might find in a Warehouse in Halo.

CB: All the things you’ll need to make a great multiplayer playground. Man-sized crates, walls, fences, stairs, bridges, and of course fusion coils.

I wouldn’t trust anything Tom Doyle says if I were you. He’s shifty.

Q: What’s the default set-up on Foundry? What’s it built for?

CB: The layout that will be include with the map is set up to work well to support as many gametypes as possible. But once players get a hold of it with Forge I can’t wait to see what people will do with it!

Q: It’s not a huge map so what’s the ideal player count for Foundry’s shenanigans?

CB: I can’t think of anything funny to say about this question other than being impressed you somehow fit shenanigans into one of the questions.

SC: 4-12.  Unless you’re Barry and then probably 1.  Playing Halo isn’t the only thing he does by himself.

Q: In daily playtests, what gametypes have been the most successful on Foundry?

CB: Most gametypes work great on Foundry. I definitely had some memorable Territories and Assault games.

Kill Barry, repeatedly, has been a popular one.

SC: Yes.  Kill Barry.  As well as traditional Slayer and CTF.

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