'Halo 5' Predictions: The Details We Need to Know
"Halo 4" arrived, it proved 343 Studio's worth of the name, and now "Halo 5" from that same studio is a virtual guarantee. Here's what the young developer needs to do to keep up their game.
Master Chief's New AI
We're all thinking it, I'm just going to say it - Cortana is dead, rejoice. For all the space-faring narrative turns and war-mongering peace-hating aliens, the most compelling aspect to the "Halo 4" campaign was Master Chief's and Cortana's blossoming, sometimes awkward relationship as the AI approached her inevitable destruction. Just don't bring her back, 343 Studios, because then you're spitting all over the work you've already done. The good news is, the Chief needs a new AI companion in his suit, and you've got a whole world of voice actors and character tropes to choose from. This new character could be your first real addition to the overarching "Halo" mythology. Most of "Halo 4's" story was, in one way or another, a realization of mythos already conceived.
Where does the Multiplayer Focus Lie?
The multiplayer in "Halo 4" was a "Call of Duty"-fied mutation of the arena-style, shield-bashing classic that made the franchise a behemoth. Some loved it, some hated, some, like myself, played it a good bit but found the rpg-meta-game tiresome and pointless. "Call of Duty" had already ripped the desire to constantly level-up right out of me. As for the in-game orbit drops, supplying less successful players with powerful weapons and augmentation meant for the sole purpose of leveling the playing field shrunk the amount of actual skill required. That's the cynical take, and to get those cynics back 343 Studios needs to refocus and deliver something with more spunk and less noob-encouraging bonuses. Take out the orbital drops, eliminate balance-corrupting rifle variance and find ways to reward skill without pandering to the masses.
Or just pander away and appeal to the people who just don't think or care about this kind of stuff. Yeah, you'll probably just do that instead.
The episodic cooperative storyline proved rocky at best, downright boring at worst and exciting in fleeting moments. It needs to be better, all-around, if players are going to latch on to the idea for a second go-around. It's hard to tell just how much Microsoft and 343 Studios actually care about it anymore. If players weren't buying it, we won't be seeing it again. If successful, however, 343 Studios can take the experience they've gained and ensure a more solid slew of episodes. Get some dedicated writers, flesh out those characters and find new ways to make cooperative play exciting. In other words, separate it from the regular campaign in positive, emerging ways. Otherwise, just trash it.
There's always the possibility that Spartan Ops was so incredibly successful that the "Halo 5" core campaign is turning episodic itself. It may be radical, but it may also be the future of gaming. That way, if players don't care about single-player, they can avoid the individual episodes completely and perhaps get what they want at a reduced price, which brings us to the business plan.
It's up to Microsoft to decide whether they want "Halo" as the well-respected franchise it is today, or as a micro-transaction bottom-feeding act of desperation of tomorrow. Releasing the game in pieces may be a mistake from the hobbyist's point of view, but to the mass of gamers who don't complain, Microsoft may try to set "Halo" up as an extreme long-term money-maker instead of an intermittent burst of massive income every few years.
"Halo 5" will be a next-generation game. Nobody has said or even thought otherwise since "Halo 4" hit shelves. Maybe it releases on current-gen systems as well, but Microsoft is going to sell its next Xbox with Halo as its baby, this year or the next. In the past, "Halo" has always been a franchise that shunted aside exquisite textures and lighting models in favor of bigger levels and engaging playground, yet with 343 studios at the helm "Halo 4" might just end up being one of the prettiest games of this generation. With the next Xbox, 343 can merge its desire for cutting-edge visuals with Bungie's initial wide-open designs, delivering a cohesion of design ideals, eschewing CPU and GPU sacrifice in any way. That's the dream, of course, and it remains to be seen if the next Xbox can deliver. But graphics aren't the only expected evolution. One rumor has the Durango coming with native Kinect support, which means 343 can take full advantage of the technology without splitting its user base. Maybe that doesn't play well into a first-person shooter, or maybe there's a new aspect to the "Halo" universe that hasn't been explored because the technology wasn't ready.
And then there's the always-online DRM rumors, with which users of the next Xbox will allegedly need an internet connection to even use the thing to its fullest extent. Forgoing stigma over the subject, a guaranteed online user-base might allow 343 Studios to connect the single-player and multi-player experience in ways unseen before. Just imagine, a single-player level that introduces human-controlled enemies, and can guarantee it works because everyone is connected. Sounds good to me.