The Halo series is one of the most memorable video game franchises for me (and probably for a lot of you, as well). I remember playing 16-player system link on Halo 1 at a 7th grade sleepover, playing endless Halo 2 matches on Xbox Live in the 8th grade, slaving away at Halo 3's four player co-op mode the night before my high school junior year homecoming dance, and playing Halo: Reach with my college roommates a few hours before a massive college party. As you can tell, Halo has been a big part of my youth; therefore, I was naturally excited when they announced Halo 4 at this year's E3 conference.
So, what do we know about Halo 4 thus far? One important thing to note is that it is not being made by Bungie, its original developers. As some of you may know, Bungie opted to go independent back in 2007, and have transferred the IP rights of Halo to a new Microsoft spin-off studio aptly named 343 Industries (named after that annoying little forerunner robot, 343 Guilty Spark). They have also formally announced that Halo: Reach would be their last Halo title, before officially transferring rights to Microsoft on August 2nd of this year.
What does that mean for Halo? It shouldn't decrease the quality of the franchise by too much, since many former Bungie staff members have signed on to 343 Industries (including franchise director Frank O' Connor). My only worry is that historical precedence states that successful game franchises which are picked up by developers different from their original tend to lose some quality (remember Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2?). We also know that it will be the first in a new Halo trilogy -- it's crazy to think there's a whole trilogy coming after what felt like an already huge, universe-shattering adventure before! Needless to say, the universe is probably in for a lot more warfare.
343 Industries has also released very little info on the plot of the game. Here is a quote from the new website:
Set in the aftermath of Halo 3, Master Chief returns to confront his own destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe.
I wonder what new enemy they'll be facing now? My money's on the flood again, since the first Halo trilogy didn't really do a good job of wrapping them up. I mean, if the forerunners couldn't even destroy them by killing off their own entire species, how is a small blast from an unfinished Halo going to do the trick? For gameplay purposes, however, I hope it isn't the flood, since those things were damn annoying to kill. I also speculate that the forerunners may be playing a much bigger role in the story this time around -- after all, there are so many unanswered questions about them.
As far as gameplay goes, very little has been revealed. I just hope that 343 Industries manages to keep the game systems intact while creating new and compelling weapons, vehicles and enemies. Personally, I thought the quality of new additions seemed to go down with each successive Halo title; therefore, I hope 343 Industries does a good job of adding great stuff to the mix without altering Bungie's great formula too much.
Halo 4 is scheduled for a holiday 2012 release, meaning we probably wont hear much more about it for a while. Stay tuned for more updates!
Here is the E3 2011 trailer for the game, courtesy of my company (5min Media):
What do you guys think?