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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.