Halo is an Xbox staple and no one else knows this more than Jonathan Segall, Product Marketing Manager for 1st Party Xbox Games at Microsoft. In town last Thursday for the Master Chief Collection (MCC) Tour, Segall gave a presentation on what’s installed for the soon to be released MCC and the Halo franchise in general. Sitting on the panel with former Halo-pro David Walsh, we were able to pry some fairly interesting titbits regarding the direction of Halo and the Master Chief Collection.
Much of the success of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 by extension owed itself to the robust and incredibly fun multiplayer experience that it had forged and laid down for the community at large. However, active support for the competitive Halo community has been found wanting in recent years. Addressing Microsoft’s conspicuous absence from the e-sports scene, Segall iterated that competitive gaming was something Xbox was gradually looking more into starting with the Master Chief Collection.
“E-sports is definitely a big initiative for Microsoft. I think it’s something that has grown and we had to kinda had to catch up on, [and] I think with the Master Chief Collection you’re definitely going to see that. The Master Chief Collection by nature has so much of that great 4v4 content in it, and I think you’ll see the game out there being used competitively by the different leagues. Moving on to the future of Halo, the Halo 5 guardians multiplayer beta itself is all focused on competitive arena play so yes, absolutely, [e-sports] is a big area that Xbox and Microsoft are looking at.”
Segall then went on to comment on the transferability of game experiences across the various iterations of Halo in the Master Chief Collection. “From campaign to multiplayer, we will use what was native to that game. For Halo 2, when you’re playing the classic maps, it will run on the classic Halo 2 engine, and when you’re playing the reimagine maps, we actually modified the Halo 4 multiplayer engines just to give that Halo 2 multiplayer experience but bring it up to today’s multiplayer standards. And then Halo 3 and Halo 4 will run off their native engines.”
A feature that attracted much attention in Halo 2 and 3 was the proximity chat system, to which Segall added: “So the chat experience will be identical the multiplayer engine that it’s running from. The one thing that will be unified across the experience though is ranking. So your experience points and your rank will all be unified and it will actually work almost identical to Halo 2’s classic ranking system.”
Closing the interview Segall was asked what he was most looking forward to in the upcoming Master Chief Collection. As a ‘story’ guy, Xbox’s product marketing manager admitted that lore and narrative execution were key in his overall evaluation of a game, and suffice to say, he’s been adequately impressed by the work done by 343 Industries and Blur.
“When I play games I love to get sucked into the story, so for me it’s hands down the new cinematics. Taking what was there and completely remastering it, all the new mocap [motion-capture] done by Blur, as well as the new prologue and the new epilogue that tell more of the story leading up to Halo 5 guardians. So not only are you getting the original content in a new way that you’ve never seen it before, but some new content as well, and that’s what I’m most excited for.”