Halo lore is nonsense.
In the beginning, Halo was fun nonsense, you play a big gruff space marine who wakes up out of cold storage, finding that the ship they’re on crashed onto a giant ring world, that the aliens you fight think is a holy relic made to help them transcend to a higher existence. Your boss thinks its a weapon, so you take the AI lady and plug her into your head. You go fight some aliens, stick plasma grenades to the tires of space jeeps to do sick flips, and find your way into another Proper Noun while your boss hunts for cool alien weapons. Eventually the weapons your boss finds are actually parasites who will consume the whole galaxy, turning everything into t̶e̶d̶i̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶z̶o̶m̶b̶i̶e̶ ̶c̶o̶r̶r̶i̶d̶o̶r̶s̶ one all consuming life form. You are told by the custodian AI that if you activate the halo, you’ll wipe out the flood, and save the day, but before that happens you find out that actually it kills the entire galaxy. So your blue lady blow up your ships drive and drive a space jeep off the end of a ship into transport and save the day.
Whew galaxy saved, lets go home and celebrate. Master chief gets a shiny gold metal when oh no the aliens found earth! Its halo 2! Time for the chief to stop the space aliens by shooting the glowing red spot on a giant bug tank and save the day, just for you to leave earth following the aliens, when you find the Halo 2. Well luckily the Chief already knows all the tricks and hunts down the alien space pope who has a floating chair with guns in it, he repeatably hits B to advance the plot. He then falls into a lake.
Wait, wasn’t there another character in the game? Oh yeah turns out the aliens live in a society, so the big blue alien above didn’t die, and actually he’s now branded as a failure. And the big aliens with a plasma swords are demoted, so the big hairy aliens with grenade launchers that are also swords are now the big bad. You get to play as the outcast, now the Arbiter, and do ineffable side plots about society, but you also get to use the cool beam swords and go invisible. Halo fanboys were mad about this. Eventually the distress signals from space pope one(there’s three) causes the other two to teleport their entire capital to the Halo 2. The Arbiter goes down to get the key to the halo, and you need to take one of the humans alive. That human, the commander of your ship, who was the daughter of the commander from halo 1. You do it, but then the leader of the hairy aliens betrays you and throws you into a lake. Well both main characters are dead, time to reroll- oh whats this, they’re found by the hive-mind of the flood, who makes them team up.
The ultimate meet cute.
Master Chief is moved by the forces of plot to the middle of the covenant capital, where the society is breaking down. With the death of space pope 1, the sword aliens and the hairy aliens are at war, which you tiptoe and/or slaughter your way through to kill the other space popes. You take your increasing sexualized AI lady out of your head and plug her into the city to figure stuff out, a thing that you can do on an alien station. You leave her behind and almost catch up to the space popes, while one gets away on a giant ship that’s also the core of the station. Space pope 2 gets eaten by the flood and you walk away as he’s consumed.
Meanwhile the arbiter goes to stop the lead hairy alien from using the Halo 2. You burst in and find him forcing the Captain Captain’s Daughter to push the kill all life button. Wait why does it only respond to humans, are humans the foreru- any way you’re helped by the Sargent, last seen above hugging the blue alien, and they kill the big hairy alien and hit abort. The Halo 2 then announces following the abort that all the Halos 1-7 are now ready to fire remotely, s̶e̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶g̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶x̶t̶ ̶5̶ ̶H̶a̶l̶o̶s̶ and can be fired from the halo control facility. The camera then flips to the Chief telling his commander that he’s “finishing the fight” and hangs on to the side of the ship. Gamers are mad for 3 years.
Now that we know what could be worse than a second Halo (seven HALOS) master chief falls out of the sky and nose dives into the ground off the alien ship. Luckily his fancy AI hosting suit can also take an impact at terminal velocity. Dang these suits do everything, but that. The aliens are on earth, but just the hairy ones, the sword ones are allies now. And they found an old artifact in Africa, its the Ark that makes the halos go. Right before Cheif makes it to the ark a ship full of flood crashes. Inside you have terrible combat encounters interspersed with an even more sexualized cortana flashing on the screen with audio that sounds like she’s being graphically tortured. You find her and she has PTSD, but she also knows how to stop the flood. The ship that the covenant brought is actually a key and when it lands on the alien artifact it makes a wormhole to a space station that’s outside the galaxy. Everyone goes through the wormhole and you arrive at the facility that makes the halos. And oh no! It’s remaking the Halo 1! Luckily cortana has a plan. You trick everyone through the gate and you plan on activating the incomplete Halo 1, blowing up the facility and the flood with it. The angry robot AI from halo 1 is still here, for some reason, and it kills the sargent. Master Cheif shows an emotion, but then activates the Halo 1 and does another space jeep driving sequence to jump onto a ship. They barely make it out just befor- and the ship is cut in half mid jump as the wormhole fails. The arbiter makes it back but the chief and cortana are missing. Cut to the chief, going into a cryo pod, telling cortana to “wake me when you need me.” Thus ends the Halo story.
In a good world Halo is done. In capitalism, money makers never die. Bungie doesn’t want to do a chief story, they never even planned a Halo 2. The story is clearly holding together by the seams. Microsoft holds IP rights, and so Bungie makes a noir jazz detective game with aliens called ODST, and later makes Halo Reach, a prequel. Bungie just wants to make a new story, and is feeling caged in by the exclusivity agreement with Microsoft, so they sell the rights to Halo to Microsoft. They go on to sign a 10 year exclusivity deal with Activision for Destiny, a decision they didn’t regret. But Halo can’t die, it sold so many 360’s! So Microsoft decides they need to make a new studio for Halo, and name it after the genocidal AI from the Halo 1, 343 studios.
Halo: the multimedia experience.
Halo had already had some middling YA level books written about the spartan program and how they’re a bunch of genetically modified super humans who were more often killed or mutilated by their “upgrades” than they survived. But that was just one art form, and obviously the brand had name recognition. Microsoft decided that the universe was just too small and so over the next 10 years made:
-7 anime short films
-An attempt at a movie in 2005 with Peter Jackson fresh off of Lord of the Rings
-3 short films shot in trying to work out a deal with with Neill Blomkamp fresh off District 9
-A number of rough short live action “episodes”
-The Halo Waypoint commmunity and SmartGlass Second Screen experience.
The Forerunner Trilogy
THE CHIEF IS BACK. He’s been asleep for 5 years, but now he’s back! Cortana has been alone and thinking this whole time, and she’s well, dying. In the Halo lore AI only last 5 years before they think to death in a process call rampancy. She’s 10, and was tortured by the Flood. This manifests as split personality and is handled with all the care you expect. Anyways the covenant are here! But where are we: a dyson sphere called a shield world, an ancient forerunner artifact craft world. Why are the covenant here? Why are you here? Wait the humans are here? Well the world “woke up” and is trapping ships in a gravity field. The chief starts looking around, and is attacked by constructs, that are, you guessed it, forerunners, a new type of enemy to fight. Wait, aren’t humans forerunners?
No. I’m sorry, the game assumes you have been keeping up with the lore of the comics and the novels. You have been keeping up, right? Well if not you can look up a short story on your Halo: Waypoint Second Screen experience or in the separate Halo Waypoint App for xbox 360. Yes it closes the main game.Ah says here that the forerunners aren’t human, but Humans and Forerunners had a war 100,000 years ago that lead to the first firing of the Halos. Huh, weird choice back to the game.
So the Chief finds the Didact is imprisoned in a Cryptum. If you think I’m checking the second screen experience, you are incorrect. The Diadact didn’t want to kill everyone with The Halo so he made the Composer, which digitizes organic life. Digitizing involves melting away layers of bodies till they are dust. At one point you are whisked away by the essence of the Librarian, who changes your genome to resist the Composer. The Didact deems humans unworthy of the Mantle of Responsibility, so he travels to earth to Compose the world. Luckily, you’re immune to the Composer and you save the world by punching a nuke till it explodes.
Be seeing you space cowboy.
Wait its not over? What happened? Well didn’t you know Cortana hacked into the enemy system and teleported the chief away and then encased him in Hard Light, a thing she can do. But it took to much, she’s dying. Goodbye Cortana.
Halo 5: Guardians
343 discovered subtitles, and the lead up to the game was filled with how you were gonna hunt down the Chief who went AWOL. Who’s you? Spartan Locke of course, the legendary manhunter! Who’s Spartan Locke? Someone hasn’t been reading the multimedia. The game starts with you playing as Fireteam Osiris, lead by Locke, to hunt down Doctor Halsey, the leader of the Spartan Program Mk II. The MK II are the ones like Master Chief: a person who saved the galaxy and didn’t earn any rank. They’re all child soldiers kidnapped in around 1st grade and and modfied into super soldiers. Despite the fact that she’s a Mengele level villain, they save Dr. Halsey because her science was useful, and she’s the mind copied to make Cortana…I’m closing the second screen experience. Locke and his pals are MK IV, which is II more than MK II. We then swap to Blue Team, which are Chief(John) and his 3 friends, Kelly, Fredric, and Linda. Chief thought they all died but they didn’t and now they’re still soldiers. Blue team is defending some secret naval base when who appears, but Cortana, saying go to a planet. His boss says come back but Chief plays by his own rules.
Fireteam Osiris ft. Halsey discuss that Cortana made access to the Domain, and seemingly cured Rampancy. They think she’s making a trap for the Cheif, and so its up to the legendary manhunter himself Spartan Locke to hunt him down. Blue Team goes to a mining town lead by a greedy forman looking for profit without interference, but accepts them in once they kill some forerunner robots that came to life. Suddenly a titular Guardian appears, and the team hunt it down. Fireteam Osiris is hot on their tails but then the Guardian shoots out an EMP and shuts everything down. It turns out the foreman is actually an AI and is siding with Cortana. Blue Team is invited to join them on the Guardian and brought to Cortana, while Locke is stopped by the Warden, a different AI. Did I mention the Guardians were stories tall transformer angels? They are
Blue team is teleported to a forge world that’s full of Guardians, and because they’re fun to shoot, random covenant. The Warden questions our boy who just wants to take Cortana home, and he goes hostile on them. Meanwhile Osiris team is going to the Covanant home-world because there’s a Guardian there, and after much shooting, they land on the same planet. After much confusion on what the plan is, its explained that the Librarian didn’t leave the Mantle of Responsibility for humanity, but for the “Crafted” (AI human constructs). Cortana is going to lead the Crafted to use the Guardians to enforce peace across the galaxy via AI fascism. Chief doesn’t like it so she locks him and his team in a Cryptum. Osiris does some forge world nonsene and pulls chief and his team out of the Cryptum and kill the Warden(Presumably, who knows), but its too late, Cortana leaves with her Guardians and that is the game. In the final scenes, a Guardian is seen over earth EMP-ing the whole planet, while the space ship that everyone is on, the Infinity, is going to jump around and hope they can figure something out. In the last scenes, we see Cortana, who is enforcing AI intergalactic fascism and what Microsoft named their AI service after, humming while looking at a Halo(we don’t know which Halo, my guess is 3). We also have Chief finally meet his “creator”/the creator of Cortana, but the screen cuts away before character interaction can happen.
And that’s where non-multimedia consumers are left. I like the series, mostly for game play. Seeing the trailer for Halo Infinite, with chief being picked out of space after the seeming last fight, so he can save all of humanity again, we must conclude that chief is in hell. He will win battles and then fall back into cry stasis or whatever, only to once more be brought out to fight more covenant or forerunners or humans or AI or whatever. Microsoft will have more books and we will be treated to the next instance of chief coming out and saving things while saying quippy one liners like “I’m giving the Covenant back their bomb.” And next time maybe the flashlights on his helmet can flicker out or he’ll have part of his leg armor fall off. And his armor will be dented, but replaced with whatever version they think fans will like. Gone is the slide burst or slams, this time he’s got a grappling hook. This time the BR sounds different, the shotgun has changed, but the pistol and sword are still there. Some version of cortana or some partner that can do more expression in his stead will tag along. And when the battle is over chief will be covered in a mudslide and excavated, or get caught at the edge of the black hole. Maybe he’ll be a prisoner. But he’ll get back in a green suit with an orange visor. You will be able to throw a grenade, it will bounce, and then explode, taking off the shield of an enemy that will let you one shot kill with a precision weapon to the head. And chief will be there. Still just a chief, because he’s in hell.