Halo: The Master Chief Collection's makers want to remain faithful to the way the four included games — Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 — played, so they're planning to retain whatever glitches may have appeared in the original multiplayer components of those titles, co-developer 343 Industries said during a panel today at Comic-Con International 2014.
"Bluntly, that was a difficult conversation internally, in the first place, because for every person irritated [by a glitch] there are five who love that stuff," O'Connor said. "So education will have to be some of that process."
O'Connor was responding to a fan who coyly asked if any infinite ammunition glitches in the original games' multiplayer would be fixed for the re-releases. "Would that be the rocket infinite ammo glitch?" from Halo: Combat Evolved, asked Andy Dudynksy, the series' community manager.
"We're going to try to explain to people how those work so they're not in the dark," said Frank O'Connor, the director of franchise development for Halo at 343, "so it's not, like, five jerks on the map using it and everyone else doesn't know what's going on."
The Master Chief Collection, set for release Nov. 11 on Xbox One for $59.99, is intent on taking the original games' code and simply re-rendering them in higher definition, remaining as true to the original experience as possible, according to O'Connor. That delivers a dramatic comparison when players switch between Halo 2 in its original rendering and Halo 2 upgraded for Xbox One. The transition is nearly instantaneous, too, whereas a similar toggle in Halo Anniversary (which also appears in the collection) on the Xbox 360 had more of a fade-in effect.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection not only gives 2004's Halo 2 a full high-definition remake, it makes every component of the four full Halo titles playable and instantly accessible. This includes more than 100 multiplayer maps, said Dennis Ries, the game's executive producer, including Halo 2's Zanzibar, whose re-render was shown at the panel.
"That includes the PC versions, too," Ries said. "When you start cycling through this, it gets kind of ridiculous, so making sure this content is easily consumable is important."
To support matchmaking with so many maps available, Ries said The Master Chief Collection will keep track of players' favorite game types, and pair them with other individuals who also prefer those types. Then, the maps that feature, or better support, that type will be cycled to the top of the voting screen for party members to choose.
Ries noted, "You've never been able to play original Halo multiplayer over Xbox Live until now." Halo 2 last saw console multiplayer in 2010, when Microsoft turned off Xbox Live support for the original Xbox.
The story campaigns in The Master Chief Collection are getting plenty of attention, too. When Microsoft Studios officially announced the package last month, the publisher said the bundle would include all-new cinematics to bridge the stories of Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4.
"We call them bookends," said O'Connor. "It's bridging the story in a fairly significant way to bring together the stories of The Master Chief Collection. In celebrating the 10th anniversary of Halo 2, we get to expand those stories and connect them together in a meaningful and interesting way."
"It's bridging the story in a fairly significant way to bring together the stories of The Master Chief Collection"
O'Connor said The Master Chief Collection will end with a cinematic sequence that connects the saga to the forthcoming Halo 5: Guardians.
Microsoft Studios also released a new video (see above) showcasing the re-rendering of familiar cutscenes from Halo 2. "There's a more modern cinematography going on," said Franck Balson of Blur Studio, which is handling all of the new sequences. "There's different staging of the shots. It does a credit to how enjoyable the original story is, by how much it's lifted by that process." Balson added that the series' iconic soundtrack also is being re-recorded with the Skywalker Orchestra, though there are no plans yet to do a stand-alone release of the score.
A fan asked the panel if giving Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 high-definition remakes made Halo 3 and Halo 4, which were made in high definition, seem less impressive or meaningful in the collection. O'Connor said no.
"What I've noticed with Halo 3 and 4, there's a lot of detail that pops out at 60 fps," O'Connor said. "It's detail that was built into the game but never really demonstrated [by the technology of its day]. The jungle at the beginning of Halo 3 shows a lot of new light from the foliage. The rack slide animation on the pistol. I think you're going to be surprised how much better the campaigns look at 1080p and 60 fps."