Halo is known as one of the biggest franchises in gaming at the moment. Halo 3 set records for highest gross of an entertainment product within 24 hours of it’s release with first-day sales of reaching $170 million in the U.S. in 2007 (Soon to be obliterated by Call of Duty). There have been seven Halo games, three numbered games in the core series, one HD remake, one expansion, one prequel and one RTS spin off.
Bungie, the team that created the franchise, have since left to work on new projects. Microsoft has put arguably it’s biggest, and most important, exclusive franchise in the hands of 343 Industries. A new trilogy has been announced, following the story of the iconic Master Chief. There is a certain amount of trepidation amongst fans, hesitant about whether they should be excited or not. Here’s 5 reasons why you should be, but also why to be wary.
5) The Soundtrack
If you’ve played a Halo game before, you know that theme. Everyone knows that theme. You know why? Because it’s awesome! Which is why it’s concerning that Marty O’Donnel is no longer doing the music, he will be sorely missed. On the up side, we’ve got Neil Davidge as lead composer, the guy who co-wrote and produced 3 Massive Attack albums and has scored films in the past. It’s not classic Halo, he says he wants to add more ‘romance’ to the score while keeping the electronic sounds to ground it in that universe.
It’s been announced that the Covenant will feature, along with an ancient race called the Prometheans (Ridley Scott eat your heart out). As any Halo fan knows Covenant = Arbit- No, it means grunts. Lots and lots of grunts. Some of the stupidest and most annoying enemies in video games. With this fresh start we could have finally been rid of them. But then again, it’s so satisfying popping one off with a pistol headshot that I think in the end I’d miss the little buggers.
She was kind of annoying in 3, popping up all over the place but she remains one of the integral characters to the Halo story. She takes a far more central role in this one, as she devolves into Rampancy, one of the final stages of an AI’s life. If they nail her relationship with Master Chief, it could be amazing. If they screw up her character, no flame shields will be thick enough to protect 343 against the fanboys.
The multiplayer for Halo 4 sounds interesting, especially with this new Specialization system they’ve implemented. It provides extra levels with unlocks for cosmetic armor to change how you look, but it will also change how you play the game. Two specializations will be available at launch, unless you preorder the limited edition where you get all 8. Other than that, they’ve added Grifball! As in space football with gravity hammers (or Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Halo – if you get this reference I love you). The only downside from what I’ve seen is the omission of Firefight. The wave based Horde style multiplayer mode was popular, especially after it’s overhaul with Halo Reach so it’s sad to see it being left out.
1) The Team
Obviously Halo was created by Bungie. This new trilogy will be helmed by 343 Industries. Whether fans will respond well is yet to be seen, or whether they will resent them as that step father kind of figure. There are obvious concerns about a conflict in vision, if they will take Halo in the direction that Bungie intended, and fans want. Is it such a bad thing if they don’t though? Perhaps a fresh take is exactly what the franchise needs to reinvigorate it. 343 are made up of quite a lot of the talent from Bungie which is resassuring, not to mention some of the lead designers of the Metroid Prime trilogy have made their way over from Retro Studios, Prime was one of the greatest achievements of the last generation so this should give you some confidence (Not to mention those Promethean Knights are looking quite Space Piratey…)
These are just 5 reasons why it could be incredible or it could disappoint, but while writing this article I have to say the positive far outweigh the negative in my mind and I’m truly excited to see where 343 take this franchise. Microsoft are running low on exclusives these days so they need the ones they have to be very strong. There’s been no question of that in the past, and in my mind there’s no question going forward. What do you think?