The development team at 343 Industries is gearing up to release what may be the biggest video game launch of 2012: Halo 4. The 11-year-old franchise has become a hallmark first-person-shooter of 21st century gaming, and fans are preparing for the iconic Master Chief’s return, even though his destiny is no longer in the hands of Bungie, the developer on the first three Halo games.

The “Halo” universe is vast and expansive; it’s an entity that exists not only in video game form but in books and graphic novels as well. The news that has surrounded “Halo 4” is just as massive as the world it exists in.

The months building up to the game’s release has been filled with “Halo 4” information both fact and fiction, and it can be difficult to navigate through massive news that has engulfed the web.

From character announcements, to details on weapons and storyline hints, here’s a roundup of what to expect from “Halo 4.”

A Holistic Storyline

Franchise Development Director for 343 Industries Frank O’Connor has had a lot to say about “Halo 4” in recent months, and he’s made it clear that the game will have a huge and holistic story. “Halo 4” will feature flashback sequences to bring players back to key moments from the previous installments and welcome new players to the full “Halo” story.

“If you are new to the game, it’s going to feel complete, you’re going to have enough context to know what’s going on,” O’Connor said in an interview with The New York Post. “We give people all the ingredients to understand the story if they have never touched it before.”

Back in April, the official Halo Waypoint blog posted information on the “Halo 4” campaign, which will pick up right where “Halo 3” left off. According to the post, the upcoming game is said to take a darker turn and will move at a faster pace than its predecessors, making it a more mature game.

It’s been five years since players have seen master Chief, leaving a lengthy gap in the “Halo” universe to fill. “Halo 4” will address these holes and unanswered questions from the end of “Halo 3.”

“A lot of threads were left dangling at the end of ‘Halo 3,’” Josh Holmes of 343 Industries said to VentureBeat. We’ve tried to take on a lot of those and connect to those threads. We’ve done a lot of work in the larger universe, building across the novels and working with Greg Bear on the “long, long ago” history of the Forerunners. We’ve planted a lot of seers that pay off in ‘Halo 4.’”

Meet The Enemies And Weapons of ‘Halo 4’

The Prometheans are a new enemy class that will be introduced in “Halo 4” that comes in three variations: the Promethean Knight, Promethean Crawler and Promethean Watcher.

The Knights come from both ancient and mysterious origins and live in the artificial world of Requiem. Knights are fully armed and heavily armored, and are capable of terminating threats in all environments.

The Crawler is an armed Forerunner machine are capable of both close quarter and long range combat. They are aggressive quadrupeds that are engineered to viciously hunt foreign threats.

The Watchers, in contrast, are typically deployed to provide strategic aerial combat. They hover high above the battlefield and can heal damaged allies.

Enemies will also use group strategies in “Halo 4” combat sequences, with one such mechanic featuring all the Crawlers rushing in to eliminate an attacker when a Knight’s health is low.

“Halo 4” players will be fending off these enemies with Covenant and UNSC weapons seen in previous games in addition to the all-new Promethean weapons. This fresh lineup includes gadgets such as the Binary Rifle, the Boltshot, the Incineration Cannon, the Lightrifle and the Pulse Grenade among others.

Microsoft’s Most Important Franchise Gets A Record-Breaking Soundtrack

The score for “Halo 4” has officially become one of the highest-charted video game soundtracks ever. During its launch week, the “Halo 4” soundtrack sold more than 9,000 copies and debuted at No. 50 on the Billboard Top 200.

Award winning composer Neil Davidge enlisted a 16-piece male tenor and bass ensemble, 10 female vocalists from the London Bulgarian Choir and a 50-piece orchestra to produce the game’s music.

Head of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer recently acknowledged the significance of “Halo,” calling it “the most important entertainment product in the company,” in an interview with Polygon

“Halo” fans won’t have to wait long to see the game for themselves, as “Halo 4” hits stores on Nov. 6. See the trailer below.