A brand new “Halo” video game won’t be released until late 2015, but the game’s titular hero, Master Chief, won’t exactly be missing in action in 2014.
Microsoft’s 343 Industries confirmed on Monday the release of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” a long-rumored compilation of “Halo’s” first four core video games. The games will receive a next-gen makeover for the recently released Xbox One since all date to prior console generations.
The release of the anthology on Nov. 11 will also coincide with the premiere of a live-action series to be executive produced by Ridley Scott, “Halo: Nightfall.” Microsoft unveiled the “Halo” details at a press event on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Still in the works: “Halo 5: Guardians,” which is tabled for a 2015 release, and another live action “Halo” series, this one executive produced by Steven Spielberg.
A sneak peek of sorts of the former will be offered to those who purchase “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” as the game will come bundled with beta access to the multiplayer portion of “Halo 5: Guardians.”
The games of the “Halo” franchise, which collectively have generated sales of well over 50 million units, are crucial to the long-term success of Xbox One. The rush of “Halo”-related activity represents a doubling-down on expanding the narrative of Microsoft’s core brand, and will bring some star power to a relatively content-starved new platform.
“Halo: The Master Chief Collection” will retail for $59.99 and will run at 60 frames per second and at 1080p high-definition. The single-disc compilation will feature a new prologue prior to “Halo: Combat Evolved,” the first in the series, and a new epilogue after the conclusion of “Halo 4.”
“When we first started 343, we made sure we actually paved and deepened the foundation of the universe,” said Bonnie Ross, general manager of 343 Industries, which inherited the series from its creator, Bungie, prior to the release of 2012’s “Halo 4.” “I feel that’s critical to have success and people loving the universe over the next 10-20 years. This is about a universe worthy of devotion, of being able to tell hundreds of stories. At 343 we put a ton of emphasis on the fiction, the foundation.”
“Halo: The Master Chief Collection” will offer immediate access to any mission in any game of the series and on any difficulty level, and each game will run on its original engine to preserve the feel of each game. The exception will be select levels of “Halo 2,” which will receive a grander treatment as part of the game’s 10-year anniversary.
Players who purchase “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” will have access to the live-action series “Halo: Nightfall,” which is currently being filmed with director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, known for his work on the “Battlestar Galactica” TV series. Ross said Microsoft would unveil more information on “Nightfall” at July’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.
“Nightfall” is expected to air weekly beginning Nov. 11. Ross said 343 was still working out details on how “Nightfall” would be made available to those who do not opt to purchase “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” but she confirmed that “Nightfall” would lead into “Halo 5: Guardians.”
Ross said that taken together, the two projects would offer a more comprehensive take on the story of Master Chief, a technologically enhanced super soldier who has been fighting for the United Nations Space Command (UNSC).
“Halo 4″ served as one of the final major titles to be released for the Xbox 360 console before Microsoft introduced the Xbox One late last year. It also left Master Chief at a rather conflicted crossroads, ending as it did with the hero mourning the loss of Cortana, a nearly sentient artificially intelligent computer program that would appear in holographic form.
“He’s searching for himself,” Ross said. “He’s at a point of self-reflection. He’s not sure the UNSC are good or bad. He’s not sure he wants to be who he is. After having his best friend sacrifice himself, it was a turning point. He was a hero, hero and hero. And now he’s human. Who is he as a human?”
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