Ex-Bungie man Frank O'Connor was caught off guard by negative responses to the absence of Master Chief in Halo: Reach.
Now franchise director at Halo 4 developer 343 Industries, O'Connor was "surprised at the reaction. I was a great proponent of the new Spartans for Reach. I thought that people would do what they did with the Master Chief and put themselves into the character's shoes, but people missed him. "
In hindsight, however, O'Connor thinks the uproar was understandable. "It's been ten years of Halo, and for some people it was their first gaming experience, so we shouldn't really have been surprised that the character had become beloved and ingrained in the experience. This is some people's main sci-fi experience - when I was a kid mine was Star Wars, but for some people it was Halo."
343 Industries intends to delve a little deeper into Master Chief's personality with Halo 4, though don't expect any long conversations. "He's a man of few words, and I think it's important to stick to that premise for an FPS. Some people call them 'ego shooters', but for an FPS I think if your character is yabbering all the time then you're going to get annoyed with it.
"If it's propelling the story forward and helping you understand your place in the universe, then brevity is important and I think the Chief handles that well.
"The thing is, people are interested in him - it's time to start exploring him as a character a little more, but you can do that with actions rather than words. It's all about how he behaves, and the choices that he makes."
O'Connor once told OXM that "there's a lot of stuff Call of Duty does beautifully that we should do better". 343 Industries isn't afraid to tamper with Halo lore to make the best game possible. The studio has just got shot of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, a well-received Halo 1 reboot.