Halo Infinite is due to launch later in 2021 following a delay outside of the original Xbox Series X | S release window. It will continue the story of Halo 5: Guardians, acting as the third chapter of the Reclaimer Saga that began with Halo 4, although this arc is itself a sequel to the first trilogy of Halo games.
With five mainline titles already released, in addition to plenty of supplemental comics and novels, we thought it would be a good idea to give a refresher on the major plot points from the series so far and get everyone up to date on Master Chief’s adventures.
The main character throughout all of the Halo games is Master Chief, also known as John-117, a cybernetically enhanced human who went through a series of physical and mental augmentations as a child. The controversial Spartan program produced dozens of these warriors, though only a few survive by the time the first game gets underway. The character is essentially an elite special forces commando who works for the United Nations Space Command, sent on dangerous missions across the galaxy. For the most part, Master Chief acts as the protagonist and is the character that players assume control of the majority of the time in the five main Halo titles.
The other major character is Cortana, an artificial intelligence modeled on Dr. Halsey, who was responsible for creating the Spartans and Master Chief. She accompanies Master Chief on his various missions and is implanted in his head via a chip. Cortana has more sentience and free will compared to other AI but a limitation of this extra processing power is that she’ll eventually think herself to death in a process that is called rampancy. This can make AI incredibly unstable and lead them to break free of their programming or even harm their creators.
The Arbiter is a disgraced but highly skilled Elite and part of the Convent, a group of alien species that have formed alliances to work together. Led by the Prophets, they view humanity as a heresy that must be wiped out and go to war with the UNSC in an attempt to destroy every human planet. Along with the Elites and Prophets, the Covenant is made up of Grunts, Jackals, Engineers, Hunters, Drones, and Brutes. They worship the Forerunners, an extinct ancient civilization that built the Halo rings and is responsible for much of the technology that the various alien species use.
Halo: Combat Evolved – The Discovery Of Installation 04
The first game in the series is set in 2552, with humanity becoming ever more desperate as the Covenant wins many decisive victories and begins to close in on Earth. Master Chief is onboard the UNSC ship Pillar of Autumn, which just made a random jump into slipstream space as it fled the Covenant attack on the planet Reach. Pursued by Covenant vessels, the Pillar of Autumn arrives at a previously unknown structure later dubbed Installation 04, just one of seven Halo rings scattered throughout the galaxy.
As Master Chief, Cortana, and the ship’s crew begin to explore the mysterious structure after crash landing, they discover that the attacking Covenant has released an even greater threat. The Flood is a terrifying parasitic life form under the control of a hive mind intelligence with the only goal of infecting all sentient life.
Master Chief is then met by a Forerunner AI known as 343 Guilty Spark, who explains that the Halo ring was built to contain and destroy the Flood by the Forerunners. He quickly sets about trying to activate the ring in the hopes that it will end the threat posed by the Flood. However, when he’s eventually reunited with Cortana, it turns out that the Halo rings are not what they first seemed. The weapons are not meant to destroy the Flood directly. Instead, they are designed to wipe out any sentient life within their radius in an attempt to limit the expansion of the Flood and starve them to death.
Armed with the knowledge of what Installation 04 and the other Halo rings are capable of, Master Chief and Cortana decide to destroy it before 343 Guilty Spark can activate the firing mechanism. The pair manages to initiate a self-destruct sequence on the downed Pillar of Autumn and the resulting explosion destroys Installation 04.
Halo 2 – The Covenant Splits
Halo 2 begins with a Covenant attack on Earth. While not a massive invading force, the alien ships cause a huge amount of damage but are ultimately repelled thanks to the efforts of Master Chief, Cortana, and Sgt. Johnson. With the Prophet of Regret in full retreat, the main characters team up with Miranda Keyes and follow the escaping Covenant forces, where they discover yet another Halo ring.
Meanwhile, Thel ‘Vadam is a high-ranking Elite who commanded the Covenant forces at Installation 04. Blamed for the failure to capture Master Chief and prevent the destruction of the Halo ring, he is sentenced to death but given the chance to redeem himself by becoming an Arbiter. He eventually ends up at Delta Halo as the Covenant races to the second ring to reinforce the Prophet of Regret, who is being pursued by Master Chief, but is ultimately betrayed by the other Prophets, starting a civil war as the Elites are replaced by the Brutes.
After catching up with the Prophet of Regret, Master Chief and Cortana learn that the Covenant is attempting to activate the Halo rings as part of a religious belief that will lead them on a “Great Journey.” Soon after, both Master Chief and the Arbiter are captured by Gravemind, the near-omniscient creature that controls the Flood. Gravemind reveals the true purpose of the Halo rings to the Arbiter and forces the pair to work together to stop the Covenant from activating Delta Halo.
Master Chief is sent to the Covenant capital of High Charity to capture the Prophet of Truth and the Arbiter works on preventing the Brute chieftain Tartarus from firing Delta Halo. Cortana is left behind to ensure the destruction of Delta Halo, while the Arbiter and Miranda Keyes defeat Tartarus, and Master Chief travels to Earth to “finish the fight” in pursuit of the Prophet of Truth.
Halo 3 – Finishing the Fight
The opening of Halo 3 sees Master Chief waking up in Africa after falling from space. Surrounded by Sgt. Johnson and the Arbiter, who has allied with humanity along with the rest of the Elites to defeat the Covenant, he again attempts to capture the Prophet of Truth.
The Covenant leader is searching New Mombasa for an ancient portal that allows direct transport to the Ark, a structure that constructs Halo rings and allows for the simultaneous firing of all of them.
The Prophet of Truth travels through the portal and arrives at the Ark but is quickly followed by Master Chief and his allies. After defeating the Covenant, the Flood arrives at the Ark onboard High Charity, allowing Master Chief to reunite with Cortana. The pair decide to activate a partially constructed replacement for Installation 04, which will neutralise the remaining Flood and destroy the Ark without causing any widespread death.
They are successful, but Master Chief is ultimately left floating in space and presumed dead by the UNSC as the Arbiter returns to Earth to negotiate a lasting peace with humanity. Master Chief enters cryo-sleep and tells Cortana to “wake me when you need me.”
Halo 4 – A New Threat Emerges
Six years after the events of Halo 3, Cortana wakes Master Chief from cryo-sleep as they approach the Forerunner Shield World known as Requiem.
They crash on the planet and make contact with the UNSC ship Infinity, which had detected their distress signal after years of drifting in space. The UNSC forces are confronted by Promethean Knights, artificial constructs led by a surviving Forerunner warrior known as Didact.
Didact hates humanity and feels they are not worthy of the responsibility given to them by the Forerunners so is determined to level Requiem and enslave all humans. A living imprint of the Forerunner known as the Librarian aides Master Chief in his fight against Didact, changing his biology so that the Composer weapon will not convert him into an artificial construct.
With Didact heading to Earth with the hope of transforming all of humanity into machine-like beings, Master Chief hunts him down with Cortana, who is beginning to show signs of rampancy after eight years of service. The Spartan manages to stop Didact by detonating a nuclear device on his ship and Cortana seemingly sacrifices herself to save her partner from the explosion.
Halo 5: Guardians – Cortana Returns
Halo 5 switches things up by having players take on the role of Master Chief and Spartan Locke, a different type of Spartan who is part of Team Osiris. This group, made up of some of the best recruits from the SPARTAN-IV program and based on the UNSC Infinity, tracks down Dr. Halsey and learns that human colonies are under attack from strange Promethean constructs. Meanwhile, Master Chief has been reunited with his former teammates in Blue Team and, after scuttling the Argent Moon station, receives a cryptic message from Cortana who has survived the events of Halo 4.
Blue Team leaves to track down Cortana, putting them at odds with UNSC authorities who list the soldiers as AWOL and put Team Osiris in charge of bringing Master Chief and his fellow Spartans back under control. Cortana leads Blue Team to the Forerunner world of Genesis and it’s revealed that not only has Cortana survived thanks to the alien technology, but also that she has a plan to enforce galactic peace.
Using huge constructs known as Guardians, she will forcefully wipe out all militaries in the galaxy and act as caretaker for all life. After Master Chief objects to these plans, Cortana imprisons both him and the rest of Blue Team.
Team Osiris later arrives on Genesis and frees Blue Team, although they are too late to stop Cortana from leaving the planet on a Guardian as she attempts to carry out her plan. Numerous AIs from across the galaxy quickly ally themselves with her, forcing the Infinity to begin random jumps to escape Cortana and discover a way of defeating her.
Halo Infinite will take place after the events of Halo 5, although it’s not certain how far the two stories are separated in terms of the overall timeline. From what 343 Industries has revealed so far, fans know that much of the action will take place on a new Halo ring called Installation 07 and that Master Chief will be battling against a Covenant faction known as the Banished, who were first introduced in Halo Wars 2.
Halo Infinite is set to launch for PC, Xbox Series X | S, and Xbox One in 2021.
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