As I’m sure most of you will know, unless you’ve spent the last year living under a rock, Bungie is set to release its last ever Halo game sometime in September, and as promised, it looks like it’ll be their best yet. The graphics, overall, will be sharper, cleaner and presented with a more realistic and gritty overtone. The AI will be twice as capable as Halo 3 and above all else, it’ll feature a team of Spartans, armed to the teeth with a host of newly designed weapons.
But with all of this in mind, there is one burning question, a question that every avid Halo fan will be asking when the dust settles after Reach: “what now?” It’s a valid point, and one worthy of close attention and intense scrutiny.
Bungie has stated that it’s busy planning their next IP, but obviously the only people who know the details are those housed deep within the studio. It’s pretty much common knowledge that this new title won’t be anything Halo. Instead, it’ll be a new direction for the Seattle-based company. And because of that, the old question rears its head once again and many of us are thrown back to the Legendary ending of Halo 3 – with the Master Chief and Cortana drifting in the remains of the Forward unto Dawn in deep space. Gone but definitely not forgotten. In fact, this lack of closure became so unbearable for me that I even went as far as writing an epilogue on the Bunie.net forums, and obviously I wasn’t alone with this overwhelming desire to see things through to the very end, and not leave them hanging like a driveling baboon
Halo has, for the past ten years, been the driving force behind the popularity of the FPS and the flagship of the Xbox console. It’s a billion dollar nugget of creativity, imagination and fun – Halo 3 made over $180m in the first twenty-four hours of release. So why would Bungie leave it all like this? Why step aside when all is going well? It’s no secret that Bungie is now an independent studio and that Microsoft has a great deal of influence, but what is a secret are the intricate details of the contract or agreement between Bungie and Microsoft concerning the Halo franchise. For now, our dose of new Halo material comes in the form of animated shorts from 343 Industries – the Halo publishing arm of Microsoft, with Frank O’Connor leading the way.
Frank has previously stated that the ending of Halo 3 won’t be the last time that we see the Chief, and technically he was right. Spartan-117 and the rest of his team featured in “The Package” several weeks ago on Halo Waypoint, but will we get to play as the Master Chief again?
While I can’t say for certain that we will be stomping around in his armor again, I can say this: the Master Chief has been the one constant throughout Halo – he was in three of them. And as the Halo franchise is bigger than Ben Hur, and the main face of that franchise is a mountain of a man named John, to give it all up now would be comparable to having unlimited access to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and turning it down because your ankles are a bit fat. Although Bungie might not be making any more Halo games, I’m sure they’ll be there in an advisory capacity to whoever takes over the gaming reigns, so I can definitely see us returning to the Forward unto Dawn within the next six years. Or should that be seven?