Halo 5 Guardians: Uncovered

Halo 5 cover shot

After a great deal of scrutiny, I believe I have ascertained exactly where in the Halo universe the concept art depicts, the main characteristics of our new Spartan’s armour, and some additional features first shown to us at E3 last year. Yes, you heard me right. There are clues, not previously uncovered, in the Halo Xbox One announcement trailer. And there’s also something in the initial concept art by Sparth, featuring what appears to be the UNSC Infinity.

Halo Xbox One

Cast your mind back. It’s E3, 2013 and we get our first glimpse of what was at the time called Halo for Xbox One. I think it’s fair to say that it took a lot of people by surprise. The video, which depicted a lone figure wearing a hooded cloak walking through a desert, looked like it belonged in Destiny. But as soon as the AI chip was pulled out we knew exactly what it was.

I’ve looked at that video quite a few times. Partly because it’s amazing and partly because I’m sure there’s more to see apart from sand and a large mechanical construct shaped like a bird. Have a look through the video, and wait right until the end, when the title appears. And look to the top left of the screen. There’s a strange rounded shape in the sky that doesn’t just look like a gap in the clouds. It looks like something else, something unearthly, something dark and foreboding.

You can either pause the video for closer inspection or look at the screenshot below. First off, lets take a look back in time at the original announcement trailer, featured during E3 2013.

Halo-xbox-one skyshot

So what do you make of that unusual dark shape? Do you really think that it’s a gap in the clouds?

I think it’s something else entirely. And I don’t think this is the only footage of it either. Take a look at the Halo 5 Concept art (below), featuring what appears to be the UNSC Infinity. In this image we can see structures, all of which, I would say, are human. But look to the top left of the image, in the sky, and there’s a familiar shape – dark, rounded. So this got me wondering… what else is there in the known fiction of Halo that could provide that similar rounded shape, dark and massive. And there’s only one object that could possibly fit the bill, Trevelyan. Also known as Onyx, or what was inside the planet, within a Slipspace bubble, Trevelyan is a massive Forerunner construction, possibly the biggest ever encountered by the UNSC, and most likely the biggest we’ve ever heard of – as it measures more than 300 million kilometres in diameter.

sparth_2560x1440 copy

Obviously, the dark shape isn’t identical in both images, but that may stem from artistic differences between the video at E3 and Sparth’s fantastic concept work. But it also might be done in such a way that makes it harder to accurately make out precisely what the object is. But that’s my take on it anyway. So why have Trevelyan in Halo 5?

Why not? It’s a colossal construct, and may actually serve as one of the many places that we could visit in future iterations of Halo. And there’s bound to be plenty of people and aliens out there that are keen to stop you from reaching it. Or it may be part of some unscrupulous ONI incentive, aimed at completely destabilizing Sanghelios, and it’s up to the Chief to intervene. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t mind seeing it.

So what about the vis id, featuring the Master Chief and a mysterious ONI figure dressed in what appears to be Spartan IV armour?

Halo 5 Vis Id


Here we have two characters. One is undoubtably the Master Chief, sporting the same armour that he had in Halo 4, but the other seems to be a Spartan IV, complete with Battle rifle, ONI emblem and an armour set not seen before. Using the armour listed in the Halo 4 visual guide, I’ve highlighted possible features. See below:

Halo 5 ONI Spartan Characteristics

ONI Spartan Armour Characteristics

The armour seems focussed on two distinct elements of armour design: stealth and mobility. Obviously, it seems typical of ONI to prefer a stealthy approach to armour design, but this suit demonstrates how far they’ve come since the Spartan IVs popped into existence. In a way, the character reminds me of Noble Six, who was previously utilised as Ackerson’s personal assassin. Is it possible that this character has a similar function? Well, with ONI it’s entirely possible. But the main question is what does it have to do with the Master Chief? Is the Chief the target? Or do they share a common enemy/goal that will force them to work together? Unfortunately, at this stage everything is just speculation, but I’m confident that the Chief will not be entirely overjoyed at the prospect of this character being on the scene, but both will eventually have to cooperate to achieve whatever goal is presented before them.

It’s also possible that both will be bitter enemies at first. Perhaps the Chief is actually searching for Halsey and the ONI Spartan is tasked with her final disposal, under the orders of Admiral Serin Osman. If that’s the case then I can’t wait to see what will happen.

Anyway, on to the burning question. Where the hell is the Halo 5 Guardians concept art set? Take a look below:

Halo 5 Guardians Concept Art

Halo 5 Guardians Concept Art

For me there’s only one possible answer for that, Sanghelios. Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions involving the number of suns in the image, I’d like to point out several key features that point not just towards this image depicting somewhere on Sanghelios.

Halo 5 Guardians Concept Art Edit

As you can see, I’ve highlighted several key features of the concept art. The first one I’m going to look at is the overall design of the structures involved, their architecture to be exact. It’s not, Forerunner, that much is obvious and it’s not human, or UNSC. There’s no angular slab-like design ethos involved here. It’s all curves and bulbous sections that blend nicely together into the side of the rocky structure or mountain that envelopes it. And that’s the important and interesting fact here: the architecture blends into the mountainside or cliff wall. And one particular area on Sanghelios features the same thing, Vadum. Or to be more precise, the main keep at Vadum, where Thel resides — the Arbiter. And according to the fiction, the keep is built high into the side of Kolaar mountain, meaning the rocky feature almost surrounds and envelopes the Vaduum Keep, providing additional protection from attack.

Now some of you may have already pointed out that Sanghelios is part of a trinity star system, meaning it has three suns. And that’s certainly true. But I presume from an artistic standpoint, trying to squeeze all three suns into the small area of sky featured here would spoil the scene somewhat, so two are used instead, letting us know it’s definitely not Earth. Besides, we don’t know exactly what orbital pattern each star has, and where they are typically placed in the sky of Sanghelios. Additionally, large areas of Snaghelios are described as being reddish, complete with a range of differing sky colours, ranging from yellow to red, so the desert-like terrain would also fit in here.

Let’s look at the bulbous structure to the right of the concept art image and compare it with the front of a CCS class vessel (below) and you’ll notice a similar design principal. To me they almost look identical.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 15.06.47


In the concept art I’ve also circled what appear to be squid-like creatures or shapes in the sky. But what’s interesting here is that we’ve seen these creatures before, in the concept art of Halo 4. And in that the flying squid creatures inhabit Requiem. But ultimately their inclusion was pulled from the final game. See below:


If this is the exact same creature, then 343i may have decided to utilise the design instead of wasting it and never using it. But tell me what you think. Do you think this is the same creature?

The final element of the concept art that I’ve circled is the statue in the background, holding what appears to be a Sangheili energy sword. Upon closer inspection, the head of the statue does seem similar to a Sangheili helmet, possibly an older design of the Arbiter armour.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 15.05.15

There do appear to be armoured mandibles as well, which pretty much confirms this, along with the energy sword, as a Sangheili warrior of some kind.

So what could all of this mean, if true?

Well, if the images do depict the keep at Vaduum, then that means the possible inclusion of the Arbiter, who happens to sport some sort of ceremonial drapery similar to the vertical patterns of the architecture.

Thel architecture comp

But if both he and Sanghelios are involved then that could possibly mean our ONI Spartan is possibly involved in trying to find the location of Halsey, or even tries assassinating Thel. Of course, the Chief isn’t going to take too kindly to that and would be more than happy to beat him into a pulp. But it’ll be interesting to see how both of them will interact.

And the figure in the art, well, that could be the Chief, our ONI Spartan, or someone else altogether.Perhaps even Halsey. But at this stage it’s difficult to say.

Let me know what you think.

P.S. For those eager to know the possible identity of the ONI character, take a look here.


6 thoughts on “Halo 5 Guardians: Uncovered

  1. Nice read, as always. I hope it really does have something to do with Sanghelios. I would love for them to brick back the Arbiter.

  2. Excellent read. I find myself coming to a lot of the same conclusions you have.

    While we’re on the subject, I do have another a couple more details regarding the mystery S-IV. In case you haven’t read it, Halo: Initiation was about Palmer and the birth of the S-IV program. Little known detail, but there was a failed S-IV program before the ones we know. A handful of candidates were selected and, supposedly, all but one died. After a failed attempt to hijack Infinity, the lone survivor, Ilsa Zane, was cast into deep space only to be recovered by a mystery being.

    There are 3 things that stand out about this mystery being.


    First, the blue visor. The most unlikely of details, but the visor glows blue just like our mystery spartan does in the Halo 5 screen.

    Second, the ship. Our mystery being is manning a UNSC Prowler, a ship commonly favored for it’s stealth capabilities by ONI itself. This goes further to prove the ONI relationship.

    Last, when brought aboard, she sees the face of her rescuer and is shocked to discover this mystery person is still alive. This could go in one of two ways as she could potentially recognize somebody from her days as a S-IV or she could recognize an ONI agent from the time she spent in their employ before turning Insurrectionist. Or it could be both…

    Not much to go on, but Initiation left this little plot point on a cliffhangar and I’d be willing to bet there’s some level of involvement between the two figures. Halo isn’t a franchise that likely to leave plots unfinished. Even the mystery of the Spirit of Fire has been resolved finally.

  3. Josh Holmes stated, categorically, that the ONI Spartan is a new character and is male. Whether or not it’s the individual that you’ve pointed out is questionable. But there is a strong case for it being a man named Marlowe, who will be starring in Ridley Scott’s Halo production. It’s very likely that Marlowe will be introduced much in the same way that Lasky was introduced to Halo 4.

    So, we may see Marlowe and how he becomes a Spartan IV and is recruited into ONI, setting the scene for Halo 5.

  4. Concerning the comparison to Noble Six, I think you’re onto something, namely this Spartan being a stand-in for the player character.

    But before I get to that, I have a few artistic observations about the significance of the Halo 5 reveal. Consider the most important detail of the image: reflection. Almost down to the hands, the Chief and the newcomer are reflections of each other. The emphasis is even placed on the newcomer, since he’s upright rather than downward; the designer could have just as easily had them standing side-by-side, but instead the Chief is put in a deliberately “wrong” orientation.

    Now consider Halsey’s line from the opening of Halo 4: “You want to replace him,” with “him” being the Master Chief. Given the reflective nature of this image, I’d say the newcomer is the one ONI intended to replace John, before the latter mucked everything up by not only being alive but also by saving Earth for the umpteenth time upon his return.

    I do think this newcomer represents the player, as the plain coloration and design is indicative of projection, the same phenomenon Bungie used with Noble Six in order to get the players interested. Most likely, the newcomer will be male or female depending on the players’ preferences, and the armor can be customized. There’s also a small emblem visible on the top of the newcomer’s helmet that has a passing resemblance to the bottom part of the Noble symbol. I don’t think this represents anything to do with Noble Team, of course, but rather further customization.

    If we want to get crazy, I also have some theories about how they might make the newcomer a more interesting and valuable character, which include making use of the Kinect’s microphone and camera. However, I think I’ll spare myself that particular embarrassment for the time being.

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