Halo 4 Release Date - November 6th, 2012
343 Industries - While Halo 4 is 343's first Halo game developed on their own, they have had a lot of experience with Halo over the last few years. 343 was responsible for the Halo CE Anniversary remake released in 2011 and also helped put together the Halo Legends anime. They are made up of industry veterans including former Bungie vets, so they know what they are doing.
Halo 4 is the start of a new trilogy known a the "Reclaimer Trilogy". It features Master Chief (for the first time since Halo 3 since Halo 3 ODST and Halo Reach featured different characters )and Cortana and takes place at some point after the ending of Halo 3. If you beat Halo 3 on Legendary difficulty, you saw the true ending where MC and Cortana are adrift in space in a wrecked ship and you see a mysterious planet, which is where Halo 4 will take place. That planet happens to be a Forerunner (the ancient alien race that is the lynchpin of the entire Halo story) planet, so we can expect a fair share of new things we've never seen before mixed with the familiar.
Perhaps the biggest Halo 4 news is that 343 Industries wants to make some significant changes to Halo 4's multiplayer. This is a new trilogy, with a new developer, after all, so you can't really blame them for wanting to put their own touch on things.
First, all of the competitive multiplayer takes place on a UNSC ship called Infinity, which is the largest ship the military has ever made. Combat takes place on a sort of holodeck, so even though it takes place on a spaceship, the maps can take be in any environment.
The game will feature an XP system where you'll level up and also earn "Spartan Points" which you can spend on upgrades, armor abilities, and weapons to create custom loadouts.
The plan is to bring back all of the classic MP modes, but with tweaks and enhancements to make them more accessible and more fun with clearer objectives and a better balance.
It will feature 16-player online along with 4-player local splitscreen.
Halo 4's separate co-op mode which will be heavily story driven and episodic where every week new content will be available to play through that will tell more of the story, introduce new characters, and more while ultimately working toward the end of an overarching story. Spartan Ops uses your own Spartan IV character aboard the UNSC Infinity and you and your team will take on new and different missions not really seen in Halo before. Your Spartan Ops and multiplayer character are one in the same, which means XP and progress made in Spartan Ops will allow you to level up and earn upgrades that you can use in MP - significant since it lets you level up a bit before jumping into MP so you won't be too underpowered compared to the competition when you first start.
While we haven't played Halo 4 yet, 343 Industries (and anyone that has played it) has continually said it "Still feels like Halo". Sounds good to us.