Halo: Outpost Discovery will take over convention centers in five major cities as it tours from coast to coast, delivering an expansive look at the fictional universe of the popular first-person shooter franchise through VR experiences, video games, escape rooms, laser tag, a museum, a life-sized vehicles, a Halo ring, and more.
The tour kicks off on July 5 in Orlando, then making its way through Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston and finally Anaheim in late August.
Microsoft’s 343 Industries, which oversees the Halo franchise, teamed up with Herschend Live, which runs a number of location-based entertainment and live events including the Harlem Globetrotters and Dollywood, to create the experience.
“We had been exploring the location-based entertainment space and what it would mean to bring Halo more into the physical realm,” Kiki Wolfkill, studio head for halo transmedia and entertainment at 343 Industries, said. “Herschend brought with them the idea of a touring versus a permanent installation and that really fit with the ideas that we were interested in expressing.”
The studio wanted to figure out a way to bring the entire Halo universe to life — including the characters, stories, and gameplay — and put it in a place for their community to come together to celebrate their love of the Halo fiction, she said.
Popular on Variety
Wolfkill said that 343 had been wanting to do something like this for a long time, but struggled to find the right partner.
“We really wanted to focus on getting this conceptualized and built and out to fans so we could evolve what the experience could be,” she said.
This isn’t the first time 343 has worked to pull the universe into the real world. There was a Halo Lens activation at E3 in 2015, and then Halo Fest in 2016. Both of those, along with the museum that has long lived inside the studio, helped to inspire the ideas that came together for this touring experience.
“We brought a whole breadth of activities beyond playing the game,” Wolfkill said. “There will be experiences that are physical and interactive and a virtual reality experience very much seeded in the Halo ethos. It’s really all of those things.
“We wanted to have that combination of a theme park and a festival atmosphere.”
Howard Smith, president of Herschend Live, said that his company was attracted to the idea of helping to create and run this experience because they were already looking for an opportunity to create a fan festival and see video games as a growing segment.
Each stop along the tour is built around a weekend, Smith said.
“Anchoring the entire weekend is the Halo: Outpost Discovery attractions that include over ten different experiences in a hands-on interactive way,” he said. “There will also be a marketplace that will feature a number of different vendors which will be gamer-centric.”
The full list of experiences, along with the official descriptions are below.
“These are very large environments and we expect there will be quite a few fans,” Smith said. “we are expecting thousands of attendees and designed programs to accommodate very large traffic.”
Tickets for the experience will be sold in single and three day pass options as well as a VIP option. The VIP tickets will grant ticketholders early access to the floor and a number of free gifts.
The first year schedule is July 5-7 in Orlando, July 19-21 in Philadelphia, Aug. 2-4 in Chicago, Aug. 16-18 in Houston, and Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in Anaheim.
Wolfkill stressed that both companies see this as just the first year in an annual event.
“We look at this first year as a chance to learn and get better,” she said.
Halo: Outpost Discovery Experiences
- Hall of History: The beating heart of Halo: Outpost Discovery is the Hall of History, where you immerse yourself in the achievements and tribulations of humanity through a combination of informative graphics, artifacts, and tangible visuals pulled directly from the Halo franchise. Featuring everything from United Nations Space Command (UNSC) weapons and accessories, uniforms, an iconic to-scale Warthog, life-sized sculptures, and more, this exuberant, visceral tour of the Halo universe is the perfect introduction to your journey. In the Hall of History, new and experienced Halo fans alike will find something to discover.
- The Ring Experience: The Ring Experience lets guests explore the story of the mysterious Halo Array through artifacts that leap off the levels and pages of some of your favorite Halo titles. At the center of the Ring Experience is a visually immersive, multi-projector, dome-based theatrical experience, featuring a never-before-seen exploration of a Halo ring, giving fans a brand-new appreciation for the sheer scale, mystery and power of these ancient installations.
- Pelican Training: Step into the Pelican Training Simulation, an interactive -experience that gives you an opportunity to get hands-on with some of the UNSC’s most battle-hardened hardware through teamwork and deft decision-making.
- Covenant Escape: Explore a reclaimed section of a Covenant ship in this escape-room-style experience. Attendees will aim to familiarize themselves on various high-risk boarding maneuvers and strategies commonly undertaken by the UNSC. As the challenges intensify, guests must work together to disable the Covenant technology as quick as possible in order to set themselves free!
- Target Range: A challenging, interactive target range lets guests see if they have what it takes to defend humanity. This fast and fun test of skill will feature UNSC and Covenant-themed blasters, target alleys, and integrated touch panels that allow attendees to choose from a variety of game difficulties and target profiles. After each match, guests will be able to view and compare their speed and accuracy with each other to see which recruit reigns supreme!
- Training Grounds (VR): In teams of three, guests work together as they play against the opposing team in a variety of game types in virtual reality.
- Combat Deck: Experience the rush of playing Halo in “real life” with this Halo-themed laser tag Combat Deck. Danger is present around every corner, as guests and their squad mates must use their cunning and coordination to win this fast-paced, team-based, pulse-pounding activity. Two teams of up to twenty will go head to head for a chance to claim victory in the ultimate “Big Team Battle” experience!
- Hundreds of Game Stations: With hundreds of game stations for fans to play, the Halo series is at your fingertips at Halo: Outpost Discovery. Experience the series’ epic campaigns or challenge friends and strangers alike to a Multiplayer match in the suite of iconic maps and modes.
- Cosplay: A dedicated space that celebrates our cosplay communities – all cosplayers are welcome to enjoy photo ops, participate and showcase their costumes, and compete in a contest with awards for the most fantastic creations.
- Mega Construx: Create your own version of Halo missions and battles with Mega Bloks! This exhibit is open to fans of all ages and is the perfect shared experience that guests from the entire family can enjoy. Create figurines and check out master-built sculptures that bring the Halo universe to life.
- UNSC Kiosk: Have questions? Visit our onsite informational booth. Here, attendees can inquire about the show, special events, and receive other information related to Halo: Outpost Discovery.
- Post Exchange: If you’re looking for a unique retail space that has one-of-a-kind Outpost Discovery products, memorabilia, and collectibles, look no further! The PX (Post Exchange) offers a wide variety of exclusive items that are available only at Halo: Outpost Discovery in Orlando, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim.
- Marketplace: A hub for both new and experienced fans to explore all aspects of the gaming culture, featuring vendors and resources that specialize in a variety of items including merchandise, collectibles, cosplay materials, games, and even a few surprises!
- Community Meetups: Embrace your fandom with the community and forge new connections through gaming, deep dives into the lore of the Halo franchise, special events, panels and much more.
- Food and Beverage: Halo: Outpost Discovery will feature onsite food and beverage to enjoy, allowing fans and families to spend an entire day in the Halo universe. We’ll have more information to share in the future.