Halo Boss Says Infinite Is A "Spiritual Reboot"; Also Talks Battle Royale And Why They Didn't Make "Halo 5.5"

Bonnie Ross opens up.

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Now Playing: Halo Infinite Stage Presentation | Xbox E3 2018 Press Conference

As part of a wide-ranging new interview, 343 Industries boss Bonnie Ross spoke candidly about Halo Infinite and what Microsoft wants to achieve with the Xbox One and PC game. She also responded to the battle royale phenomenon and confirmed that Halo Infinite will be at E3 2019.

Starting off, Ross told IGN Halo Infinite is a "spiritual reboot" of the Halo franchise. After the struggles of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and shortcomings related to Halo 4 and Halo 5, Ross said 343 took a step back to better consider what Halo Infinite should be.

"There has been a lot of introspective time to really reflect on what have we done as 343, where have we made mistakes, where have we hit it right, and what does Halo mean to all of us," Ross said. "[Halo Infinite] is coming from [a place of], 'What does Halo mean to all of us?' The trailer that we did [at E3], that's what Halo means to the studio. Maybe it took us two games to get there. We've done good things and bad things. But what does Halo mean to us? It's about hope and wonder and heroism and humanity and community and bringing a community together. That's what that trailer is, and that's what we want to do [with Halo Infinite]."

Ross went on to say that she was proud of Halo 4's campaign, but acknowledged that the multiplayer "lacked what we needed." As for Halo 5, the game made improvements to the multiplayer package, but its story was "overwhelming," she admitted. Halo Infinite aims to get it right with both single-player and multiplayer.

"So I look at Infinite as, we're going to put the whole thing together," she said. "Story is incredibly important and so is multiplayer. We have audiences that champion both sides--and then a lot of them that like both of them."

Also during the interview, Ross responded to the current craze around battle royale games. She acknowledged that 343 is aware that some fans want to see a battle royale mode in Halo Infinite. She praised Respawn for Apex Legends, and said that game feels more like Halo than Fortnite, which could be a clue to Microsoft's plans for Halo Infinite. But will Halo Infinite have a battle royale mode? "We have conversations all the time about what the right thing to do is," she said, adding that the sandbox nature of Halo's multiplayer allows for lots of different game modes, potentially including battle royale.

Whatever Microsoft decides to do with regards to battle royale or any other new game modes, Ross stressed that fans can rest assured that 343 won't do anything that doesn't feel right for Halo.

"Whatever we do needs to be the right thing for Halo. Whether or not you call it a battle royale or how we're thinking about things going forward, the team thinks about, 'This needs to be right for Halo,'" She said. "It's always an active conversation, but I'm not saying anything more about [battle royale] right now."

The interview also touched on the long gap between Halo 5 and Halo Infinite. In the past, mainline Halo games typically came out every three years, but that's being extended for Halo Infinite. She confirmed that Microsoft considered releasing what she called "Halo 5.5" or a "Halo 6: ODST" type of Halo game that could launch as quickly as two years after Halo 5, but she and Xbox boss Phil Spencer ultimately decided it was "not the right thing for the fans." Importantly, Ross stressed that no actual development work went into Halo 5.5 or Halo 6: ODST; it was only brainstorming.

She and Spencer had discussions about how to build a foundation for Halo that would set up the franchise for continued success over the next 10 to 20 years. Launching a "truncated" or "half-baked" Halo game, as Ross called them, would have potentially damaged the Halo brand. She acknowledged that Halo 5 lacked the kind of innovation that fans were looking for, so the team is taking extra time with Halo Infinite to ensure it's an innovative game that also appeals to veteran fans.

Halo Infinite is rumoured to be a launch title for a new Xbox console said to be launching in 2020. Ross said Microsoft's philosophy is to make sure a game is great before releasing it. It would seemingly be advantageous for a new Xbox platform to launch with a Halo game to help boost hardware sales, but she stressed that Microsoft is more focused on making sure the game is great instead of timing it to launch with new hardware. For reference, Halo: Combat Evolved was the only Halo game to be released as a launch title for Xbox hardware, and that was all the way back in 2001.

Looking ahead, Ross confirmed that Halo Infinite director Chris Lee will talk about the game at E3 2019 in June, but she didn't give any teases for what to expect. While Halo Infinite's release date hasn't been announced yet, there is another rumour that claims the single-player will release in 2019 with the multiplayer component coming in 2020. Nothing is confirmed at this stage, but Microsoft has confirmed it'll let people play the game ahead of launch through "flighting" programs.

Another interesting tidbit from the interview include Ross stating that Microsoft eventually wants to try again to make a Halo movie. There is a Halo TV show coming up sooner, and Ross said TV is a good format for a Halo story because its provides more time for character development. She also briefly spoke about the canceled Halo Mega Bloks game. She said the game, which had a more "whimsical and fun" take on Halo, lacked a clear design focus, and added that it was in development for a year longer than it should have been. Regarding other more experimental Halo games, Ross said 343 holds "hack-a-thon" events internally to come up with new ideas that could be made into Halo games after Halo Infinite.

Ross was recently inducted into the AIAS Hall of Fame. The first woman in the AIAS Hall of Fame, Ross joins other industry legends like Bethesda's Todd Howard, along with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Metal Gear designer Hideo Kojima, and Valve founder Gabe Newell.

You can watch the full IGN interview with Ross here.

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Avatar image for blufalconultra
BluFalconUltra

This game will be a live service. Hence the name "Infinite".

Avatar image for twogirlsonecub
TwoGirlsOneCub

Halo 5 (aiming mechanic notwithstanding) was a great evolution of the franchise gameplay wise. It built on Halo 4, which was trying to modernize the series but felt shallow, but in a way that made it something new and different while retaining the Halo spirit. Truthfully, after Halo 5 it's hard to go back to the previous games. Everything in the MCC feels so dated. I really hope they don't get too stuck in the past because trying to please the most vocal old school hardcore is an impossible task. It would be impossible even for Bungie. I hope 343 build on what they've accomplished with Halo 5 while fixing up some of the rougher areas like the aim mechanic, the amazing Warzone which was ruined by being designed around loot boxes, and the skill based match making even in social playlists.

Avatar image for kgrierson
kgrierson

What do Halo MCC, Halo 4 and Halo 5 all have in common besides underwhelming rollouts and numerous game issues? The fact that 343 Industries rather than Bungie was at the helm. I'm thinking it's not just the Halo franchise but its developer that needs the "spiritual reboot"--maybe MS should just give them the boot. Bungie was certainly not perfect, and 343i was in an unenviable position of trying to carry the torch on this franchise, but the fact is that this franchise is very much headed in the wrong direction, despite the fact that 343 has no other titles to work on. To quote the meme, "You had ONE job . . . "

Avatar image for pharoe777
pharoe777

Excited for a new Halo....still enjoying Halo 5!

Avatar image for doa2169
DOA2169

Well considering how BAD Halo 4 and 5 were, this just means Infinite will be $#!%

Avatar image for SecretPolice
SecretPolice

I'm infinitely hyped!!! :D

Avatar image for Hagan
Hagan

I'd like MCC to be on PC please.

Avatar image for videogameninja
videogameninja

-“ Halo Infinite is rumoured to be a launch title for a new Xbox console said to be launching in 2020.”-

Can’t believe we are potentially on the cusp of a new generation of consoles being unveiled. Feels like the current set just released.

:/

-TIME FLIES NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for ziltoid
Ziltoid

@videogameninja: Well I may be in the minority here, but personally I would prefer this generation to be a bit longer. We are finally getting a more constant flow of great games.

A lot of time was wasted on remaster and unfinished/broken games. Anyway maybe I'm getting a bit old and grumpy, but overall I'm not very happy with this gen.

Avatar image for Pupchu
Pupchu

@ziltoid: It has been a very dull generation this one for the most part.

Avatar image for blufalconultra
BluFalconUltra

@Pupchu: For Xbox only gamers, yes. For the rest of us, no.

Avatar image for uubershikamarux
uubershikamarux

what a load of industry tosh just let us play as the chief and finish this cortana story thats all you need to do.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

@uubershikamarux: The cortana part was just the worst. They tried to make it the main character because they couldn't figure out what to do with Chief, and didn't know what to do with the lore they had built up to that point. They botched the Forerunner plot in Halo 4 and scrambled to find a different direction for 5. They gutted the gravity of the entire conflict that they had built up to that point when they put all that on the back burner and chose to make it about some emo character 'depth' that nobody asked for. Not to mention all of the horrible Hunt for the Truth garbage that lead to nothing.

Of course they're going back to the drawing board now, that's the only choice they had. I seriously hope they don't make the same mistakes again. But on the other hand now the new Halo game won't land as hard as it won't be introducing anything terribly new, and fans will bicker about any deviations, and who knows how they will pace it. Will they do a prequel? Will they drag out and split up the plot of the first few games and turn Halo 1 into its own trilogy? I hope to be surprised but I don't have much faith.

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

Yep. Yet another replacement director refusing to take responsibility for the mistakes that led to a once great franchise becoming painfully average. How does a "spiritual" successor make use of the Master Chief, exactly?

Avatar image for Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

I do like the sound of a "spiritual reboot." Hope they deliver.

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

*facepalm*

Avatar image for kiloman_74
kiloman_74

@James_xeno: wait a minute now guys and girls! if it worked for god of war and santa monica (did I spell that right? lol) then why not 343 and the Halo series? and hoping its on current gen and not nxt gen(?) cos man, that in-game engine? even on vanilla xbox 1? pretty sweet yes?

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

"Halo 6: ODST"

You would have sold me instantly. Halo has enough content in terms of world building to allow for so much more than what the main story provides (It doesn't even have to be ODST). Offshoots allow for mistakes to be made whereas installations to the main story pretty much lock you in, which requires the next installment to be extraordinary or mitigate a story that is just decent (Or worse).

The safe route that plenty would have enjoyed still would have been more pre-Fall of Reach stuff. The Human-Covenant War didn't just span a few years.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy
GirlUSoCrazy

@Smosh150: Unfortunately they used words like Truncated or Half-baked when talking about such a project. Did they even get why people liked ODST?

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

@girlusocrazy: Yep, I'm almost ashamed to say this, but ODST is my favorite Halo.

The gameplay was a nice change of pace and made you more vulnerable, a far different perspective than a Spartans, the environment was absolutely incredible, the soundtrack was different but still amazing like the other installments, and Firefight was incredible (With the ODST gameplay I find it more fun that Halo 5's Firefight). The story I think was pretty good too, but did start to get a bit strange by the end.

Hell, there are just so many cool things that could be done. In particular, I'd like to see Contact Harvest as a game. Be it as a regular marine, Johnson, or hell just let 343 say there were actually ODST present. For MP it isn't like they can't make it Spartan vs Spartan or Spartan vs Elites either.

343 has just really taken the wonder out of Halo and made it just mediocre. Their exploration of new stories is just really mediocre.

Edit: I know ODST is a weird first choice, especially when I grew up with all the others. But it may just be due to not playing Spartans, I don't know, I just love it.

Avatar image for nabinator
Nabinator

@Smosh150: Yeah we need a campaign more akin to this, not just another bunch of 8-9 levels. We need an evolving campaign, and ODST was surprisingly ahead of its time.

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

@nabinator: Indeed. I was blown away by both the announcement and playing the game. It's surprising to me as well since it really was a change in direction for Bungie as well. I forgot ODST is on the MCC after reading this, probably gonna go back and re-play it here soon.

Avatar image for shadowwarrior4
shadowwarrior4

halo died after halo 3 there shouldnt have been anymore after bungie left MS this is just as they say "milking a dead horse for lunch money"

Avatar image for USDevilDog
USDevilDog

@shadowwarrior4: I think Halo: Reach was one of the best Halo games in the series. Despite not being a Master Chief / numbered Halo game, both the campaign and the multiplayer were the peak of the Halo series. It was my favorite console shooter since Halo: CE -- in a way, it cemented the Halo series' legacy as being the most important FPS console series post-Goldeneye and TimeSplitters.

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

@USDevilDog: Reach was pretty damn good, but I will say I am still miffed about the Spartan III revision. Really not that big a deal I guess and Bungie did have the final say (Especially when the original appearance was in a book), but they definitely ended up different. I do like how they presented Jorge alongside them though, really showed the differences between a Spartan II and Spartan III.

Personally, I prefer the non "Master Chief / numbered" games once three came to an end. At that point I felt it was more important to show key moments in an almost 30 year long war rather than another few year long span across three games of something much less interesting.

Avatar image for USDevilDog
USDevilDog

@Smosh150: I actually never read the expanded universe book to see what was retconned. I know some people weren't too happy about it. Nevertheless, the campaign had more emotional weight to it than any of the numbered series (that's saying a lot since Halo: CE, 2, and 3 were pretty amazing); the heroics of Noble Team fighting a losing fight to protect humanity's future and to ensure the escape of key members of the series was done perfectly.

Tonally, this sense of fighting against something unstoppable, this sense of desperation and hopelessness due to the encroaching Covenant, is something I miss from the series. It is through this level of urgency and desperation that the player feels that he or she has to commit to a Hail Mary to ensure that the Fall of Reach will not be one in vain. There's a unique heaviness that none of the other games offer.

I finished the game twice back when it first launched on the 360 and pumped hundreds of hours into its MP. But, I was still eager to go back to play it when the XB1 compatibility was fixed. It still holds up; nothing about the experience was diminished. My fiancee talked about Reach for days after we beat it together -- she had never played the game before. Still one of my favorite games of all time. After your statement about preferring non-Master Chief / numbered games, I think I might just have to revisit ODST. I never gave that game its fair shake.

Avatar image for Smosh150
Smosh150

@USDevilDog: I share the same feeling.

ODST is worth it just for characters like Buck alone, one of the few good things Halo 5 added. The game just bleeds emotion even from just walking around in a dead city alone. It really nailed the environment and ambiance.

I just really hope that one day 343 will get their act together and put some passion into Halo. Right now it feels like some low quality fan fiction (Trying not to offend fan fic authors as they can do better lol).

If you do like reading, give some of the books a chance. I started off with "Halo: The Flood" which is pretty much Halo 1 in far more detail, emotion, and story. Stick with the pre-343 stuff for the first few, the post-343 stuff was a bore (At least the Promethean, Forerunner, and ancient human stuff. Though I will say I have heard good things about "Halo: New Blood" (A Buck Novel). The books really just make Halo much more incredible than the games could ever hope to do.

Edit: Contact Harvest is the best Halo novel (Start of the war essentially). Just have to say it.

Avatar image for USDevilDog
USDevilDog

@Smosh150: Right on. Thank you for the recommendation, Smosh150. I'll check out ODST for sure then. I'm kind of excited to revisit the game. I do agree about 343's writing. I did appreciate that they tried to go for a more quiet and intimate story between Cortana and Master Chief as they find their way home in Halo 4; but, they told the story in such a convoluted and rather unintentionally silly way that it made it hard to care. And, that's too bad because I really am interested in the Forerunners, ancient humans, and other AIs. The Didact subplot just came off sloppy. I wish 343 could have tighten the screws a bit.

I'll check out Halo: The Flood first on the reading list. Thank you bud.

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shadowwarrior4

@USDevilDog: yes well if they dont jump on the battle royale wagon there isnt gonna be enough profits for a halo 7 and on

Avatar image for USDevilDog
USDevilDog

@shadowwarrior4: Seems like that's the direction of many of these games. But, I am slightly more optimistic about it. I think if they can produce a compelling campaign and MP (even without jumping on the BR bandwagon) it will garner financial success. They just need not to cut corners. Halo 4 and Halo 5 had either a compromised campaign or a so-so MP. For this game to get back to the 9s or 10s this series is so used to receiving, it needs greatness from both aspects. If they do that, the hype level and sales will come.

Avatar image for CTBradums
CTBradums

Halo 4 felt more of an offshoot of the Halo story, but still a full chapter of the Halo story...only with lackluster multiplayer.

Halo 5 felt more of a side-story or prologue of a Halo story...but with much better multiplayer than 4.

Hopefully, Infinite brings it all together. Halo 1-3 felt like a complete story, and I didn't feel like anything was lacking in any title. 4 and 5 both felt like something was off or missing. I didn't enjoy multiplayer much in 4, for whatever reason, and I had fun online with 5, but the story felt like it wasn't really worth the time spent on it. Like you invested a lot to get just a step further in the overall story before it ended. The Locke/Chief chase aspect felt like a waste of time, in my opinion. The story was all about Cortana and the AIs, the Locke thing felt forced and unnecessary to the bigger story at hand.

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

@CTBradums: Halo 4's multiplayer was no fun because it was just a basic headshot simulator. If you look at the kill feed for your average Halo 4 game, it was just an endless list of headshot kills. Oh, and for some reason, they greatly reduced the weight of vehicle maps. In some cases, they removed the vehicles outright. Stupid because vehicles is by far one of Halo's best traits.

Now compare to the average kill feed from a game in Reach: grenades, rockets, snipes, melee...it's all mixed up nicely. Headshots were not the absolute end-all for every encounter.

As for the story, by 5, 343's writers were trying their best to press their story onto Halo fans. This was a real shame, too, because they already had some good ideas to work with like Buck being a Spartan, so they could have still given us what we wanted to see while going in a different direction with characters we knew. Instead, they created this whole new thing and a boring enemy that was no fun to fight.