Early in the afternoon of April 20th a group of modders released ElDewrito 0.6.0 for Halo Online, and it is glorious.
But what is ElDewrito, or Halo Online in the first place? Well, Halo Online was a free to play multiplayer only Halo title tested exclusively in Russia. It was developed by Saber Interactive and published by Innova Systems in Spring of 2015, before soon being shut down to a close in 2016. Despite its failure, a group of modders got together to try and nurture the title into success. Though the game was restricted to Russia, this is where the community-driven mod ElDewrito comes in.
ElDewrito removed the region lock, allowing a world wide release to occur. Still, the group of extremely talented modders wanted to push the game further than that. Using the Halo Online engine, which is a modified version of Halo 3’s, the team sought out to recreate a traditional Halo experience on the PC. This is monumental, as the last official released Halo game on PC was Halo 2 back in 2004. Since then fans of the series have gone over a decade with just Xbox exclusive titles.
ElDewrito gets its name from a combination of Mt. Dew and Doritos, both commonly marketed ‘gamer foods.’ Despite the comedic heading, it’s a mod that improves upon the base game of Halo Online in almost every way. Gone are the gimmicky movement abilities like thruster packs and aim assisting smart-link. Now remains a traditional Halo experience that many will appreciate. The title’s ‘jump-in’ simplicity and easy-to-pick-up gameplay is outstanding, and is what makes the title so great.
ElDewrito is open source, using assets from Halo 3 and Halo Online, which allows the player great customization. Now there isn’t a 50-60 degrees lock on the FOV, with sliders being introduced to edit. Free reign has been added to change FOV, controls, weapon placement on screen and more. Thus giving each player a personal touch not available before. The option for a better HUD and freed up screen space (on top of the improved graphics and frame rate) modernizes the experience, when even though you are playing something of the past – it still feels fresh.
When you first launch the game, you get hit hard by nostalgia with the original theme playing in the background of the main menu. A tour of Valhalla is seen in the foreground of the screen, making the experience so much more memorable.
ElDewrito has seen massive success between fans, professional players and casters alike. In fact, it was so popular that the built-in server browser was dysfunctional for a few days, but recently was patched.
Everytime I’ve logged on there have been over 2000 people online at any given time, so there is no question over whether or not there is a player base. In a recent developer blog, the team behind ElDewrito posted some interesting statistics that they’ve gathered since the launch of 0.6.0 (April 20th).
The community mod is basically Halo 3, and ships with 12 maps. These include fan favorites like Last Resort, Guardian, Valhalla and more. Custom games makes a comeback, and a reimagined forge makes creating maps easier than ever. Eight base game modes are included, each with multiple premade variations to keep things interesting. The game features all armors pre-unlocked and a new color wheel, though players are currently limited to just playing Spartans (no Elites yet).
Unfortunately, Microsoft and 343 have noticed the huge popularity the mod has acquired, and has reached out to the developers regarding potential legal actions. Though no Cease and Desist or DMCA has been enacted, it’s been requested that the team behind the mod temporarily halts development on their title. In their official response, Microsoft stated:
“While we are humbled and inspired to see the amount of passion poured into this project, the fact remains that it’s built upon Microsoft-owned assets that were never lawfully released or authorized for this purpose. As this project reverberated across the community, our team took a step back to assess the materials and explore possible avenues, while Microsoft, like any company, has a responsibility to protect its IP, code and trademarks. It’s not optional in other words… We’re not “shutting down the mod” or going after the Eldewrito crew – we’re enacting action to remove the Halo Online code and packages from places it’s being hosted.. “
So sadly the development on updates for the project has come to a non-permanent pause, but the game is being left up for now and the mod team is still encouraging people to continue playing.
The engine has been optimized to support even low end PCs, and downloading is so easy that a sixteen second guide as been created to get you started. There is no reason not to try ElDewrito out, and to support the team which spent years making an experience like this free for everyone.
Works Cited: ElDewrito.com, HaloWaypoint.com, Eurogamer.net