Halo: Spartan Assault explained (gameplay and trailer)

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Jun 04, 2013 04:07 PM EDT

With so much Halo-related stuff going back and forth, what with a new game trilogy just beginning, movie talk, and a live action television series with Steven Spielberg set to direct, we weren't quite sure what to make of the recently registered Spartan Assault. Until now that is. Unexpectedly ahead of E3, Microsoft has gone ahead and let the cat out of the bag, releasing a bevy of information on the new game.

To cut right to the point, Spartan Assault is an arcade style shooter that abandons the series long time FPS tradition for a top down perspective. It won't be coming to Xbox 360, Xbox One, or any Microsoft console for that matter. Rather, it's a Windows 8 exclusive title. So yes, while the game will run on PC, the emphasis here is for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Touch-screen controls are a key feature, as are optional micro-transactions. A bit disappointing, really.

"We wanted to create a mobile Halo experience that you can take with you wherever you go but we wanted to make the right mobile experience, we didn't want to just make a port of the console game," explains Dan Ayoub, executive producer of publishing at 343 Industries.

"Halo has always defined the platform that it's on, it's always been the crown jewel of Xbox and Microsoft and we wanted to do the same thing here, we wanted players and other people in the industry to look at this and say 'wow, how are they making the game look and sound this good.'"

343 has teamed with Dark Horse comics to promote Spartan Assault with a three-part tie-in story called "Halo: Initiation," which offers more insight into the Human-Covenant wars. However, as far as a story goes, this is more of a side note really. Spartan Assault plays no part in continuity, rather, it serves as a battle-simulator program aboard the UNSC Infinity.

Longtime Halo protagonist Master Chief is notably absent. Rather, players will have the choice of playing as Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis and the option to customise their appearance and loadouts before each mission. Halo 4 players will remember Palmer as a fairly prominent character in a good deal of cutscenes, despite never featuring in any of the gameplay.

For anyone still interested, Halo: Spartan Assault should offer a fairly quick experience. The game's 25 total levels are estimated to last 5 to 10 minutes each, and include your usual Halo fare, shooting aliens, planting bombs, commandeering vehicles, etc. Ayoub hopes that challenges and leaderboards will keep gamers coming back to play.

Halo: Spartan Assault launches in July, and will go for $6.99 in the US. You can check out the official launch trailer below, showing some of the gameplay, to get an idea of what Spartan Assault will have to offer.

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