Halo: Master Chief Collection
Halo 2 is looking great with 343 Industries' new lick of paint.Microsoft

The biggest exclusive release on Xbox One this year is in fact a re-release, or four re-releases to be precise.

When 343 Industries took over from Bungie as "the Halo team" they started work on Halo 4 and Halo: Anniversary Edition – which gave an old classic a lick of paint.

Now Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes this one step further, bringing together Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 for the next-gen hardware of Xbox One (scheduled for a 14 November 2014 release).

Each game will be getting a fresh lick of paint with particular love and attention given to Halo 2, which turns 10 this year. At a Microsoft event held earlier this month we spoke to 343 Industries Executive Producer, Daniel Ayoub, about the collection and next year's Halo 5.


IBTimes UK: Why make the Master Chief Collection?

Daniel Ayoub: We started with Halo 2 Anniversary and wanted to do something special to commemorate that. The reason we went big with the Master Chief Collection is that we realised with the console transition that all of these games did not exist on the same generation, so it was a way for us to take 1-4 and bring them on to the Xbox One.

Also there's the fact that Halo 5 ships next year, so this is a way for fans to catch up on the story. I liken it a lot to bingeing on Netflix before the new season of your favourite show comes on. As fans ourselves this was something that we really wanted to do and we've been really happy with the reaction.

Looking at the longevity of these Halo games upon their initial releases, it's easy to assume MC Collection will be played for years to come, are there plans to support players who are still playing a year or two down the line?

We have some pretty big plans to sustain it. We're going to have a team that's constantly managing the hoppers to make sure those continue to feel fresh, and of course we're going to be tweaking it. As long as people are playing it we'll be there.

Halo: Master Chief Collection
It may be a re-release, but it's hard to argue against MC Collection's value for moneyMicrosoft

Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach are conspicuous in their absence, could we see them on Xbox One as well in the future?

The reason we stuck to the Master Chief games... there are two reasons really. First of all Halo 5 is coming so we wanted to tee up that release by having all of the Master Chief games, and honestly the second one is just a question of time and disk space. I mean we're already packing an incredible amount into this one package.

What I can say is, the number of questions I've gotten about ODST and Reach... it's definitely made its way into our subconscious. I know my boss Bonnie [Ross, 343 Industries' Studio Head] and I were behind closed doors at E3 and we were shocked just how many people were asking that question.

We obviously considered it but the realities of time and space really just dictated what we could do.

Would you like to bring Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach to Xbox One?

I'd love to. As a Halo fan I love the idea of having all the games available on the current generation. That said we don't really have any plans for those right now.

As online shooters Halo 2 and 3 are regarded as genre-bests, not just series bets. Does that create pressure to - at the very least - make Halo 5's multiplayer as good, if not better?

What we've got with Halo 2 is the game many fans consider the best of the multiplayer in all those Halo games, which is why when we approached the Anniversary Edition we took a very genuine approach to that multiplayer, going as far as to ship the original multiplayer as it was 10 years ago so people have that exact experience.

Any time we release a new Halo we feel that pressure, to do better than the last one, to continually raise the bar. We put it on ourselves and the fans push us too. We're really excited for people to play the beta and see what we've been cooking.

Halo 5 Beta
A shot from the Halo 5: Guardians beta available to MC Collection owners on 29 December.Microsoft

Destiny set a high benchmark for public betas earlier this year, what kind of scale can we expect from Halo 5's beta later this year?

If you look at the timing of this, nearly a full year before the game releases, longer than even Destiny for example, theirs was much closer to their launch. So by coming out this far in advance it gives more time to be reactive to the feedback we get.

As for content we're going to have quite a bit, we're not talking about the exact details yet but it's going to be quite... err... meaty, I guess. There's going to be quite a few maps, quite a few game modes and people will get a great glimpse at what the final version will look like.

How important has the development of your anniversary editions been to 343 understanding the Halo series handed to you by Bungie; what have you learned?

We learned a lot when we did the first Anniversary Edition for Halo 1. It allowed us to speak to fans about the way they first played the series, because for a lot of people playing Halo 1 and 2 was a big deal to them.

What's great about this one is we're going to have over 100 multiplayer maps and we're going to see where people focus a lot of their time, so it's really important for us to see what fans gravitate toward nowadays. Maybe they're spending a lot more time in 2 rather than 1 or in 3, and we can see what gameplay experiences they play the most of.

And then there's the playlists, which will show you the ebb and flow of what players are enjoying...

Exactly! That's going to be massive for us. We like to say we want to be as reactive as possible to what our fans are saying, but in having a collection like this – especially one which has so much within it – we're going to get to see what people are enjoying the most.

Halo: Master Chief Collection
Microsoft

Halo 4 received a lot of criticism for its portrayal of Cortana as this sexualised damsel in distress. How have 343 Industries taken that criticism on board?

Obviously we take the perception of how women are portrayed in the games really, really seriously. People definitely had their reactions to Cortana, which we heard. You know I can't say too much about what we're thinking down the line but as I say we've heard the criticism and we take that really seriously.

By the time Halo 5 comes out there will be five Halo games on the same console after just two years on the shelves, as well as a TV series and the Halo Channel. Is fatigue among fans something you foresee and how do you hope to combat it?

It's a really valid concern. I think the way we try to combat it is... you know we think very far down the line in terms of our planning and what we're going to do when, and all that. It'll have been three years... really, three years? Wow, time flies [laughs]... between Halo 4 and 5, and what we tried to do is that every time we have a Halo interaction, is that it's a little different. For example you look at Nightfall, that's a different way to interact with the fiction than say, playing Halo 5.

What we're doing with the Master Chief Collection is more fan-service. We try to be mindful with everything we put out. You know, some people are going to consume all of it while some parts will be more appealing to some people than others. Whatever we do, we do think about how we're rolling it out and we do our best to make sure everything we put out is fresh each time.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be released for Xbox One on 14 November 2014.