There's been some controversy lately surround what will and won't be included in Halo 5: Guardians. Specifically, whether Master Chief will - or should - be the star of the game, with recent reports claiming that a brand new character, Agent Jameson Locke will actually be the 'primary character' of the series' foray onto the Xbox One. Microsoft isn't ready to provide answers to those questions, but the head of 343 Industries spoke openly about the company's desire in broadening the franchise; including the removal of numbered and non-numbered entries.
It's easy for any gamer to understand why developers and publishers are occasionally torn on their game titles: the common conception being that the numbered sequel is the 'real' continuation, or evolution of the franchise's story or mechanics. But in the latest issue of OXM (via HaloFollower) 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross explained that if anything, the presence of both '5' and 'Guardians' in the title of the next Halo game may be the sign of an old habit, and nothing more.
And apparently, it's a habit that Ross thinks the company needs to break in the future:
"At some point, we do want to stop numbering. Especially on Xbox One. If I had my druthers, we wouldn’t have called Halo 4 that – we really look at that game as the start of where he’s going. At some point we need to drop the number and still (let you) know you’ve got a big story coming.
"It might still be a Master Chief story. I’m just saying, at some point we don’t want to be Halo 17, when Master Chief’s like 80. We’re not Final Fantasy, we can’t do it. So we kind of open that door – it doesn’t mean it’ll be a Master Chief story or not. That’s something for us to decide in the future."
Ross makes a strong point: the developers have already shown that the Halo universe is bigger than any one hero or character. Aside from the wealth of novels, comic books, and peripheral games centering on other characters within the established fiction, the games themselves have also sought to share the load with Master Chief; specifically Halo 3: ODST. And with Halo: Guardians - sorry, Halo 5: Guardians - apparently being centered on Agent Locke's pursuit of the Chief, the number seems to signify nothing more than it being 'the next new Halo game.'
The issue of public perception when it comes to numbered sequels versus subtitled ones has been seen in several recent franchises, western ones in particular. There's still little explanation for the title of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and for now, it appears that Ubisoft has ceased their numbering system entirely. In that regard, they seem to be following the movie business like most other colon-happy franchises. And both of BioWare's major series seem to be undergoing similar struggles to Microsoft, in placing a new Mass Effect game apart from its hero, and Dragon Age: Inquisition actually removing its number post-announcement.
It's strange to think that Halo - a series with an even less-defined star designed to be purposefully faceless - could demand more loyalty or dedication. But with Microsoft's plan to carry the brand across games and TV to start with, it's going to have to diversify at some point. And from Ross' comments, it sounds like those changes are coming sooner rather than later.
Halo 5: Guardians arriving at some point in 2015.
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Source: OXM (via HaloFollower)