Halo 4 is a continuation of a long story that began with the original Halo, but this doesn't mean it won't be inaccessible to new players, according to Halo 4 creative director, Josh Holmes.
Speaking to Polygon today at the EB Expo, Holmes says that the highly anticipated sci-fi shooter has been built in layers so that those new to the game will be able to understand and enjoy it at the top level, while those familiar with the previous titles and the novels will be able to dig deeper and get more out of the game.
"It was important for us to maintain all the canon that had been established because there's a story in place that we love dearly and there is so much investment from the fans and the community that pressing reset never really occurred to us," Holmes says.
"You have all this history and depth to the series and you want to pay respect to that, but at the same time you don't want it to be a barrier for new players who may have never played Halo. There are players who will play Halo 4 who were barely out of diapers when the original game came out, so we were very deliberate about creating different layers to the story."
Holmes says that the story is self-contained and digestible for new players, but those with existing knowledge will have a deeper experience with the game. He says the team developed the game with the different players in mind, asking questions like: How would the player feel about this part of the game if they've played Halo 3? How would they feel if they've read all the novels? Would they be confused if they've never played previous Halo games?
"There are players who will play Halo 4 who were barely out of diapers when the original game came out"
One example he gives of a layered part of the game is a snippet of conversation when protagonist Master Chief says: "I thought we had a truce with the Covenant" after his fist encounter in the game with a Covenant Elite. Cortana then replies: "A lot can happen in four years". Holmes explains that to a new player, this information is inconsequential, but to those who have read the novels, it's a nods to the intervening history between Halo 3 and Halo 4.
As Halo 4's launch date inches closer, Holmes is excited about the game getting into the hands of existing fans and new players. 343 Industries has been working on Halo 4 for three years with the game going gold last week.
"I could watch people play the game all day," Holmes says. "I love to see all the little strategies that they employ, how they react to different elements in the game, and I'm always just sitting there on egg shells just waiting to hear what they think.
"As a creative you pour so much of yourself into the work you do so it's all really about that final experience that players have. Being able to see people experience the game is really rewarding."
Halo 4 will release on Xbox 360 on November 6th.