When you think Halo you think Xbox.
And when you think of how consoles have transformed, pushing forward gaming experiences we engage in, Halo has often been at the vanguard of those changes. Frank O'Connor — once of Bungie, now Franchise Development Director at 343 Industries — wants Halo 5: Guardians to once again redefine what consoles can do, in much the same way previous games in the series did.
"This is something we’re taking seriously," says O'Connor.
"Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 almost to a greater extent, apart from being great games and popular games, they also helped set up the eco-system for the Xbox platform. Halo 1 was loading from the hard drive, you were playing LAN games over Ethernet, then you had Halo 2 which was much more obvious. We fulfilled the promise of having a Broadband port on the Xbox in the first place.
"We’ve always been incrementally and sometimes dramatically adding to the eco-system on Xbox."
Although he wouldn't be drawn on the details, O'Connor hopes that we'll see a similar sea change with the first iteration of Halo on the Xbox One. Part of that transformation, at least, will be the result of a brand new, from the ground-up engine switch.
"This is the first completely new engine for a Halo game basically since the game has launched. We’ve basically gone back to the studs to build from the ground up for the architecture of the Xbox One. We’re making sure this is a bigger Halo experience in terms of scope and scale. Making sure it takes advantage of everything the Xbox One has to offer. That’s something we’re really looking forward to revealing in 2015."
As a series, Halo has always grown in tandem with the Xbox platform, helping define and cement its greatest innovations. Xbox LIVE as a service owes a lot to Bungie and the Halo series. The Xbox One's defining point of difference this generation is Kinect, and with Microsoft recently announcing a new Xbox One SKU without Kinect, is it difficult to try and push a platform forward when that platform is constantly in flux?
Frank O'Connor doesn't think so. A game like Halo was never going to be dependent on Kinect to begin with.
"The things that we need out of the system are not in flux at all," he explained.
"We’re obviously going to support Kinect, but Halo is an FPS with a well understood game mechanic and a well understood universe. Halo was never going to be a showcase for Kinect anyway.
"We’re obviously more concerned with things that are important to FPS games than any of the other stuff. We haven’t had to blink. We have a strong plan that’s moving efficiently. Humming in fact."