Developers come and go, but Halo's probably here for the long haul, and fresh series developer 343 Industries is teasing what the next iteration of this far-flung sci-fi shooter might look like in a new trailer packed with animated color sketches.

343 Industries was tight-lipped about story specifics at PAX Prime this weekend, preferring instead to show this. Fans with greater knowledge of the series canon (or just better memories) may be able to puzzle some of the details out. I'm seeing a capital ship in trouble, the inevitable ejection and deployment of Master Chief to the surface of another wild and wooly planet, planetoid, or perhaps the insides of that creepy monster V'ger-looking thing in the original trailer. Jungle stuff, check. Frozen stuff, check. Junk floating in space, check. Funky Yes-album-cover alien architectonics, check. Vaguely Sedona-like red rock formations, ch—well okay, that's kind of new. Also: Are those porpoises leaping behind the hovering ship-things?

What we know so far: Halo 4 will be the first game in a new "Reclaimer" trilogy. Does "Reclaimer," from "reclaim," meaning to "get back," "recover," or "regain," sounds a little like Mass Effect's Reapers? The alien things waiting out beyond the stars somewhere to eat everything and everyone? Sure, that's basically just Lovecraft (on through sci-fi history to the Borg), but—maybe it's just me—I'm really hoping this turns out to be more than just another aliens-want-to-eat-the-universe riff.

In any case, and speaking to why what I just said probably won't be the case, 343 Industries clearly has anxiety-of-influence on the brain. They're hoping to bring a new vibe to Halo 4's architecture (hard to see in the concept trailer, but perhaps they're still playing this card close).

Also, it sounds like Halo 4's been in the offing for several years, and 343 Industries said upwards of 200 employees are toiling away to make it so. That said, look for it...not this year, but probably sometime holiday 2012.

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