To coincide with the fifth anniversary of Xbox and Halo, Microsoft Game Studios and Bungie have announced that beta testing for the third instalment in the series will begin next year.
The Halo 3 beta test, which is scheduled to start in the spring, will allow gamers to try out the game's multiplayer mode via Xbox Live - a first for the franchise. Bungie will use the feedback from players to refine the full game, which is due out later in the year.
Microsoft also announced that new maps for Halo 2 will be available via Xbox Live Marketplace around the same time, and that a new 60 second teaser trailer for Halo 3 is on the way.
It will be broadcast on North America's ESPN channel on December 4, and will simultaneously be shown on Xbox.com - allowing European gamers to watch too.
"Since its original release, Halo 2 has redefined online play, delivering superior multiplayer capabilities in addition to an incredible social experience, and nurturing a constantly growing community through Xbox Live," said Shane Kim, corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios.
"After five years of rabid fan interest in the Halo franchise and with more than 4 million users and counting on Xbox Live worldwide, this is the perfect time to invite fans to join the global Halo phenomenon."