Halo 5 Master Chief
Master Chief in Halo 5: Guardians Microsoft

Halo developers 343 Industries has responded to widespread criticism among fans following 2015's Halo 5: Guardians, regarding the studio's decision to focus on a new character over the series' long-standing protagonist Master Chief.

The comments from franchise director Frank O'Connor also give the impression that the unannounced Halo 6 will focus prominently, maybe even entirely, on the Chief.

Speaking in the latest issue of GamesTM (issue 187), O'Connor said (via WCCFTech): "We took some digs for storytelling in Halo 5, but they were absolutely merited. We very much realized that people wanted Master Chief's story of Halo 5.

"We definitely marketed in a way that we hoped was going to bring surprise, but for some fans and certainly fans of Master Chief, it was a huge disappointment because they wanted more Chief."

Halo 5 split the gameplay between a new playable character called Spartan Locke, leading Fireteam Osiris, and Master Chief, leading Blue Team. With Locke in pursuit of a rogue Chief throughout the game, he was depicted as the main character.

It was not the first time a Halo game had cast players as a character other than Chief, but the first time in a numbered entry since 2004's Halo 2 – which also starred the Arbiter.

"It wasn't that surprising to me, but the volume of 'give us more Chief' at the end of Halo 5 was significant and so I think if anything he's slightly more important now than he has ever been, certainly to our franchise."

O'Connor goes on to tease how this will influence future games. "Instead of focusing on bringing new characters into the world and expanding the playable characters we've sort of shifted the focus a little bit to making the world a little bit more realistic and compelling and, I would say, more fun for players who get to inhabit the Chief in the future, pretty much as they demanded.

"Doubling down on Master Chief story and the amount of focus on him was probably the easiest learning from Halo 5. That was a really simple thing to absorb and embrace."

The timing is about right for at least a teaser of the next Halo game at Microsoft's E3 press conference in June, but that's purely speculation at this point.

Halo 5: Guardians was well received by critics and for this writer ranks among the most enjoyable campaigns in the franchise's history. "The campaign in Halo 5: Guardians is proof that 343 is more than capable of matching the very best that the series has to offer," we wrote in our review.

For the full interview with O'Connor and studio head Kiki Wolfkill, pick up the latest issue of GamesTM, which is available from Thursday (27 April).

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