Christmas has come a little bit early today as, after a year of almost complete silence on the project, 343 Industries unveiled the title of the next step in the Master Chief’s journey to be released in the fall of 2015.halo 5 guardians hi resI’ve had an opportunity to regain my composure, clear my head and try to think straight about things, but let’s cover the official stuff first.

Any time you transition to a new platform, there is the opportunity to look at things with a new perspective. For us at 343 Industries, the launch of the Xbox One was an opportunity to think about what stories we wanted to tell, how to tell them, and how best to push the “Halo” franchise to showcase the platform. And, most importantly, combining our passion for “Halo” with the vocal and informative input from our fans.

“Halo” isn’t simply a perennial game franchise, it’s a part of the Xbox platform itself. In terms of innovation and ideation, it’s sometimes important to people who might not even play “Halo.” And of course it’s a passion and an essential experience for two generations of gamers. So we asked ourselves, how do we begin and where do we go with “Halo” on Xbox One?

In the past, “Halo” games have pushed the Xbox forward, showcasing the console and its ecosystem in entertaining and innovative ways. Making a “Halo” game that runs at 60 frames per second, on dedicated servers, with the scope, features and scale we’ve been dreaming of for more than a decade, is non-trivial.  It’s a task that we, at 343 Industries, are taking very seriously to ensure we deliver the “Halo” game that fans deserve, and a game that is built from the ground up for Xbox One.   

I’m happy to reveal that “Halo 5: Guardians, the next instalment in the legendary saga of the Master Chief, will launch on Xbox One in fall of 2015.  In the tradition of every “Halo” game since its debut in 2001, it is a massive and exciting project.

“Halo 5: Guardians” is a bigger effort than “Halo 4.”  That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine.  Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.

It’s a game that will hopefully demonstrate the talent, learnings and abilities of the 343 Industries team. A game that will incorporate the things we learned from “Halo 4” about technology, aesthetics, performance and scale – and perhaps more importantly, understanding and embracing a community of gamers who love what lies at the heart of this game, and the limitless potential of the “Halo” universe.

And 2015 won’t simply be the year of “Halo 5: Guardians,” it will also be a year that offers us a unique opportunity. The opportunity to invite old friends and new audiences into that universe through the “Halo” television series, launched as a unique collaboration with Steven Spielberg and some of the finest creative minds in the business.  A series that will stand alone, as well as complement and enrich the game experience.  We’ll have more to share on the “Halo” television series as we near its projected fall 2015 release.

Your Journey Begins in 2014

Many fans noted that I was very deliberate with my phrasing on stage at E3 last year. I spoke about a “
journey,” rather than a destination – and that journey definitely begins in 2014 with a giant leap, rather than one small step. We’ll give you much more information about our plans for this year at the Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing on June 9, and we’re confident that “Halo” fans will be pretty excited about the special plans we have in store.

So until E3, I’d like to express my gratitude to our massive and varied Halo community, whose energy, enthusiasm, criticism and kindness are the driving force behind what we do and what we hope to achieve in “Halo 5: Guardians.”

We’re told that our next-gen “journey” begins in 2014, but Halo 5: Guardians doesn’t come out until much later next year. This clearly implies that we’ll be getting a little something extra this year which they’re not telling us about yet, I’m personally banking on it being Halo 2 Anniversary but we’ll have to wait and see.

Let’s talk about the picture. I need to talk about the picture…

guardianThis is the mysterious new Spartan we see at the top of the image, several things immediately jumped out at me.

First, and most prominently, the ONI emblem is on the Spartan’s armour. That’s bad news! ONI has been behind a lot of Halo’s shadier aspects of fiction – experiments with the Flood, planned extinction of the Sangheili following the Human-Covenant war, the attempted execution of Doctor Halsey on Requeim and so on.

Is this Spartan an ONI agent dispatched to find John? A big part of the upcoming issues of the comic series Halo: Escalation is the subject of the Master Chief’s mysterious disappearance in the 72 hours following Halo 4. I would say that the figure looks female, but it’s incredibly hard to tell for sure because Halo is a series which has (thankfully) done away with the ridiculous boob-plated armour and exaggerated female features (except in Reach). It could even be Naomi from the Kilo-5 novels, she frequently wonders whether John has survived and is part of an ONI black ops team so it’s a distinct possibility.

UPDATE: Frankie has confirmed that the Spartan isn’t female. So who could it be? Of the current cast, the only person I could think of would be a Blue Team member or Thorne – as a part of the upcoming Escalation issues is his return to New Phoenix in search of answers about where the Master Chief disappeared to.

What if this is John’s ‘replacement’ mentioned in Halo 4’s prologue scene? I always assumed it was referring to the Spartan-IVs being the new legendary replacements to the Spartan-IIs, but now I’m not so sure. Halsey says “you want to replace him“, when it’d make more sense for her to say “them” if she was referring to her Spartans.

The big question here is why did the Master Chief leave the UNSC? According to the recently announced issue, John is set to face “one of his greatest challenges” in the immediate aftermath of Halo 4’s events. Since he’s no longer with the UNSC, possibly even following the geas that Librarian awoke within him during Halo 4’s campaign, he may be being guided to darker corners of the galaxy to uncover the events yet to come – namely, the impending return of the Flood.not forerunnerNext thing to mention is the background behind the Spartan, the image has been darkened a bit to bring out some of the details a bit more.

Look at those structures in the background, those do not look Forerunner to me – at least based on the Warrior-Servant and Builder architecture we’ve seen. There are jagged spires, disc-like buildings layered over each other, Taj Mahal-looking roofs… None of these are a hallmark of any kind of Forerunner architecture we’ve seen before, which leads me to think that these might be structures from ancient humanity’s past back when we had an interstellar empire.

Likewise, you can see the structures a bit closer up in this image.guardian 1Again, they lack common Forerunner design elements so it’s a big possibility that these may be ancient human structures. If that’s the case, then perhaps the location being displayed here is Charum Hakkor?

The detail appears to be quite minimal on John’s side of the cover art, though you can just about make out a crack in his visor like what we saw in the trailer for the game at last year’s E3.

Halo is set to absolutely dominate the spotlight this year and next. With the ongoing issues of Escalation being released, Spielberg’s TV show, Ridley Scott’s digital feature, potentially Halo 2 Anniversary, and now this, we Halo fans are set for a real treat.

3 thoughts on “Halo 5: Guardians – OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

  1. Would be really awesome if this ONI spartan is in fact Tom-B292 after his rescue from Onyx.

  2. Here are my humble two cents…

    The ONI figure on top is standing on ground while Master Chief appears directly underneath the ONI figure as if he was a reflection in water. I say reflection because if you look carefully, you will notice distorted reflections of buildings in the bottom half of the picture. It’s as if the ONI figure is standing near water where instead of his reflection, we instead see Master Chief. Notice how both characters hold their weapons and how similar their stances are. While this may point to some connection between the ONI figure and Master Chief, if one gets very liberal with interpreting the picture, we would conclude that the ONI figure is Master Chief. Just like the water bears faint reflections of the “real” buildings and terrain that are displayed in the picture, so too does the Master Chief (oddly enough) appears as a representation of the “real” ONI figure that is standing. It’s almost as if John-117 has embraced a new role, a new armor, and a new weapon as the ONI figure so thoroughly that the SPARTAN-II armor-clad assault rifle wielding soldier is all but a faint reflection.

    Just my humble two cents for ya…

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