SAN DIEGO – Microsoft and 343 Industries took over Comic-Con 2012 with Halo 4, unveiling a new Forward Unto Dawn live action series with Hollywood stars and giving gamers a chance to play the game’s multiplayer. Kiki Wolfkill, executive producer on Halo 4 at 343 Industries, was on hand to get feedback from fans. She talks about the much-anticipated shooter in this Prima exclusive interview.

What were your goals heading into Halo 4?

We definitely wanted to be ambitious with what we were doing with Halo, but we also wanted to make sure that we were being really true to the Halo legacy, so it was a really complex balance of how much do we change and how much do we add, and how much do we really just polish.

What do you think it is about this franchise that has made it so popular worldwide over the years?

I think there are a couple things. I think it’s the universe. We’re really fortunate that we have this really rich universe with characters like the Master Chief and Cortana that they can connect to. There are some really human themes in the sci-fi stores that we tell. There’s a really unique and addictive gameplay loop, like the sandbox, which allows you to experience the game differently every time you play…you’ll always have a different encounter. That’s really unique to Halo.

What are the challenges of designing a game that appeals to both the hardcore gamer and the more mainstream fans?

I think that Halo has a really strong core gamer following, which is amazing. Our story helps pull people in. With multiplayer, we’ve always done a good job of having some modes that are really focused on a more hardcore experience. With the way our difficulty levels scales, it helps people come in that maybe aren’t as familiar with first-person shooters. Spartan Ops definitely takes that to another level. Playing with your friends cooperatively is always less intimidating than playing competitively. If you’re a fan of campaign and story and playing at your own pace, Spartan Ops really helps people come into multiplayer from campaign.

What is Spartan Ops all about?

Spartan Ops is our new episodic cooperative adventure. It’s part of Halo Infinity multiplayer. There’s War Games, which is our competitive multiplayer game experience, and there’s Spartan Ops, which is our cooperative episodic experience. Every week we’ll run a full season of Spartan Ops. Every week you’ll get a story episode—and we have an amazing story arc planned out—and you get five missions to play cooperatively. It’s kind of like a TV show that you get to play with your friends.