With the botched release of The Master Chief Collection seemingly behind us, Microsoft and 343 Industries now have their sights firmly set on the release of Halo 5: Guardians. The game’s marketing campaign is being set into motion, and now we know this Sunday will see the unveiling of a live action trailer, which might just give us some hints about where the story of the Halo franchise is headed.
Live action trailers have long been central to Halo marketing, with District 9 director Neill Blomkamp’s shorts in support of Halo 3 starting the tradition. We’ve known that a similar clip was planned for Guardians for a while, as our first glimpse of the shoot leaked to the internet earlier this year.
It now seems that this trailer will shed some light on the ARG for Halo 5 that’s been picking up steam this week. A bullet with the word ‘traitor’ engraved into it debuted amongst commercials during The Walking Dead on Sunday, and has also been seen online alongside the hashtag #huntthetruth.
This campaign seems to be building towards an in-universe podcast series that follows an investigative journalist researching the story of Master Chief. It’s an intriguing way of combining the current popularity of similar ideas like Serial and The Jinx — but, crucially, it’s familiar ground for Halo fans.
The ‘I Love Bees’ ARG that publicized Halo 2 was many people’s first exposure to an interactive ad campaign, and has often been imitated in the decade since it played out. The marketing for Guardians certainly has its own spin on things, but the use of live-action trailers and an ARG seems to be a concerted effort to remind longtime fans of the years that Bungie spent in charge of the series.
With Halo 4 and The Master Chief Collection both receiving a mixed response for various reasons, 343 Industries hasn’t had the best start to its time in charge of Microsoft’s biggest franchise. But with Sony’s big hitter for 2015 delayed, it’s time for the new era of Halo to either sink or swim.
This creative ad campaign certainly seems to be a step in the right direction — but, at the end of the day, Halo 5 will need to satisfy fans to ensure the future of the series. Halo once seemed like too big of a franchise to ever fail, but even its most dedicated players will move on if it can’t reach the same highs it did in the past.
Halo 5: Guardians is set to release for the Xbox One in late 2015.