We wanted to take some of those elements from the character’s back story and make him more of a well-defined human being. We wanted to bring these things into the game experience to enrich the Chief’s character and explore his relationship with Cortana.
The challenge for us is determining how much of that to bring in without violating what I call the marriage between the player and the protagonist. I strove for a 50/50 balance, so that half of the character is the player pouring himself into the Master Chief and the other half is what we define as creators in our vision of him as a human.
It’s definitely a different take on the Master Chief, and one that I hope Halo fans won’t feel is too much of a departure.
What’s new in terms of single player? Beyond guns and gear, that is. How is it meaningfully different than previous Halo games in its overall vibe?
We’ve taken a very narrative-driven approach to single-player. We’ve tried to immerse the player in what it feels like to be the Master Chief. You can see that reflected in a lot of the work that we’ve done with the heads-up display. We’re trying to represent what it would feel like to be a 900-pound Spartan surrounded with all of the fantastic technology that would be supporting you as this bad-ass super-soldier.
We’ve tried to make it feel as though there’s much more of a connection between the Chief and the world around him. We’re trying to find ways to connect him with the environment, but also to connect him with Cortana, who represents the most important character relationship he has. You’re starting a journey with two characters facing incredible challenges, not only in terms of being stranded on this fantastic world together, but also Cortana dealing with the end of her life span, which is fast approaching. As an A.I. she has seven years before she starts to go rampant, and when we start this story she’s already eight years along. She’s trying to keep it together as the two of them are going through their journey.
I think the other big change is the introduction of a new enemy. When you think back over the last decade in Halo, we’ve only ever had the Covenant to fight, and we really wanted to change things up and bring a new set of enemies to the sandbox that would change the way people play Halo. These enemies change the way players use weapons and abilities, but also challenge you in ways you haven’t been challenged before with the behaviours of enemies and how they work together. I’m talking, of course, about the Prometheans. We’re showing them off at E3 for the very first time.
Seeing a new and mysterious alien force in Halo is exciting. I’m curious to know other ways in which you plan to set Halo apart from its predecessors and other shooters. This is a genre in which competition has only grown in recent years.
It comes back to story and universe, which is at the heart of what makes Halo so amazing to me, personally. What we’re going to do for the first time is connect the multiplayer experience of Halo with our story, and create a narrative structure that provides context to everything you’re doing.
In the demo we’re showing here at E3 you see the commissioning of the UNSC Infinity, and you see this ship as it approaches the planet Requiem and is pulled in by a gravity well, and the Chief has to go and rescue it. That’s the first intersection point between Master Chief and Infinity. The Infinity plays an important role in the campaign, then goes on to be the focal point of our multiplayer experience.
Halo Infinity multiplayer is a story-driven multiplayer experience that takes place roughly six months after the events of the single-player campaign. It provides context for what we call War Games – all of the traditional competitive play you’d expect from Halo – but it also introduces a new way to play called Spartan Ops, which is this cooperative, episodic experience where players are able to take part in an ongoing adventure that takes place over a season of play.
New content is delivered every week in the form of both storytelling and connected missions.
You’ve a ton of responsibility resting on your shoulders as the new stewards of Halo and the Master Chief franchise. How are you feeling about that?
As the new stewards of the Halo franchise, I think we’re all motivated to build the very best game we can. We’re inspired every day by the fact that we have this legacy to live up to. There’s no greater critic of our work than the team at 343 Industries. We all want this game to be as perfect as it can possibly be. We come into work every day with that on our minds. E3 [was]our big coming out party.