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The Master Chief’s relevance is contingent on the fate of the Xbox Series X’s launch

The Master Chief’s relevance is contingent on the fate of the Xbox Series X’s launch

The Master Chief’s relevance is contingent on the fate of the Xbox Series X’s launch
July 25
15:30 2020

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to suggest that the vast majority of Xbox console owners throughout the past three generations have owned a Halo game at one point or another. The IP is nearly synonymous with the Xbox brand, and for a good reason. Bungie’s golden goose for Microsoft was Halo, and for nearly a decade it was the domineering incentive to owning an Xbox or Xbox 360. Since Bungie’s passing of the torch to 343 industries, most would agree that each outing since the shift in development has led to weaker reception than the last in terms of mainline titles. 2015’s “Halo 5: Guardians” was a bit of a breaking point for the IP’s credibility, as its campaign was near-universally panned. Since then 343 has been on the “hush-hush” about the next entry, but on July 23 we’ll finally see the reveal for what has been officially titled: Halo Infinite. Aside from the “Master Chief Collection” on Xbox One, the generation hasn’t been kind to the franchise.

Needless to say then, that this next Halo, which will be a launch title to the next Xbox, is massively important in the initial success of the console’s sales. It’s also incredibly important in maintaining the IP’s (Halo) ongoing relevance. “Halo Combat Evolved,” which was the first foray into what would become one of the biggest shooters ever, was initially a title revealed by Steve Jobs and was meant for the Apple iMac. Microsoft saw something in Bungie’s new idea and secured it for launch alongside the Xbox in 2001. “Halo 2” followed, and while it was not only a massive step up in every conventional regard, it perpetuated a need for a refined online experience. Xbox Live’s initial success is thanks, in large part, to the booming competitive community “Halo” and “Halo 2” garnered as time went on.

“Halo 3” was massive in 2007, and while the 360 had been around for two years already and wasn’t a launch title, it was one of the biggest reasons to own the console. Bungie’s Impact on Microsoft’s success in the console space is undeniable. 343 released “Halo 4” at the end of the 360 life-cycle, but much of the heart and soul of the series left when Bungie moved on to their partnership with publisher Activision to make “Destiny.”

Alongside these mainline releases, Microsoft’s kept “Halo” in the conversation by dabbling in spinoffs and genre changeups from the likes of “Halo Wars” and “Spartan Assault” which were RTS and top-down shooter games, respectively. The Xbox One saw the release of “Halo 5: Guardians,” and its story went in a direction no one was very happy with, and it led to the five years of deafening silence we’ve had to endure as Halo fans.

If the leaks and rumors are to be true, the next entry will opt for a more open world, RPG-like experience. It’s an interesting prospect, to change the foundation of a game’s DNA, especially when it is going to be considered a mainline title. It’s a tall order to ask fans to change up how they navigate the next title, though in theory everything leaked could fundamentally work.

Following trends isn’t always a bad thing, and if other rumors are to be true, “Halo Infinite” will include a battle royale mode as well. This is a pretty popular trend in competitive play right now, and I think Halo could benefit from it.

From the looks of it, Halo is up for reinvention. I’m not really sure what the expectation is for this game, aside from a story that respects the lore of previous titles. Gunplay should be as tight as ever, and if leaks concerning multiplayer are to be true, we should see the return of Halo Reach’s fantastic leveling up system and subsequent armor pieces, accessible with every new level achieved. We’ll see how relevant the Master Chief stays in just a few months.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Zachary Helms

Zachary Helms

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