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Wake up, John. Again.
Honestly, the Master Chief’s barely had enough time for a brief nap. It’s only been eight months since Halo 4’s release, but Microsoft used the big stage at their pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo conference to formally announce a new Halo game as an exclusive release for their upcoming Xbox One console. No release window was given.
Another sequel was expected — developer 343 Industries promoted Halo 4 as the beginning of “the Reclaimer trilogy” for Microsoft’s premiere first-person shooter — but not until 2015 at the earliest. Bungie Studios, the original developer behind Halo, spent three years creating the first three Halo games and Halo: Reach, and it rarely even dropped teaser trailers until they were well within a year of release. It appears 343, a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, may cut production time down to a shorter cycle.
The teaser trailer gave little away, but showed a lone, hooded figure wandering a desert until a massive sinkhole opened up in front of him and a colossal Promethean construct rose up into the air. The wind kicked the figure’s hood off, revealing the Master Chief’s iconic helmet. The scene ended with the Chief gripping a pair of dog tags in his fist and looking up at the monster.
Microsoft’s presentation didn’t specifically call the game Halo 5, but as first-person Halo game, it seems unlikely it could be anything else. Regardless, for the first time in the franchise history, this Halo will run at 60 frames per second — the holy grail of video game performance — and have dedicated servers powering its multiplayer.
Halo: Combat Evolved, the first entry in the billion-dollar franchise, was an exclusive launch title for the original Xbox and its undisputed killer app. Microsoft credited it half the console’s sales during their first 60 days of release. The Xbox 360 launched without a new Halo game, but Halo 2’s multiplayer mode drove sales thanks to a revised Xbox Live service that made online gaming easy and intuitive on a console platform for the first time.
By announcing a new top-tier Halo so early, Microsoft clearly wants to boost enthusiasm for the Xbox One among their core constituents after a string of PR blunders around the new console’s mandatory-online structure and confusing DRM policies.
If anything can, it’s the Master Chief.