Eurogamer: Isn't there a risk with the switch to a less powerful character? I've been playing The Force Unleashed, where in the first level you play as Darth Vader and you cane all these Wookiees and it's wicked. Then in the second level you're this rubbish apprentice. So you've had all these brilliant powers, then they're taken away...
Brian Jarrard: In this case it will be two years before you've had those powers taken away from you, so that might sting a little less...
Eurogamer: People might have forgotten then?
Brian Jarrard: Maybe. I'd say in some ways it is a risk we've strayed from the Master Chief formula, but that's what excited us about diving into this project. Doing more of the same wasn't what we wanted to do. Typical expansion packs just pick up where the game left off, but we decided to take a bit of a leap.
I do know that mainstream, from a marketing sense, some people are a little nervous about how they're going to pitch this new, unknown character. But I'm pretty confident the Halo fans are going to dig it.
Eurogamer: By "some people", do you mean "Microsoft"?
Brian Jarrard: Perhaps. The people whose job is to sell as many copies as possible. But I do think there's going to be a lot to like about it.
Eurogamer: One criticism levelled at Halo 3 was that it didn't move the series on significantly, that it was an evolution rather than a revolution. Would you say the same is true of this expansion, or have you tried to do something different?
Luke Smith: You have to consider your base, I think, when you want to talk about revolution. Some of the mechanics that were in Halo: Combat Evolved are still every bit as enjoyable now, where these things that would require a revolution, you might need to start from a little lower point.
Brian Jarrard: It's definitely an expansion of Halo 3. But it's also the first time you play as a non-Spartan, and that will bring some new gameplay experience. It has a different mood and tone. But we're not looking to reboot the entire franchise; it's going to feel like a Halo game.
I feel like it's done a lot to move that franchise forward, certainly in the realm of empowering the community with all these ways to create custom content and customise the experience.
Eurogamer: There's sort of a catchphrase on Eurogamer - "Better than Halo." It's kind of because we sort of gave the first game 8 out of 10. Don't punch me, because we gave the last one 10. But we even have t-shirts with "8 out of 10" and "Better than Halo" on them...
Brian Jarrard: Nice.
Luke Smith: Can we get some of those?
Brian Jarrard: I don't know, it's really hard to say. I love what I've been playing so far. I think almost everybody at Bungie would view Halo 3 as the best game of the trilogy. But beyond that, it's highly subjective. Some people like the nuances of Combat Evolved more than Halo 3; we have heated debates internally about the pros and cons.
I think it's going to catch people by surprise. It's going to be a very new and cool Halo experience, and one that people probably aren't expecting right now.
Brian Jarrard is PR and community director and Luke Smith is a writer at Bungie. Halo 3: Recon is out next autumn. Their t-shirts are in the post.