Halo 4 was officially announced on June 4, 2011 at E3 2011. Its development was revealed at the same time as Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Microsoft's UK entertainment director Stephen McGill saw the November 2011 release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary as a way to introduce a new generation of fans to Halo before the release of Halo 4.
Halo 4 is being developed for the Xbox 360 console, although the two subsequent installments in the Reclaimer Trilogy will be developed for next-generation hardware. The game's creative team, which comprises nearly 200 people who have been developing the game since at least 2009, and is led by creative director Josh Holmes. The game will utilize much of the "sandbox" that has been featured across previous Halo games and other media, in addition to introducing new characters, weapons, vehicles, and other elements. The game's overall style is meant to be more evocative of Halo: Combat Evolved than of later installments.
Master Chief's character will also be explored and developed in more depth than in the prior games, and the relationship between John and Cortana will be heavily featured and greatly expanded. The new design of Master Chief's armor has undergone a number of iterations, and it has been confirmed that the design from the announcement trailer is not the final version. Developer Frank O'Connor said that both Master Chief and Cortana will undergo radical changes in appearance for the new game, some of them attributed to better graphics and others to story elements.
The art director for Halo 4 is Kenneth Scott. He has described the visual style of Halo 4 as being more ingrained within the expanded universe fiction, and more mature than ever before. With the game's increased focus on the Forerunners, the artists have invested heavily on the look and feel of Forerunner technology. It has also been stated that there will be more diversity to Forerunner structures, including fully active Forerunner technology as opposed to the mostly inert and abandoned structures as seen in earlier games.
Sotaro Tojima, best known for his work on Konami's Castlevania: Circle of the Moon and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, serves as Halo 4's audio director. The team has performed many live audio recording sessions, several of which occurred in Tasmania, Australia. Some of these recording sessions have taken place in generally inhospitable environments, such as underwater, in fire, and in ice, through the use of specially designed microphones; other recording sessions have utilized "home made" explosives. Tojima intends for the game's audio to be clearly grounded in the Halo universe, though to also have a more realistic quality than in past titles:
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Halo 4 marks the return of John-117, the "Master Chief" - as a playable protagonist for the first time since Halo 3 in 2007. Having been lost in space in the finale of Halo 3, John-117 and Cortana, adrift aboard the wreckage of the UNSC frigate Forward Unto Dawn, find themselves near a mysterious Forerunner planet, which was first seen at the end of Halo 3 once players beat the game on the highest difficulty setting. A key plot point will involve changes to Cortana and how her exposure to Halo and her operation beyond her natural lifespan may have contribute to her becoming "rampant." Developers revealed in fall 2011 that the game will involve a "shield world," a hollow artificial Dyson sphere type megastructure, possibly being set within it.
The story of Halo 4 will be focused less on the Halo series' traditional straightforward first person shooter genre, instead relying more on mystery, exploration and discovery. Developers described the game as being grand in scope and scale. Forerunner elements will be featured extensively in the game's environment. Developers also suggested that the game will reveal how humanity and the UNSC have adapted to the galaxy after the end of their war with the Covenant, particularly how they have co-opted Forerunner technology.
Unlike the original trilogy, the story has been designed to be part of a three-game arc from the beginning. In addition, developer 343 Industries is aiming for a more complete connectivity between all of their future media than before, and the Forerunner Saga novel Halo: Primordium, the post-war novel Halo: Glasslands, and the terminals in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, will "definitely" have "resonant connections" to Halo 4's story. Little information has been released regarding the storyline trilogy, but developers have intended that Halo 5 will be a far darker title before the conflict is resolved in Halo 6.
E3 2011 reveal trailer:
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Halo 4 - First Look:
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