Fans craving for Halo news were not disappointed -- the content Microsoft included in their E3 Press Conference was a little bit new, a lot renewed and most importantly, a pretty clear vision for what fans can expect going forward.
The presentation opened with the characteristic monastic choir, set to a revamped version of the cutscene from Halo 2 when, like a good neighbor, the Master Chief leaves Cairo station to “give the Covenant back their bomb.” We quickly realize this is not throwback to a mission we have already played, but is actually being viewed by a third-party: the mysterious Spartan operator from the Halo 5: Guardians materials we have seen to date. He is studying the Chief as the Arbiter (still voiced by Keith David) explains the importance of understanding the iconic soldier’s importance to all their fates in the future. Eventually, the recording ends and the as-yet nameless Spartan steps out to face the Arbiter on the surface of an alien world.
A cursory analysis tells us that the Spartan’s armor is a slimmed down version of the armor kits we have seen to date appear, possibly belying advances made in human techonology between the events of Halo 4 and the upcoming title. The Arbiter is almost certainly back in some capacity, and the alien world they are speaking on appears to be the same one from previously released concept art.
Later in the press conference, Studio Head for 343 Industries Bonnie Ross classified Chief’s journey following Halo 4 as one where he’s questioning authority and searching for truth, even as our new nameless Spartan seeks him out. Not much intelligence to be gleaned from that statement: we knew the Chief was hurting from his loss at the end of Halo 4 and the mystery soldier’s presence on the poster was a pretty good indication that we would be seeing a multi-protagonist title.
Ross went on to announce Microsoft’s Master Chief Collection as the centerpiece of the Halo deliverable being unveiled at E3. This release would encompass the entire Master Chief Saga – Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 available on one disc for Xbox One. Ross classified the effort as one “...not just about making a game, but embracing our traditions, and roots, and everything we’re passionate about [in] Halo.”
While the substantive content will be exactly as gamers remember, several features will allow gamers to experience their favorite moments from campaign and multiplayer in new ways. A seamless interface will allow gamers to experience all four installments at once and will include a tool to build custom playlists of moments from throughout the series. Halo 2 has been given a facelift, as have four of the most popular multiplayer maps from that title (show of hands, who is most excited about Ascension making a comeback?) In total, the package will contain 100 multiplayer maps pulled from every title. The game will also ship with a copy of Halo: Nightfall, the live-action Halo project directed by Ridley Scott.
In addition to the seminal Master Chief collection, Microsoft also announced the Halo 5: Guardians Beta, an arena-style multiplayer mode featuring classic gameplay combined with new Spartan abilities. Exact details were few, and the trailer showcased was more cinematic footage than gameplay, but the level design used and additional abilities are certainly worth noting as the release date in December of this year approaches.
I was skeptical of Halo 4, deeply uncertain of how a title divorced from Bungie would play but I am officially excited to return to the universe. According to Microsoft, The Master Chief Collection drops November 11, 2014 and the Halo 5: Guardians Beta drops shortly thereafter in December 2014.
Editors note: There is a secret link at 1:08 of the video that seems to unlock.........something.....