Disclaimer - I never played God of War so I have no clue how it worked for that game. I do spend a lot of time watching/discussing films, so my response here is more focused on cinematic understanding vs. seeing examples of it in games.
Feel free to skip over this dorky digression into film. Long takes/continuous shots are far more common in cinema than true single shots. Most recent example of a single shot (first one in a long time) was 1917 (it had a few minor "cheats" but were not easy to detect). Some popular, contemporary directors that use long takes/continuous shots include the likes of PT Anderson, Martin Scorcese and Quentin Tarantino. Scorcese is known for his famous "Copa Shot" where Henry (Ray Liotta) leads Karen (Lorraine Bracco) into the Copacabana nightclub through the back entrance. It's one continuous shot that follows them from behind. Scene has been studied extensively because it works so well, not because of the challenges involved with pulling off a shot like that. What the scene aims to accomplish could have easily been shortened by just showing Henry greet the door man and slipping him some cash as he's escorted to his table. You get the same jist - the guy practically owns the place whenever he stops by. Scorcese takes this to a whole new level though with the Copa shot. From the way they enter the club (Henry is subject to no rules; not an ordinary guy) to the treatment he gets as the staff literally pulls out a fresh table from the back and sets it up in prime positioning (they're essentially parting seas to give him the best service on the spot). PT Anderson was clearly heavily inspired by the "Copa Shot" when he made Boogie Nights. The opening scene follows Luis Guzman's character around the club as he shmoozes with all his regular guests, William H. Macy's final moments at the NYE party, and the final long take of the film that follows Burt Reynold's around his house (a clear "back to business" call back to earlier in the story given Mark Wahlberg's return).
I bring up these examples because they show this style does more than simply "immerse" the viewer (or player, in a video game) into the current setting. When done well, these types of techniques enhance films in so many other ways. If we're talking about long takes, good ones tend to be very complementary and cohesive with the broader picture even if they aren't used throughout the film. I for one wasn't the biggest fan of 1917. I certainly admire what they were able to accomplish with regards to the cinematic challenge. That being said, having the movie come off as one single shot didn't really enhance that particular film for me.
Okay, back to HaloUse of a single shot (or even a sequence of long/continuous shots with a few hard-to-detect "cheats") in Halo sounds like an extreme direct response to giving the community more Chief. Most of us were obviously not thrilled (big understatement) about the H5 campaign and felt "cheated" by the lack of time with Chief (the whole marketing campaign vs. actual game story is an entirely different discussion). It's an appropriate response, and I commend them for exploring new approaches to campaign design if this really ends up being the case. That being said, it's a big opportunity to really do something spectacular with the story. If 343 does this, I hope they don't blow it by just blindly using the technique and not taking advantage of the perks that come with it. What do I mean by this? If we're going to be constantly on Chief the whole time, try to find ways for players to think about what that must really be like. Support comes and goes, but a lot of the time, you are all alone on a foreign planet (or ring) with unreliable direct assistance a lot of the time. Find ways to really hammer that in to the player. Probably partly due to nostalgia, but levels like "The Library" in CE did a great job at this (even though you did have 343 and sentinels helping out).
Another thing this method allows you to do is give players a better sense of pacing in the story (not talking about gameplay pacing). Even as a loyal CE-3 fanboy, those games don't necessarily do a great job at communicating the pacing of events occurring. CE feels like you are just going from place to place, mission to mission, without a solid sense of how much time as actually elapsed. Halo Reach did a decent job with this during certain legs of the game (certain strings of missions worked seamlessly back to back, giving you the sense the planet was going to fall apart in a matter of hours or days, not weeks). With a single-shot approach, you can really highlight how crazy Chief's missions really are by heightening things like sense of urgency and the feeling of being in a seemingly endless sprint to get something done. You don't need to resort to lazy tactics like putting time/date stamps on each mission that blatantly hammers in how short of a period elapses over the course of the game. Creating a solid experience (gameplay, dialogue, and cinematic scenes) and cohesive transition from level to level should communicate those things to the player.
*Mentions 1917, Scorcese, Tarantino*
Wow... You truly do enjoy the art of filmmaking! You probably enjoy the art of acting as well?? Daniel Day Lewis, Brando, Joaquin Phoenix, etc? Honestly, reading what you wrote was inspiring for me as an Actor. I still have yet to watch 1917, Godfather, The Pianist, Citizen Kane, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Apocalypse Now, Sophie's Choice, Full Metal Jacket, and countless other classics. I did recently watch There Will Be Blood as well as Joker.
Speaking of The Library, I'm beginning to feel like that stage has gotten more love than hate as time goes on and our understanding increases. As a kid, I "hated" that stage. Now I love it.
What you described about the potential pacing for this game applied perfectly to God of War. It's a big reason why it won GOTY. The thing with GOW is that you were with the characters each step of the way. There were not time jumps at all. They didn't even sleep lol. It was a very moment by moment type of story. It was a gradual journey as you experience the intensity of each scene up to the climax and so on. It provided a sense of consistency and unity in a way.
Another thing I wanted to bring up...
Dan Chosich's way of describing Halo Infinite is very inspiring when you read the blogs on his website. Essentially, it takes ideas from the philosophies behind Manifest Destiny. It's design philosophy is a parallel to humans using stars for guidance centuries ago. The theme is often tied to personal and self discovery as you journey across the great plains in search of something inward. Dan also went on to say that the game allows players to become the explorer
archetype. We already know the game uses themes like hope, wonder, mystery, and exploration. But what I'm saying is: what do these imply in terms of game design (expressiveness) and storytelling??
If you haven't already, you should watch this video! The section I want to point out in particular starts from 33:50 - 36:05. It's a small section that has something very special and magical to it. I can't yet describe it. Every image shown always has something more to it. It's like every frame has a history imbedded within it. The music used was very intuitive. Which leads me to my point. Halo at its core, is a very abstract and intuitive game.
How do you think the single shot ties all of this in?