Halo 4: 343 Industries Discloses Large Scale Battles, Spartan Ops Emergent Experiences
Frank O'Connor of 343 Industries talks about the game's large scale battles and Spartan Ops.
During PAX Prime, which took place last week, 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor was on site to answer questions posed to him by fans of the series and journalists present at the event. As the Franchise Director of the Halo series at 343, O'Connor's the man to talk to when it comes to the lore of the series.
In Halo 3, the game had a very ambiguous ending which lead many to question what the sequel—Halo 4—would be like. O'Connor was asked whether the studio knew what the setting of the game would be ahead of time.
"Kinda, sorta," he replied in response to the question posed by Youtube channel ReadyUpLive. "Even back then, we had a lot of ideas about lot that world [seen in the Halo 3 ending] was and what it could contain and what it meant to the [Halo] universe. The only thing that was absolutely 100% was Forerunner. The rest of it organically and naturally evolved from where we wanted to take the story–some of the tendrils that reached out from the terminals and some of the stuff we were prototyping with Greg Bear even like four years ago."
"We kinda knew where the story was going to go and we knew we were going to follow the Master Chief."
Combat on foot in the Halo 4 has been overhauled for a much faster pace this time around, with slightly less emphasis on vehicle combat.
"The fact that everyone can sprint now means that we're definitely encouraging fast on-foot combat. In fact, the level we have here—Exile—is full of vehicles and flying vehicles, but even if you're not in one, you can still navigate really quickly. Part of that is just Sprint, part of it is the way that loadouts work so that you can basically pick things for ranged combat. And so a lot of the vehicle combat has been sort of tuned and balanced."
With regards to Halo 4's single player campaign, O'Connor says that there are going to be a lot of large-scale battles in the game.
"It's a huge part of Halo for everyone. Obviously the encounter by encounter combat is at the soul of Halo, but that scale and that scope and the vehicles and the way the sandbox elements interact with each other. The ability to explore, and the ability to constantly be surprised and be engaged by the environment at that scale is the biggest thing that attracted me to Halo in the first place."
Frank O'Connor had a lot to say about the game's new cooperative campaign, Spartan Ops. He describes it as feeling like a "content hold" with the removal of Firefight from Halo 4.
"The reality was that [Firefight] ended being a niche mode, which was nowhere near as big as conventional PVP multiplayer. We realized there was an appetite for some of the stuff that Firefight introduced in ways that allowed players to cooperate and compete with each other, but we wanted to do something more story-based with it and give the campaign developers more content, and also give a bridging experience so that PVP multiplayer fans could maybe get more immersed in the story and the cooperative side of things. It serves a lot of different masters but ultimately, it's a new experience in its own way."
The missions in Spartan Ops are shorter than that of the campaign—and they can be as short as ten minutes—but O'Connor says that they're going to change depending on how many people you're playing with and on what difficult you're playing at. While the missions are fairly short and "bite sized", the entire experience per week can be grueling and quite long because there will be five missions per week.
O'Connor says that Spartan Ops is the one mode he's most curious for fans to experience. "I know how it plays, and I know how the fiction feels and looks. But the organic part of it—the part that happens as an emergent social experience when you're at work or at school talking about the night before? We can't even test that. We can't test that until we air it. It's just like a TV show."
"It's an experiment for us obviously. It's not that experimental feeling that's solid and functioning right now, but again, the experience and the discussions about it are something we won't know about until November 6th."