LOS ANGELES – Master Chief, the iconic emerald-armoured soldier at the centre of the Halo video game universe, will be all over Microsoft’s Xbox One video game console this year.
Just not in Halo 5. Not yet.
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles Monday, Microsoft officially took the wraps off Halo: The Master Chief Collection, confirming that all four of the Master Chief-focused Halo games will be given a fresh coat of digital paint and re-released in a single-disc edition for the Xbox One.
Slated to hit stores Nov. 11 – the 10th anniversary of Halo 2 – The Master Chief Collection will lay the groundwork for the all-new Halo 5: Guardians, coming next fall. It will also be the launching point for Halo: Nightfall, a weekly digital series being executive produced by Ridley Scott, which will ultimately connect Halo 4 to Halo 5.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the collection will give players access to a Halo 5 online multiplayer beta, scheduled to go live this December.
“We wanted an opportunity to be able to tell (Master Chief’s) full story, exactly as you remember it, but then also with a new twist as we lead up to Halo 5: Guardians in 2015,” said Bonnie Ross, head of Halo development studio 343 Industries, at a pre-E3 reveal of the game.
“Never before on one console have you been able to experience the entire story,” said Ross. “This is something we’re super excited about.”
The Master Chief Collection will sell for $60, and will include not only the core Halo games – Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 – but all 100-plus multiplayer maps, six remakes of Halo 2 maps built from scratch for the Xbox One and brand new prologue and epilogue cinematics that will link the saga to Halo 5. It will not include the Master Chief-less games Halo 3: ODST or Halo Reach.
The games will be bound together by a slick new user interface that will allow fans to play any part of any title in any order. Some players might attempt to power through all 60-odd hours of the Halo campaign, while others will likely sample the game’s curated playlists, like one that includes all the segments featuring the nimble Warthog jeep.
While each game will be visually upgraded (as well as running at 1080p high-def resolution and 60 frames per second), the beloved-by-fans multiplayer components of each individual Halo title will be faithfully reproduced.
“Any quirks or tricks that you had learned over the years, they’re still going to be in there,” said Frank O’Connor, Halo’s franchise development director. “It should feel almost verbatim.”