With Halo 4 and years of development time on Halo 5: Guardians under their belt, developer 343 Industries can “no longer say [they’re] new to this franchise,” insists franchise development director Frank O’Connor.
That’s why the studio is going big with the upcoming Halo title on Xbox One. “We’ve been working on it for years now,” O’Connor told EuroGamer in a recent interview. “So our goal with it, fundamentally, is to make the best experience we can possibly make. Some of that means making it better with some of the learnings we’ve had over the years.”
But making a Halo game for Halo fans is not without its challenges. It’s “not as easy as it sounds,” according to O’Connor.
“Halo is different to different people. Some people think of Halo as this purely co-op experience. Some people only care about the story. Multiplayer guys don’t agree with each other on anything, period. DMR is the worst and best weapon.
“So, knowing you have such a disparate set of audiences as a subset of your overall audience and trying to figure out the best way to cater to them without compromising everyone else’s experience – that’s a hell of a balancing act. And it’s one we’ll always struggle with. I know our audience is changing.”
Fans will get a first look at what exactly 343 is up to once the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta launches on December 27, to which access is granted with any purchase of the upcoming Halo: The Master Chief Collection this November 11.
Gamers will get a taste of next-gen Halo running on an engine “purpose built for Xbox One,” said 343 studio head Bonnie Ross. But the beta won’t just be demo meant to generate hype. According to her, it’s launch one year prior to Halo 5’s release gives the studio plenty of time to “hone” the multiplayer experience.
“Later this fall we’ll talk about our full offering,” she said. “Very deliberately we’re doing it a year out to give us the development time to make sure we can take the feedback. It will be an interactive three week beta, meaning we will have multiple different ways for people playing to give us feedback so we can hone the multiplayer experience.”
O’Connor added that “it’s a real beta,” and not just “network data or performance data” test.
“Sometimes a beta is maybe a good way to test performance on your network. We’ll be looking at every single aspect of how people play this, and we have a lot of time to actually take meaningful feedback,” he explained.
“We’re trying to mine it for all the data we can get. Not just network data or performance data. It’s like, how are people playing? How are they adapting to the new features? How are they dealing with new weapons? There will be a huge amount of data for us to look at.”
We’ll be more than happy to supply 343 with that data after we get our anxious hands on the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta this Winter.