Halo‘s Frank O’Connor Reacts to Criticism of Halo 5

Halo's franchise director also told us what Halo 6 would be about

Halo 5‘s campaign didn’t exactly work for me, this much I’ve written. Not in snobbery. I don’t hate popular done-over-and-over-again things in principle, any more than I hate baseball, chess, or the Tour de France. As Stephen King put it in his National Book Awards acceptance speech, you “don’t get social or academic brownie points for deliberately staying out of touch with your own culture.”

But popular doesn’t entail safe, and Halo 5‘s story, despite what I’m sure comprises an unfathomable amount of developmental work, feels too much like kicking back in the easy chair and putting your feet by the fire. Characters end the game as they began it. Even the twist at the end just feels like a tee-up for Halo 6.

Halo franchise development director Frank O’Connor graciously engaged some of my criticisms after I’d finished the game. Here’s what he told me:

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Community3152d ago
ZaWarudo3153d ago

I liked it but the problem i had with it is that a lot of the campaign story stuff requires knowledge of the Halo lore and tie-in stories.

Paytaa3153d ago

I'm very into the Halo lore so the story was really good in my eyes with the exception of a few things like character development in-game was poor.

I wish they made the campaign more grounded in the sense that someone who's not familiar with the EU could get what's going on. Hopefully they understand this during Halo 6's development.

-Foxtrot3153d ago

It's kind of like

"Have you read the novels and see other forms of transmedia for Halos giant Universe...just so you can understand Halo 5"

"Not really"

"Great well have fun

"...but...I said no"

"Let us know what you think"


Gazondaily3152d ago

Yeah they always do this. For me, a fan of the lore, its great. For everyone else, they just stick a middle finger up for some reason.

Im finding the campaign to actually be a lot of fun but I'm playing it cooperatively.

Roccetarius3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

I really, really hate it when games are compromised, in order to make someone not playing a game in a series understand it. But then again, some people are just there to jump into the latest software released.

Books are something else entirely, because it's easier to put actions into words, compared to actually make the game look like what happens in it.

tldr - don't compromise the continuity of the game for new players.

Oh, and i thought the game was sub-par compared to previous entries, and i still think ODST's campaign hit more home.

FriedGoat3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

The continuity of the game was compromised by the books. Remember when Master Chief was the last spartan?? Oh wait, the books changed it.

I prefer the game to have its own story created by the original people who knew where it was going. Halo 4 and 5 are games for those who are into the lore created by 11 different writers, in my eyes its a mistake as I found the story in 4 confusing an convoluted.

Unspoken3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

Hmm, I assume you have the same feeling when you only watch the 3rd movie in any trilogy.

Like if you only saw Return of the Jedi, Matrix Revolutions, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Dark Knight Rises, The Return of the King...

Or an even a better comparison, you decide to catch the last couple of episodes of a television series or Anime.

I mean, who simply watches the last show of Game of Thrones season 1 and becomes so frustrated when they don't understand what's going on that they swear off the show completely instead of trying to figure out what's going on by watching the rest of the series.

FriedGoat3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

Unspoken, that is a ridiculous analogy, We're talking about two different mediums here.

I played all the games, you know? 1-3, ODST, Reach.
I could not have played anymore halo if I tried, yet I don't know what the hell is going on in 4.

I shouldn't have to read the books. The game is not based on the book, the books are based on the game.

Should I go watch the Hitman movie to get clued up on the story for the new Hitman game? No, because it would be stupid to expect anyone to do that.

Unspoken3152d ago

Why not? Movies that were spawned from books left out vasts amounts of information but hit key elements of the story. The comparison is valid.

I wouldn't have had to play any of the titles you listed to understand what was transpiring in 4. I don't think anyone expects to know the entirety of any universe by playing a single game, and the latest installment at that. Halo 4 even had a short series to tie in events that were not directly impacting Chief called Spartan Ops, which helped explain and transition into Halo 5.

Halo has always tied all of their content, from live action trailers and shows to CGI shorts. This is one of the reasons it was so attractive and enthralling to me. You wouldn't even have to touch the books but simply watch cutscenes and additional "televised" content to be able to piece it together. Having MCC remastered for Xbox One gave players an opportunity to fill in their gaps with knowledge and lore before embarking on Halo 5. Included with the game was Nightfall, a series that could be watched directly on the console, and The Fall of Reach came with Halo 5.

Regardless, all of it could be watched on YouTube.

If the complaint was specifically about character development and interactions or relatability, the genre, or game type, then I totally understand. It just might not be their cup of tea. But to claim it wasn't cohesive because they felt they shouldn't have to read the books to know what was going on, when so much content is easily accessible and presented to the player, is asinine.

UnHoly_One3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

I have no problem with spin off books or anything like that, but when a franchise starts as a game, it needs to stand on it's own and not require any knowledge outside of the games.

Gears did the same thing and it kind of ruined it for me. Gears 1, fine. Gears 2, fine. Then Gears 3 came along and there were characters I've never seen before being treated as if we know their entire back story.

That is unforgivable, in my opinion.

kaizokuspy3152d ago

This is exactly why halo 5 guardians does not deserve an 8 9 or 10. It should sit at a 75. Not only does it alienate new gamers coming to halo, it requires those who actually played halo from the beginning (us and many others) to read the books. Here's the problem: If reading was my preferred medium of entertainment I wouldn't be playing games for the story now would I? So I should go to the bookstore, buy halo boos, read them, all just so halo 4 and halo 5 can make sense? Get real.... one of the most iconic things in the series is that Chief IS the last spartan. You took that away from him in halo 5. He is no longer special and 343 ruined an iconic character from my childhood.

No longer the last spartan, painting him as a traitor....Doesn't make any sense. Even in the books. Doesn't make sense as chief through gameplay and story, always honored chain of command. Lol not anymore and we can all agree that hey, he should go after cortana...but here's the thing. Halo 4 and 5 praises this one is for you:

Cortanas situation could have been written many different ways to be enticing and exciting without painting the chief as a traitor. The halo 5 story fell flat and am extremely disappointed. Halo is not evolving anymore. It's dwvolving into being a multiplayer only driven game like cod and we just sit here accepting 9/10 as if it were gospel. Maybe if and when we review games, we have the balls to give it a real review and score like the lower scores reflect the game as a whole. Not just the multiplayer parts. Idk, I'm just salty. Multiplayer in halo 5 is great, but I started halo 1 when it was single player, when campaign mattered, when multiplayer was just a feature and not expected to go anywhere. That story was great, and in halo 4, and more so now in 5, the story makes no god damn sense without dlc in the form of God damn books. Shame on all you gamers who are fools not to see that.

Allsystemgamer3152d ago


No you're are so wrong.

Not watching a previous movie is not the same thing as forcing someone to read a book released 5 years ago they had no clue even existed to get information on VITAL characters in the story.

Movies without any vital information regarding characters always fail. That and most movies do a great job at being stand alone. You can watch any one of the star wars movies and tell the characters apart because they make references and explain them in subtle but effective ways.

In halo 4 and 5 they DONT explain anything and just expect you to kno what the hell is going on. That's not good story telling at all.

For example. No one is going to know who blue team is or why chief works with them. If they've only played the games they will think it's out of character because hey just appear and boom he has a team. How is the gamer supposed to care unless they know who they are? No introduction. "Same characters need no introduction" because you can tell who they are right away. Like Darth Vader. Instant villain. Blue team, unless you know who they are is just another 3 Spartans.

You absolutely can not make something assuming people know the other media forms. I study film in school and work in the industry. The first thing they teach you about story telling is characterization and progression, halo 5 of which has none. We learn Transmedia and they start every single class with "Transmedia is to enhance". It's there to make people want to go see or play the game more, not be used as vital information if you didn't read this tiny little paragraph amongst a sea of words.

Even if you read Halo: The Fall of Reach, it's so well done it doesn't need to be a halo novel. It give back story to who the chief is as a character and how he go to halo. The first game you already know you're important, the last Spartan, the last hope for humanity and it's Chiefs adventure.

So without reading the books or anything. Explain to me. Who is blue team?

Magnes3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

Spoiler at the end of my comment btw:

My problem with the story is here we have a chance to finally play as Blue team together in all its glory. Then 343 says nope here is another team you may or may not care about if you do good if not tuff we are about to cram them down your throat for 80% of the game. Oh I almost forgot remember the fond memories you had of Chief and Cortana well forget it she is now the Galactic villain "Have fun"!!

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boodi3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

the campaign story is somewhat high minded , but i can't see it's bad as someone wanted to pict it .. foremost can be used to expand nicely the halo universe in the next installments ..

i still prefer the original halo story grip , but i acually liked the new cut and i see that it can drive new horizons ; it's not bad at all

the game is a blast , the only thing I miss is more linkage between cutscenes and gameplay , i.e. makin possible to play the beginning launch scene - from launch - or part of other later scenes would have been amazing if not mind blowing

but i speak on top of a 9/10 game , that imo is an absolutely deserved score for a very well built game and game package ...

"We’ve got people who love playing campaign but skip all the cinematics. We’ve got people who only play multiplayer. We have so many constituents to appease, that it’s always a careful balance and a fine line to walk."

it's super hard to innovate and deliver on all fronts .
they did an outstanding and remarkable job

otherZinc3152d ago

@Frank O'Connor,

Fantastic Game, best in the series!

Played on Heroic Mode, absolutely marvelous gameplay!

The ending was great. Halo 6 is my most anticipated title!

In a few hours, I'm playing it over on Legendary. This weekend, I'll Campaign Co-op with my 13 year old daughter on Heroic Difficulty.

Thanks for a fantastic game, bring on:
Halo Wars 2!

Why o why3152d ago

Seems halo can do no wrong in your eyes but I just came here to +1 ya on gaming with your daughter. Quality parenting

PistolsAtDawn3152d ago

That does seem to be the unifying factor between loving it, and just thinking it's ok/not liking it. If you have kept in touch with the Halo universe outside JUST the games, chances are that you love Halo 5's campaign ...if not, chances are that you're missing some things that others are excited about.

This is why so far based on the reviews I've read, this is the only real thing I can see as a "legit" criticism of the game... the rest just seems nit-picky to me. For some reason this game also tends to get hit for things that other games get a pass on (like being an "annual" game....I've NEVER seen a game take a hit on a review for being an "annual" game before...even when it ACTUALLY is). It's almost like some reviews are just looking for something to hit it on.....thankfully most reviews are pretty fair and give it a great score.

dmeador3152d ago

Unfortunately I've read about 8 Halo books including forerunner trilogy, and I give the story a 6/10. There is just so little to it, and you feel like there is no reason to complete each mission. I read the reviews and felt the same way, so hoped I would really like it because of that, but until the last 2-3 missions, things were very bland.

Locke was a very poor choice, and without spoilers, they could have made characters motivation (and therefore the players) MUCH stronger

kenwonobi3152d ago

Halo is supposed to have a straight up aliens attack. Master chief kills them story. It shouldn't be so difficult to figure it out. The fact that 343 jumbled up the story is a mess.

Benchm4rk3151d ago

And yet if 343 did that every game people would complain that it is the same thing over and over. At least they are trying to innovate the game a bit.

81BX3152d ago

I dont understand how that is a problem? Who in the expects to jump into halo 5 without any prior knowledge and understand what is happening? I certainly dont go to the movies and watch the second part of something and expect to be spoon fed the information from the 1st one. Im with you on liking the story. Im playing through again with my friends but they skip past the cut scenes and ask me 100 questions.... lol what are friends for, right?

3-4-53152d ago

Don't care about the campaign...never played Halo for that.

To me...for me......Team Slayer multiplayer IS Halo and that got this soooooo right.

Most of the people I've seen talk crap about it seem to be of the younger crowd.

I've been playing Halo since CE.....Halo 5 IS Halo...it feels like Halo, shoots like Halo, controls like Halo & sounds like Halo.

Halo 5 IS as Halo as you can get in a Halo game and I just don't understand why people are actively fighting that.

If Halo 3 was just like Halo 2....everyone would have complained.

If Reach was just like Halo 3....everyone would have complained....and so on.

Halo 5 is a GREAT multiplayer game with what appears to be a decent campaign.

* The multiplayer is only going to get better with 18+ FREE maps, + Forge + BTB on the way.

So as good as the multiplayer is, it can only get better.

* If that upsets you, you need to get a life.

ape0073152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

mp so far is just AMAZING, very well designed/balanced, so fun to play, new mechanics added a whole new layer, the halo gameplay + the 60FPS = MAGIC

played 2 campaign levels, very good so far, i liked that they brought back the trademark humorous/witty covenant voice overs, it now truly feels like halo

sites that gave it a 6 or a 7 are literally delusional, you'll find the same reviewer give soma or everyone goes to rapture a 9, LoL

343_Guilty_Spark3152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

I don't have a problem with it because the games deal with a Universe, multiple characters and multiple storylines. Yes you kind of needed to be already invested in the lore and you probably should have played all the previous games. It's not much different than Star Wars. A causal person going to see Star Wars 7 most likely won't know anything. Also for the people complaining about the lack of Story they did include the additional Fall of Reach Animated Series...I mean what else do you want them to do.

Benchm4rk3151d ago

Its ok. The same people that complain about not having a clue what is going on in Halo 4 probably never even bothered to find the terminals and watch videos for them. They explain all you need to know.

escott0133152d ago (Edited 3152d ago )

I think the campaign was pretty good, *however* it should have had MUCH more time playing as Master Chief...not just 3 stinking missions...and the ending was very interesting, but underwhelming in my honest opinion.
Other than that, I really enjoyed it. I was able to play it from start to finish without stopping and I stayed engaged in what was happening, but again, it's really a shame that it ended the way it did. It was kind of interesting, but it was like "That's it?!"

Benchm4rk3151d ago

I feel like this is 343's Halo 2. Dual protagonist storyline, ends on a cliffhanger (albeit not as big as Halo 2's) and having the last mission as Arbiter/Locke. Halo 2 set up Arbiter as a great character and he fought at your side in Halo 3 but Halo 3 was all Chief. Im hoping Halo 6 goes the same way and Locke is relegated to being a side character and we play as Chief the whole time