After so many years at the top of not just gaming, but entertainment culture in general, it's somewhat refreshing that Halo 5: Guardians actually has a bit of mystery surrounding it. After recent reports brought the question of just how large a role Master Chief would play in the events of the upcoming Xbox One Halo, 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor has cleared the air, confirming that the Chief is both "the main character" and "the hero."
Since the story developed quite quickly, some context may be needed for those who simply assumed (like most) that Halo 5, like the numbered sequels before it, would be following the events of Master Chief following the conclusion of Halo 4. Microsoft had made it clear some time ago that Agent Locke (played by Mike Colter), the star of the live-action series Halo: Nightfall would be playing a "key role" in Guardians, as part of the company's attempt to unite the live-action and gameplay sides of the Halo brand.
But recently, Colter himself explained in an interview that his Agent Locke would be not just a character in the story of the game, but the primary one. Read below for part of his quotes:
"Yeah, I’m a playable character in Halo 5. Once Halo: The Master Chief Collection is released, and then Halo 5 comes out shortly thereafter, you’re basically going to be playing a game with me as the primary character.
"The relationship between Master Chief and Jameson Locke is going to be interesting. Because, what’s the outcome? Is he dead or alive? Because that’s usually what amanhunt comes down to do, dead or alive, but you won’t know what the purpose of finding Master Chief is [right away]."
Understandably, fans took Colter's statements as a clear synopsis of the game's plot: Locke would be the main character hunting down the Chief after his disappearance. A Microsoft spokesperson later responded by saying that the Chief and Locke were both "primary" characters, and playable.
Some took his comments a bit farther, assuming that Halo 5 was going to something of an experiment, used to gauge how open players might be to a Halo game not starring the franchise's mascot. With 343's Bonnie Ross having also stated that numbered sequels may be a thing of the past, since there is - and must be - more to Halo than just the Chief, unless players want to be playing as an elderly version years from now.
But as those rumors and assumptions spread, 343's Frank O'Connor - overseer of the franchise as a whole - took to NeoGAF to dispute at least some of the accusations in their tracks.
Those familiar with O'Connor's track record know that his terse tone is nothing new, having recently made his feelings about insider leaks abundantly clear. And as his statements appear to state, the game is still centered on Master Chief, and that the studio isn't looking to 'test the waters' with one of their most dependable exclusive franchises.
Unfortunately, the problem with this discussion is the language being used. Terms like 'main character' and 'hero' may be beaten into the ground in modern movies, games, and even books, so hoping to use them to clarify what sounds like an experience starring two characters seems hopeless. The trailer for Halo 5 showed that it was clearly going to be about Master Chief, but it's told from the perspective of Agent Locke. And if Locke really is tasked with hunting down the Chief, is it impossible that his quarry could still be seen as the game's most heroic figure?
What seems to be the real case here is a game in which both Master Chief and a new character will be playable, and integral to at least the scripted plot and narrative (much like the Chief and Arbiter's parallel story in Halo 2). But even if the two share an equal amount of playing time, it's in 343's best interest to kill that information quickly. After all, Halo 2 managed to keep the twist a total secret; would it have sold less if advertised as a game only half-led by Master Chief?
The rumors aren't likely to die down anytime soon, but according to Microsoft, they claim that the Master Chief is the star, and hero of Halo 5. Do you think that's a wise move on their part, or would you be more interested in a new character, and a new perspective on Master Chief's journey?
Halo 5: Guardians is expected to release for the Xbox One in 2015.
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