We recently saw the official announcement of Battlefield V, and among the details we discovered was an intriguing announcement regarding its single player. In lieu of a typical story campaign focused on one character, as has been the case with most earlier entries, the game will continue with Battlefield 1’s War Stories approach. The Stories switched perspective between multiple characters that offered different looks at the Great War from soldiers of different nationalities, from a pair of brothers who enlisted days after their birthday to a former chauffeur turned tank driver.
If there were any other franchise that would benefit from a similar format for its single player, it would certainly be Halo. The series has toed the line with this for over a decade; when Bungie had the keys to the kingdom, Halo 2 had players swap between the Master Chief and Covenant Exile the Arbiter, and Halo 3: ODST used playable flashbacks through the perspective of a group of soldiers.
Halo 4, 343’s first game, had a cooperative Spartan Ops mode that released new episodes on a weekly basis that told stories of the universe’s fourth generation of Spartan super soldiers. More recently, Halo 5 spent a majority of its time through the eyes of a new group of Spartans entirely dedicated to hunting down Master Chief. Though all of the aforementioned games were flawed in their own ways in how they told their stories, they did succeed in offering up different viewpoints that were needed, as Chief himself was really lacking a perspective beyond doing heroic deeds just because it was his job.
If there were any other franchise that would benefit from similar storytelling, it would be Halo.
Unfortunately, Halo 5’s multiple perspectives is where fans seemed to have drawn the line completely; they didn’t take to Spartan Locke and his Osiris team, and it seems likely that Halo 6 and future main games will have Chief and only Chief as the Spartan players take control of. It’s a shame that appears to be the case, but War Stories is something 343 and other Halo developers should take note of for games set in the expanded universe. In the past, the universe couldn’t really have benefitted from a game where the view shifted — ODST only worked because it was in an isolated situation set during Halo 2 But the fallout of the Human-Covenant War and the rise of Forerunner technology and tense alliances make the universe’s storytelling more ripe for potential.
Halo 5 ended with Cortana beginning her rampage through the galaxy to enforce peace, her giant mechanical Guardians deployed as a sign of her power and threatening to wipe out anyone that would stand against her. That alone is perfect for spin-offs about refugees of her various attacks or the races that agreed or refused her warning. Some of the most emotionally resonant moments in the Halo universe have been when the series has stepped back and shown a more grounded view of the world, such as the live action trailer for ODST or the animated short about an Arbiter charged with being a heretic.
By giving multiple perspectives of Cortana from those who only know of her through this attack, it does away with the emotional and historical connections that come with viewing her through the eyes of Master Chief or even another Spartan. She’s put the galaxy in a helpless situation, one where seeing the ramifications of her actions and how if affects all races needs to be seen for it to be as effective as 343 wants it to be. The remnants of the Covenant were already divided to begin with, and this warning couldn’t have done the various races any favors. Add in the Spartans, Forerunners, and the possible return of the Flood, there’s plenty that can be done in this universe to show change without having to include the major players.
First person games have grown in complexity and scope beyond being simple shooters over the years, and it’s time for Halo to catch up. 343 has said in the past that it would be possible for a Halo game with no shooting, and War Stories about different characters who aren’t all soldiers would be a good way to show the series can be more while keeping fans only in it for the combat. The series may primarily be about about the Master Chief and his heroism, but there are definitely stories to tell about how his actions may have doomed everyone else.
Justin is a freelance writer in living in Kansas City and eating too many Frostys. You can find him on Twitter @GigawattConduit.