Posted by Raine Hutchens on Oct 30, 2012

Hail to the Chief – Going Into Halo 4

Last week I wrote up a piece about how the Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn webseries has worked its magic at rekindling my excitement for the Halo series. Since I wrote that post I’ve been doing more digging and from what I’ve seen I’ve become even more filled with anticipation for the upcoming title in the series than before. I’ve watched videos, read interviews, and even checked out some information on the game’s storyline. With all of this now in front of me I’ve been able to regain my original excitement and love for the series that I once had before. That being said, I’ve been preparing myself to once again don the armor and weaponry of the legendary Master Chief.

Things have changed, and I wanted to offer my take on what I’ve learned so far as well was my experience with preparing for what’s to come in the newest title. We’re just about a week away from launch day, and it’s no doubt going to be one of the biggest days of the year.  Since I’ve been looking back over things, I can now agree with that statement.

When we last left Chief he was entering cryonic sleep as both he and Cortana drifted along in one half of the UNSC frigate, Forward Unto Dawn. The other half of the ship was carrying the Arbiter and made it through a slipspace portal that ultimately collapsed due to the last Halo’s explosive blast. The Arbiter made it back to Earth, but the Chief and Cortana were left floating in the middle of space with no help. As the reality of the situation sets in, Cortana decided to drop a distress beacon in efforts to call for a rescue. The catch is that it may be years before the two are able to be whisked away. Chief tells Cortana to wake him when she needs him and he then enters his sleep cycle.

Back on Earth the people rejoice over the Covenant war coming to an end, but the celebration is bittersweet. The citizens believe that the Chief and Cortana have perished, and they set up a memorial service in their honor. This all happens while the two are both very much alive, floating through unknown space.

Fast forward to 5 years later: Cortana, who seems to be having issues with her “mental” state, wakes Chief when the ship begins to fall under siege by some rogue elites and grunts. Chief awakens just in time and fights his way through the ship as it later crash-lands on a planet called Requiem. It is on this planet that Chief encounters a new enemy – the Prometheans, a race of sentient beings that resemble robots.

Though we’ll be facing a new threat, the story isn’t so much centered on the fight as it is the relationship we’ve dealt with throughout the Halo series. Cortana, being a human A.I., is reaching the end of her life cycle. Programs like her only make it to about their seventh year in existence and she’s pushing through her eighth. Throughout the game she begins to suffer the effects of her age as it starts to send her into madness. Chief must do all he can to not only explore and defeat this new alien threat, but save the one true companion he’s known since the beginning.

I read about this new plot and checked into what 343 Industries has planned for fans in the upcoming game. It will be a story arc that ushers in a brand new path for the series. On the surface it doesn’t look as enticing, but the more you dig into it the more you want to learn about what’s happening with the Halo universe.

I’ll admit that my Halo career has been put on the shelf for nearly a year now. The last time I played anything in the series is when Reach came out. I beat the game and through it I felt a sense of loss. It broke my spirit a bit, and since I’m not really great at multiplayer I let it go. The friends I played with all have other things to do so we stopped running together. It was a perfect recipe for me to leave the game lying on my shelf, and that’s exactly what I did.

That’s why when I heard about Halo 4 I was skeptical. I didn’t see any life in the game anymore. To me, Chief was lost. Humanity was saved, and he made the ultimate sacrifice. The Covenant had been eradicated. What else was there to do? Then I saw 343 unveil the new game, complete with a slew of new enemies. What in the world were they trying to do? Were they trying to breathe life back into this series? All of a sudden we get these new insect-looking enemies and we’re suddenly back in Chief’s boots again? It didn’t make sense to me. My immediate thought was that the developer was just doing things to get Halo fans back to the registers again.

Now that I’ve had time to read over everything and honestly give the presentation a better judgment, I feel I was wrong in my assumptions. From how it looks to me things will be adding up nicely. This new approach to the relationship between Cortana and Chief is something I – as a Halo fan – want to explore. I want to see how Chief thinks. I want to see the humanity in him. Does that mean I want him to take off his helmet? No. I just want to see him become one of us – a normal guy who feels just like the rest of us.

So with that I’m preparing myself. I’m reading back through the story, checking timelines, and even checking out gameplay footage. I’m looking out for the Spartan Ops missions and getting ready to once again dawn my Spartan armor in service of the UNSC. My fellow soldiers may have gone and I may be gearing up by myself, but I won’t walk to the battlefield alone. I know I’ll meet others out there who are looking to get back into the fray and help rid this new world of the new rising threat.

November 6th is just eight days away. I’m glad I’ve been able to once again be psyched for another run through the world that is Halo. From Combat Evolved to Halo 4, there will always be something that brings the fans back. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of you out there on the front lines once again.

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