Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy featuring the return of Master Chief and a whole new galactic threat. It also introduces new co-operative and competitive multiplayer, alongside gameplay tweaks to make it faster and more customisable, but all the while still a distinctive Halo experience.
WarGames - the name for competitive multiplayer - contextualises one of Xbox 360's most popular past times by making it become a training simulator on board the Infinity spaceship. One of the confirmed modes, Infinity Slayer, is faster-paced than what we've seen in Halo previously but retains the treasured Halo fundamentals - from sandbox gameplay to fan-favourite weapons.
Customise multiplayer with your own weapons and abilities
In a first for the Halo series, players will be able to select their own personalised loudout, allowing them to start with their preferred primary and secondary weapons, as well as a grenade choice.
Also selectable is an Armour Ability, ranging from an X-ray visor that can detect enemies through walls, the return of Halo: Reach's horizontal rocket thrust and decoy hologram, and a hardlight shield that protects the front from small arms fire.
And like Halo Reach and other shooters, the player can save a number of classes which they can deploy for different modes or strategies.
Passive abilities provide more firepower or reconnaissance
As well as weapons, two passive abilities can also be set to tweak or amplify skills or abilities, very similar to Call of Duty's Perks. Tactical Packages can allow you to carry two primary weapons, collect grenades from fallen enemies, speed up the recovery of shields or your Armour Ability reload. Support Upgrades, meanwhile, can be created for your ammo capability, the sensitivity and range of motion, provide unlimited sprint or add a motion sensor while you're scoped.
Ordinance Drops - Halo's own killstreaks
Not content with loudouts, Halo 4 also brings its own take on the killstreak. Each individual player will have a gauge that's filled when points are accumulated from kills, flag drops and so on, which eventually results in an Ordinance Drop. Using the D-pad, players can then select a support item, power weapon or ability pick-up that will instantly appear on the map. The gauge will scale as you play, meaning it takes longer to unlock further Drops the better you perform in a match.
Faster combat, more intense encounters
While it's still distinctively Halo, there are a number of tweaks and changes that make gameplay faster paced. Two obvious areas are instant respawns and sprint now introduced as a permanent ability, meaning encounters with other enemies will occur more often for more intense, denser experiences. Other tweaks also make multiplayer feel sharper and quicker than ever before - shields will recharge quicker, while weapon switching and reloads are faster.
New matchmaking approach, and fan-favourite modes
The mantra of a faster experience will also extend to matchmaking. While no specifics are being discussed, players will be able to enter matches far quicker than previously, an area in which Call of Duty excels in but Halo has always lacked. And for those who aren't a fan of the above changes, you can expect more traditional Halo modes to be included in the same way that Halo: Reach could have Ability-free playlists for purists.
> Read our Halo 4 interview on multiplayer and narrative
Halo 4 will be available exclusively on Xbox 360 from November 6 worldwide.