Bungie's last hurrah with the Halo franchise is "Halo: Reach," a game set directly before the events of "Halo: Combat Evolved." News that their final game would be a prequel came as a shock to many when it was revealed at E3 last year, but recent looks have shown that the same effort and focus is being put into "Reach" as was with "Halo 3." But a prequel wasn't always the surefire fate of Bungie's last Halo game. Brian Jarrard, the community director at Bungie, spoke with us this week and mentioned that a direct follow-up to "Halo 3," starring Master Chief, was definitely considered.
"Even before the idea to build a game based around Reach came about, a lot of other concepts were explored, up to and including a proper 'Halo 4,' where Master Chief was going to wake up from cryo-sleep and we were going to tell that story."
Jarrard went on to explain that the idea never made it out of pre-production, saying, "it just wasn't as interesting to the team to just pick up where that left off and all the baggage that came with it."
Instead the team focused on crafting a story which would lead into the events of "Halo: Combat Evolved." If you'll recall, that game began with the Covenant chasing the USNC Pillar of Autumn warship into deep space, where it would eventually discover a mysterious, halo-shaped structure.
While there will be some nods for fans of the series in "Halo: Reach," the story has been designed with newcomers in mind. It's this fresh new take that appealed to the designers at Bungie.
"I think it was a little bit liberating. Hearing the guys talk about working through the trilogy and the obligation of keeping the themes moving forward and tying them up systematically. And 'ODST' was also kinda nice 'cause they could do something different, something separate, and it's totally self-contained. I definitely think that, for 'Reach,' a lot of the same attitude carried over. We don't want to open up a whole bunch of doors that we're not going to close. By the end of this, it's all going to come to a nice, neat finish, and if people want to then go play the Halo trilogy, I think they'll have a better understanding of what's going on, but it's not required at all."
So if you're hoping for a deeper understanding of the Forerunners or some crazy cliffhanger where Master Chief pulls off his helmet to reveal he's a large rabbit, look elsewhere. In fact, Jarrard confirmed that Master Chief is nowhere in this game (despite the fact that he played a pivotal role in the defense of the planet Reach, according to the canon). It will, however, have tons of guns and aliens to shoot, so you have nothing to complain about.