343i's Art & James Gunn

I know some people are not huge fans of the use of what they see as more and more color by 343i in their art direction (I see a lot of too plasticy and cartoony), but I was watching some interviews with James Gunn and his discussion of making Guardians of the Galaxy. He said something along the lines of wanting to “bring color and grandeur back to sci-fi.” That too much sci-fi (and I think this is definitely true in video games) has become too-gritty and full of drabs and shades of brown, not fun and full of wonder enough. He mentioned the prison from the 1st movie as a way to have gritty but still include color and grandeur.

This made me think about one of the reasons I always liked Halo was it did look so different and so bright and colorful when not much else did. Also, camo may not be the best thing to wear when you are at an alien planet or on a spaceship - active camo kind of replaces the need for it. I still tend to use silvers and gunmetals with maybe a colorful accent for armor, and I prefer to use the default weapon skins. I do not laugh or worry about people who want to deck out their Spartan or weapons in whatever they want anymore - it makes me think of fighter pilots or spec ops customization - and that kind of fits with the Spartan IV attitudes or characterization (or just all the colors in peoples clothes and sports uniforms). I think the Spartan II’s because of their upbringing may be less likely to do such customization.

Anyway, that is just one instance of the art direction and lore connection I was thinking of after watching the making of Guardians, but overall I appreciate that the game still looks “Halo,” and like all Halo it is full of color, epicness, grandeur, and wonder.

I’m gonna be that guy and say I don’t really love Guardians of the Galaxy or James Gunn’s color schemes. I also don’t quite know what he’s talking about - the two biggest sci-fi movie franchises right now (Star Trek and Star Wars) have a very vibrant color palette. Just because James Gunn likes to make his characters skin colors be 50 shades of pink doesn’t make him a revolutionary.

I think just the worst part about 343’s art style is the disconnect between the old and the new. I understand that some of that is intentional, especially in relation to Forerunner architecture, but there’s just a canyon of difference between Bungie and 343’s art design. Especially in the arena of soldier design, where we’ve regressed from super soldier to power ranger.

I understand, and it is a matter of taste. I agree with Star Trek and I would say Star Wars seems to use mainly neutrals and earth tones, but I do get some of the patch plastic arguments I wouldn’t mind if the armor had more wear and tear - kind of like Reach

I think the greatest strength in Halo’s older art-styles was the dichotomy between the gritty, militaristic feel of the UNSC (originally inspired by the Colonial Marines in Aliens), and the bright, vibrant and recognizable style of the Covenant. Then you bring in the ancient, derelict metals and muted colors of the Forerunners and the disgusting greens and oranges of the Flood, and you have a varied and distinct art-style that people really latched on-to.

I know where James Gunn is coming from in a sense, (or I would had it been 2 or 3 years ago, the 80s synthwave aesthetic seems to be coming back in full force these days, not that I’m complaining - I actually quite like it) but referring this to Halo specifically, as I said before, the greatest strength in Halo was the mix of the two; and I don’t feel the newer games (Halo 4 specifically) captured this.
I actually feel that the newer Covenant designs are too muted with regards to color, and this makes them barely distinguishable. Then you have the sterile white Marines with padding instead of armor, and the Prometheans going against all things Forerunner with bright neon oranges and blues, (I know they’re technically not, they’re digitized humans, lore, lore, lore, different species, nano-bots, lore) and, to me, it is different enough to warrant criticism.
After all, Halo CE, 2, 3/ODST, Reach/CEA and H2A/HW2 were all positively received art-styles and they were all unique to one another.

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> I think the greatest strength in Halo’s older art-styles was the dichotomy between the gritty, militaristic feel of the UNSC (originally inspired by the Colonial Marines in Aliens), and the bright, vibrant and recognizable style of the Covenant. Then you bring in the ancient, derelict metals and muted colors of the Forerunners and the disgusting greens and oranges of the Flood, and you have a varied and distinct art-style that people really latched on-to.
>
> I know where James Gunn is coming from in a sense, (or I would had it been 2 or 3 years ago, the 80s synthwave aesthetic seems to be coming back in full force these days, not that I’m complaining - I actually quite like it) but referring this to Halo specifically, as I said before, the greatest strength in Halo was the mix of the two; and I don’t feel the newer games (Halo 4 specifically) captured this.
> I actually feel that the newer Covenant designs are too muted with regards to color, and this makes them barely distinguishable. Then you have the sterile white Marines with padding instead of armor, and the Prometheans going against all things Forerunner with bright neon oranges and blues, (I know they’re technically not, they’re digitized humans, lore, lore, lore, different species, nano-bots, lore) and, to me, it is different enough to warrant criticism.
> After all, Halo CE, 2, 3/ODST, Reach/CEA and H2A/HW2 were all positively received art-styles and they were all unique to one another.

I agree with a lot of what you said here, haha yeah this was for the original Guardians so now it seems with Thor Ragnarok, et al. that style is showing up more and more. And I agree that a lot of the different games art look a lot different from each other. One of my favorite things about HW2 was the art direction they took so I would like to see the Banished show up in some FPSes

I don’t totally disagree with 343i’s art style, but it really did create a disconnect between the old and new style of the game itself. Halo did have color, but the dark gritty feel is gone. I always thought that was what made halo the way it was the dark gritty atmosphere of certain levels made the story just that much better. Like when the flood was first introduced there was certain balance between the color and dark setting to let the player know “Hey I think something weird is going on here, maybe I should proceed with caution”. Now that feeling is kind of gone.