Skip to main content

343 Industries head discusses canceled Halo Mega Bloks game

Mega Bloks Halo | Unreleased by N-Space (2013)
The Halo franchise, with its blood, gore, and generally “mature” subject matter, isn’t exactly the most family-friendly choice for a game night. But it appears that Microsoft considered taking the Spartans and Covenant in that direction with a Halo Mega Bloks video game, and if the leaked footage is anything to go by, we wish they hadn’t canceled it.

PtoPOnline, a YouTube channel devoted to preserving digital prototypes of canceled video games, released a video over the weekend detailing the Halo Mega Bloks project. The game was reportedly in development at n-Space, a now-defunct developer that previously worked on Nintendo DS ports of AAA games, as well as the action-RPG Heroes of Ruin.

The game, which was code-named “Haggar,” was in development for the majority of 2013 and utilized Unreal Engine 3 — and though this timeline suggests that it could have come to the Xbox One, it was only in development for the Xbox 360.

The footage we see looks almost identical to the actual, plastic Halo Mega Bloks sets that are currently available on store shelves. The Spartan that we see has a peg-hole in his back for storing an extra weapon, and his legs flail with a certain playfulness as he runs that brings to mind Lego games much more than the main Halo series. Combat appears to have used a lock-on system for quick action, and there isn’t a drop of blood to be seen. Sound effects, particularly the Grunts’ screams, appear to be directly lifted from previous games so as to keep a shred of authenticity amid all the plastic blocks.

The narrative for the mission seen in the video concerns a Forerunner installation as well as an attacking Covenant force, which implies that it had to have taken place after the events of Halo 4. The game featured nearly every weapon from the aforementioned game, as well, including the assault rifle, “Needler,” fuel rod cannon, and even the famous energy sword.

Vehicles were also planned, and would have been fully customizable, with a range of paint jobs, weapon loadouts, and tools available to swap. A “Besieged” mode, which looked to have been similar to the Horde mode offered in Gears of War, saw players building up brick structures to defend against waves of enemy forces.

Everything on display in “Haggar” looks absolutely fantastic, and we’re certainly crossing our fingers that the game’s leaked existence will make Microsoft reconsider the project on Xbox One. However, a statement from 343 Industries Bonnie Ross, written on the official Halo forums, makes it sound unlikely that it will ever see release.

“‘Haggar’ was something we prototyped with our friends at Mega Bloks that focused on the elements of action, exploration, and user creativity found within the Halo universe,” Ross said. “Haggar had a lot of fun and ideas and innovation behind it, but ultimately didn’t progress beyond the early prototyping levels that are shown in the recent video. This is just one example of several similar projects we have evaluated through the years — a process that we continue exploring on an ongoing basis.”

Never say never, however — in an interview with Fast Company just a few months ago, Ross was quoted as saying that 343 and Microsoft are “getting requests” from fans to develop a Lego Halo game. Due to the company’s licensing agreement with Mega Bloks, it’s likely she was using “Lego” as a generic term, and that if this sort of project were to come to fruition, it could look like n-Space’s prototype.

Updated on 01-11-2017 by Gabe Gurwin: Added comments from Bonnie Ross.

Editors' Recommendations

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
For Microsoft, indies aren’t Game Pass extras. They’re the future of Xbox
A list of indie games on Xbox appears in a grid.

Xbox may be about as corporate a brand as you can find, but it’s been a surprisingly vital platform for independent developers. That dates back to the Xbox Live Arcade days of old, when small developers were given a place to easily publish their projects on consoles. Rather than pulling away from those days, Xbox has only doubled down on its relationship to indies in the years since through initiatives like ID@Xbox and a Developer Acceleration Program designed to help underrepresented developers get their games out.

Over the past few months, the brand has been on a global tour to reach small developers directly and court them to Xbox. That effort would take the company to New York City on November 18, where Xbox leadership would speak to local developers and students about how to submit to their programs (the event would also feature a questionably timed speech from New York City Mayor Eric Adams amid an FBI investigation into his campaign funds). It’s clear that Microsoft is investing a lot of time and money into signing deals with small developers, but why make the effort when it could comfortably thrive just by publishing major titles through acquired publishers like Activision Blizzard and Bethesda?

Read more
Microsoft is making AI game-writing tools for Xbox with Inworld AI
The art for Xbox and Inworld's AI partnership.

Microsoft announced a partnership with Inworld AI to assist in creating game dialogue and narrative tools for its Xbox studios.
The partnership is detailed in a blog post by Xbox's General Manager of Gaming AI, Haiyan Zhang. In the post, Zhang confirms that this technology is meant to work in random with Microsoft's own cloud and AI tech to create both "An AI design copilot that assists and empowers game designers to explore more creative ideas, turning prompts into detailed scripts, dialogue trees, quests and more," and "an AI character runtime engine that can be integrated into the game client, enabling entirely new narratives with dynamically-generated stories, quests, and dialogue for players to experience." 
No specific Xbox-owned studios were named, nor were developers from them commenting as part of this announcement, so it's unknown how much those developers are truly interested in embracing this kind of AI technology. In general, AI is a very controversial topic in creative spaces as artists and writers are worried that it will replace their jobs while creating worse art. AI leadership at Xbox doesn't seem to think that will become an issue, with Zhang explaining that the main purpose of this partnership is to "make it easier for developers to realize their visions, try new things, push the boundaries of gaming today and experiment to improve gameplay, player connection and more."
The blog post also teases that Microsoft will be willing to share these tools with interested third-party studios. Ultimately, it will likely take several years before we truly know what the impact or utility of this partnership is for developers at Xbox Games Studios, ZeniMax Media, and Activision Blizzard.

Read more
The impending Xbox 360 Store closure makes me wary of Game Pass’ future
The Xbox logo.

I'm an avid Xbox Game Pass user, often trying almost every game that comes to the service and closely following the games coming to and leaving the service each month. Following some recent announcements by Microsoft, though, I've been thinking a lot more about something else about Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft's current digital-focused Xbox storefronts and ecosystem: what happens when it all goes away?
Microsoft announced last week that it will shut down the Xbox 360 Store in July 2024. After that day, it will be impossible to buy games, movies, or TV shows digitally on the Xbox 360 store; it's just like what happened with the 3DS and Wii U eShops earlier this year. That announcement also came not long after Microsoft revealed it would replace Xbox Live Gold with Xbox Game Pass Core in September. With these changes, Microsoft is stamping out any support or focus its giving to the Xbox 360's era as a platform. As someone who grew up mostly playing Xbox 360, seeing these things I grew up with go away is saddening. It's also making me think about the day this will eventually happen to Xbox Game Pass or the store on the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

Frankly, I'm not as concerned that Microsoft is going to do it anytime soon. Microsoft has given no indication that it plans on abandoning Xbox Game Pass. It's a really successful subscription service heavily integrated into all of its current platforms, there are titles confirmed to launch day one on it into 2024 and beyond, and Xbox initiatives like Play Anywhere and Smart Delivery ensure that at least some version of most Xbox games are available on other platforms. While I expect it to be the primary part of Microsoft's gaming strategy over the next decade, as someone who mainly played Xbox 360 growing up and is now seeing its storefront and subscription service go away, I'm now thinking about what the end of the Game Pass era will look like.
These recent actions have indicated that Microsoft will eventually be willing to do the same to the storefronts and subscription service we're currently using. Even after the backlash PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox all faced from these announcements, Sony is the only one that has backtracked its plans to close down older digital storefronts, at least temporarily. Xbox Game Pass is the current hotness for Microsoft, but what happens come the day it isn't? A lot more games are digital-only or tied to a subscription this generation, and those are the games most at risk of being lost if a digital storefront shuts down.
What happens to the Xbox console versions of games like Pentiment or Immortality on Xbox once Xbox Game Pass and the current iteration of the Xbox Store are shuttered? Yes, they can be played on PC, but the Xbox console version will be lost forever. And right now, it doesn't seem like Microsoft has any publicly shared plans to permanently preserve those experiences, nor has it done so for all of the Xbox 360 digital games going away. Game preservation is a significant problem facing the game industry, and Microsoft has just made a move showing that it's on the wrong side of that effort. 

Read more