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Why Bungie leaving Halo has been the best thing for the franchise

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There's no getting around it — Bungie has quickly become one of the most talented and respected developers of the past decade. After single-handedly revolutionizing the first-person shooter genre by successfully bringing it to consoles with Halo: Combat Evolved, the team went on to elevate the franchise to serve as one of the foundational pillars that the Xbox platform rests upon. So how could their recent departure from the franchise possibly be a good thing for the future of Halo? Well, that's what I'm here to tell you.

By now it should be pretty obvious to every gamer that isn't living under a rock, that Microsoft's in-house studio 343 Industries has taken the Halo franchise under its wing; they plan to serve up a completely brand new trilogy starring everyone's favorite Spartan. This new series, dubbed the 'Reclaimer Trilogy,' kicks off later this year with the release of Halo 4. Up until recently, we didn't really know what to expect from this new game — outside of a small batch of concept art and a debut trailer at last year's E3. 343i has been incredibly tight-lipped about the fourth installment, and wisely so, as making a big splash with a major unveiling will certainly be to their benefit.

master chief

The Chief is back and looking better than ever

Fortunately, they have released a handful of additional details via Halo 4's first ViDoc(video documentary), and boy does it look like they are off to a fantastic start. While 343 Industries is an untested studio that has a lot to prove, it is clear that they are a passionate bunch that really care about the franchise. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not implying that Bungie no longer cares about Halo. Let's face it, working on a single franchise for ten years has got to be pretty exhausting, and it's easy to see how one could get fatigued no matter how interesting the property. What I am saying is, since Bungie truly cares about Halo, they realized that it was time for the team to move on to something new, as continuing to work amidst their waning interest in the franchise wouldn't be fair to themselves or the fans.

As such, 343i brings a renewed sense of passion and excitement to the franchise that will be instrumental in elevating the Halo brand to new heights. With a fresh set of minds and untapped wells of creativity, there is tons of potential for the future of Halo. If you haven't already gotten a chance to check out the Halo 4 ViDoc, go ahead and do so right now… this article can wait for you. Ok, now that you've (hopefully) seen it, I dare you to tell me that you weren't impressed. It's clear that 343i is made up of a group of talented individuals who love the Halo franchise just as much as any other hardcore fan, and they're doing everything they can to make this the best experience possible.

One of the biggest issues that I had with the prior Halo titles was the story. Bungie has undoubtedly crafted a super compelling universe, but unfortunately, the plot points that fit within it could have used a bit of work. The folks at 343i recognize this and plan to really flesh out the character of Master Chief by drawing from the wealth of well-written back story that has already been fleshed out in the Halo novels. I don't know about you, but I've been dying to get a closer look into the humanity of the Chief, and it finally looks like we'll get that with Halo 4. So hey, if that means that a new dev team needs to step in to steer the franchise in this direction, then so be it.

halo 4 battle rifle

The new and improved Battle Rifle is just one of the many awesome new additions headed to Halo 4

While we still know very little about the multiplayer of Halo 4, Bungie has already laid down such a solid framework, it would be hard for 343i to really screw it up all that much. With plans to further innovate with the inclusion of Spartan IV's — a much more improved super-soldier that boasts a wide array of enhanced abilities — the possibilities are really endless. As long as 343i maintains the core of what gives Halo its iconic identity, then I don't think fans have too much to worry about.

The conclusion of Halo 3 made it clear that Bungie was done telling the story of Master Chief, as they followed it up with ODST and Reach, both of which focused on other stories set in the universe. While this provided a nice break from the traditional experience, the fans want more Master Chief, and it's clear that 343i is far more passionate about delving deeper into his story than Bungie likely would be. Sometimes the best thing for a franchise is a fresh set of eyes — even though the original's set are incredibly talented. As long as this new studio at Microsoft innovates in ways that they are promising, Halo 4 is bound to be another evolutionary step forward for the series.

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Alex Osborn
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