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|Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*|
|Posted By: Leviathan <firstname.lastname@example.org>||Date: 4/10/12 1:24 a.m.|
The last level saw you saying goodbye to the Forward Unto Dawn and throwing you through a gauntlet to reach the Shield World. This next level will introduce you to this new world, with strange vistas and wide open gameplay areas – a true sampler of where and how you’ll be spending your time in the rest of the game.
Mission Two: Shield World
You have successfully passed quarantine… er… well… bypassed it really. Next in the itinerary is to reorient yourself to your new habitat inside the Shield World [Prototype Shelter Installation– X02].
Past the massive gateway that marked the end of the last level, you’ll find yourself in a hallway decorated with memorial holograms of those fallen in the war against the Flood 100,000 years ago. You’ll probably recognize some of the avatars floating on either side you, possibly from the multiplayer map Epitaph or High Noon. You’ll also see this:
Who the 'Begotten' is and why he is important will come into play towards the end of the campaign, but before that, you may see this symbol appear many other places across the installation.
Reaching a large, spherical room, you’ll find yourself halted as the opposite door is locked, and the way you came in has shut.
---Click the image (and many of the other images below) to see a larger size.---
Taking a look around, you’ll see that it’s very similar to the Control Rooms found among the many Forerunner installations you’ve explored, but it’s smaller, and there are no controls in the central ring. Instead, there’s a small holographic star floating there. The walls of the room have holographic projections too: continents and oceans drifting across the metal.
Cortana: “A map of the Shield World… This room must have been a sort of welcoming center, a waypoint for the sentient species coming to take refuge here from the Array’s effects..”
Then you see it. The metal beyond the holograms are… dimming, becoming translucent, and the holograms are fading as well after a moment. There is a sky beyond - or should one say 'land'?
You’re staring up into the vastness of the real Shield World.
There is a star –the one that the hologram represented- floating in front of you, right in the center of this strange world. Four massive shards are orbiting very near to the star, blocking off light from half of the sphere. It’s sunrise now, as the darkness of the area surrounding you is slowly receding as the shards reconfigure themselves. It is a peaceful and graceful event.
But taking in this new world can be disorienting. Instead of a normal planet’s curvature dropping the landscape out of sight, the land is curving up (very subtly), until it's eventually hanging above you. It’s like stepping out of the Bumblebee lifepod in Halo: CE and first seeing the Halo ring rise out and up and over you, but even more disorienting…
For the plot and a more impacting experience, this Shield World is of a different scope and nature than the Onyx world. It’s much smaller, around the size of the Earth, and the ‘star’ you see in the center isn’t actually a star – though it is starlight, but that will be explained later!
Now, back to the Reorientation Sphere for more – yes, you guessed it: reorientation! Like I said before, you’re actually looking straight forward into the star at the center of the ring, and the should-be-horizontal landscape is actually at a vertical, above and below the room. Why? You’ve actually been working your way into the interior of the sphere like a hole dug straight into the crust of the planet, perpendicular to the horizon, with artificial gravity assisting you along the way. That star should actually always be directly above you when walking about inside the Shield World.
I realized this could be confusing, so I made a stick-figure diagram at the last minute to help!
It’s time to adapt to the centrifugal force of the interior. The spherical room begins to rotate. Since gravity is locally mimicked inside this room, nothing seems to actually change for you – it’s simply the sky moving about you. Once the room has shifted 90 degrees, the door across from you opens and you can move out onto the Overlook's balcony that is now aligned with the walkway inside. The whole experience should be dream-like and other-worldly, and hopefully memorable.
The Overlook (that ball at the top is the Reorientation Sphere):
This Overlook...er... overlooks a vast valley. Near its limits but before the mountains retake the land, you can see a large metal hatch, miles across (like the portal seen on Earth, albeit much smaller).
Cortana: “It’s the other side of the docking portal. They could be bringing in the remnants of the Forward Unto Dawn at any moment.”
Master Chief: ”So, what now?”
Cortana: “Ultimately, we need to try and get a signal to the UNSC somehow, besides picking us up, I’m sure there’s plenty here they’d love to get their hands on.”
Master Chief: “Wasn’t there a distress beacon on the Forward Unto Dawn?”
Cortana: “Yes, but that could take decades, or more, to reach human civilization. But if we can gain access to the Forerunner’s superluminal communication network, I could have you staring at Lord Hood’s mug in a few mere minutes.
“To do that though, it seems we’re going to have to keep pushing through an army of Sentinels, and that means we need to recover some of our resources from our ship.”
And at that, a Forerunner Inspector slowly glides by and its eye turns towards you but it keeps moving on towards the hatch…
Cortana: “You know… I might be able to hack into that Inspector’s guidance system and give us a quick way down… Or you know, you could always walk...”
While definitely not the normal route, but possibly the more fun route, you can actually leap off the overlook and attempt to board the Inspector, using your thruster pack to make adjustments to the path of your fall to successfully hit the area required to bring up the board command.
Much like boarding a wraith, you press the appropriate button as you draw near, you then ‘latch on’.
Cortana: “I’m trying to give us control over its flight path, but I’m finding a resistance…”
As she blabs on, you’re hanging on to dear life, riding the back of a robot giant as it drifts towards the valley below.
As it draws nearer to the ground…
Cortana: ”Not good. Apparently the AI controlling these flying wrenches would rather explode the Inspector than give us a ride. That’s your cue, John!”
If you keep riding the Inspector, it will eventually explode into the valley’s floor and kill you. It’s far safer (and more dramatic) to leap off and use your thrusters to cushion your fall as the fireball erupts behind you.
Cortana: “You do always like jumping.”
If you’d rather play it safe, you can choose Route B: slowly finding your way down a series of ramps and catwalks leading down from the peak of the overlook into the mountain below. You’ll fight standard Sentinels and Sentinel Snipers (which drop Sentinel Beams and Gravity Snipers respectively) along the way, eventually taking a small lift into the side of the mountain.
You’ll find yourself in a domed room where a Mongoose has been dismantled, each piece of it exploded outward, all hovering in a tractor beam from the ceiling as small Sentinel Constructors inspect each fragment of the alien tech. There are four intact Mongooses along the walls as well, and a few human weapons to replenish yourself with. I call this room the Edification Room on the map.
Taking a Mongoose (or walking) out of this room is the end of Route B and the entrance to the valley floor, half a mile north of where you’d be if you rode the Inspector down.
The Valley Floor
Now this area is the first huge area of the game that is completely explorable. Its combat is adaptive and forms to your personal play-style. Though visually similar, gameplay-wise it is less like the level Halo from CE and more like New Alexandria in Reach. The main goal is to get to the Drydock Facility on the other side of the valley (as Cortana will note with a waypoint on your HUD). How you do that is up to you.
Before engaging the enemy or beginning your sneak attacks, you’ll notice in the distance that Inspectors are slowly lifting chunks of the Forward Unto Dawn out of the docking hatch. It’s a beautiful sight. The Inspectors are like angels, silently floating, but powerfully effective.
From the docking area, Enforcers, escorted by squads of smaller Sentinels, are ferrying fragments of the UNSC frigate across the valley (potentially going to a place like the Edification room I described above).
If you take it slow, on foot, stick to edges or caves, you’ll run into smaller amounts of opposition. This gamestyle will allow you to pick off these Sentinel caravans and patrols with guile and stealth – but the Sentinels aren’t stupid. Start causing a lot of damage and they’ll come investigating.
You could also hop onto a Mongoose and go charging in, drawing the enemy into pursuit behind you. I’m sure Rockslider would like this method!
If you’re able to take down an Enforcer, either with well placed shots or boarding, it will drop a weapon just like the Sentinel and Sentinel Sniper, this time a Needle Volley. In Halo 2, you’ll remember some of the Enforcers came with weapons that seemed like predecessors to the Needlers. This time around though, they are much more dramatic. The Needle Volley can fire an insane amount of Needles at one time, and with enough of them, it can cause a reaction (and chain reactions) of extreme hostility – blowing apart an Enforcer or any other smaller vehicle, for example.
So now we have a Needler as the small arms weapons, a Needle Rifle for precision and longer range, and now a Rocket Launcher-Needler!
INTERRUPT: A Concern of Variety…
A Sentinel, Sentinel Sniper, Enforcer, and Inspector may not be enough variety for the first two levels of such a new and powerful move in the Halo story, although it’s still more than Halo CE had by this point in the game.
Potentially the reveal that comes in the next level, which concerns a new…. and more formidable enemy, could potentially be moved up into this level, though the level would have to have a whole new area added in.
Another possible answer to the problem in this level might be to add a few more significant areas to the map - small tunnels and facilities that would provide more articulated playspaces.
It could also be added into the structure of the level to force you into some of these areas. Perhaps you need to cause a distraction in one of these areas by disabling some machinery, so that the enemy may have less of a presence in the final area, the Drydock. Maybe this can be a purely optional event as well.
To prove that there will definitely be a variety and arsenal of weapons, vehicles, and enemies coming at you in the course of the game, here's a glimpse at a chart I've made to help me keep all the numerous things in the game in order. I wonder which factions are friend and foe?
---This list is likely to change. For example "Fire Volley" has already become the "Needle Volley" described above.---
"What's Yours Is Mine..."
When you approach the area surrounding the Drydock Facility, an area rich with jagged rocks for cover and sloping hills to give you vertical advantage over the enemy, Cortana will let you know you’re getting close to the resources you need for the coming battles.
Cortana: “There. This facility has been slowly breaking apart our ship and ferrying the pieces off for inspection elsewhere. I’ve never seen Sentinels so… enthusiastic about learning from us. Nevertheless, you need to get one of our vehicles out of there. We’re going to need them.”
There’s a small cave nearby that you can explore if you wish. It leads up to another vantage point on the Drydock. You’ll also find a Gravity Sniper nearby (as doodled above). Oh, and have I mentioned how cool this gun is?
Imagine a sort of Spartan Laser / Sniper Rifle hybrid with a Mass Effect Biotic twist. As you paint your target with a sight and charge up your shot, you actually slowly ‘pull’ the enemy towards you, lifting them off the ground and into the air. Then your laser beam blasts through them like a whisper and slams the target back into the ground.
You can take out the Sentinels, Sentinel Snipers, and Enforcers guarding the area slowly from afar with this weapon, or rush in from either side and boost up to the exposed decks of the Forward Unto Dawn.
You’ll find two Warthogs and a Scorpion to choose from. They’re Cortana customs like I mentioned in "The Howling Dark" walkthrough. What does that actually mean? Besides a visual change, Cortana has added interfaces into the driver and gunner areas of the vehicles, letting her take control and assist you as you drive or shoot (at least in an imaginary Halo game that actually has AI drivers that do not try to outright kill you :P).
Flying off the side of the deck with one of the vehicles will start to draw attention to yourself. Music starts to kick in and you’ll see Enforcers and even Inspectors advance towards you. You can stay and fight, but the trouble will keep coming.
Cortana: “We need to make a run for it, John! Head east, towards that Hard-light wall. I know what to do.”
Approaching the Hard-light wall with a vehicle triggers the end of the level.
Not entirely sure if that last bit of dialogue would make it into the final game. :P
Next Mission: “The Broken Chord” – Old friends and new enemies, and the heart of Shield and Sword’s story begins to really kick in…
|Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/10/12 1:24 a.m.|
|Awesome||padraig08||4/10/12 2:05 a.m.|
|What he said *NM* *NM*||Tiny||4/10/12 7:28 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Phoenix_9286||4/10/12 2:35 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/10/12 2:50 a.m.|
|Why just cosmetic differences?||Quirel||4/10/12 4:22 a.m.|
|Re: Why just cosmetic differences?||Leviathan||4/10/12 1:08 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Phoenix_9286||4/10/12 3:33 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||General Vagueness||4/12/12 11:32 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/12/12 1:43 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Arithmomaniac||4/12/12 3:23 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/12/12 3:26 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||General Vagueness||4/13/12 8:46 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||ZackDark||4/12/12 9:10 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Urban Reflex||4/10/12 7:36 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||mc_leprechaun||4/10/12 8:22 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||CaneCutter||4/10/12 8:38 a.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/10/12 1:10 p.m.|
|Yay!! *NM*||CaneCutter||4/10/12 1:36 p.m.|
|Amazing!! But you forgot one thing....||Chris101b||4/10/12 12:17 p.m.|
|Re: Amazing!! But you forgot one thing....||Leviathan||4/10/12 1:14 p.m.|
|Re: Amazing!! But you forgot one thing....||Phoenix_9286||4/10/12 3:35 p.m.|
|Re: Amazing!! But you forgot one thing....||Arithmomaniac||4/10/12 3:53 p.m.|
|Really cool stuff.||Gravemind||4/10/12 3:11 p.m.|
|Twitter is your friend.||Arithmomaniac||4/10/12 3:25 p.m.|
|Thanks. That's a pretty big level.||Gravemind||4/10/12 7:56 p.m.|
|Someone's been playing with SketchUp. ^_^ *NM*||SEspider||4/10/12 4:00 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Frankie||4/10/12 4:29 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Arithmomaniac||4/10/12 4:37 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||Leviathan||4/10/12 5:31 p.m.|
|BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! *NM*||ZackDark||4/10/12 10:40 p.m.|
|Re: Shield and Sword - Shield World *Long, IMGs*||BattleMaster2552||4/10/12 5:59 p.m.|
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