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Halo Warthog: Iconic Video Game, and Now Real World, Vehicle Deep Dive

Most Famous Vehicle in Video Gaming is Back in Halo Infinite

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If you are a gamer, you’ll know that the 2001 launch of “Halo: Combat Evolved” had its own respective impact on the video game industry. But it also brought with it one of the most recognizable video game vehicles in the last 20 years — the Warthog. With the new release of “Halo Infinite,” we take a deep dive into the Halo Warthog, surveying how it has changed in its 20 years and highlighting the newest Warthog, along with a real-world example.

Halo Warthog: Official Designation, Specs, and Trim

You call it the Warthog; I call it the Warthog; even the in-game AI call it the Warthog, but it does have an actual in-game name. In the Halo universe, the Warthog is officially designated as the AMG Transport Dynamics M12 Force Application Vehicle (M12-FAV), but since all of that sounds like a Star Trek Borg designation, the infinitely cooler Warthog name has stuck.

In-game, the Halo Warthog comes powered by a 12.0L liquid-cooled hydrogen-injected internal combustion engine capable of throwing down 720 hp and 855 lb.-ft. of torque. While those are big power figures, the Warthog is limited to just 78 mph but can achieve that 78 mph no matter the terrain thanks to the vehicle’s four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering system.

The Warthog is available in a slew of “trim levels” which are mostly classified by the weaponry or lack of weaponry it features — take your pick from chaingun, gauss cannon, rockets, or additional space for infantry.

According to Halo game designer, Jaime Griesemer,”[T]he Warthog is the real reason Halo became an action game … Halo is the story of the Warthog and the universe we built to drive it around in.”

The Halo Warthog Through the Years

Like many things, the first is often the best, and the original Halo Warthog is no exception. In “Halo: Combat Evolved,” the Warthog was indestructible. The vehicle could not be damaged no matter the number of bullets, rockets, or grenades it encountered, though it was likely to flip. In the first Halo game, the Warthog was only available in one variant with a chaingun mounted in the rear.

In “Halo 2,” the Warthog featured some changes. The biggest one, which followed the Warthog to the most recent game, was that the Warthog could now be destroyed. Along with being able to blow up, you could also honk the horn to invite AI Marines to ride with you and power slide (aka drift) the vehicle.

Like modern vehicles model year updates, the Warthog did receive some visual changes over the years that continued to “Halo 3,” “Halo 3: ODST,” and “Halo: Reach.” Beyond general upgrades in design, the most unique thing about these versions of the Halo Warthog was that if you held the horn down, the horn was disabled after a few seconds.

I don’t know what it is about the horn. Perhaps, gamers were in an uproar as the developers added in the ability to honk it until you annoy yourself in “Halo 4.” Around this time, the Warthog appeared in Forza Motorsport 4 as part of its Forza Vista mode.

From “Halo 4” to “Halo 5,” the biggest functional change to the Warthog was that the chaingun on the back now required a cooldown. The vehicle also got a new sound effects package as well as some additional multiplayer variants or “trim levels.”

Gamers also got the ability to quickly swap from seat to seat without exiting the vehicle, which is more of a driver mod in track day terms. Speaking of track days, around the time of “Halo 5,” the Warthog appeared for the first time as a driveable vehicle in a Forza series in “Forza Horizon 3” and “Forza Horizon 4.”

Now that you know just how the Warthog changed from year to year (clearly the horn was the most important thing), let’s take a look at its latest iteration.

The Halo Infinite Warthog

The time between “Halo 5” and the release of “Halo Infinite” was the longest window of time we have been without a new Halo in the series’ history. It took six years (not counting “Halo Wars 2”) for Microsoft and 343 Industries to create the new, perfect landscapes for you to drive a Warthog in.

Overall, the Halo Infinite Warthog continues the main theme of its predecessors, but in six years there have been a few changes. First off, when hitting jumps, you can control the angle of the vehicle for the short time you are airborne to help stick a landing on off-camber terrain. If you wish, you can also do a barrel roll if you hit a big enough jump.

Perhaps the most welcome change is the chaingun turret cool down that came in “Halo 4” is gone. You can even pop all four tires and keep on trucking. With the new Spartan armor feature Grappleshot, you can shoot yourself into any seat in the vehicle. Finally, what has appeared to be the most important game-to-game change for developers, the horn has changed its tune.

In Halo Infinite, the vehicle can be found out in the wild among the Halo ring landscape or available as needed at Forward Operating Bases once you collect 800 Valor. You can collect Valor by saving Marines, unlocking Forward Operating Bases, and clearing Banished outposts. Once you have the necessary Valor, your resident in-game Uber driver Echo 216 airdrops it right in front of you.

A Real-Life Warthog

The Warthog is potentially the most famous video game vehicle of all time. But have you ever wondered, “What if it was real?” Well, thanks to some creative engineering, it is.

The Halo video game series peaked around 2007 with “Halo 3” and around that time a movie was in the works to be produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp had previously directed some live-action advertisements called “Halo: Landfall.” The movie plans fell through, but there was one great thing produced from the endeavor — a real working Warthog.

The movie car Warthog, created by Weta Workshop out of New Zealand, was based on a Nissan Patrol 4×4 truck and featured a 6-cylinder diesel engine and four-wheel-drive. Sadly, additional details are sparse, but it didn’t seem to check the box for what a Halo Warthog should be capable of.

The Weta Workshop-built Warthog would go on to make its way into other live-action Halo productions and advertisements. Other fan re-creations have been put out in the wild, but none have successfully imitated the video-game capabilities of the Halo Warthog in the real world — until Hoonigan took a stab at creating their version.

Hoonigan is often associated with professional driver and internet sensation Ken Block who is also one of the companies co-founders, but the company is also a media powerhouse, clothing shop, and, more recently, a build shop.

When Hoonigan got the call from Microsoft/343 Industries to try their hand at creating a real-life Halo Infinite Warthog, they succeeded where everyone else —even the big-budget canceled movie — had failed.

Hoonigan’s Warthog was built to resemble the Halo Infinite Warthog. It outdoes the video game version in the horsepower department as it features a whopping 1,000 hp courtesy of its twin-turbo Ford V8 powerplant. The engine sits inside a chopped chassis built for off-road racing like in the King of the Hammers. It features four-wheel steering like its video game counterpart. The 43-inch tires and solid front and rear-axles are some real-world additions that up the Hoonigan Warthog’s off-road game.

The Halo Infinite Warthog Hits Its Mark

With 20 years of history and such a large gap since we last saw a new Warthog, the folks at Microsoft and 343 Industries intend to steal your gamer’s heart and driver’s desires with the newest incarnation of this classic video game vehicle in “Halo Infinite.” And, thanks to Hoonigan, this iconic digital vehicle exists in the real world.

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About Danny Korecki

Danny Korecki is a financial analyst by day and a freelance automotive writer by night. His words, photos, or videos have been seen on many well known automotive sites across the web. When he isn't creating content he enjoys loving on his dog and daily driving his BMW E92 M3.