One of the most popular games by far at this year’s EB Expo was, unsurprisingly, Halo 4. Fans hungry to experience Master Chief’s new adventure queued up for half an hour or longer to get into the event booth to play the game for themselves. Luckily for guest writer Jordaan Mylonas, he was lucky enough to speak to the game’s Creative Director himself, Josh Holmes, and ask him a few questions about the highly anticipated title.
Rocket Chainsaw: Everyone associates Halo with Bungie. They set a really big pedigree there. With Halo 4, is it going to be another game in Bungie tradition or are you focusing on putting your own spin on it?
Josh Holmes: 343 Industries is a brand new studio, drawn together through our shared love of the Halo universe and we’re continuing the story of Halo 3 so there’s a lot of consistency with the canon that’s been established today. But at the same time we’re a new group of people, so we’ve brought together our unique vision and artistic approach to the way we tell a story and experience. We want to create something that’s very true to Halo - we all love Halo! But anytime that you have a creative endeavour and a group of artists who are working on it you’re going to have differences. You can see that in Halo 4, which very much feels like a 343 game.
RC: There are a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of Halo 3, especially in regards to John and Cortana. Are those questions approached in Halo 4?
JH: There’s definitely a strong connection between Halo 3 and Halo 4. We pick up where the story left off, we continue trying to answer a number of questions players have. Those questions and the ending of Halo 3 are what inspired us to tell a story that we wanted to tell.
RC: The Forge editor used for to make your own multiplayer maps was brilliant and really added a lot of value to the game. They really improved it in Halo 2, 3 and Reach – is there an emphasis of the Forge editor in Halo 4?
JH: There’s been a bunch of improvements that we’ve made to Forge just to make it easier for players to and create. Some of those are things like our new magnet system, which allows players to quickly snap together and align things without being too fiddly within the editor. That makes it much quicker to build things. We’ve also increased the ease of duplication, which allows you to rapidly duplicate the same object and place it within the world. Another big improvement is a new lighting system we’ve added to Forge. In the past the lighting would be very flat and wouldn’t cast any object shadows. We’ve changed that by creating a new lighting system that allows for rapid burn while you edit, which then gives the lighting a much more realistic look and becomes closer to a real multiplayer map when you go in and play the game while still retaining the ability to quickly share maps between players, which has always been a real strength of Halo.
RC: One of the big announcements about Halo 4 was the idea of weekly episodic content. There is going to be ten episodes of that.
JH: The way that works is each week there’s a new episode of a TV series that tells the story that’s set aboard the ship The Infinity which are all part of the experience that comes with the game. Along with that are five playable missions that are about 15 minutes long that you can be played along or cooperatively which connect to the story of episode. So you kind of have the hand-off of watching an episode, playing through five missions, then having those missions set up the next episode across ten weeks. Everyone gets access to this, although you do need and Xbox Live Gold membership to play and download the content.
RC: One final question: Multiplayer: Arbiter or Master Chief?
JH: Master Chief.
A big thank you to Josh for taking the time to talk to us about the game and to Nelly Assayag for setting up the interview for us. Thanks as well to Jordaan for contributing!