Halo 4's not out until late 2012 but Microsoft has already seen a key departure from its dev team in creative director Ryan Payton, who's confirmed he has left the company.
The ex-343 Industries man - who joined the Halo 4 team after his acclaimed work as assistant producer on Metal Gear Solid 4 - put his decision down to not being "creatively excited" for the project anymore.
Payton's now started up his own studio, Camouflaj, and is already working on two new titles.
"I had a great run at Microsoft," Payton told Kotaku. "I don't regret one day of it. But after a few years, there came a point where I wasn't creatively excited about the project anymore."
"The Halo I wanted to build was fundamentally different and I don't think I had built enough credibility to see such a crazy endeavor through," he added.
Payton's work on MGS4 included updating the series' often clunky controls, plus balancing the game and story for international audiences.
"It was all a crash course on AAA game development," Payton said of his MGS days. "It was an experience that prepared me for a big budget, high risk project like Halo."
Though his NDA prevents him from talking about his Halo 4 work in depth, Payton confirmed he was very much focused on the story, working with Halo franchise director Frank O'Connor and the creative team to develop the Halo universe.
He also hired MGS4's audio director Sotaro Tojima as Halo 4's audio director. "There's no doubt that his Japanese sensibilities will bring a lot to the new game and I'm confident the game is going to sound epic," he said.