Monday, 20 May 2013

New Halo Game to be Announced Tonight?

In just a few hours time, Microsoft will be pulling back the curtain and giving us our first peek at their successor to the Xbox 360. The conference is sure to be overflowing with information on the new machine’s hardware and software features. While much of the information on games may be held back a couple of weeks for E3, Microsoft will have to show some software alongside the console. With Sony's PS4 reveal earlier in the year being so software focused it wouldn't look good for Microsoft to put their full focus on the non-gaming features. With so much to speculate on, I could easily fill an article on with ideas of what they may add to the controller, or Kinect, or system software, but you’re not here for that. Let’s talk about Halo.

It seems odd to talk about a new Halo game so soon after the release of Halo 4, but following Phil Spencer’s assertion that Halo should be an annual franchise and then seeing yearly releases since 2009, it seems almost certain we will see a Halo game this year. Add to that 343i staff Tweeting about checking out the event location and the pieces start to fall into place.

We know very little (well, we actually know nothing at all) about what that game could be, or even who may develop it. Halo has seen four developers in the last four years - Ensemble, Bungie, Saber and 343industries - so it’s totally conceivable that someone other than 343i could be producing the next game.

Halo 2 Anniversary/HD Remix

There’s been a lot of talk about this one, and in some ways it does fit nicely. It’s been two years since Halo: CE Anniversary, enough time for Saber to get to work on the upscaling job. There’s clearly a huge demand for it among the sections of the Halo community hungry for a more traditional multiplayer experience and it already has online support so wouldn’t necessarily need to piggy-back on Halo 4’s multiplayer. There's also the idea that all the content Bungie had to cut to get the game out on time could be finished up and released, somewhat akin to a Director's Cut.

Whenever rumours have circulated about a Halo 2 remake, franchise director, Frank O’Connor has been quick to assert that no such thing is happening. There’s also the rather confusing corporate message of announcing their new hyper-powerful console and then unveiling a game they first released 9 years ago. So as much as I’d love to see a Halo 2 remake, I don’t think it’ll be happening this year. 

Halo 4 Game of the Year Edition

This one makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. Halo 4 already looks great, so repackaging it on Blu-ray at native 1080p running 60 fps would really give it a next-gen feel. Include all the map packs released so far as well as Spartan Ops on the disc, maybe have Certain Affinity do some new maps and stick the Forward Unto Dawn blu-ray in there (Would be a nice touch as the new console will be a lot of people's first blu-ray player). It’s very little work (and expense) and many of the people who bought Halo 4 last year will rush out and buy it again. I can absolutely see how this would appeal to both Microsoft and consumers so wouldn't be at all surprised to see this launching alongside the console in November. 

Halo Wars 2

In terms of showcasing a new console, Halo Wars 2 makes a lot of sense; huge environments, hundreds of units on screen at a time - it would look fantastic! There’s also the issue of launch line-up, console manufacturers like to see boxes ticked: they’ll want a racer, a shooter, an action game, maybe an RPG etc. The FPS box will already be ticked by third parties - Battlefield 4, Respawn’s game, Destiny - So to have a Halo game that isn’t a shooter does make a lot of sense.

One question that lingers over the possibility of a Halo Wars sequel would be the developer, Microsoft shuttered Ensemble when work on Wars was finished, and while a new studio, Robot Interactive, was opened in its place, you’d have to imagine they’d be apprehensive to work with the Halo franchise again.

Halo 4: ODST

Another game in vein of fan-favourite Halo 3: ODST would certainly be a welcome addition, it could follow on the stories of Buck’s team after Halo 3 or maybe expand on the story set up in Karen Travis’ Kilo-Five novels. A game playing as the crew of the UNSC Port Stanley could be outstanding, and would really fit in with 343industries' brief of bringing together all the disparate parts of the Halo universe. It would be easy enough to build on the tech of Halo 4, obviously with graphical improvements afforded by the new hardware. I'm not sure what it would take to get Halo 4's multiplayer running on the new console, but I'd imagine that would be their preferred strategy as opposed to making a new multiplayer game.

Halo: The Many Adventures of Master Chief and Friends

This was first rumoured a couple of weeks ago in an anonymous Pastebin, but was so wildly unfounded that I didn't report on it. Now that I've had a few weeks to think on it, it seems slightly more plausible.
“While not quite an original story, you'll play various missions from the Chief's career before Halo 1 in a squad based co op shooter. Think Halo x Borderlands in many ways - the character creation and upgrade system from Halo 4 is being carried over but will be pat of the campaign). Think spartan ops on steroids.”
It was fairly obvious that 343i originally planned to do more than one season of Spartan Ops, but now that we know there won't be a second season it does raise the question of what the Spartan Ops team might be up to. Episodic Master Chief adventures set during the Human-Covenant war? Yes please! If this was co-op focused then it wouldn't need a competitive multiplayer component, drastically reducing the size of the team required to develop it. This does feel like a perfect fit for launch, but it could be one of those things where it’s just a little too perfect, if you know what I mean?

Halo 5

Maybe, just maybe, we'll get out first look at Halo 5. I'm sure it won't be releasing this year, but we may get a teaser video much like the Halo 4 trailer from E3 2011. This would fit in their timeline with a release in 2014. Much depends on what their plans are for this year, if we're getting a Halo 2 remake or re-release of Halo 4, then they could announce Halo 5. If this year's Halo is a bigger release than either of those then maybe they'd be better off holding off on Halo 5 for a little while and giving the new title space to breathe. 

The thing about Halo 5, is that we all know it's happening, a new trilogy was announced in 2011 when Halo 4 was first teased, so it wouldn't really be much of a surprise for them to show Halo 5 tonight. 

Or maybe something a little more left field

There's always the chance they might do something more unexpected, maybe a new Halo spin-off to showcase the new Xbox Live Arcade. The Halo novels have always featured a lot of space combat, something that's never really been explored in the games, maybe we'll see a space combat or strategy game. Of course a space strategy could also be a part of Halo Wars 2. This is definitely the sort of thing that 343i could have the capacity to do in-house, but there's been no indication or rumours that they're heading this way so it seems pretty unlikely at the moment.

Halo 1, 2, and 3

Wait! Hear me out! You've probably heard the weird rumours circulating that the first three Halo games have inexplicably appeared in the Steam database, despite no Steam versions being announced and Frankie repeatedly saying that no PC versions are in the works.

Couple this with Don Mattrick's statement that they don't really consider the Steambox to be a threat and it got me thinking.. what if the new Xbox has Steambox functionality? Maybe Microsoft are going to add backwards compatibility by via Steam. I'm almost definitely putting two and two together and coming up with five here, but I thought it was worth throwing out there.

What do you think? Any theories of your own? Let us know! 

- Cowboy Out. 


  1. Halo4 : ODST idea sounds cool but ODSTs weren't in the game even thought the infinite had ODSTs , which is weird don't you think?

    1. It's weird from a narrative perspective, but I guess it just saved them having to model, animate and voice an extra set of characters.

  2. I think 343's canning of Spartan Ops has to do with another project, Halo 2 Anniversary would be the most realistic - considering it being a hit on the first Xbox, an older console.

    1. An updated Halo 4 with extra content? I don't think we're that special...