The official release of the Korean version of ‘HALO INFINITE’, the most anticipated work in the second half of this year, is approaching. It is the third ‘Halo’ of 343 Industries, which took over the baton from Bungie, and the sequel after six years from the controversial fifth ‘Guardians’. It is also a work worthy of an inflection point in this long series by adopting an open world level design based on the latest sleepspace engine. But that doesn’t mean we’re looking for something new. Rather, the identity of 343 Industries is a spiritual reboot. There is such a meaning behind the boldly cut out the numbering from the title.
‘Halo Infinite’, which is about a week away from release after a long wait, is receiving a lot of expectations and concerns at the same time. The multiplayer beta has already begun, and some doubts have been cleared up, but much has not been revealed about the campaign and story. In this regard, we saw About 4 hours of campaign test build experienceIn addition, we interviewed 343 Industries Creative Director Paul Crocker, Character Director Steve Dick, Campaign Art Lead Justin Dinge, and Narrative Writer Jeff Easterling. We heard what the official reboot means and how the open world will be solved.
● I mentioned ‘Halo Infinite’ as a spiritual reboot.
pole: What we wanted to do with the campaign was to relive the emotional bond with the game that people felt when they first played Halo 20 years ago. That’s the feeling I wish if ‘Halo’ was reproduced with the current technology. Mental reboot can also be seen from a story point of view. The story of ‘Halo’ has continued, and in particular, ‘Halo Infinite’ deals with the time after the 5th episode. We wanted people to feel differentiated from their familiarity even in these stories.
Steve: Yes. A mental reboot brings back the emotions people felt when they first played Halo 20 years ago. So that those memories and emotions of “Wow, this game is really cool!” can be passed down to this day. In order to inherit that inspiration, we wanted to make a ‘Halo’ that looks better and has more to do with modern technology. This is not about forgetting the past, but about continuing the legacy.
Justin: From a visual point of view, when we first made the game, we wanted to look back on whether any of the important elements of the ‘Halo’ series were forgotten. This took a lot of time, because everyone had different feelings and thoughts about ‘Halo’. I thought a lot about audio, visuals, game play, and story.
● There are those who have never played ‘Halo’ before. How do you plan to fill the void they feel?
Jeff: We made more content to fill that void. Much of the story of ‘Halo Infinite’ proceeds like a mystery genre. This allows both those familiar with ‘Halo’ and those who are new to ‘Halo’ to be immersed in the game and characters. After the game starts, numerous voids, i.e., questions arise, and gamers fill in those voids themselves.
pole: As Jeff said, we made this game a mystery genre. Since the game started, the master chief, pilot, and AI weapon have been separated from the events of the past six months together. Everyone wants to know what happened in the meantime. What the hell happened to Zeta Halo after fighting Cortana? Resolving these questions is the gist of the game play.
The reason for this design is that there is no need to enumerate the numerous events that have occurred in the ‘Halo’ series over the past 20 years. A series is not always played by the same people, and new influxes are bound to occur. What is Vanished’s true identity? Where has Cortana gone? As the army led by Escarum uncovers various mysteries, it will provide a clue to the next story and make you more immersed in the game.
As part of our spiritual reboot, we wanted to return to the origins of ‘Halo’ with the words ‘green man, blue woman’ as an important theme. You may not know the names of Master Chief or Cortana, but you will always remember the images of these two iconic beings. At the beginning of ‘Halo Infinite’, smaller characters appear, allowing for a more personal story. What is small and personal at first develops into a story that revolves around the entire universe.
● How did you reflect the unique non-linear structure of the open world in designing the campaign story?
pole: The open world was an interesting structure for us as well. We tried to mix different genres, but the most important thing was to create a game that would fit the title ‘Halo’. We tried not to lose the ‘Halo quality’ in the game play, visuals, and story production. Given a goal, gamers can run straight towards it. Or, you can experience various events along the way for an experience of exploring a vast worldview, just like you did when you played ‘Halo’ 20 years ago. All of this is part of a journey to unravel the story, and it is no different from the traditional way of playing ‘Halo’.
Steve: I was careful not to feel that the sub-quest was burdensome or difficult. Like those games where you have to level up to do side quests, for example. In the middle of the main quest, “Oh, here are some marines in need of help”, “Oh, what’s that building over there, the AI weapon didn’t tell me to go, but I’m curious”, and so on. This will give you a deeper understanding of your worldview. You can also earn some sort of in-game currency to unlock more powerful Marines, mounts, weapons, and more that can be used in the campaign.
● I want the side quest to be too much of a battle. Is there any other way of content other than shooting enemies?
pole: To put it simply, this is ‘Halo’ to the end, and the Master Chief is the best soldier in the universe. Our game is focused on providing a thrilling combat experience. You can find various other contents such as audio logs in the worldview, but that does not cover the essence of ‘Halo’ as a shooter genre. We want gamers to fully immerse themselves in the battle between the Master Chief and his enemies.
Justin: I tried to strengthen the story for the given amount of time, but ‘Halo’ is essentially a shooter genre. Nevertheless, there are story elements unrelated to combat, so I hope people will enjoy watching them.
Jeff: There are various story elements such as visual storytelling and audio log, but these are close to the extension or outcome of the battle. The process of finding what’s inside the cave and beyond that corner.
● Did a new enemy appear or the existing design changed? I wonder if the AI has improved as well.
Steve: As part of the spiritual reboot, Elite, Grunt, Jackal, etc. were designed in the way of 343 Industries. Enemy AI has also been improved so that it can properly respond to gamers’ diverse combat methods. We designed a variety of actions based on cover, such as using long-range weapons when the gamer shoots a long-range sniper, or neutralizing the mount with a shock weapon when the gamer rides a mount.
Also, I thought a lot about how to fill the vast space as it changed to an open world. If all AI actively seeks and attacks the Master Chief, it will inevitably die soon, and it will be difficult for gamers to feel the fun of playing as a Super Soldier. Enemies gave gamers a break between battles, such as moving to a suitable place for battle or reloading.
Of course, all enemies are designed to challenge gamers. For example, the jackal has a shield, and gamers struggle with how to destroy it. Also, I thought about what is possible because ‘Halo’ is a sci-fi worldview and how to express it as an action genre. Fighting aliens is one of the core traditions of the Halo series.
● In the second half, you can simply draw a wasp and bomb the enemy. How did you strike this balance?
Steve: As I said before, the weapons were controlled through AI. When the gamer is holding a powerful weapon, such as a sniper rifle, the AI will take action to respond to each weapon. Like taking cover or wielding a long-range weapon.
However, there will be no balancing of weapon performance or mounts. Sometimes wielding a powerful force is a fun experience. If balancing is involved in enjoying the same mission in various ways, in the end, only the method of pursuing extreme efficiency will remain. Of course, powerful weapons and mounts have limitations, such as ammunition. In the end, gamers will have no choice but to use multiple weapons evenly. Strategies and tactics that use only one weapon or mount will not work in the end.
● Hook guns are so useful that throwing barriers and thrusters feel a bit pointless.
Steve: I totally agree. Now, a ‘Halo’ without a hook gun is unimaginable. However, other tools are still useful in boss battles, etc. On normal difficulty, the hook gun will be fine, but on higher difficulty there will come a time when you will need to use a variety of tools. Like constructing a place of cover with a throwing barrier. The thruster that has been upgraded is a great help in occupying the enemy’s rear. As you play the game, you will feel the need for each tool as you face various challenges.
● How did you integrate past and present art styles in your pursuit of ‘Halo-like’?
Justin: As part of a spiritual reboot, we tried a new approach to the art style of ‘Halo’. With a lot of feedback, we refocused on the original trilogy. At that time, it was difficult for the design team to include detailed elements due to technical limitations. Nevertheless, the art style of ‘Halo’ was very unique. So we looked back at the design elements of the past.
What made the art style of ‘Halo’ like ‘Halo’? Clear and bold form, high readability and comprehension. We took these elements and reborn them into a design suitable for the next generation. I was looking for a simple and modern design, and it took a lot of time. Personally, I’m proud of the very successful result, and I hope you like it.
● After the campaign video was released last year, the graphics have been renewed over the course of a year. I’m curious about the process.
pole: After the first video was released, we had time until the launch of the next-generation Xbox. In the meantime, we’ve re-analyzed what works and what doesn’t for the story, gameplay, etc. After that, it went through the process of choosing which elements to focus resources on improving.
Justin: At the time, I had no choice but to be heartbroken by the harsh criticism of the visual. We’ve made major improvements to the visuals, and fortunately, we’ve been successful in many areas. I couldn’t work on all the parts, but I wanted to see the biggest effect through selection and concentration. Now we are very happy that many gamers have recognized the improved graphics.
● The Xbox First Party is going global. What did you pay attention to for overseas gamers?
pole: We always reflect on how ‘Halo’ started in the first place, and we think about how gamers became attached to the ‘Halo’ worldview. In order to make a game enjoyed by people all over the world, we melt universal elements into the game. Through this, we wanted to make it easier for gamers to approach the ‘Halo’ universe and help them understand the characters better.
|By Kim Young-hoon, staff reporter [email protected]|