Bungie creative director: Halo ODST features open world

Halo: ODST will be the first title in the series to not feature the much beloved Master Chief

Bungie has been doing a lot of things lately. They split off from Microsoft in 2007, are building a new giant studio to house even more employees, and have two highly anticipated titles headed our way, Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach, which takes the lauded series into completely new directions.

Halo: ODST will be the first title in the series to not feature the much beloved Master Chief, opting instead to showcase the supporting cast of orbital drop shock troopers.

"The kind of story we want to tell - which is a little bit more human story - they seemed like a really great candidate for a hero in the 'Halo' universe," said writer and creative director Joseph Staten to The Seattle Times.

Staten explained the game will feature more drama, with a mysterious story that slowly unravels as you play it, which is a main feature of the titles gameplay structure. Instead of using the tried and true method of trudging along a fairly set path, ODST begins in a dark, nearly empty city that will be an "open world" for players to explore, similar to the GTA model of gameplay. The traditional "Halo" style missions won't be completely abandoned however, as players will be able to head to sites in the city that trigger "flashbacks" which features the classic running and fighting aliens technique. As you play these "flashback" missions, clues to the mystery are revealed.

"We're doing a lot of pretty neat things in terms of mixing it up, introducing some non-linearity, some free exploration," Staten said. "This is also a mystery story so there's a lot more clue-finding and mystery-solving than you would normally find in a game of this kind - nothing that strays too far from the fun 'Halo' experience, but we definitely decided to take a little bit of risk and have some fun with this one."

Along with the new "open world" environment, Bungie has also developed a new multiplayer option entitled Firefight. Firefight is intended for quick campaigns with a small group of friends to play on the same console or online. Sessions featuring a group of four cooperatively may last about 30 minutes. As Staten put it, Firefight is:

"aimed at guys like me who have families and have lives outside of playing games and work. We love to play games, but we want them to be compatible with our real lives. For Bungie, at least, Firefight is really a nice first step down that path."

As for the upcoming Project Natal, looks like Bungie has taken an early look at it, and are impressed enough to possibly use it for 2010's Halo: Reach.

"I absolutely think 'Reach' could be enabled with it," he said.

We'll have to wait an see if Reach incorporates the Natal system, but all the same, a controller-less Halo could lead to some interesting results. Not much is known about Reach at this time, but we'll keep you posted as things develop.

Halo: ODST is set for release later this year, and Halo: Reach will find its way to consoles in the fall of 2010.

For more information on Bungie studios and their upcoming Halo titles, read the original article here at The Seattle Times.

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Sean Mirkovich

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