Here’s something that will make you feel old. Halo: Reach, the last game that Halo creator Bungie made before handing the reigns over to 343 Industries, came out eight years ago. To commemorate the milestone, creative director Marcus Lehto–who has since moved on from Bungie–answered fan questions on Twitter about the much-loved game.
There are loads of interesting details on Halo’s history–you should really read the whole thread. Some of the key takeaways for me involve what Lehto had to say about what Master Chief looks like under his helmet and how the Halo series is now in a “no-win” scenario. Lehto worked at Bungie at the start of the Halo series; he co-created the entire Halo universe.
Regarding what Master Chief looks like under his helmet, Lehto said he looks “heroic but also kinda brutal,” noting that he is bald and has scars covering his face.
“We had a very early sketch of John 117 that had him bald from years of wearing a helmet and scars over most of his exposed skin,” Lehto said. “He was heroic but also kinda brutal at the same time.”
As you might have guessed, Bungie does not plan to share this sketch publicly. It is currently “locked away very deep in the Bungie vaults.”
Beating Halo 4 on Legendary gets you a special cutscene that reveals a portion of Master Chief’s face–and he does indeed look scarred and harsh. Whether or not 343 ever fully reveals Master Chief’s face in future games or other entertainment remains to be seen.
Lehto also used the Twitter Q&A to talk about the challenges of working on sequels. Responding to a fan who remarked that the Halo franchise has grown stagnant for its recent instalments, Lehto said appealing to long-time fans while attracting new ones is always going to come with problems; it’s a “no-win situation,” Lehto said.
“In a franchise like Halo, there’s no easy path through later iterations, where some want the core game and some want something entirely new. It’s a no win situation,” he said.
The same Twitter fan pointed out that it’s sad to see the Halo franchise growing stale in the eyes of some when the first game billed itself as “Combat Evolved.” Lehto pointed out that it was in fact Microsoft that came up with that subtitle; Bungie apparently didn’t like it.
“To be fair, the term ‘Comabt Evolved’ came from the M$ marketing team. We bristled at it,” Lehto said.
Here are some other takeaways from Lehto’s Twitter Q&A:
- Bungie’s version of Halo 4 would have gone in a “very different” direction.
- Lehto believes the Halo franchise is set to evolve and grow substantially with a “reimagined” new game, which is potentially a reference to Halo: Infinite.
- Bungie experimented with water-based combat in older games, but ended up cutting it.
Lehto is now working at a small, independent studio called V1 Interactive that is currently working on an unannounced game.