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The State of the Halo Franchise


This is my first blog post to Destructoid, I used to post my Halo related rantings to the Halo Waypoint Forums but to get a more open and varied gaming community (that has hopefully more experience in other genres and narratives) I wanted to use Destructoid instead... so let me get to the subject.

Halo 3 was the first game that made me think of gaming as a passion and as such Halo has been important to me and of course a lot of people, but with 343 industries behind the reins old fans have felt that the new campaign stories are not the epic Bungie stories of past. I only played Halo CE, and 2 after playing Halo 4, but I thought Halo 4 story was great, and shows that 343i wanted to take the series in very interesting direction. They wanted to focus on Chief and tell a personal story.

Chief and Cortana

If there is one word to describe 343i's new direction for the series it would be "clarity". And I say this because it reflects alot of the decisions I see with 343i's Halo. The art design, the music, and the story. Halo has alway had a thing for mystery ever since Halo CE with the reveal of the flood but 343i seems to want to show players what's behind the curtan more than hide it. Both Chief and the Forunners could be considered the biggest mysteries of the entire series but Halo 4 gladly pushes both to the center stage of Halo 4's plot.

Halo 4's art design is bright with contrasting color and it makes the forunner structures that used to seem to blend in with ancient human structures, stick out with deep blacks and lines of bright light.

The amount of Color in Halo 4 is immense compared to previous titles but it does good to express that forerunners are no longer a mystery... they are present and you will be forced to face one.

The music of Halo 4 primarily composed by Neil Davidge also sheds clarity on the Forerunner culture by letting us hear a unique new sound that is unlike anything heard within previous Halo games.

Chief is the second focus of Halo 4 and how he deals with the possible demise of his closest companion. The new art direction gives chief's mjolnor power armor a more deep green color and a bright orange and yellow visor that, like the forunner structures, makes him really stand out from his environment. But something I really didn't expect was chief getting a theme that was not the classic Halo theme that I remember. It seems that they made a theme dedicated to Chief to show he is regaining his humanity, that wasn't present in the classic Halo trilogy. I really like this theme because it gives me the impression that it was always been a part of Chief, like this could have been an alternate Halo theme at some point.

Halo 4 in a lot of ways feels like a love letter to fans and a message to fans that 343i isn't going to try to immitate the past but pull new and interesting stories from the Halo mythos. 

But for all of Halo 4's accomplishments, its biggest problem to me is in its gameplay. Now to say Halo 4's gameplay is bad, I don't agree, it is just not as well balanced as the Halo trilogy. For the most part it's just a continuation of the previous Halo; Reach. With armor abilities and the addition of sprint. I didn't mind that sprint was added but I was dissapointed that they wouldn't find a different mechanic then armor abilities, which always took the equal starts of campaign or multiplayer out of the series. But despite the armor abilities Halo 4 is still fun, with missions that focus on foot combat, vehicle combat, and some exciting moments throughout.

Halo 4 also has a lot of uninteresting closed in areas but they never had me frustrated, just a little tired by the end of the campaign.

Now for Halo 5:

Halo 5 is a dissapointing but very fun game. It's story has the makings of being great but never does anything truly great. Locke is a new character who seems barely any different then chief and aside from a mention of having to maybe, put Chief down, but instead only wants to bring him back home. But ends up rescuing him in the end. The story wants to be mostly locke's or maybe all of Osiris team's story but there simply not enough cutscenes or interesting personal interactions between them to allow me to grow attached. There is a surprising lack of character growth or personality aside from mentions of their past and other comments in gameplay. Most of how I percieve Locke in particular comes from the short Halo Nightfall and not the game he first appears in.

Blue Team on the other hand has a similiar problem as well in that most of the interactions between its members have little to no showcase of characterization or personality. This is a real shame considering that Blue Team is so important to Halo's universe and is essentially Chief's family and we don't get to spend enough time to get to really know them.

343i tries to do another personal story about Chief with large implifications for the rest of the Halo universe in Halo 5 but it feels incomplete and without the characters giving motivation there isn't the drive that I got from playing Halo 4. Long story short; it starts with a simple objective of saving Catherine Halsey the doctor that created Chief and Blue Team and the rest of the Spartan IIs, then switches to Blue team who have found an abondoned ONI station, then Chief recieves a cutscene version of the Halo 3 Cortana visions, where Cortana tells him to go to Meridian which means he would be MIA to the UNSC, Osiris chases them while they escape from Meridian on a forunner "Guardian", then they go to Sanghelios to find a Guardian to ride with Osiris and get to Chief, then they find Chief in Genisis, chase them to a place called the Domain where you find Cortana and she tells Chief that the "Created"; the AIs, should possess the "Mantle of responsibility for all species" which means she wants to have a dictatorship rule over the rest of the universe. She seals Blue Team in a Cryptum and Osiris saves them and go's home. And the ending implies that Cortana has her hands on a Halo Ring.

This story could have some interesting effects on the universe considering how humanity depends so alot on AIs to do a lot of functions so it wouldn't be that hard for the AIs to have a good advantage in controlling humanity. And it would be pretty neat to fight against a previous ally in Cortana as she has lost herself to her own intelligence and has lived longer than any AI of her ability should and have to put Chief the position of killing his closest friend. But the main problem for me with Halo 5 is that it seems to be in the middle of a cool new direction for the series and a potentially more interesting story after H5's ending.

So this was a fun write up for me, I would love some feed back and discussion on your thoughts of the Halo series.



- Halo can be "relevent". Maybe.

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About HaloPlayerJohnone of us since 11:15 AM on 04.12.2018