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Halo franchise director Frank O'Connor talks Halo 4's hits, misses

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

"[Halo 4] wasn't flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but by most objective criteria, it was a resounding success," said Halo franchise development director Frank O'Connor in a letter to the game's community on Halo Waypoint.

Writing in a retrospective letter, O'Connor praised the Halo 4 team at 343 Industries for pulling off what was deemed an "almost impossible" task: taking the reins of the Halo franchise from Bungie and building a new development team to support the creation of a sequel to one of gaming's biggest franchises.

"Stepping into Bungie's oversized shoes would have been difficult, even for a well-established team," said O'Connor. "The challenge of wrangling that engine, that universe and that community was dizzying, even withering."

With its first effort, 343 Industries made a game that has become the fastest-selling entry in the Halo franchise. O'Connor also highlighted the areas in which he believes the studio innovated: storytelling, by expanding the universe; technology, by revamping the Halo engine; and marketing, an area that includes the Forward Unto Dawn web series.

"Halo 4 ... was a resounding success"

O'Connor did admit that "there are a ton of things we wish we'd done better." Among 343i's list of missteps, he counted glitches, features that the studio cut from the final game and "DLC fiascos" — the latter almost certainly a reference to the issues that War Games Map Pass owners had in downloading the Crimson Map Pack.

"So we know we have a lot to do. And we know we have a lot to learn," he said. "But we also know that we now have the capacity, the teamwork, the technology and the experience to do much better next time."

Finally, O'Connor thanked the Halo community, calling them "the most important aspect of [343i's] success, and [its] efforts now and in the future." According to O'Connor, the studio thinks of its fans as "a direct and democratic extension of the team and, indeed, of the development process."

He closed by looking ahead. "[I'm] excited about the future of Halo. A future we want you to be a part of. A future we're building for you."

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