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Feet First Into Firefight


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Intelligence Officer

Intelligence Officer


This is an excerpt from a full article on MCC's most recent coming content update. It has got to be the most valuable of QOL's in any game 6 months later from its last update. There is a ton of information from that but I'm going to focus on the Firefight section here. 

How long can you survive? Can you outsmart your opponent? To some, this is the quintessential late-night grind, and soon there’ll be even more ways to experience that with MCC.

Dana "The Psycho Duck" Jerpbak, Software Engineer, has worked his magic once again so let’s see what he’s got to say!

Halo 3: ODST screenshot of six players in Firefight battling a Wraith

Firefight was a relatively late addition to MCC, arriving for Halo: Reach when it came to the collection in 2019, and for ODST the following year. Since then, we've made numerous improvements to the Firefight experience, such as the use of the distributed networking model (which was formerly available only in standard multiplayer) and the introduction of game variants with templatized waves (including Flood!) to ODST

One thing we’ve wanted to do for a while is provide a more seamless drop-in-drop-out (insert feet first into Hell reference here) experience with Firefight, and we’ve finally achieved that with this update.

Firefight’s simulation is more complex than standard multiplayer due to the inclusion of AI-controlled units, as well as various systems which were not originally intended to be networked. As such, we weren’t historically able to support join-in-progress (JIP) for the mode. That’s no longer the case!

In addition to the ability to JIP into regular Firefight custom games, this also means that you can now use our match rejoin feature in Firefight matchmade games! Firefight matches tend to last longer than multiplayer matches and now if you experience a connection hiccup during the match, you can seamlessly rejoin.

JIP also opens the door for Firefight’s debut in the Custom Games Browser. You can now create, browse for, and match into Firefight CGB sessions just like you can with multiplayer sessions.

With Firefight’s inclusion in CGB, we also invested in increasing its max player count from four to eight. To set expectations, the enemy count and difficulty do not scale with the player count in Firefight (though we think Legendary eight-player Flood Firefight is a blast) and we don’t expect to change the player counts in our Firefight matchmaking playlists at this time. This simply provides more flexibility for custom Firefight games and we hope to see some awesome modded Firefight maps that really take advantage of the expanded player count too!

MCC menu screenshot showing "Browse Custom Firefight" option

In Firefight, players who join in progress enter observer mode (where they can spectate living players or use the flying camera) until a new wave begins (so you won’t be exploiting rejoins while out of lives). In variants with infinite lives enabled, JIPing players may spawn immediately. In the CGB sessions, Firefight’s pre-game warmup phase is more seamless than multiplayer’s. A new set will only begin once the minimum player count is met, but players are free to explore the map and scavenge weapons and ammo during this period.

Long-time Firefight fans may recall the “Network Test 1” PvP Generator Defense experience from the original Halo: Reach Multiplayer Beta. This was a 3v3 Firefight experience with waves disabled which was not possible to recreate in the full game or its MCC release... until now.

We’ve added a new game variant option to Reach Firefight which disables enemy waves and enables legacy behavior from the Beta. Now you can play the original PvP Generator Defense with up to eight players on the modern distributed networking model. Happy Firefighting!

Halo: Reach Firefight options menu screenshot showing how to disable waves

With the introduction of JIP support to Firefight, we’ve also made a global change to saved films across all games which support Theater in MCC. Previously in Halo 3 and ODST, only the film from the first instance of joining a game was retained. Meanwhile in Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 2: Anniversary each rejoin would overwrite the previous film recorded from that game. Now, each join will retain its own film, so you won’t lose any cool clips you captured before leaving and rejoining a game.


(Let’s get the scoop from Sean "Scoops" Cooper, Senior Software Engineer, for some further insight into development and improvements to Firefight.)

Before we even greenlit ODST Firefight for MCC or replaced our front-end with UE4, I was experimenting with changes that would eventually add MP support to ODST as a pie in the sky side project. Some of the changes involved ended up helping with this CU’s 8-player support for ODST FF.

When ODST was forked from the Halo 3 source, there were changes to the maximum number of players from 16 to 4. A couple of years ago, before we released ODST on PC, I did some work to bump the maximum players back to 16 (doing it in such a way that would also make potentially adding >16 support more straightforward too).

When Halo 3 got Forge improvements back in 2020, I spent time ensuring those changes were integrated into ODST, in the hopes that one day things would pan out. The content and code fixups involved in ensuring that MP and Forge “Just Worked” ended up being far more work than I realized in 2018, but it was worth it to see it come together and open another area for modders to tinker. Our early access modding group was critical in getting the MP support to the state it is today, as well as providing feedback on where new hooks and changes were needed to more easily support MP while not stomping on campaign and Firefight.

Trivia: when I first started prototyping the support for MP, I codenamed it SERE. This was a nod to ODST first adding Firefight, which was internally called Survival. ‘SERE’ being an acronym for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.

Additionally, since ODST was forked from Halo 3 at some point after some of the DLC maps were worked on, ODST’s content also contained a few unreleased DLC maps that were explored for Halo 3. I included these in this CU’s release of the ODST mod tools.

Beachhead would end up making its way into Reach as Tempest. I remember seeing the early development of this map in October 2007 when I first got to visit Bungie (when they were still located in Kirkland at the now-demolished 434 office, RIP).

One of the biggest highlights of this coming update since I know it is a lot to read already, is that we will see 8 player Co-op Firefight now. This is huge! 

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