Gamers impatiently waiting for 343 Industries to finish Halo 5: Guardians will receive at least a few morsels of information on the upcoming game to sate their hunger when Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases next month. And with the arrival of Microsoft's 'Halo Channel,' it's never too early to start unlocking additional content.
343 has revealed that one of the games in The Master Chief Collection - Halo 2: Anniversary - will feature special terminals intended to provide new information that links the story of Halo 2 to Halo 5. To be clear, the plot of Halo 2 is not being altered from its original state; what 343 has in mind is something similar to what happened with the first Halo: Anniversary prior to the release of Halo 4.
Speaking to Gamespot, 343 executive producer Dan Ayoub pointed out that the terminals in Anniversary unlocked "motion comic style pieces" that helped plant some seeds that would later be explored in Halo 4's campaign. The team is doing something similar in the remastered Halo 2 to hint about what's coming down the line in Halo 5. Specifically, Ayoub said the terminals will focus on the background of the Arbiter, who is a central character to Halo 2's story line, and if the terminals are any indication, Halo 5 as well.
The Halo fan community has had a love-hate relationship with the Arbiter, with some appreciating the change of pace from a typical Master Chief campaign to those who still hate the Elite for stealing some of Master Chief's thunder (when the Halo 2 campaign suddenly let gamers play as the Arbiter, Bungie's well-kept secret shocked a lot of gamers who were not expecting the switch).
It will be interesting to see just how much 343 builds up the story of the Arbiter in these terminals; potentially a hint that the Arbiter will once again return to the story? On one level, it wouldn't be all that surprising. With Cortana now apparently... removed from action, Master Chief could use a solid sidekick, and the Arbiter is a character that is already well established in the Halo universe.
In addition, Microsoft will also be blurring the lines between Halo 5, the Master Chief Collection, and their upcoming TV series Halo: Nightfall. As producer Kiki Wolfkill explains to Polygon, fans who tune into Microsoft's 'Halo Channel' will not only be able to check out the company's first venture into live-action TV shows, but will unlock additional content for their Xbox Live accounts:
"When you get to the end of a show it will show you all the things you've unlocked and experienced... and another key part of that is rewarding you for the things you've done in the channel and ecosystem. So, Halo: Nightfall for instance will have unlocks in The Master Chief Collection and in the Halo 5 beta that will carry into Halo 5 and vice versa.
"What we really want to do is create this really seamless ecosystem that allows you to experience different things together and be rewarded for that.
"Interactivity on top of the shows is something that's really important for us. We have to be really deliberate in how we think about that and about what kind of interactivity is really appropriate to the show that you're watching. For something like Forward Unto Dawn, which is very story driven, we want all the interactive features to be about enhancing your immersion and enhancing your understanding of the story, not pulling you out of it."
How successful 343 and Microsoft are in using the Halo brand to launch a new media stream is not yet known. In the meantime, this is just going to make the hype for next month's release of The Master Chief Collection even more intense. For players who have been living under a rock, The Master Chief Collection will feature remastered versions of all four main Halo titles, with Halo 2 getting the biggest upgrade with the Anniversary edition. 343 recently showed off footage of the remastered Halo 3, and it looks impressive, considering that the game is clearly not where the bulk of development effort is being spent.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases for Xbox One November 11.
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