As the first Halo game on Microsoft’s new Xbox One console, Halo 5: Guardians represents a big risk for 343 Industries and publisher Microsoft. Obviously not in the sense that Halo 5 might not sell well, but with new hardware under the series’ belt, the expectation is that the sequel will blow past games out of the water.
Luckily, 343 Industries is well aware that they need to make Halo 5 something special. In fact, their latest behind the scenes developer diary for Halo 5 promises that the game delivers “the biggest Master Chief story yet.”
The ViDOC covers a wide range of topics for Halo 5’s narrative, including what it means to be a Spartan soldier. As we’ve already heard in the prequel podcasts, Hunt the Truth, Master Chief’s upbringing and training while in the Spartan program will have a significant impact on the Halo 5 story. And that’s not just because players will be controlling Master Chief during the Halo 5 campaign, but also because he is a man on the run.
For those who might not know, Halo 5: Guardians also features a new set of characters, the Blue Team, led by Spartan Locke. These Spartans are on the hunt for Master Chief and are under the belief that John committed treason against his government. It’s safe to assume the situation is a little more complicated than that – one piece of marketing suggested both Master Chief and Locke are misguided – and the dynamic of who is right and who is wrong should play a major role in the story. And for greater enrichment, there is a wide range of secondary Halo experiences to enjoy, including the recently announced Halo: The Fall of Reach animated series.
343 Industries says in the documentary that the company set the bar very high when development began on Halo 5, a reassuring sentiment for die-hard fans of the series. While Halo 4 may have been a solid entry in the franchise Bungie started back in 2001, there were some elements that did not go over well with fans. Many felt like the new Promethean enemies, for example, were a little too derivative of the Covenant archetypes, and were not that fun to fight.
However, rather than pull back on some of the changes made for Halo 4, 343 Industries is evolving the series even further. With Halo 5: Guardians, multiplayer takes on a new identity with faster movement options and modern FPS mechanics – two contentious changes to say the least.
343 Industries tried to win over fans with the Halo 5 multiplayer beta last year, but the verdict is still out over whether fans appreciate the new changes or not. Some may also see a narrative split between Master Chief and another character as blasphemous, but that’s not unprecedented for the series. Halo 2 featured dual protagonists with Master Chief and Arbiter, and that, too, was a controversial change of pace for the series.
In the end, we’ll have to wait and see whether 343 Industries can fully deliver on their promises for Halo 5: Guardians. With few console exclusives blocking its path this fall, the game has a chance to be a huge system seller, but there’s a long way to go before that.
Halo 5: Guardians releases October 27, 2015 for Xbox One.