Now that 343 Industries has assumed control of the Halo franchise, the company has weighed what design decisions are fundamental to the series DNA. Among them is the lack of iron-sights for weapons, which came to represent the idea of change and legacy in general in a recent interview.
"So it's really 'What is appropriate for your game, and what is appropriate for your encounters?'," said 343's Frank O'Connor. "Halo has these slightly longer, more strategic encounters."
Comparing the series to Call of Duty's shorter encounters, O'Connor talked about the feel of Halo compared to other modern first-person shooters. "Halo has a different pace in encounters and if a good player comes up behind me and starts shooting, I've got a small chance of turning that encounter around," he told AusGamers. "I'll probably still get killed because I’m pretty bad, but it does have a different pace and it does have a bigger sandbox and I think that’s what makes Halo Halo.
"I think we could add iron-sights and we could make the encounters shorter and all of that stuff, but the soul of what makes Halo and the soul of what keeps people coming back to it year after year is what’s at its heart and it's that kind of encounter and that kind of sandbox experience and the sci-fi universe that it exists in."
Chad Armstrong added that putting in iron-sights would be checking a "bullet-point," but it would "require a lot of testing and a lot of user-research to figure it out." All the same, Armstrong says it's important to occasionally look at the project with fresh eyes and consider new things.
It's no surprise that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is going to hew close to classic Halo. In its case, that's the entire point. But these comments could serve as insight for Halo 4, and we still have no indication of how far it will stray from the series roots. Former game director Ryan Payton recently said he wanted to build a Halo 4 that was fundamentally different; but we can probably expect the game to be recognizable for long-term fans.