First of all, Forward Unto Dawn is brilliant. Seriously, the production quality, acting, directing, costumes, sets; all of them in the first two episodes is great, but I’m most impressed with the weight 343 seems to be putting into the canonical tie-in for the game’s multiplayer (as I also mentioned in the post below about the Flood in multiplayer.)
“Huh,” you say? “What does Forward Unto Dawn have to do with multiplayer?”
Halo’s multiplayer thus far has been head-scratching from the “Why are Spartans killing other Spartans?” viewpoint, but most people easily dismiss that fact as a simple concession to an accessible experience. At first, I thought the idea of including a “training-ground” ship, the UNSC Infinity, in Halo 4’s story was flimsy at best. Now that I’m seeing the threads being tied together in this short-film (which is, I know, ostensibly for marketing hype), the idea is taking root. Seems to me, if I’m right about the about how the story plays out, that the future commander of the Infinity (Lasky), will be recalling his training days, when he first learned of the Spartans, to institute a training regimen for the new Spartan IV’s.
“Okay, well, that’s a neat little way to cross-pollinate entertainment mediums, but how is this going to affect Halo 5?” you ask again, impatiently.
It’s brilliant to lean so heavily on this story conceit — to really embed in a Halo fan’s mind the sense that even Halo’s multiplayer can have a story. Think about this — What if Halo 5’s Forge mode includes a ‘Mission Constructor?’ Forge keeps on impressing with each iteration, and from recent Gamespot videos demonstrating new item duplication methods, magnet construction, and the three Forge-only environs, it seems as if that will be no different in Halo 4. (Seriously, look at how fast and efficiently these guys build a map and test it out!) Add Spartan Ops to that list, and it only seems natural that 343 is prepping the Halo community to build their own scenarios with enemy placements, A.I. routines (or at least pathing), weapon load-outs, and, of course, level geometry. Perhaps then, they could review and approve the best for distribution in a multiplayer hopper, like community-favorite maps in Reach.
I realize a “mission/scenario builder” is nothing new (I enjoyed Infamous 2’s editor and content recently), but think of it as a grander-scale Firefight mode, with larger levels and more control over the enemies and their behaviors. Maybe at that point, the great minds at 343 swoop in with their toolset and add neat story bits through dialoge (a relatively cheap thing to produce, I imagine.) Now they have a natural, ever-lasting, trade-in deterrent as well as free-labor doing the bulk of the work on DLC-quality material. BOOM.
And 343, if this isn’t your plan, I’m currently looking for work. Lemme know.
P.S. Did everyone else catch Frank O’Connor about five minutes into this episode!?