Bungie plans to kick off a Halo 3 public beta early next year, along with a bunch of new Halo 2 maps. In the meantime, they are teasing us with a new Halo 3 screenshot, and they will also have a Halo 3 commercial on TV, coming this December 4. But first things first: the Halo 3 multiplayer beta.
"Via the Xbox Live multiplayer public beta, a first of its kind for the Halo franchise, gamers will be able to play online via Microsoft's premier online entertainment network and participate in a pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of Halo 3. This beta also represents an opportunity for gamers worldwide to participate in the development of Halo 3. Through the resulting feedback, Bungie Studios will be able to further refine and hone the end result of Halo 3."
If all goes well, the beta should start in Spring 2007. Also around that time, Bungie will release a new set of Halo 2 multiplayer maps via the Xbox Live Marketplace. They will not be free, however, and you will need a hard drive to download them on Xbox 360. Yes, that last part kind of sucks, and the devs admit it as well (though they cleverly pass the blame on to Microsoft).