It’s quite an accomplishment to keep fans guessing after more than four games released in the same series, but 343 Industries is accomplishing the task. Halo 4 will be bringing plenty of changes and new features to both singleplayer and multiplayer, and today is a sign of just a few more. Thanks to images leaked online, we have our first look at two potential enemy types from Halo 4: the Watcher and the Crawler. Knowing what they’ll look like and be called is one thing, but understanding what this means for the overall plot is still unclear.

The image in question features the back panel of one of the McFarlane line of toys being developed in tandem with the game itself. Aside from confirming that Master Chief, an Elite Zealot and an unnamed ‘Spartan Warrior’ would be characters featured in the game, the newly redesigned Covenant Grunt revealed last month was given the ‘Storm’ classification.

But what has taken the lion’s share of the attention since the image made its way online is the tease of two new forthcoming characters – the Watcher and Crawler, and the first images of each. Predictably, the Crawler looks to be some type of four-legged, glowing alien predator that would be right at home in the Gears of War universe. The Watcher on the other hand is far more mysterious. Have a look at the images:

Halo 4 Enemies Watcher Crawler

The Crawler design is fairly straightforward, and at least initially looks to fit the mold of fast-moving-and-directly-attacking enemy type that all shooters apparently must have these days. Considering the fact that Halo distinguished itself based on enemy AI and squad intelligence, showing a wild animal as a possible enemy type may not result in much optimism from skeptics. Especially in 343’s first outing in the series.

As for the Watcher, speculation can extend far beyond how the enemy will function in combat. The image depicts what looks to be a floating apparatus with what may be an alien creature piloting it, at least from this one photo. If the Watcher is an alien, it certainly doesn’t resemble any so far seen in the series to date. That makes sense given the brand new setting and environments of Halo 4, and some Forerunner style is visible in the design. For extremely loyal fans of all things Halo, though, the term Watcher is somewhat familiar.

The Sentinel Watcher appeared as a Forerunner defense mechanism in the campaign of Halo Wars, tasked with controlling the Flood outbreak. The range of configurations shown in the above image for the Sentinel Watcher bears some resemblance to the leaked image, reinforced by its presence on a Forerunner shield world – just like the setting of Halo 4. The extended Halo universe lists numerous variants of Sentinels, but none of that accounts for the existence of the Crawler. It’s entirely possible that both characters are a new form of alien life that Master Chief will be encountering.

Obviously the developers have kept plenty of details to themselves, especially when discussing how the setting and plot of the upcoming game will fit into the extensive timeline of the Halo series. But with Elite Zealots – those Covenant warriors most loyal to the Prophets, and most devout in their devotion – and new Forerunners on hand, the plot could range from an extension of the Holy War of the previous games to a brand new chapter for Master Chief and humanity.

Hopefully this leak will encourage 343 to provide more details about at least some of the new enemy types, but expect far more information come E3 2012. Until then, what are your theories on the Watcher and Crawler?

Halo 4 releases exclusively for the Xbox 360 on November 6, 2012.

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Source: Xbox-Skyer, Halopedian