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What the hell is going on with these new Halo 3 armours?

The skeleton king of Halo 3
(Image credit: 343 Industries)

I have a lot of fondness for Halo 3's art style, especially when it comes to multiplayer armour designs. The game manages to instill your faceless space marine with personality using relatively simple shapes and themes, painted in bold bright colours with strong silhouettes. 

I say this only after spotting that the next season of The Master Chief Collection will let you fight as an armoured Skeletor, as revealed in a Halo Waypoint blog post last night.

An armoured skeleton knight, from Halo

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

As art director Horia Dociu explains, Halo has always traded in old martial terms like Spartan, Mjolnir, Valhalla, and so on. It's not that much of a stretch to turn Halo into For Honor, especially considering the base game already had a samurai-inspired outfit with flaming helmets and a functionally-useless katana strapped to the back.

"Halo is all about the mythical warriors of the future, so what better way to reinforce the fantasy than to imbue the armours with the legendary visuals that have echoed for centuries in our own history of legendary warriors?"

And yet, this does grate. I might be a proven stickler for nostalgia, but Dociu does concisely sum up Halo 3's existing aesthetic by way of Master Chief's tank-like design ("green metal armor, a big gun, and even a dang windshield"). It's a look that extends to the slate of all Bungie-designed Halo 3 cosmetics—and is bound to make it jarring when someone rolls up on High Ground looking like they just completed a World of Warcraft raid tier. 

A spread of concept art for new Halo armour

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Bizarre new armour sets aren't the only thing coming to Halo when Season 8 launches sometime soon-ish. This week, 343 is flighting a brand new map for Halo 3 (a remake of Halo 2's Turf), some infectious new changes to ODST Firefight, and a slew of pleasant, smaller changes that include bringing Halo 1 and 3 to the custom game browser and more accessibility options.

They're the kinds of changes I want to see from a nostalgia-driven collection like the MCC. But as well crafted as these new armour designs are, they just aren't Halo. Not for me, at least.

Natalie Clayton

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time—and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and having herself developed critically acclaimed small games like Can Androids Pray, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She's also played for a competitive Splatoon team, and unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.