For serious fans of the Halo series, the surprisingly stylish announcement trailer for Halo 4 was Christmas come early. It’s already been too long to know what’s been happening to Master Chief, and the trailer revealed that the next game in the series would be picking up right where the story left off. But not, Halo 4‘s Director of development is hinting that quite a lot has happened since we last saw the Chief, and players can expect that the protagonist won’t be the same old faceless space marine this time around.

For those fans who could list off the specific advancements between the Mark IV and Mark V Mjolnir armor systems, seeing the Halo 4 announcement trailer made many things clear. Mainly that Master Chief’s equipment has seen some modifications, and his weapons have been fitted with a few handy bonuses.

343 Industries‘ Director Frank O’Connor is now confirming that changes to the Chief will be seen both superficially and on a deeper level. The events of Halo 3 certainly left the mental state of both Cortana and the Chief in question, and in an interview with OXM, O’Connor hinted that while some may see the trailer as a continuation of that game’s closing moments, things aren’t as they once were:

“There’s some story behind his new look…There are specific reasons why he looks the way he does and why some of his behaviors have changed. We’ll see in good time.”

As for the apparent gap between the third and fourth games of Master Chief’s adventure?

“A lot of things have changed in that intervening period”

It should be clear to anyone familiar with the series that the first trailer sent a very different message than advertising for previous titles. While past cinematics have been concerned with the war against the Covenant, or the role that Master Chief plays, the teaser for Halo 4 has already delved deeper – literally – into the man in the iron suit.

For instance, the first and last time that Cortana attempts to communicate with the Chief she calls him by his given name, John. It may seem like a small difference, but with the AI referring to the man by his rank in both previous games and the accompanying book series, the change is a significant one. Our prediction is that Halo 4 will be focusing much more on John-117 and the scars he’s collected throughout his military service, and less on dense religious/political drama.

Halo 4 Wake Up John

343 Industries had previously posted a job advertisement revealing that they were going to be spending a good amount of time “redefining” characters, and O’Connor’s description of the changes that will be seen in the Chief makes their intentions clear. After 3 games, it’s hard to say that anyone really knows that much about the Chief, aside from what his voice sounds like. The book series may have gone into much greater detail, so hopefully the developers will be attempting to show what makes John tick in Halo 4.

What the larger story will consist of is still unknown at this point, with the early details only hinting that Master Chief and Cortana are going to come fact to face with something beyond humanity, but that could mean anything. The strange planet seen in the trailer could be related to the long-extinct Forerunners, and if that’s the case, we’ve got plenty of ideas where the story could go.

We don’t know how deep to look into the first trailer for the game, but the fact that John’s heart seems to have stopped completely, along with all new armor being magically applied to his body may imply that Cortana has some explaining to do. Whatever the case, it looks as though 343 is already set to deliver on their promise of bringing new experiences to the Halo franchise, and if that includes more characterization of John-117 – while still keeping the ability for any player to embody him – then we’re all for it.

What are your thoughts on the changes being made to the Chief? Is stronger exploration of his character something you’ve been waiting for, or something you’re not interested in? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Halo 4 is currently scheduled for a holiday 2012 release exclusively for the Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: OXM