STACK NZ Nov #57




Halo Remastered The Master Chief returns, all dr ssed up in contemporary magic. 343 Industries franchise development director Frank O’Connor talks The Master Chief Collection with STACK .

W hile we patiently await the arrival of Halo 5: Guardians and ponder just how magnificent it’s going to look on Xbox One, 343 Industries have struck upon an ingenious way to keep us occupied in the interim; and a novel way of keeping the cash register flowing in the meantime. The answer is of course Halo: The Master Chief Collection. “It was simple in philosophy – put the entire Master Chief saga on one console, in one unbroken experience, so that Xbox One players could enjoy a beautifully curated and unbroken Halo experience in the lead up to the launch of Halo 5: Guardians ,” explains Frank O’Connor, franchise development director at 343 Industries, when asked where the idea originally stemmed from. “The ambition level was kinda huge – it’s not simply a port, it’s a massive labour of love, with creativity and ambition coming from necessity, and you can almost feel the passion the teams have for both the series’ legacy and the opportunities the sheer scale of it offers.” O’Connor says working on the collection was paying “homage to Bungie’s standard setting legacy”. “In my, ahem, unbiased opinion, Halo is one of the best console games ever. We loved these games and hopefully you’ll see that in

the content. We want to treat it with the reverence it deserves. And also build on those foundations.” But how far did the studio go with remastering the collection? Was it purely aesthetic, or did the gameplay undergo work? Will new players to the franchise think the older games feel dated? “Halo set a fair number of console standards that we now take for granted,” says O’Connor. “So much so that, to me at least, it feels fresh

The ambition level was kinda huge – it’s not simply a port, it’s a massive labour of love.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out on November 11 “So you have great, related moments from all four games in a single playthrough experience. “And since we’ve unlocked all four campaigns from beginning to end, fans new and old can experience Halo any way they want. It’s really quite a lot of fun!” O’Connor admits to being hooked on the series to an almost unhealthy degree. “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I need this game installed permanently – not for business, but for pleasure.” He also believes that the Anniversary campaign and the new multiplayer suite in Halo 2 will be what appeals most to gamers initially. It’s now 13 years since Halo: Combat Evolved first enthralled early adopters of Microsoft’s inaugural hardware entry into the console market. This impressive oeuvre has led to an expanded universe of literature, comic books and live-action television. What is it about the venerable and endearing Master Chief that resonates with us? Frank O’Connor summarises succinctly. “He’s a vector for your heroism; a template into which you can insert your own bravery and curiosity.”

and modern immediately. When you look at what we’ve done in Halo 2: Anniversary – new graphics, best in class cinematics – we are bringing the classic experience to players with a very modern wrapper. “The gameplay in multiplayer mode really set the standard for modern FPS play, so I think players will love it. Halo: The Master Chief Collection also includes accessibility to Halo: Nightfall – a live-action digital series – and access to the multiplayer beta of Halo 5: Guardians. So there’s definitely something new for everyone to enjoy.” When the game was officially announced at E3 this year, the feature that instantly appealed to STACK was the playlist. O’Connor gives us an explanation on how it works. “At a high level, playlists will take moments from all the games and combine them,” he says.



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