Halo 4: a bold rebirth - but since when has birth been a tidy, complication-free process? 343's co-founder Frank O'Connor has taken to Halo Waypoint to acknowledge a few of the mistakes the developer made with the game, while insisting that "by most objective criteria, it was a resounding success".
"2012 was supposed to be the end of the world," he began. "Instead, it was the beginning of ours. Halo 4, despite being the seventh or eighth game in the Halo series (depending on how you count them), was our first game. That is to say, our first-ever fully fledged title, built from the ground up creatively and technologically.
"So let me save you the trouble of trolling my statement: We have a lot to learn. We made a lot of mistakes. We can do better. And we know this, and we will. But I don't want to spend the first moments of the year thinking about the negatives, because frankly, I am incredibly proud of both the team and the game that team created."
"And for a first effort, it wasn't half bad."
O'Connor reiterated the difficulties of following on from Bungie while building a new development studio from scratch. "The challenge of wrangling that engine, that universe and that community was dizzying, even withering," he said. "Four years ago when our charter began, the challenge of starting the seed of a development team and then creating a sequel to Halo terrified us."
However, he thinks 343 has amply delivered against the odds. "Halo 4 is the best and fastest-selling Halo game in the series. It won critical acclaim. It won awards, from Best Graphics at the VGAs to Game of the Year at the Inside Gaming Awards. We altered the engine. We expanded the universe. We innovated in storytelling, technology, and even marketing.
"It wasn't flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but by most objective criteria, it was a resounding success. So we know we have a lot to do. And we know we have a lot to learn. But we also know that we now have the capacity, the teamwork, the technology and the experience to do much better next time."
He later elaborated: "There are a ton of things we wish we could done better: Features that didn't make it into the final game. Glitches that emerged. Missteps made. DLC fiascos. Communication breakdowns.
"But there were things that went astonishingly well - the creation of a genuinely competitive AAA studio chief among them. A collection of talent and souls that can do something genuinely amazing on this and next-generation hardware. The overhaul of an amazing game engine - but one that really needed to be overhauled - and an amassed education on systems, people, code and audience that will stand us in great stead for the future."
O'Connor calls the rejuvenation and expansion of the Halo community "the most important aspect of our success", describing it as a "demanding, imaginative, engaged, vocal, varied and intelligent swarm of personalities, groups and individuals, each with subtly to radically different interests in this vast and varied universe we're charged with.
"That isn't lip service, nor is it pandering," he went on. "You guys pay for the privilege of playing our game, and you have every right to have a voice in its development."
In the spirit of O'Connor's comments - would you call Halo 4 the best game in the series? And what do you want from Halo 5?