In a bit of a surprising turn today (since we’re still about a month away from E3), Microsoft announced via the Xbox Wire that the next installment of the blockbuster Halo video game franchise will bow exclusively on Xbox One in the Fall of 2015.
Halo 5: Guardians will be the continuation of the franchise’s main story, dealing with the fallout from the events of 2012’s Halo 4, and the loss of one of the series’ principle characters. Bonnie Ross, the general manager of current Halo developers 343 Industries, stated in the announcement that the new Xbox One console provides new opportunities to the highly popular series that helped launch the original Xbox platform in 2001. “Halo 5: Guardians is a bigger effort than Halo 4,” she said. “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.”
As far as the game’s capabilities for graphical power and online play, Ross stated that “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.”
Although Halo 4 was released late in the lifetime of the Xbox 360, critics singled out its performance and graphical presentation as some of the absolute highlights of the experience. For Halo 5, Ross says that the development team is taking all of the lessons learned for the prior game, and pushing them further with the new capabilities of Xbox One. “[Halo 5 is 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.”
Sure, there’s a lot of that famous Xbox “producer-speak” in that statement, but it’s hard to argue with the facts about Halo 4. Some gamers were skeptical about how Microsoft’s specially-created studio to handle the Halo franchise would perform, since series originators Bungie left Microsoft and the Halo property behind after 2010’s Halo: Reach to do other projects. Upon release, the game largely exceeded expectations, setting new sales records for the franchise, and receiving critical acclaim from the vast majority of review outlets.
Perhaps more interestingly from Ross’s statement this morning is her announcement that the Halo live-action TV series produced by Steven Spielberg, announced at last year’s Xbox One reveal event, will also bow at the same time that the continuation of the franchise is released. “…2015 won’t simply be the year of Halo 5: Guardians, it will also be a year that offers us…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.”
The announced release date for Halo 5: Guardians still leaves a question mark for this year, though, since Ross alluded to an Xbox One Halo game at last year’s E3. “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.”
Speculation and supposed leaks since January have both stated that Halo 5 would arrive in 2015, which is now confirmed, along with a ten-year anniversary remake of Halo 2 arriving this Fall. Microsoft has stated that more information on a 2014 Halo outing will be unveiled at this year’s E3 media briefing on June 9th, which can be watched online, as well as on Xbox Live across both the Xbox One and 360. Keep an eye on GeekNation for more Halo details as they become available!
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