An ancient enemy uncovered. Destiny explored. And most likely, a vast collection of awesome vehicles and weapons. Halo 4 certainly has promise, but are there any clues as to what we can expect to face and experience?
Well, yes, there are.
You may scoff at my claims that I somehow know what to expect, but it would appear that I have involuntarily become some kind of Oracle within the community. While most turned their attention to the possibilities of the Flood being the off-shoot of a biological-supercomputer created by either the Precursors or the Forerunners, I was looking elsewhere, much closer to home, in fact.
It was during a previous fanfic, the aptly named Halo 3 Epilogue that I put forward several notions. One of which suggested a kind of pre-determined genetic imprint or marker with the specific aim of carving out a route or path for certain individuals. In this case the Master Chief. I put forward that during the re-seeding of the galaxy, after the original activation of the Halo’s, the Forerunners selected a genetic lineage with the aim of carrying out the wishes of the Forerunners long after they left the Milky Way galaxy. Many were chosen for this but one that stood out. A descendant of the initial imprint process who we now know as the Master Chief – a Spartan with exceptional luck, the kind of luck that is engineered into existence.
This ensured, by design, that the Chief would always duck at the right moment, always dodge the deadly swipe of an energy sword or dive in time to avoid a hail of plasma fire. This element of my fan-fic was simply known as Project Destiny by a Forerunner residing within a dormant chamber on Earth. He described how every lineage would culminate into a single point, the creation of a saviour. Now, obviously, none of this will seem at all relevant, but it is. When Halo Cryptum was released I was surprised to find something similar, Geas. Geas was a means to imprint certain markers on certain species, such as humanity. This meant that it was possible for individuals or entire species to follow a pre-determined path.
While I don’t for one minute think that 343i or Greg Bear were eagerly following my fanfic, taking notes on how to come up with a great story it did show that I can draw many similarities between the custodians of the franchise and my own imaginary ventures into the Halo universe – In other words, a common train of thought. But it didn’t end with destiny.
In simple terms, every version of Halo has always provided something new. While the war with the Covenant existed this usually meant discovering a new member species of the Covenant, seeing how the Prophets weave their web of lies and deceit or by improving on the already impressive gameplay, graphics or enigma of the Halo universe. Halo 2 was as different to Combat Evolved as Reach was to Halo 3. And this vein of creativity and a fresh approach must continue, if the franchise is both to survive and surprise. And my fanfic was no different.
Within the story was a new and ancient enemy, one previously unheard of but almost as advanced as the Forerunners themselves. War was inevitable and though technologically superior, the Forerunners found their new enemy (The Scourge) to be resilient and evasive. So as a final means of ending the destructive conflict the Forerunners created something even more resilient than their enemy. They created the Flood. But after the war the Flood still hungered for more; their appetite for death and destruction was insatiable.
While the plot of the Flood’s creation is vastly different to canon, it meant a new direction for the Chief, new enemies and a destiny to be uncovered. And believe me all of this will be present in the new trilogy, in some form or other. There will be a new enemy to face and not necessarily the obvious Precursors or Flood or even the Forerunners. No. There are darker things out there, waiting to be disturbed. But that doesn’t mean the aforementioned species won’t be present. On the contrary, they’ll play an enormous part.
Anyone who believes the Flood are dead and buried clearly haven’t played enough Halo. The Flood were everywhere at one time, but once defeated their remaining elements were placed in stasis on every available Halo. This is why they are so common in the Halo games, because the Forerunners wanted to eventually figure out a way to defeat them. But they may be forced to do something else, something more dramatic. Such as returning humanity to its former glory and reuniting humanity as a whole. After this, both the Forerunners and what will eventually come of the UNSC and mankind as a whole will be in a better position to fight the Flood and whatever else pokes its ugly head into view.
The Precursors are up for serious consideration as well, simply because they haven’t really been explored to their full potential. And despite the statement towards the conclusion of Halo Cryptum I really don’t believe the Prisoner was being completely truthful. He or it may indeed be some offshoot of the oldest known species going, but I don’t think of it as the definitive Precursor. Nor do I believe it’s the only one left. But there is one other little clue to wet your Halo appetite, one that I sincerely hope isn’t a simple typo. For those of you, who spent your valuable money on the Encyclopedia and were a little disappointed by the illustrations or the slightly inaccurate information, cast your beady eye over the timeline at the start of the book. There you’ll see a section describing the Forerunners rise to power and the creation of the ‘Mantle’. In this little paragraph of apparently inconsequential information is the mention of how the Forerunners came to be: ‘by acquiring advanced technology left by prior ancient races’. Not race or a single species, but races – more than one single species. This statement, though only small, does paint the briefest of pictures of an ancient collection of races, much like the Covenant. Though it remains to be seen if the relationships between each species were anything like what the Covenant once had. Perhaps they are more like the Federation from Star Trek, a United Nations, of sorts. Whatever their role, if the statement is accurate, then it opens up a variety of possibilities of what could happen in the remaining books of the Forerunners trilogy, and what could happen in Halo 4 and onwards.
Then there’s the question of the Forerunners themselves. I have a feeling that we’ll know a lot more by the end of the Forerunner trilogy written by Greg Bear. We’ll have a much better understanding and we’ll probably know whether or not the Forerunners did actually die out (which some believe but I do not) or, more likely, where they went and what their intentions are upon their return. But regardless of what could or will happen, I think it’s safe to say that the Forerunners will definitely make an appearance in the flesh, even if it’s only for the briefest of moments.
But what about John and his remaining Spartan comrades? The Ghosts of Onyx novel clearly frustrated a lot of Halo fans, simply by leaving an overwhelming cliff hanger concerning the fate of the Onyx survivors. But recently it was announced by BSAngel from 343i that the novel, Halo: Glasslands will follow on from this. But I have a feeling that John may need his Spartan brethren to combat his new found foe.
With the Covenant in disarray, the Sangheili seeing to their own affairs, for now and the possible likelihood of facing up to disagreeable Forerunners, Precursors, the Flood and quite possibly something even more nasty than all of them put together, the Chief will clearly have his hands full, so Spartans will be in demand, particularly the Chief’s old team.
So how do I think Halo 4 will play out?
I suspect the opening scenes in the game will most likely skip over John’s awakening shown in the E3 trailer and go straight for the interior of the shield world. We’ll start from some vast interior space with a view to die for, and one that will surely match the second level of Combat Evolved. Then the guidance will begin. Not the sort of guidance that we’re used to, from Cortana, but possibly through Cortana from something far more advanced. I definitely think that our little blue companion will be very different at times during the new trilogy.
Anyway, on to the meat of the story. I suspect there won’t be much of a presence on or within the shield world, apart from the usual mix of sentinels, of course. Instead, the shield world will most like fulfil the role of a simple stepping stone, be it a large stepping stone. Then our true journey will begin. We’ll have tasks to carry out in order to bring back those who came before, the Forerunners. But along the way we’ll have new and old threats to deal with, including, possibly, the remaining San Shyuum. Remember, they’re known for being deceitful. They sided with humanity against the Forerunners during the war and then decided otherwise when things went awry. Then they had second thoughts and wanted out of their star system, and were duly punished for their efforts. Actually it wouldn’t surprise me if they sided with the new threat to the universe for their own greedy gain. But in their way is humanity and the remaining Forerunners. And at some point the Flood will show their collective ugly faces.
The Chief will find himself isolated but I’m sure he’ll have the opportunity to gather some allies and possibly return to Earth, though I suspect his return to Earth will come during the second or third game. The first could even see him reunited with a select few Spartans before the ball is truly rolling into a future filled with chaos, death and destruction. But it’s the third act I’m most worried about.
The last in the new trilogy will obviously — I presume — see humanity come out on top, but at what cost? Who will fall? And will the Chief be among them? If he is bestowed with some form of Geas for the purpose of saving the galaxy, then when that mission or task is completed what purpose does he serve? Does his Geas induced luck extend beyond the completion of his task?
I won’t go any further into the subject of the Chief’s fate, but regardless of what happens I’m sure the trilogy will be amazing, a true testament to 343i’s guardianship and intentions.
And we’ll all be there to see it, take part in it and and play as our favourite Spartan again and again until we make the universe a safer place to live. But it’ll be a long and arduous journey.
“Were it so easy.”