It’s fair to say the Halo TV series suffered through some growing pains upon its US release. From consternation over Cortana’s look to Master Chief taking off his helmet, the early discourse was dominated by controversy over a handful of creative decisions – instead of what the show did right.
Now, on the eve of the video game adaptation’s UK streaming debut on Paramount Plus, 343 Industries and Halo series producer Kiki Wolfkill says the creative team is “looking at all the feedback, good and bad” ahead of production starting up on the second season.
“We’re still getting feedback. It’s interesting to me to see characters that are resonating or not,” Wolfkill tells GamesRadar+ over Zoom.
“I will say, philosophically, [we are] absolutely looking at all of the feedback, good and bad, from each episode. And those are the things that will carry forward as learnings into season two, just like all of the learnings we had on season one [that] we get through the course of production, we’ll carry those forward. We will look at everything.”
Perhaps with an eye to social media backlash and message boards, Wolfkill adds, “We do sort of read everything on season one and we’ll think about how we shape that moving forward.”
The fans, then, will likely have a say in how the Halo series moves forward. It was one decision in pre-production, however, that was expected to caused a considerable amount of debate behind-the-scenes – and it’s not the one you’re thinking of.
“One of the big shifts that we did for the very mainstream – and by that, I mean people who may have just played the games and not read the books – was bringing in the timeline of the Insurrection up against the Covenant War,” Wolfkill says of the two events that, in previous Halo media, were about three decades apart.
“We bring that up so that we could actually get a view into the sort of the sociopolitical dynamics of the inner colonies, the outer colonies, and the UNSC role in that,” she continues. “Also the idea that, for a lot of people in the human colonies, the Covenant War wasn’t always front and center in the way it was for the UNSC and for the people on the frontlines.”
At the time, however, Wolfkill admits the shifting of key events felt like a “breach”: “It’s funny now looking back on it because that feels very appropriate for what we wanted to do with the story,” Wolfkill recalls. “At the time, it felt like such a big change…That’s one of those places where it does help flesh out the world for viewers in a way that’s a little more comprehensive and lets us touch on these themes that we would not have been able to do if we were looking at the Insurrection as something that had happened decades in the past.”
Starting the fight
Halo, though, overcame that particular calendar conundrum – and the debates raging around the series in its early days – to forge forward with a genuinely intriguing sci-fi adventure, one that takes the icons of Master Chief, Cortana, and the Covenant and remixes them in new and interesting ways.
That’s something UK fans will be able to glimpse soon on Paramount Plus. Wolfkill, though, is already looking to the future. The team are “deep in the creative” on a second season (“We hope to start production for sure this year,” Wolfkill teases) and all eyes are on the future of a franchise that is suddenly encompassing more media than ever for the first time.
“From a game perspective, Halo Infinite is a service,” Wolfkill says. “Its name says a lot in terms of how we hope to continue to build on the Infinite platform. Over the next five years from a story perspective… that’s what’s so interesting in having the TV series, which takes us back to earlier Halo chronology. I think we’ll want to continue to tell stories in the universe and talk to the audience in different ways.
“With the television series, we’re hoping to speak to Halo fans, but also speak to the people around them. My friends and family can now talk to me about Halo in a way they never could. That’s incredibly exciting,” Wolfkill beams.
The term ‘Infinite’ might not be constrained to the game side of things either. Wolfkill is keen to build on the franchise’s limitless potential on the silver screen, be it animated, live-action, in the TV series’ ‘Silver Timeline’ (specifically designed for the show to separate it from the main canon), or elsewhere.
“I would love to do more storytelling in the future, whether that’s live action or animated, whether they sit in the Silver Timeline or sit in core canon, that’s all open,” Wolfkill says. “It comes down to what the story ultimately needs. What I love about the universe is that we have a universe where we can tell stories in these different places and create an experience that feels different from the games, not for any reason other than being able to give the fans something different. I’m always looking at ways that we can do that.”
The first three episodes of Halo will be available to stream on Paramount Plus in the UK from June 22. New episodes follow weekly. Here are more of the new TV shows coming your way in 2022.