New developers stepping in to take over beloved franchises always have a difficult task at hand, with plenty of opportunities to steer the franchise off course and enrage long-time fans. Enter 343 Industries, which took over Halo from series creator Bungie with 2012’s Halo 4 and continued work on the FPS saga with 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians.
Although both games were received well by the press, securing respective Metacritic scores of 87 and 84, many fans had a problem with 343’s lessened focus on series protagonist Master Chief. Though Chief was still a playable character, single players were forced to alternate between him and new character Jameson Locke while co-op players alternated between members of Chief and Locke’s respective fire teams. In an interview with GamesTM magazine (via WCCFTech) Studio Head Kiki Wolfkill has admitted the team made a mistake with this decision and has a course correction planned for the upcoming Halo 6.
“We took some digs for storytelling in Halo 5, but they were absolutely merited,” Wolfkill told GamesTM. “We very much realized that people wanted Master Chief’s story of Halo 5.”
Wolfkill still thinks fans liked Locke and his and Master Chief’s squads, but he understands that even if that’s true, what they really want is Chief, Chief, and more Chief. Much as Nintendo intended for Link to be a blank slate that was players’ connection — or “link” — to its Legend of Zelda series since 1986, players grew attached to the main protagonist across numerous adventures and came to love him as a character.
“Chief we tend to think of as kind of a vessel for your adventure rather than necessarily this major character in the universe,” explained Wolfkill. “He’s really just your entry into the universe.
“But people have become attached to him over the last 15 years, and they’ve started to sort of fill in the gaps that the character deliberately has for gameplay reasons with a genuine emotional attachment. We certainly underestimated that with Halo 5.”
Continuing, the studio head expressed his belief that Master Cheif is now more important to Halo that at any other point over the series more than 16-year existence. Unable to ignore how loud the cries for more Master Chief are, Wolfkill says 343 is going to give fans exactly what they want in Halo 6.
“Instead of focusing on bringing new characters into the world and expanding the playable characters, we’ve sort of shifted the focus a little bit to making the world a little bit more realistic and compelling and, I would say, more fun for players who get to inhabit the Chief in the future, pretty much as they demanded.”
Halo 6 has yet to be shown to the public and has no release date. In fact, the game has not even been officially announced, though it has been more or less acknowledged by Microsoft and 343 as the next entry in the current “Reclaimer Saga” that began with Halo 4 and was originally set to be a trilogy before being expanded to an unknown number of games.