The creators of the Halo TV series have addressed Cortana’s controversial redesign, explaining that they wanted Master Chief’s AI companion to feel “very tangible” on the show.
Speaking to GamesRadar+ about the reaction to Cortana’s new look in the Halo series, Kiki Wolfkill, a studio head at 343 and Halo’s executive producer, explained that the decision was partly driven by technology, as the team likes to utilize the latest tools to make considered design choices, just like they have done throughout the decades-spanning game series.
“It’s so funny, because we change her design for every game. And a lot of that is driven by technology,” Wolfkill said. “A lot of the design changes as we progress[ed] through the game generations was because we had access to better graphics, technology, more pixels, and more effects. And so it’s always been about adapting Cortana to the environment.
“In this situation, it’s so very different from the games in that she has to feel real,” Wolfkill continued. “And by that, I don’t mean feel like a real human. She has to feel like a real AI, a real hologram, and be a character that real people are acting against… That was really the impetus in designing her – how do we make her feel very tangible in this Halo world?”
Jen Taylor, the voice of Cortana in the mainline Halo games, reprises her role as the “smart” AI for the upcoming series, having voiced the beloved character in Halo: Combat Evolved and its sequels, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians, plus a brief appearance in Halo: Reach. Taylor says she’s “curious” to see how the new take on her character plays out.
“I understand why people are protective of that [original design]. I am curious to see how it’s received. I’m interested in seeing something different and seeing something new… I’m also interested to see what she looks like in this new version,” Taylor said, adding that the AI has “different goals than the Cortana that we have known in the past 20 years.”
Halo TV Series: The Cast of the Live-Action Adaptation
Dramatizing an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant, the Halo TV series weaves deeply-drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future. Paramount is clearly pleased with that vision, as the show has been renewed for a second season ahead of its Paramount+ premiere on March 24.
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.