Game Reviews

343 Industries Review: Are 343 Industries Games Any Good?

Photograph of the blog post author, Sam Jones

Sam Jones

16.7.2021

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The Halo series is undoubtedly one of the most respected game franchises to come out of Microsoft. With their success, you might have wondered who makes Halo games for the tech giant. The team behind developing these legendary games has changed hands over the years. Credited for developing the most recent Halo games is 343 Industries. In this review, we will take a look at who they are and the games they have developed.  

343 industries logo

Many of us have ventured through the once Forerunner inhabited planets spread across the Milky Way in the Halo universe. Little game characters are as recognisable as Master Chief is with even a Madame Tussauds wax model of the protagonist in Las Vegas. With this, the significance of the franchise is undeniable. 

The success of the games can be attributed to their development team. However, in 2011, 343 Industries took over the development of the Halo franchise from Bungie. We’ll take a look at what 343 Industries has worked on since that changeover and its impact on the Halo franchise. We’ll cover a few of the key games they have developed and alternative companies that have worked on similar projects. 

Who Are 343 Industries?

343 industries team

Microsoft employed Bungie to develop the original Halo games from 2000. After Bungie announced their split in 2007, Microsoft created 343 Industries to take over the development. This means they are a complete subsidiary of Microsoft if you were wondering who owns 343 Industries. 

Microsoft used inspiration from the Halo series and named the company after the character 343 Guilty Sparks, an AI in the original games. They were given full control over the franchise After releasing several books and comics such as Halo: Blood Line and the Forerunner Trilogy. Now they boast a large team of experienced artists, engineers, designers, inventors, all matter-of-industry experts to form a formidable powerhouse. They credit the diversity of their team as the reason behind part of their success. 

The company also has a huge passion for pushing community values. They not only have provided platforms for fans and creators to connect but have been involved with numerous charities. They understand their position and privilege allows them to create a positive change. This makes 343 Industries all the more a prominent games developing company. 

What Do 343 Industries Do?

343 industries concept art from halo

343 Industries is a subsidiary of Microsoft to develop Halo games. The purpose of 343 Industries was to take over the development of the Halo franchise. They have also worked on a number of non-gameplay Halo-related works.

In 2009, they first worked on a 7 part anime series called Halo Legends. The short films were an unusual choice combining Halo with Japanese anime but became the first project for 343. They developed Halo Waypoint, an application that tracks a player’s progress and achievements in the game. At the time, the first original 343 Industries Halo game title they started working on was Halo 4, kicking off a new Reclaimer Trilogy. 

Despite game development being the focus of the subsidiary, they worked on a considerable number of non-gaming Halo-related work. Several books and comics such as Halo: Blood Line and the Forerunner Trilogy were released by them, expanding the Halo universe further.

What Games Have 343 Industries Made?

Now that we have established who 343 Industries are and what they do, let’s take a look at some of their most successful games.

Halo 4

343 Industries Halo 4

Halo 4 was the first full feature 343 Industries game, released in 2012. This is the fourth main installment and the seventh overall in the series. 

You play this first-shooter game available on the Xbox console as the Master Chief assisted by his AI, Cortana. You battle a number of Prometheans, forerunner mechanical warriors, as well as a new faction that split off from the covenant. 

They wanted to bring some new elements to the game being their first project. Firstly, they wanted to delve more into the Forerunner story which was the inspiration for much new content. They also wanted to develop the human aspects in the game, resulting in the focus and strengthening of Master Chiefs and Cortana’s relationship. 

343 created a sequel to Halo 3 that had significantly better graphics and performance. They wisely retained the original aspects of the game. Also retained was the co-op functionality and multiplayer experience that hooked so many players. The development of this game was what made 343 Industries into what they are now. During the development process, their workforce increased from around 12 to 200! 

For their first release, Halo 4 was a successful edition of the franchise. The game received many positive reviews including an 87/100 Metacritic score. Grossing $300 million also made it the highest-grossing game out of any of the franchises at the time. 343 Industries have attributed the success of the title to the new aspects they introduced. They brought in new concepts whilst maintaining the original feel of the games. 

Halo 5: Guardians 

343 industries Halo guardians

Halo 5 follows Halo 4 in the series but brings us alternative gameplay.

Instead, we get to play two sides of the storyline – the Blue team, and the Fireteam. The Blue team is led by Master Chief as he attempts to locate Cortana. However, his disregard of direct orders in doing this causes him to be hunted down by Spartan Locke, leader of Fireteam Osiris. You play both of these narratives as you swap between the two interlinked plots in this 343 Industries Halo 5. 

This game saw $400 million in sales on the day of the release, smashing the previous record from Halo 4. It is also the best-selling Xbox One game globally despite its opening sales for Japan and England being more than disappointing. The game received general approval for its visual and gameplay, especially for multiplayer maps. The single-player campaign was not as well-received, however, with the actual plot being questioned by many. 

The main plot centres around the balance of good and evil in Cortana. Master Chief will do anything to retrieve the AI but her intentions are very questionable. This version of Master Chief is rougher around the edges than we’ve seen before fundamentally going rogue. 

Like most Halo Games, the Halo 5 343 design and graphics of the Xbox game are highly regarded. The concept artist, Nicolas Bouvier, the concept artist at the time, commented on one reason their graphics are so successful. He mentioned how everything in the game has to have significance. For example, in one location there was originally a marble fountain. Because of its insignificance to the game, a holographic tree replaced it to highlight the attempt to replicate nature in the barren environment. Everything you see in the game has a reason for being there.  

Halo: The Master Chief Collection 

343 industries Halo: the master chief collection

This collection is an umbrella game for several Halo titles from over the years. Released for Xbox One in 2014, it is now also available for Microsoft Windows since 2020. 

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4 are all included in the collection. It is designed to be a “living anthology” of past Halo games, keeping the content updated and available to play on modern software. All the games have visual upgrades with Halo 2 having a complete high definition redesign for audio and cutscenes to celebrate its 10th anniversary. 

They announced this collection during the 2014 Electronic Entertainment expo. Allowing players to relive their past Halo experiences made the release promising. The initial reception was not so positive, however. Despite all the gameplay being identical to the original games, players experienced numerous issues with the multiplayer aspects of the games. After having to release many updates to solve these issues, 343 Industries released an official apology for the disappointing experience. 

The game received very positive reviews nonetheless. Metacritic gave the collection an 85/100 rating with the frame rate and graphics being widely praised. Even with this, the game still gained a negative reputation due to the earlier issues. 

343 Industries also announced they would be adding Halo: Reach to the collection causing several fans to continuously send pizzas to the office as a token of their appreciation. As you can tell, this news was warmly welcomed. 

Halo: Recruit 

343 industries Halo recruit

Halo: Recruit is certainly the most unique game out of all the Halo series. Instead of a game, however, this is more of a short demo.

This game is a mixed reality edition created by the 343 studios in partnership with Endeavor One. With a Windows MR headset, players can experience the Halo universe in VR. Despite the scope for a full feature game, the experience currently consists of a 15-minute introduction to the MR experience. You play as an unnamed United Nations Space Command recruit fighting against Covenant remnant targets. 

This free-to-download demo is a peek into the future of MR and VR gaming. We can’t wait to experience the full version in hopefully the not-so-distant future. This introduction into an MR Halo world grants this demo a mention in this review. However, 343 Industries news on the advancements of the video game is scarce, meaning we might be waiting a while for the full release. 

Halo Infinite 

343 industries Halo Infiniti

Later this year Halo Infiniti is set to be released by 343 Industries. This is the third game in the Reclaimer Saga and the 343 Industries Halo 6 game, making this the sixth main title. 

All we know so far is that the game is supposed to be a lot more ‘human’ as we once again follow Master Chief. His adventure to save humanity this time is supposed to be his greatest yet.

The story is rumoured to be based inside a damaged Halo Ring, Installation 7. In the trailer, we also see the mercenary group, The Banished, that we had seen in earlier games.

Apart from that, we don’t know anything else about the synopsis. We do know, however, that the multiplayer aspects of the game will be made available to play for free. In the development process also, the old lead writer and cinematic director of the original Halo’s joined the team.  

Alternatives To 343 Industries 

Now we’re going to discuss some alternative developers to 343 Industries and discuss their similarities and differences. 

Bungie Inc.

Bungie Inc

We thought we’d take a look at the old Halo developers and see what they’re doing now. 

Bungie became known for their work on the Halo titles. After their split from Microsoft, they became an independent company and signed a 10 year deal with Activision. The first 2 games they developed after their split was none other than Destiny and Destiny 2. Despite being the only two games they have developed since the split, they have both generally been well received.  

Even though the Destiny games have some similarities to Halo, the gameplay itself is very different. The whole game is a huge online-only multiplayer first-person shooter, maybe inspired by Halo’s multiplayer success. Both are also free to play providing a hugely accessible platform for all players. 

SkyBox Labs

SkyBox Labs

This company has worked on many games over the years, although less well known than most Halo games. The reason we have decided to include them is because of their contributions to Halo. SkyBox developed a level editor for Halo: Forge as well as currently aiding 343 for the development of Halo Infinite.

Apart from working on Halo, the company is most notable for developing the Age Of Empire games as well as co-developing the bedrock edition of Minecraft. The majority of their games have been available for Microsoft Windows but have also released a few Xbox titles as well as mobile games

The Coalition

The Coalition

The coalition has a similar story to 343 games. They are another subsidiary of Microsoft also working on a huge game franchise. Brought in to work on the Gears Of War series after many original titles had already been released is a similar situation to 343. 

In 2014 Microsoft announced it had acquired the rights for Gears Of War. Black Tusk Studios was the original name of the company, also similar to 343, gaining inspiration from a character in the Gears Of War universe. 

Since they took over the series they have developed Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gears of War 4, Gears of War 5, and Gears Tactics. The fifth main title in the franchise is one of the best-regarded games in the series showing the success of The Coalition’s takeover. 

Now You Know Everything About 343 Industries

343 industries logo

That was our review of 343 Industries. Taking over the development of an already successful franchise is no easy task. Retaining what elements can be attributed to its popularity whilst also bringing in entirely new concepts and designs to the game is a tricky balance. 343 have done this successfully. Even though some of the older Halo games have received higher ratings, every game since the takeover has been well received and celebrated. We can’t wait to see what this company does next!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and have a better understanding of the work of 343 Industries. If you would like to read more Music Gateway content, our Blackbird Interactive Review, Monolith Soft Review, and our guide on AI In Gaming are a great look into some other game developers and the role of AI in gaming!

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