Welcome to another week of exploring what one fan (me) wants to see from some upcoming content. This week I am going to be talking about Halo: Infinite, a launch game for the Xbox Series X. Halo: Infinite is the seventh (full) Halo game to be released on Xbox, though only the sixth from the main storyline. That means Halo: Infinite is essentially Halo 6. This July will see Microsoft revealing some of their first-party games for the Xbox SeX. Primarily, my interest in this first-party reveal is focused on Halo.
I have to say, I was not a fan of Halo 5: Guardians. I’m not necessarily talking about the multiplayer or the game mechanics here, I’m talking about the story. You see, I, up until this point, have loved the lore and the overarching story of the Halo games. I have read almost all of the Halo tie-in novels and the story is some really great sci-fi. Though as I said above, I was not a fan of the Halo 5 story. So buckle in for a trip with Spartan 117, aka Master Chief, and myself as we look to Halo: Infinite.
Early Halo History
So to understand the point I am trying to make in this week’s column, I need to kinda explain some early Halo backstory for those uninitiated out there. So, here is Halo‘s pre-story in four paragraphs or less. I assure you it’s much better than I’ll make it seem in such a short time frame
In the ancient past, there were two great advanced civilizations. The race called the Forerunners, and Humanity, though the races had not yet come across one another. The Forerunners discover an older civilisation than they, a civilisation referred to as the Precursors. The Precursors deemed the Forerunners unworthy to take on the mantle of the Universe. This ancient species felt Humanity should be given the chance instead. The Forerunners then attacked these Precursors in another Galaxy, seemingly wiping them out. The Precursors then sent a biological weapon (maybe) into the Milky Way that Humans called The Flood.
Humanity was first to encounter The Flood and despite great loss were beginning to learn how to defeat this parasitic life form. Unfortunately, Humanity also ran afoul of The Forerunners who had not yet come across The Flood yet. The Forerunners had developed into the most advanced species in the Universe and mistook Human aggression against The Flood as an act of war. Humanity was not able to withstand the Forerunners after their long fight with The Flood. The Forerunners defeated Humans utterly and punished the species by devolving Humanity back to a more basic level. i.e. our own history.
While Humanity was evolving again back on Earth, cut off from other societies The Forerunners were desperate in their battle against The Flood and built giant weapons called Halo’s top eradicate all sentient life in the Galaxy. Luckily for everyone else, before these weapons could be used, The Flood won and the Forerunners were no more, all that was left was their technology. This technology was discovered by other less advanced species, who began to worship the Forerunners as gods.
A technologically advanced cabal who called themselves The Covenant start trawling the Galaxy looking for Forerunner tech and absorbing other races within their ranks, sometimes unwillingly. As humanity begins to explore Space in our future we run across the Covenant. However the Covenant for reasons I can’t explain here see the Humans as heretical to their beliefs and decide to wipe out all Human colonies. The Human/Covenant War begins. Just before this, Humanity created super-soldiers (Spartans) illegally. Using kidnapped children and genetic experiments they created a next evolution of the Human being. This process was done to help Earth fight against rebellious colonies. However, these super-soldiers, specifically Master Chief will be crucial in Humanity fighting back against extinction.
The Halo Games
The Halo games start with the Human forces fleeing one of their main planets, Reach. Master Chief’s AI Cortana has one of these ships jump to coordinates she had found earlier. The Humans then arrive at one of the Forerunners Halo weapons, with the Covenant in pursuit. Whilst staving off Covenant attack on the Halo, Master Chief discovers The Flood waiting for them. Ultimately the story of Halo 1-3 is about Master Chief defeating the Covenant, who themselves are overrun by The Flood. There is a final battle where Master Chief seemingly defeats The Flood for good. The Covenant has fractured and dissipated with some of their species tentatively teaming up with the Humans against The Flood. Humanity is now the most powerful species in the Galaxy. Master Chief is left floating in space, his ultimate fate unknown.
However, Microsoft wants to keep making more Halo games, so a new story was begun. Master Chief in Halo 4 is awoken and his ship comes across what is essentially a prison for the Forerunner General who wiped out Humanity in pre-History. That story only started to come to life after Halo 4, and a series of books exploring the Forerunners prior to their defeat by The Flood. So the Precursors being The Flood, and the ideas behind all that were introduced to take the game forwards. Then we got Halo 5.
Halo 5 sees Master Chief’s (thought dead) former AI Cortana rising up and going a bit crazy.
The Problem with Halo 5?
For me, the story in Halo 5, went so far away from where things were going in Halo 4, that I lost interest. The entire game was Master Chief trying to reach out to Cortana, with other Spartans looking for Chief. Then at the end, after fighting a bazillion boring Forerunner ‘Guardians’, Cortana activates space stations that can effectively govern an entire solar system and send them off to other places. There was no mention of any of that tantalizing ancient history between the Forerunner, the Humans, and the Precursors.
The most obvious threat (to anyone reading this lore) was that the Precursors were not fully destroyed and could send The Flood again. The Precursors wish to test whether Humanity can take over the Mantle of responsibility for the Universe. The Precursors are likely even more advanced than the Forerunners but, we don’t know that for sure. We know they did create The Flood, was pretty much the ultimate biological weapon and it was able to wipe out the Forerunners with seemingly very little effort on the Precursors part.
None of this is even mentioned in Halo 5. Well, perhaps Cortana talks about how she and the other AI are the ones to take on the Mantle, but that’s it. The story of Halo 5 almost seemed like it was from a different series and going in a much different and less interesting direction. However, I think 343, the devs who make the Halo games are aware Halo 5‘s story was not well-liked. So I am expecting Halo: Infinite to be a lot better in the story department. They need to bring back The Flood.
The Flood is the White Walkers in Game of Thrones, or the Sith in Star Wars. The very powerful and evil threat which will destroy anything with zero compassion or even a second thought. Without That existential threat, the Halo Universe is just a little less interesting. The writers already put the work in to explain how The Flood can come back, and make them even more mysterious than they were previously. In other words, the world-building was all done and someone forgot to then write the story.
I do wonder if perhaps Microsoft got cold feet about pushing the story on too fast, because they didn’t want to get to the end game quickly. After all, Halo makes Microsoft money, why would you kill the franchise unless you have to? I feel like Halo 5‘s story was the result of someone wanting to slow down and just knock out a quick game all about Cortana going crazy.
The Flood has to come back! What better way to force Cortana and her AI overlords to rethink their strategy? I want to see a story that deals with Master Chief’s discovery of The Flood’s return, and perhaps even him discovering the species known as the Precursors. That’s the story that got me hooked into the Halo lore. But Halo 5 just didn’t advance that plotline in any meaningful way. What I’m looking for in Halo: Infinite is a story that sucks me back into that Halo Universe. I just hope 343 hasn’t abandoned those more grandiose plans for a simpler and easier to tell the story again. The game might look and play great, but if the story is weak again, then I’m going to lose interest in Halo very quickly.
Wrap it up, Fanboy
When Halo: Infinite is finally shown to audiences in July, I want to see some evidence that the story is going somewhere. I’m not asking for spoilers, just a tease will be fine. I’d be happy with one glimpse of a Flood creature, or even a spore. Something to make me confident that some of the brilliant world-building is finally going to be paid off within the story. Interestingly, there are some rumors that my fan expectations might be paid off. One of the enduring rumors I have heard around Halo: Infinite‘s story is a return of The Flood. I just hope those rumors were not just trolls to the many fans like me who want to see where that story goes.
I guess we will find out sometime in July. The latest update from Microsoft a couple of weeks ago said that the event was still happening in July. They just don’t say when in July we can expect this event to happen. You can be assured that I at least will have something to say about what is shown of Halo: Infinite. So stay tuned to LRM for updates.
Any Halo fans reading this? Do you share my concerns with where the story is going and disappointment in Halo 5? Leave your thoughts below in the usual spot.
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