343 Industries, you so sneaky. We've already noticed that the Microsoft division tasked with the future of all things Halo debuted the new look of the sci-fi shooter series' hero at Toy Fair 2012. And the Chief's new duds are quite different. Leaner, meaner and perhaps more aerodynamic.
Since we've gotten a good look at the new armor of the last Spartan, the official Halo site's been updated with the thinking behind the re-design:
In Halo 4, we are interested in doing something the franchise does well on the book side, and that's helping shape the narrative. Halo is a compelling and deep universe, and we want to tell the story of this bio-engineered super-soldier.
One of the Master Chief's most notable physical characteristics is that he's wearing 800 pounds of tank and jet fighter. So we pulled that design into the armor and HUD. When you play Halo 4, it's important you understand that you're more than just a gun on the screen. To give you that feeling, we have represented that weight with player physics, without interrupting crosshair and shooting accuracy.
When we first looked at the Chief's armor, we studied what was done in Reach. We knew he needed to be understood as a nimble yet heavy superhero, and contrast that with Reach armor design that was more on the bulky side. Our goal is to hit that sweet spot where we represent what is fictionally true about the Chief while making sure you feel like you're a super-powerful human being when you're playing him.
Further comments from senior art director Kenneth Scott go a little deeper:
A big focus on the Chief's armor was his physicality and putting the player in those mighty shoes. Getting that weight across in the design had us looking at a lot of contemporary military vehicles, and we pushed detail and form into the armor that implied that history. This is the bleeding edge of military technology.
A Spartan tossing his chest plate should feel like an anvil dropping….
A Spartan sprinting across concrete should be a stealthy whisper….
Putting on your helmet should feel like powering up an F-15E….
These are the sorts of experiences we want to give the players.
The visual re-branding of Master Chief makes sense from a different angle, too. The slimmer Chief silhouette symbolizes the new development studio behind Halo now that Bungie's said goodbye to their armor-plated baby boy. Make sure he eats, 343. We hear he like his Brute burgers done medium well.
The Halo Bulletin: 2.15.12 [Halo Waypoint]