Halo is coming back, reaching out to its roots again in more ways than one. Starting this fall, 343 Industries will release the remake of Bungie’s original Halo, titled Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and next year, they’ll delve back into continuing the core series with Halo 4, the planned beginning of a second full trilogy Master Chief-centric titles.
The key to continuing the franchise for Microsoft Game Studios and lead developer 343, will be to ensure fans step into the shoes of Master Chief again, as they feel it might not have been the best idea for Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach to not feature the franchise poster boy.
In chatting with Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft Games Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer spoke about their goals with the upcoming Halo titles in appeasing long-time loyal fans and reaching new, younger audiences.
“The key question for me in managing the studio and the creatives is ‘what is Halo?’, making sure Halo lives up to what I think gamers fell in love with… What does that mean? Playing Master Chief. We kind of lost our way a little bit, I’ll say. And that’s why I wanted to make sure that at the unveiling of Halo 4, you knew you were playing Master Chief, that John was back. Because Master Chief is the John Wayne character of that universe, and that’s who you want to play.”
Last week, Microsoft’s Stephen McGill spoke about how Halo 4 will help the company and franchise reach the younger demographic of gamers, who weren’t around when Halo 1 hit it big on the first Xbox. So it’s a brilliant strategy in re-releasing and upgraded version of the original for a lower retail price as a lead-in to the return of Master Chief in Halo 4 the following year.
“If you were a Halo fan for Halo 1, 2 and 3, Reach made sense to you, but fundamentally there are a ton of players on our box right now that didn’t start with Halo 1. What we said was: ‘let’s get back to what Halo is about’.”
“I loved Reach as a game – as a fan of the fiction, I totally love the story in Reach, Reach is one of the best stories in the Halo universe. But it made more sense to you if you were a Halo fan… If you were new to Xbox 360, 360’s where you started playing on Xbox, you understood what Halo 3 was. ODST and Reach, maybe you weren’t as centred… The game has a history now, and it’s about bringing new customers into the fiction.”
Halo 4 was revealed at E3 and in the following month, 343 Industries has opened up a little on the game and how it will differ than its predecessors, starting with Master Chief being a changed man. Are you happy to see players taking on the role of the last Spartan again in future Halo titles or are you ready for something different?
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary releases November 15, 2011 for the Xbox 360.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.