Master Chief is your dad's old phone and other nerdy Halo 5 design details

343 is clearly putting a tonne of work into making Halo 5: Guardians its own, taking Bungie's fine foundations and extending the story and the game itself into new areas. We got a taste of how deep that work goes when the studio revealed that not only would all 8 of the campaign's characters play slightly differently, but each one came with a unique, tailor-made HUD. As if to double down on that sheer attention to detail, Halo Waypoint has published a huge community interview entirely about those HUDs with UI artists Eric Will and Jeff Christy.

It turns out, a whole lot of thinking has gone into this stuff, and even a sniff of method design work. A key point of the game's story is that Master Chief leads a team of Spartan II supersoldiers, while Agent Locke heads up a group of more advanced Spartan IVs. "We spent a great deal of time debating the technological differences between the generational gap in SII and SIV armor design," says Will. "In fact we took it so seriously that we deliberately split the creation of the two teams between two different artists to ensure a natural break in styles."

Essentially, Spartan IIs have a slightly more utilitarian interior look - you can see concept art for the Chief himself below - while IVs have slightly more elegantly designed helmets. Will provides a surprisingly evocative tech comparison: "One of the analogies that we used was comparing Osiris Team to an iPhone and Blue Team to an old Motorola Star-Tac flip-phone." I'd say it's akin to Terminator 2 - the new models might be sleeker, but there's something about that chunkier old tech that feels better, you know?

343 knows that this level of thinking is unlikely to be noticed by the majority of players, but that doesn't seem to matter. As Will puts it: "details are obscured by the fact that we’re running DOF [depth of field] on the helmet interiors, but the details are there. We obsessed over everything whether you can see it or not."

Want proof of that obsession? Here's how Will responded to a joke question about whether Spartans could watch ESPN's SportsCenter inside their helmets:

"SportsCenter broadcast broken in to data packets and piped to UNSC-SATCOM, which is then uplinked to UNSC recipient satellite, which is then encrypted (Cole Protocol says better safe than sorry) and transferred to UNSC Superluminal Array which then converts packet in to ‘coded-slipstream-packet’ and then bounced to a UNSC ship large enough to have a superluminal phased array… such as the UNSC INFINITY (provided it is in orbit above recipient Spartans). Infinity then decodes packets and reformats the signal to UNSC-BATTLENET protocol which is then piped down to Spartans planet side. Mjolnir armor receives BATTLENET data and then displays feed using the HUD’s PIP (picture-in-picture) app in the upper-left hand corner of the display. Spartan watches SportsCenter!"

The dude cares.

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Joe Skrebels
Joe first fell in love with games when a copy of The Lion King on SNES became his stepfather in 1994. When the cartridge left his mother in 2001, he turned to his priest - a limited edition crystal Xbox - for guidance. And now he's here.