The response to Halo 5: Guardians' story was a mixed bag at best with Xbox One gamers put off by a campaign split between Master Chief's Blue Team and Spartan Locke's Fireteam Osiris. 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor acknowledged those complaints in a recent interview and admitted the studio has learned the lesson that less of the Chief is not more for presumably Halo 6.
O'Connor sat down with UK magazine GamesTM (via WCCFtech) for a lengthy interview about all things Halo when the discussion turned toward the lessons learned from Halo 5 and what the future holds in store for the mainline series.
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.
O'Connor went on to explain 343 Industries is shifting its focus towards making the game world compelling and enjoyable for players instead of expanding the number of playable characters. Halo 5: Guardians' campaign essentially offered eight playable characters between Chief's and Locke's teams via the four-player co-op offering.
What is missed in O'Connor's comments is Halo 5's extensive marketing promised an AWOL Master Chief being hunted down by Spartan Locke with an eventual showdown between the two. The game didn't exactly deliver in that regard with the two really only having one encounter via a cut-scene where control was taken out of the player's hands.
Additionally, there were more missions featuring Locke and Fireteam Osiris (12) than there were with Master Chief and Blue Team (3). So, it wasn't just the introduction of new playable characters, it was a game that largely took the player away from what's been the face of the franchise, and of Xbox too, for well over a decade.
343 Industries has faced a monumental challenge in taking over the Halo franchise from Bungie and made some stumbles along the way. The studio demonstrated it was capable of learning from the multiplayer complaints of Halo 4 and now O'Connor points to them doing the same for the campaign from Halo 5.
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.Now the question is what will happen with Spartan Locke and the rest of Fireteam Osiris. Despite the split, the team is full of interesting characters such as Nathan Fillion's Buck.
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.
Don't expect to see the answer to that question this year. Microsoft will host the Xbox 2017 E3 media briefing on Sunday, June 11 at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. ET, but is expected to focus on the Xbox Scorpio and games that will be releasing this year. Halo 6 is not expected to arrive until fall 2018 at the earliest.
[Featured Image by 343 Industries]