Bungie has reaffirmed Halo: Reach as a standalone entry for the series, stating that both spiritually and in terms of content, "Halo: Reach for us is not Halo 4."
"It's not a continuation of the Master Chief story, nor is it the start of a new trilogy. For us, it's a completely standalone game," executive producer Joseph Tung told the latest issue of Edge Magazine.
"We desired to make a standalone title, something that is the culmination of a decade of our efforts building halo titles," creative director Marcus Lehto added.
Of immediate note will be a darker, more gritty world where enemies are scary rather than animated children's toys. Bungie's built the Elite - the main enemy - "from the skeleton up".
Also, characters will fight without helmets or take them off to talk, which has provided Bungie with a chance to use motion-captured acting for the first time. Even weapons are heftier and more brutal, and plasma guns will leave burning residue on armour to reflect their murderous intentions.
Halo: Reach also distances itself from Halo 3 in terms of technology, which has been gutted and rebuilt to achieve more. "We are definitely bending the Xbox as far as it'll bend," added campaign lead Chris Opdahl. There'll be co-op and multiplayer to prolong the experience, just like in other Halo games - but Bungie's also got something else up its sleeve to keep you coming back for more.
"Without giving anything away, there's certainly some cool stuff we're doing in Reach that will encourage people to replay the campaign. There are going to be some big surprises in the campaign..." said a teasing Joseph Tung.
Halo: Reach will be released this autumn exclusively on Xbox 360, and Microsoft's already expecting it to be this year's Modern Warfare 2.