Ring World

Master Chief has plenty of com­pany in the epic Halo 5: Guardians

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

Craggy su­per- soldier Master Chief has been the face ( well, vi­sor) of Xbox and the Halo se­ries for over a decade, but times have changed. To­day’s gamers ex­pect more from a pro­tag­o­nist than spot­less prin­ci­ples and some grav­elly quips, and there’s the usual prob­lem of im­pen­e­tra­bil­ity at this stage in the sto­ry­line. Devel­oper 343 In­dus­tries’ so­lu­tion? Make Chief a vig­i­lante, then have hitman Locke ( played by Mike Colter) in­ves­ti­gate him.

“Rather than cre­ate this über- ex­pos­i­tory cin­e­matic for the story thus far, we wanted a nar­ra­tive that was self- con­tained,” stu­dio head Josh Holmes tells Red Alert. “By hav­ing a char­ac­ter like Locke, we can play the part of the [ lay­man] com­ing in and ask­ing ques­tions that new play­ers might ask.”

Locke’s ar­rival af­fects more than just the game’s cutscenes: you’ll switch be­tween his and Chief ’s per­spec­tive from mis­sion to mis­sion. Each pro­tag­o­nist is backed through­out by a trio of side char­ac­ters ( in­clud­ing Nathan Fil­lion’s Buck) who are playable in online co- op – a bump in player head­count that has obliged 343 to craft big­ger en­vi­ron­ments and a dead­lier en­emy cast. Foes range from old en­e­mies the Covenant to the newer Prometheans. Ensem­ble story aside, Halo 5 brings a colos­sal new head- to- head mode, War­zone, which sees 24 play­ers fight­ing not just each other but mobs of AI- con­trolled ag­gres­sors.

It all adds up to a fas­ci­nat­ing de­vi­a­tion from for­mula, and 343 is un­der­stand­ably ner­vous. “It was a lot more chal­leng­ing than we thought, and there were points where it didn’t feel like it was com­ing to­gether,” con­fesses 343 co‑founder Bon­nie Ross. “It’s a huge bet for us.”

Halo 5: Guardians is re­leased on Xbox One on 27 Oc­to­ber.

Not sure where to be­gin with Halo? Be­gin here.

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