Firefight (Halo 3: ODST)
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
Firefight is an endless wave-based survival mode introduced in Halo 3: ODST to supplement regular competitive multiplayer matchmaking. Players compete to survive waves of Covenant troops deployed by Phantom dropships for as long as possible, earning points and attempting to survive as long as possible. The mode supports up to four players in splitscreen or Xbox LIVE cooperative play. Players have a limited number of lives - meaning the game only ends when all players are dead. Firefight can be played on Easy, Normal, Heroic and Legendary difficulties, and players can optionally enable the Blind, Cowbell, IWHBYD and Grunt Birthday skulls for no increase in score.
Firefight is structured into waves, rounds and sets. A wave consists of a handful of enemy infantry deploying from one or two dropships or doorways onto the level at a time. Five waves make up a round and three rounds make up a set. At the end of every round, players are restored lives, weapons and vehicles. As a set progresses, a new skull will be enabled for each round, though these skulls will reset at the end of the set. Meanwhile, at the end of every set, an additional skull is enabled permanently, making the experience harder and harder. As the waves in a given round and rounds in a given set increase, the enemies deployed onto the battlefield will get harder, progressing from Grunts and Jackals to Brutes and Hunters - ending the round with Brute Chieftains. No matter what difficulty is selected for Firefight, the Tough Luck skull is always enabled.
At the end of each set is a bonus round. During the short bonus round, a single Phantom will hover over the battlefield and disperse an endless wave of Grunts for players to kill for points and score. During the bonus round, all skulls are enabled including Iron, meaning that if a player dies they will be unable to respawn until the round is complete. However, player deaths in the bonus round do not subtract from the overall pool of lives. If players score high enough during the bonus round, they will be awarded bonus lives.
The following is a summary of the skulls featured in Halo 3: ODST's Firefight. Some skulls can be activated before setting up the match, for no change in score, namely: Blind, Cowbell, Grunt Birthday Party and IWHBYD. Most, however, are activated progressively throughout the match, as outlined below. The only Halo 3: ODST skull which does not feature in Firefight is Thunderstorm.
In Firefight, players can choose to play as any of the members of Alpha-Nine, the ODST squad featured in the Halo 3: ODST campaign mode, with an additional bonus character of Sergeant Johnson for players who pre-ordered the game. In the original ODST game, characters could be unlocked by completing campaign missions. In Halo: The Master Chief Collection, all characters are unlocked in the Season 3: Recon progression system and available for play, including the previously-exclusive Johnson. The Master Chief Collection additionally introduces two new character variants based on models used only in the campaign, unlockable through Challenges.
Like player customisation in other Halo games, a player's choice of Firefight character has no bearing on their in-game stats and performance.
Firefight in Halo 3: ODST supports eight unique maps, with an additional two "night" variations on existing maps. All maps are based on locations found in the ODST campaign, typically those involving an element of wave defense in the campaign. Some Firefight maps in the original ODST release were unlocked by completing the campaign missions they were based off, though in The Master Chief Collection all are unlocked by default.
Changes for Halo: The Master Chief Collection
In 2015, the campaign of Halo 3: ODST was brought into Halo: The Master Chief Collection as a standalone expansion, though the game's Firefight mode was noticeably absent. This would remain the status quo for five years, until the release of The Master Chief Collection for PC platforms. On June 10, 2020, a teaser trailer was released by 343 Industries announcing the inclusion of Firefight into the Master Chief Collection to celebrate the Halo 3: ODST's launch on PC. On September 22, the game launched on PC and Firefight was released for PC and Xbox One editions of The Master Chief Collection.
As part of The Master Chief Collection, Firefight has undergone a number of changes inspired by the customisability of the Halo: Reach iteration of Firefight. Notably, Firefight now supports gametype customisation, though not to as great an extent as that of Halo: Reach. Players can alter their player traits and equipment to make themselves more or less vulnerable to enemies, have unlimited ammunition or spawn with any weapon in the ODST sandbox. Notably, this feature now allows players to spawn equipped with a Battle Rifle, a weapon never-before available to use in Halo 3: ODST.
The other primary major change introduced by the expanded Firefight options in The Master Chief Collection is the ability to change the vehicle spawns on the map. This change only affects the map Lost Platoon, as it replaces the default Warthog spawn on the map, but does not add vehicles to any other map. In custom gametypes, players can replace the Lost Platoon Warthog with a Gauss Warthog, Scorpion, Anti-Air Wraith or even a Hornet - the latter two of which have never been available to use prior in the ODST sandbox.
While The Master Chief Collection has these expanded options for Firefight play, the original endless survival experience is still available to play unaltered, now named the FF Classic gametype. For matchmaking play, the standard Firefight gametype performs exactly the same way but ends once one set is completed, and has a thirty minute time limit. Three other new gametypes are included by default: Sniperfight, Rocketfight and Fiestafight.
Many of Halo 3: ODST's achievements are based in the Firefight mode. Due to The Master Chief Collection's already 700-strong achievement roster, no Firefight-specific achievements were added to the collection, though a number of Firefight-based Challenges were - notably, the Vidmaster Challenge: Endure achievement returned in Season 3: Recon as a challenge.
Halo 3: ODST game director Paul Bertone was responsible for the conception of Firefight as an idea. While developing Halo 3, Bertone worked on the game's campaign scoring mode, which he credits with ultimately leading to Firefight. This, mixed with wave encounters like those from the level The Truth and Reconciliation in Halo: Combat Evolved ultimately served as the basis for the Firefight mode. Designer Tim Williams ultimately created the first Firefight prototype in-engine, and Martin O'Donnell was instrumental in giving Bertone the push needed to pursue active development of the mode.
Bertone and the other designers on ODST then designed the campaign spaces to serve double-duty as Firefight maps from day one, even before the Firefight mode was functional, due to limited resources available to the small ODST team. Firefight was later detailed in a dedicated ViDoc, Bip. Bap. Bam. Welcome to Firefight.
When porting Firefight into The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries explored the idea of allowing the Elephant to be useable, so players could bunker down inside the vehicle with multiple turrets. However, this did not work out due to technical reasons - though the developers are still interested in potentially adding this later down the line.