With each new entry in the Halo franchise, fans of the sci-fi first-person shooter series expect two things: A cinematic solo experience to shame anything George Lucas has committed to celluloid (at least in the last three decades), and a robust suite of online multi-player modes that continue the fragging fun long after the campaign’s credits have rolled.
Halo 4 (which hits stores in the U.S. on Nov. 6) is the first game in five years to put players behind the gold visor of Covenant-crushing space marine Master Chief. But it’s also taking something of a risk with a brand new third option for prospective players: Spartan Ops, a play-extending experiment of sorts that mixes serialized storytelling with bite-sized playable missions. EW has the exclusive trailer of the experience, along with an interview with one of the creative minds behind the effort. Check them out below:
“Spartan Ops is a cooperative episodic adventure that allows players to continue the story of Halo 4,” creative director Josh Holmes tells EW. “Each week there’s a new episode of a CG series following a group of characters aboard this massive star ship called the UNSC Infinity. Along with each new episode, there’s five new missions, about 15 minutes each…these missions tie directly to the episode and then the actions taken within those missions set up the following week’s episode.”
Spartan Ops, which Holmes refers to as a “second campaign for Halo 4,” features gameplay that will feel familiar to anyone who’s rearranged an evil-doing extraterrestrial’s ribcage with an Energy Sword, but its narrative structure represents a fresh turn for the franchise. “We’re kind of merging the delivery mechanism of serialized TV with a game, hoping to create an experience that gives players a reason to come back every week and really get engaged with this group of characters and the story they’re embarking on,” says Holmes. “We’ve tried to create cliffhangers at the end of the episodes so that you’re left wanting to know what happens next.”
The playable portions of the 10-episode series — included in the cost of Halo 4 — support up to four players, who assume the roles of customizable Majestic Squad Spartans. Additionally, any experience and unlockables earned during the 50 missions can be carried over to the competitive arena. It’s yet to be determined if Halo’s faithful following will care to consume their game content as they do their favorite TV shows, but this exclusive trailer should at least get their trigger fingers twitching.