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Halo 5: What We Know So Far About Master Chief's Xbox One Debut
One of the biggest games announced for Xbox One so far is Halo 5: Guardians. Halo has been the flagship franchise for Xbox since 2001 when Combat Evolved convinced millions of gamers to buy the original Xbox. Microsoft hopes that the first Xbox One Halo game can give their next-gen console a lift as well.
We all know Halo 5 is a big game but what else do we really know about it? What's been confirmed so far and what's just gossip? Here's a summary of everything we've learned to date about Master Chief's return.
Master ChiefMost of what we know about Halo 5's story comes from the cinematic trailer from E3 2013. The trailer began with a cloaked figure walking through a desert. An enormous robot rises from the sand and flies into the sky. The cloaked person pulls out a crystal chip on a dog tag and inspects it. The robot opens up its wings, sending out a blast of wind. The wind knocks off the cloaked figure's hood, revealing that it's Master Chief (aka John-117).
A leaked story synopsis said that Chief would face "a new battery of challenges and tests in a Herculean effort to stay alive in a galaxy where sentient life is mercilessly hunted." Microsoft denied that these details are official, though. The information was generic enough that it really didn't matter whether it was real or fake.
In case you think that someone else is wearing Master Chief's armor, Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer confirmed in a post-E3 interview that the game stars John-117.
Agent LockeThe official box art for Halo 5: Guardians shows an armored figure standing in the desert. A mirror image below him shows Master Chief in the exact same location. Some speculated it could be Spartan Palmer or perhaps even Cortana. Executive producer Josh Holmes said on Twitter that it's a brand-new character, though.
343 Industries' Bonnie Ross confirmed in an E3 2014 interview that this character is named Agent Locke. The name sounds human but his race is about all we can guess for now.
Though Agent Locke is featured more prominently on the box art than Master Chief, this new character won't be the star. Halo 5, Ross says, is a continuation of Master Chief's story.
Halo: NightfallWe'll get more details on the story of Halo 5 with Halo: Nightfall. This live-action, digital series is being executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Battlestar Galactica's Sergio Mimica-Gezzan.
This series said to tell the "origin story of an all new character" who plays an important role in Halo 5. Bonnie Ross confirmed during E3 that Agent Locke is the character in question. Nightfall is intended to familiarize gamers with Locke in preparation for his video game debut with Halo 5.
Nightfall is set to debut this fall. New episodes will be rolled out on a weekly basis. The series will also be included with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The Master Chief Collection, a compilation of the previous four Halo games starring the character, will be available exclusively on Xbox One on November 11th.
CortanaThe data chip Master Chief was clutching in the Halo 5 trailer is probably the storage device that once held Cortana. Cortana, his A.I. companion for the previous Halo games, began to deconstruct in Halo 4 because she was past her seven-year lifespan. She manages to save his life and say goodbye before shutting down for good.
Master Chief is probably keeping her data chip solely as a memento of his long-time friend. Her "death" was one of the most pivotal moments in Halo 4 and the series so it seems unlikely that the development team would reverse it by allowing Chief to resurrect her somehow in Halo 5. Maybe her data chip will prove useful to him in some way in his journey, though.
PrometheansThe giant robot in the trailer isn't something we've seen before in another Halo game. However, its crystalline shape and orange/yellow lights suggest that it's a Promethean construct. Prometheans, warrior-servants of the ancient Forerunner race, were the main enemies in Halo 4.
Though the Prometheans were decimated during Halo 4, it's almost certain we'll see them again. They were the first new group of enemies introduced in the game since Combat Evolved so why discard them so quickly? Even if the Covenant and Flood appear in Halo 5, the Prometheans are different enough from those foes that they won't feel redundant from a gameplay standpoint. Plus, the trailer suggests there are still some Promethean weapons and vehicles we haven't seen yet.
UNSC InfinityA piece of Halo 5 concept art from January seemed to show the UNSC Infinity hovering above an unknown planet. The Infinity is an experimental warship built from Forerunner and Covenant technology. The world they're visiting doesn't look like the desert Master Chief is trudging through but it could still be the same planet.
The ship's presence in Halo 5 would be no surprise. The crew of the Infinity helped Master Chief on his mission during Halo 4. They were also the subject of a DLC campaign for the game called Spartan Ops. Sarah Palmer, one of the Spartans serving on the ship, was a main character of twin-stick shooter Halo: Spartan Assault. Acting captain Thomas Lasky's time in the academy and his first meeting with Master Chief were chronicled in a live-action series. The Infinity also appeared in two novels and two comic books.
The Infinity and its crew are clearly important to 343 Industries' future plans for Halo. The departure of Cortana makes them even more vital as supporting characters. Wherever Master Chief ends up in Halo 5, you can be sure that the Infinity's going to be there to help him out. Maybe they'll even get their own campaign in this game.
Reclaimer SagaIt makes sense that Halo 5 brings back friends and foes from Halo 4. Before H4's release, Microsoft said that it was the first chapter in a new "Reclaimer Trilogy". Phil Spencer later clarified that the "Reclaimer" story is actually a "saga" rather than a trilogy, so it could be far more than three games.
As the second game in a longer saga, Halo 5 won't have a self-contained story. It's going to create more loose ends than it wraps up. Master Chief's going to be a constant companion for the Xbox One in the years ahead.
60 Frames Per Second343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross said at E3 that Halo 5 will "take full advantage of the power and flexibility" of the Xbox One. The Halo Engine will be enhanced by the XB1's cloud-computing servers. Ross added that the game will run at 60 frames-per-second, making it the first console installment in the main series to do so.
Ross re-confirmed the game's framerate in May 2014. She also said that the game features a brand-new engine.
Like Nintendo and Sony, Microsoft uses their first-party games as a showcase for their hardware. They want Halo 5 to demonstrate the capabilities of the Xbox One. A smooth-running, beautiful Halo can go a long way in proving to developers and gamers that Microsoft's new console can go toe-to-toe with the PS4.
Halo 5: Guardians343 Industries confirmed in May 2014 that the game's full title is Halo 5: Guardians. This wasn't a huge surprise. The first trailer clearly points toward a continuation of Halo 4 storyline. Furthermore, every Halo game starring Master Chief has had a number. The developers have only resorted to subtitles (Halo: ODST, Halo: Reach) when they're telling stories with other characters.
They haven't revealed what the Guardians subtitle means. Is it a reference to the Forerunners or Prometheans? Or is it an entirely new faction?
Microsoft was very secretive about the title at first. The first trailer for Halo on Xbox One simply called the game "Halo." However, a rough cut of the trailer released months later featured a Halo 5 logo.
Why was Microsoft so tight-lipped about the game's name? Phil Spencer, now head of Xbox, said in a June 2013 interview that each new Halo typically appears at two E3's. That explains their ambiguity with the title a bit more. They probably figured, "Okay, we'll tell them the basics at E3 2013: a Halo first-person shooter is coming out on Xbox One. Then we'll fill them in on all the nitty-gritty details like the title at E3 2014."
Release DateBonnie Ross and Phil Spencer both said last summer that Halo 5 would launch in 2014. Microsoft PR man Rob Semsey reconfirmed that estimate in January. The Microsoft Store listed the game for 2014 as well.
The first signs of a delay were given by Steve Downes, the voice of Master Chief. He caused quite a stir last month by suggesting Halo 5 won't be out until 2015.
Microsoft tried to downplay Downes' comments at first. However, they confirmed in May 2014 that the game won't be out until Fall 2015.
Multiplayer Beta343 Industries is going to let gamers try out Halo 5 in late 2014.
"Welcoming fans this December, the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta offers a taste of the new multiplayer gameplay and features coming next year with the game’s full release," the company said.
Beta access is included with the Master Chief Collection arriving in November. 343 hasn't announced any other methods to get into the test.
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