2017 represents Halo developer 343 Industries tenth year as a studio following its inception in 2007. To celebrate that milestone, an interview with Studio Head Kiki Wolfkill and Franchise Director Frank O’Connor features heavily in the latest issue of GamesTM magazine (#186).
343i’s recently assisted Alien Isolation developer Creative Assembly on February’s Halo Wars 2, it’s most recent solo project Halo 5 Guardians was met with a positive response, although some fans of the series were dismayed that the fifth main iteration from the series didn’t focus enough of Master Chief.
O’Connor, in particular, acknowledged the mistake during the interview, something 343 Industries have learnt from and intend to double down on with future installments.
“We took some digs for storytelling in Halo 5, but they were absolutely merited. We very much realized that people wanted Master Chief’s story of Halo 5.
We definitely marketed in a way that we hoped was going to bring surprise, but for some fans and certainly fans of Master Chief, it was a huge disappointment because they wanted more Chief.
They loved Blue Team, they liked Osiris, but they wanted Chief. And that has been a big learning. Chief we tend to think of as kind of a vessel for your adventure rather than necessarily this major character in the universe. He’s really just your entry into the universe.
But people have become attached to him over the last fifteen 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.
The effect that the character has on his surroundings and ‘the fate of the galaxy’ has had a resonant effect on fans over the years. It wasn’t that surprising to me, but the volume of ‘give us more Chief’ at the end of Halo 5 was significant and so I think if anything he’s slightly more important now than he has ever been, certainly to our franchise. 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.
There’s always a call and response element of shipping a game, you have to ship improvements, you have to ship tweaks and you have to ship changes and sometimes you have to walk some of those back.
Doubling down on Master Chief story and the amount of focus on him was probably the easiest learning from Halo 5. That was a really simple thing to absorb and embrace.”
With E3 2017 fast approaching on the horizon, we’d expect 343i and Microsoft Studios to begin teasing the next installment in the franchise soon.