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Bungie: Why Master Chief hardly speaks

Less is more.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Bungie deliberately made Halo star Master Chief a man of few words so players would feel more like him.

"We left-out details to increase immersion; the less players knew about the Chief, we believed, the more they would feel like the Chief," explained Bungie lead writer Joseph Staten to Industry Gamers.

"When it came to the Halo novels and other products of the expanded universe, immersion wasn't as important as deepening understanding.

"Immersion was the main goal here. Also keeping the Chief a man of few words reinforced what we wanted to be a tough-as-nails soldierly persona."

Master Chief is almost as famous for his vacuous personality as he is for saving the universe. Throughout the hugely popular first-person series, he's never taken his helmet off to reveal what he looks like.

And yet the Chief bears incredible responsibility – alone. He is, after all, the only man capable of saving the earth from total destruction. This, again, was a deliberate design decision on Bungie's part.

"In the first Halo game we absolutely designed experiences around themes of loneliness and abandonment," Staten revealed. "Halo didn't dwell on the loss of the other Spartans (the closest we came was some of the 'combat dialog' from friendly A.I. For example, 'Look, a Spartan! I thought they all died on Reach...'), but we did absolutely want players sometimes to feel the weight of the Chief's heavy responsibilities.

"Take, for example, the mission where the Chief leaves Cortana to search for his commanding officer, Captain Keyes, only to end up witnessing the recorded deaths of other soldiers who might have lived had the Chief been with them."

2010's Halo: Reach was the last Bungie game, but 2007's Halo 3 was the Chief's last videogame outing. Now, with Microsoft's 343 Industries at the helm, what will become of him?

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