In recent weeks, it has come to light that Halo 6 will in fact NOT show up at E3 this year. The reasons as to why are not very clear, but the best guess is that they don’t want to repeat Halo 5's mistakes when it came to marketing. The other is that Halo 6 has actually slipped out of the normal 3 year development cycle for mainline titles and will instead launch in 2019 rather than 2018 in order to assure quality and not rush it.
Halo 3 Anniversary, a game I have long asserted exists, will also be a no show this year. After the latest response from 343 Industries that made out of annoyance, I’ve come to accept that it isn’t happening, at least not this year. Not that it would make sense for 2018, but considering the demand there is for it I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out(Note: 343 Industries does not develop the anniversary titles. Those have typically been handled by Saber Interactive. Any development of a Halo 3 Anniversary would not effect Halo 6's development.).
So with neither Halo 6 or Halo 3 Anniversary making an appearance at E3 2017, this raises the question as to what 343 Industries’ “little something” is. Considering Phil Spencer has stated there is no Halo FPS for this year, that kind of rules out a new Halo FPS game releasing by the end of the year. And since we already got Halo Wars 2, it’s up in the air as to what genre another 2017 Halo game would even be. Putting that aside, here are my thoughts on what we might see at E3:
1) Steven Spielberg’s Halo TV Series
Announced a few years ago, Microsoft has been working with Steven Spielberg on a full-fledged Halo TV series. It was described as a Band of Brothers style story, which I am completely ok with. Having said that, the series has been MIA since its announcement. While we have gotten continuous confirmation that development is still ongoing, we have seen nothing from it and considering Microsofts track record with this sort of thing, I have my doubts that it will actually survive to be released.
2) A New Halo Spin-off
The Halo series is no stranger to spin-off titles. The first was Halo 3: ODST, an expansion for Halo 3 that featured a full campaign with new characters, but that connected to both Halo 2 and Halo 3, explaining what happened on Earth, New Mombasa specifically, while the Master Chief was gone. It also introduced the now beloved Firefight mode.
Following in 2010, Bungie released Halo: Reach, a prequel intended to set up the events of the main trilogy. Despite taking place at the same time as the very first Halo novel, The Fall of Reach, the story was mostly different and told the story of Spartan-III Noble Team. As you can imagine, this screwed up the timeline and 343 promptly had to go to work fixing the discrepancies between The Fall of Reach and Halo: Reach after taking over as the franchises stewards.
Separates from the FPS games, Halo also saw the releases of Halo Wars in 2009 prior to ODST’s release. It was a competent RTS game that has now spawned a sequel in response to fan demand. And of course there are the two twin-stick arcade shooters Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike.
So it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for 343 Industries to have a side project of some kind. My hope of course is for another prequel in the same vein as Halo: Reach, specifically one that features Blue Team in their prime. It was no surprise to me that many people who played Halo 5 had no idea who Blue Team were. They’re characters that only people who read the books, watched Halo: Legends, or viewed a few terminals had any knowledge of. Many lore fanatics, myself included, had longed to see Blue Team properly introduced into the games because they’re great characters and Master Chief’s closest friends. So making a prequel that stars them and the Chief before the Battle of Reach would be amazing and serve as a great way to give people who don’t know them a chance to learn about them.
3) Halo 5: Guardians Expansion or Redux
Lets face it, Halo 5: Guardians was a letdown on so many levels when it came to the campaign. The multiplayer was the best since Halo 3 IMO, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was just Halo 4's problem reversed. Instead of bad multiplayer, it had a bad story. Of course, over multiple playthroughs I’ve come to not hate Halo 5's story as much as I did at first, but it’s still not good and it definitely sent the story in a direction that will not be easy to correct. And while I didn’t mind that the Master Chief got less screentime, it still sucked that he only got 3 out of 15 missions.
I just don’t see them completely rewriting Halo 5's story, especially since Halo Wars 2 feeds into Halo 5's ending, but I could see them releasing an expansion that provides more Master Chief time or perhaps provides more missions to the base game to flesh out its story, the missions that were cut from the final game like extra Sanghelios levels featuring the Arbiter.
Put that on top of an enhanced Scorpio/PC version, and I could see it happening as a side project for this year since it technically isn’t a new game. Could also happen next year and just be teased this year.
4) Halo 6 Beta Announcement
If Halo 6 is releasing next year, we’ll get a Beta this December, but it will have to be announced and attached to something else if there is no Halo game this year. This would definitely be a smaller endeavor than a full game, but worth mentioning half a year in advance at the biggest gaming show in the US where millions of people will see it.
What do you think 343's E3 surprise is? Does it match one of my ideas or do you perhaps have another theory? Let me know in the comments below.