We’re finally starting to get some information regarding 343 Industries’ upcoming Halo game on the Xbox One, set for a late 2014 release. This article on Halo Waypoint, New Year’s Revolutions – A Bite Sized Peek Behind the Curtain, covers some of the shifts in management that 343 has been experiencing – perhaps most notably the appointment of Nicolas Bouvier, aka ‘Sparth’, (one of the best concept artists in the world) as Kenneth Scott’s replacement as Art Director.
Kenneth is married to Corrinne Yu who previously worked at 343 as the Principal Engine Programmer for Halo 4 (and, I have to say, she did a bloody amazing job!) and recently left to become a graphic programmer at Naughty Dog – I wish her the very best of luck for the future with such an esteemed developer. Kenneth hasn’t quite gone though, he’ll be continuing to work for 343’s art department as the Visual Design Consultant, a specially created role, but from his home where he can be with his family.
It was hard to make this decision. This team has been my family for half a decade and I love them dearly. Helping build this studio and team is easily the highlight of my career. It’s heartbreaking.
I’m excited to hand the big pants to one of my dearest friends, Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier. Nicolas and I have worked together for the last eight years, and we’ve shared a brain for most of it. He was one of my first hires to 343, and not seeing him day-to-day will feel as weird as losing a limb. I have the utmost confidence in him and I know the future is sound in his mighty fingers.
We just can’t get enough of each other, so I will continue to support 343 and this universe as a Visual Design Consultant from sunny Santa Monica.
In my underwear. 🙂
Those Skype meetings will get awkward…
Kenneth has been responsible for some truly amazing artwork over the last few years and continues to contribute through the ongoing comic series, Halo: Escalation. Check out his official Tumbr page here.
The article closed with Josh Holmes, the previous Creative Director (now Executive Producer), revealing Sparth’s concept image for Halo: Xbox One and saying that it’s “an early exploration of a new location that features prominently in a little game project we’re tinkering with”.
So let’s talk about this image then, shall we?
The most obvious thing of note is the UNSC Infinity dominating the right side of the image, humanity’s most powerful starship is hanging over what is clearly a human city (or possibly an outpost) – you can even see some humans walking about. I get a very Halo 3: ODST vibe from this image, but on a larger scale. The environment looks cluttered, it’s a packed residential area with small buildings that could even be slums of a sort. There are bright holographic signs and a thick blanket of fog mixing with machine smoke seen often in noire-esque city atmospheres. It’s notably darker, grittier and more grounded than Halo 4’s beautifully smooth and synthetic Forerunner environments which reminds me quite a bit of the tonal shift between the first two Mass Effect games.
Where this is, I have no idea – at this point, we can only really guess. Since Holmes has said that it’s somewhere that’s going to be featured prominently in the game, it could even be a sort of hub world like New Mombasa in Halo 3: ODST. I get the feeling that 343 are going for a much more organic feeling with their next game, something that’s more ‘boots in the mud’ with an emphasis on the shadow that is looming over the galaxy – the impending return of the Precursors. This is a pretty dark time for every race in the Halo universe, the Human-Covenant war might have been over for several years at this point but tensions are still running high and things are very much within the realm of uncertainty.
It’s possible that this could be set on the colony of Venezia, since it’s featured so prominently in Karen Traviss’ Kilo-5 novels and will seemingly be the primary setting of the final novel releasing this month, Mortal Dictata.
Alternatively, this could be a settlement inside Trevelyan (though I don’t think we’ll be going back to a Shield World any time soon after how Requiem was the primary location in Halo 4), or even a Halo installation – based on how the horizon appears to curve upwards in a similar fashion to Installation 07 is depicted by Sparth on the cover of Halo: Primordium. We know that humanity are tracking down the remaining Halos in order to study and decommission them, as they are all still primed and ready to fire at a moment’s notice – the “fuse that’s never defused”, as Frankie put it.
That’s all we’ve got right now. 2014 is going to be an exciting year for Halo with a new game, a TV series, and an ongoing comic series in the pipeline. Who even knows what other treats 343 have lined up for us (they’ve already confirmed more novels after Mortal Dictata are on the way)?
Keep a weather eye on the internet, Spartans. I suspect we might be seeing more of Halo: Xbox One within the next two months as we move closer to Microsoft’s Spring Showcase.