Including Master Chief in Halo 4 may have kept fans along for the ride through the transition between Bungie and 343 Industries, but 343 wants to expand the franchise beyond the enduring protagonist (and the FPS genre, for that matter).
In conversation with Polygon, Halo 4 executive producer and person with the best name ever, Kiki Wolfkill said that bringing Master Chief back to the action in 343’s first shot at the franchise opened the door to later risk.
If we didn’t take that right initial step, there would be nothing after. If the worst thing that can be said for us is [Halo 4 is] a great Halo game, that it feels too safe, I wouldn’t say we’d be hyper-disappointed in that. I’d say that’s the right first step for us.
Focusing on other stories, Wolfkill says, will keep the Halo universe “interesting.” But Master Chief will remain an undeniably critical part of the franchise’s path.
Wolfkill says that building a repertoire with the audience also lends itself to exploring other genres that would suit the franchise’s stories:
We have started to flesh out broad strokes of a few different arcs that are interesting. There could be opportunities where exploring a different game genre makes sense or exploring a different linear format makes sense. If the medium fits what we want to do, then we’ll definitely consider it … if there’s a great idea we get energized around.
Although the characters and genre may expand, it’s all part of the innovative tradition of Halo.
Innovation has always been part of the Halo game pillars. That needs to continue.