Squad Based Halo Game Without Master Chief?

The rumor mill is working overtime as this year's scaled-down E3 approaches.

The latest comes from "sources" who are reporting to GameSpot's Rumor Control column that Bungie will announce a new, "grittier" Halo universe game: a squad-based shooter that follows a group of ODSTs and doesn't feature the series' iconic Spartan warrior, the Master Chief.

GameSpot's rumor control columnist is calling this rumor "certainly not bogus". Let's wait and find out.

There are ways in which this is certainly a safe path for Microsoft to take with the property. They are staying mostly within the same genre that Halo fans are familiar with. They'd be giving the Cortana/Master Chief pairing a must-deserved rest, perhaps avoiding both story inconsistencies and franchise fatigue. They'd also be expanding on part of the Haloverse that many fans would like to see more of.

Make it an online shooter with a persistent world, like PlanetSide, and you'd likely have me hooked.