With its sights set on new horizons, Bungie has left the future of its critically-acclaimed Halo series to 343 Industries. 343, named after a certain floating character from the Halo series is no stranger to the franchise, but following in Bungie's footsteps is no small task. The developers themselves know that dedicated fans may be a bit more harsh with their criticisms from this point one, but aren't intimidated.
343's Creative Director Frank O'Connor was formerly a member of the Bungie team, so nobody is more familiar with fan expectations than he. The developers haven't released too many details as to what they are working on, but the Halo: Reach Defiant Map Pack developer diary showed that the team cares about the future of the franchise as much as any player.
It's a safe bet that 343 will be looking to make a statement with their next Halo title, but with rumors of a Combat Evolved HD remake, and even a Halo Kinect property recently surfacing, it's anyone's guess.
What we do know is that the game will certainly not be a carbon-copy of past entries, as O'Connor explained to CVG that for the first time, Bungie will be completely unconnected to development or design:
"Right now Bungie is supporting the community with matchmaking and stats, but at this point that's it. [Bungie will] continue to do that and support the community but in terms of actual Halo product this marks the first where there is no Bungie, or even tertiary Bungie involvement other than matchmaking."
Reuniting players with Master Chief would be a welcome change from recent titles that moved away from the armor-clad super-soldier. Whenever you're dealing with a franchise as popular as Halo, it isn't difficult to predict how fans will take even the smallest of changes to gameplay, but O'Connor thinks that fans will understand the reasoning behind some of the new team's tweaks.
Even if there is a positive reaction to some elements of the game, there's no doubt that 343 will have its share of critics whenever their Halo title hits shelves. O'Connor isn't ready to dismiss the hate mail and forum-trolling, since even the most immature fan's outrage carries a real bit of criticism within it:
"There will be things that they'll say 'oh this is better than that' about but we'll just have to wait and see... I'll be watching that stuff, you have to take it seriously because your core fans are also the most educated. But you also have to remember that probably 75% of the audience doesn't know who makes the games - to them it's like 'Xbox makes the games'. Those are a bulk of the audience that you also have to pay close, careful and loving attention to."
It remains to be seen what kind of changes 343 is making to Halo's tried-and-true formula, but we're definitely intrigued to find that the developers aren't afraid to experiment. We've got our own ideas of what we'd like to see in Halo 4, but what changes do you think the new team should make, if any?
As of now, no concrete details on 343 Industries' next Halo title have been released.