In episode thirty-seven of Thoughts, I talk about Nintendo’s beloved video game franchise: the Legend of Zelda! With its countless iterations, each one reviving the characters we know and love, the Zelda series covers vast generations. Have you played any Legend of Zelda games? Let me know!
In episode thirty-one of Thoughts, I talk about my experience with the video game franchise: Halo. Enjoy!
When you first saw Halo, were you blinded by its majesty? Before I jump into the video game that I’m actually referring to, let’s cover the other uses of the word. A halo is a disk or circle of light shown surrounding or above the head of a saint or holy person to represent their holiness. It’s also a circle of white or colored light around the sun, moon, or other luminous body caused by refraction through ice crystals in the atmosphere. Synonyms of halos are rings, belts, or bands.
So with that out of the way, let’s talk about the video game franchise. I could honestly make my YouTube channel a Halo channel, I love it so much. I’m honestly kind of annoyed at how much emotional power it has over me. The latest game is set to launch at the end of this year of our forerunners 2020 and I’ve been checking the r/halo Reddit every day since E3 2019. It’s sickly, guy, I’m a mess. So when did my love of these games start?
Growing up, my family was a Nintendo household and I loved it. I had the N64, the Game Boy Pocket, and then the GameCube and Wii when they came out. I didn’t even hear about Halo until grade nine, which for me was 2007. I made a new friend who came over to my place one day after school and we played Super Smash Bros. His reaction to it was honestly insulting. He ragged on the fact that it was a platformer and had inferior graphics to Call of Duty. He had just recently got an Xbox 360 with its new high definition graphics so my Wii couldn’t compare. After a few days of mulling it over, he decided to give me his old Xbox so that I could have a real gaming experience! I was beyond grateful. The only game he gave me with it was Halo: Combat Evolved. Everyone talks about this so I get how its not a unique experience, but when I started the second level and looked up for the first time, I was blinded by Halo’s majesty! I was in awe, and I was hooked. I remember getting my first legal job at 15 just so I could buy an Xbox 360, which I did, then I quit. I wasn’t really money oriented at that time.
So now for the people who’ve never played Halo, let me quickly break down it’s story. 500 years from now, humans take to the stars with slipspace engines that let them go father than we currently can, and with it we inhabit like hundreds of planets. After some wars between the UNSC and insurrectionists, our farthest out Planet, Harvest, makes contact with aliens for the first time. They’re called the Covenant; a collection of different species all working together to uncover artifacts of a long dead OTHER alien race that they revere as gods. So, side note, but why was humanity not inscribed into the covenant? It’s probably mentioned in a book, who knows.
The first game Halo starts in the middle of our space war with the aliens, and we’re losing. The Covenant has far superior weaponry than us so we never really had a chance. The ship you’re in comes out of slipspace after running away from the last planet we’ve inhabited aside from Earth. You play as John 117, better known as the Master Chief: his military rank, alongside Cortana as a chip in your head, Captain Keyes, Sargent Johnson, and Echo 419. You wake up to find that the ship you’re in has come across some kind of giant artificial planet in the shape of a ‘Halo.’ The aliens are on your tail so you descend onto the ring and fight on the ground. After discovering the Halo is a part of the alien’s religion, you seek to control it, later discovering that the ring is actually a giant weapon made by the ‘forerunners’ to wipe out all life in order to starve ANOTHER, parasitic alien species called the flood. Bingo bango, you blow up the Halo to save all life.
Second game brings you back to humanity where we’re still in the middle of losing. We get introduced to the Arbiter, an alien ship master that lost to you in the first game and must now make penance. As it turns out, the Covenant have no idea that firing the Halo will kill them all. They think it’ll teleport them to heaven or something. Meanwhile with the Master Chief, an alien fleet found Earth. Lucky for us, for the first time in a long time, we outnumber them, and force them to retreat into slipspace. You follow them this time and when y’all get out of slipspace, wouldn’t you know it but you’re at another Halo. You fight to destroy the aliens’ leaders but get picked up by an intelligent form of the flood, that instead of consuming you, convinces both you and the Arbiter to work with it to stop the Covenant from firing the ring. You do that and head back to Earth.
Third game has you back at Earth where the aliens are gaining the upper hand, but they also seem to be digging some structure up in Africa. You fight your best but run out of time as the aliens activate this forerunner device, creating a portal. They go through it and you follow. It leads to a Halo MAKER called the Ark. On the Ark, the Covenant can activate all the Halos scattered throughout the galaxy so you gotta stop them. You do, then save Cortana who got mixed up with the flood dude, blow up ANOTHER Halo and skip dodge as shit blows up. You nearly die but make it out only to be floating in a random part of space for an unforeseen amount of time.
There’s a lot I left out there but that’s the gist of the original trilogy that everyone loves. Years later, after I had played the prequel and spin off games, I headed to College. At this point a brand new Halo 4 was announced! I was excited for it but also nervous. It was the first new game by 343, who took the mantle of responsibility by Bungie, who had done 1-3, ODST, and the prequel. Would they continue Master Chief and Cortana’s story in a good direction? The game came out to mixed reviews by fans. Some loved it, some hated it. Most people hated the multiplayer because it copied Call of Duty’s load out system, and I agree to that point but didn’t care at the time. The only thing that grinded my gears was the Prometheans. They were a new robot-esque enemy to fight along with the Covenant, and they just aren’t good, man. Like, the Covenant are living things. Each species have their own history for how they ended up in the Covenant, and the faceless robots don’t have jack. Suffice to say, it didn’t feel like the same caliber of games as the O.G.s. At that point in my life I began to lean off of playing video games, for one reason or another, and the new Xbox One came out so I simply passed on the next Halo game that came to the system.
Halo 5: Guardians continued Master Chief’s story. In my mind they used that subtitle, Guardians, to lean off of numbers like they have now done with Halo 6. It’s been a marketing strategy used by other studios like Ubisoft with the Assassin’s Creed games. I’m not against it, but just thought I’d note it for y’all. Now, the story of Halo 5. Oie. Again, my opinions here aren’t unique but damn did they do Cortana dirty! And Buck (you don’t know him from me but he’s great,) but most of all, they did Chief dirty! They had such a bad writer come on to do this game. Like, guys! The reason people like Halo is because of its story! I mean, all of the other elements need to work too like the music, graphics, game play, multiplayer UI and so on and such, but the story is the hook! Anyway, at this point I wasn’t with it anymore. It sucked because I really loved the story. It kind of hurt not continuing with the franchise.
After many years passed, I started a relationship with the most gorgeous woman on the planet, and during Black Friday of 2018, she suggested I get a Nintendo Switch. It had been so long since I actually played video games, but now I wouldn’t be playing alone. It would be like my childhood when my siblings, cousins, and I played Mario Party and Mario Kart. So I got it, and really quickly got into the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’d never been much of an open world player, but BotW on IP alone sucked me in. I was in love again with a gaming franchise! It wasn’t even a year later that I made up my mind that I was going to buy an Xbox One. I did so, buying the Master Chief Collection and Halo 5. I got Game Pass for a number of months and played Halo Wars 2 through that, and may I say, it was great. I’d say I was right at least to wait, because apparently MCC and Halo 5 at launch had HUGE problems. I never had to suffer any of it, luckily. The MCC has been going through new glitches as 343 ports every game to PC, but it gives me little grief knowing it isn’t permanent.
So there you have it! My time with Halo. The newest game is on the horizon (a potential end to 343’s trilogy) and they have decided to go back to Bungie’s art design. It has a lot of people happy, myself included, making this year not CONCLUDE quick enough! Is my love of this franchise a bit much? I’d say so. But hey, everybody’s gotta have a thing, right? For some people it’s religion, for some it’s sports, others it’s Star Wars, and me in part it’s Halo. Will all my dreams be answered from the new game? I figure, yeah. Whether or not it’s good like Halo 3 or bad like Halo 5, I just want the thing out so I can decide once and for all if 343’s a botch studio. Either way I’ll still give it 80+ hours of playtime/my life. One thing I’m wondering is what the fate of the Master Chief will be? If he’s continues on after this game’s campaign I feel like it might dull his appeal. That’s probably what they’ll do, but our boy is getting old! If he were to die or retire or something, it would feel granted in my mind. Let him rest I say, and give him a nice send off.
But any who! With that, I’d say my thought piece is finished. It’s done. Halo is one of those franchises deserving of its place in pop culture because of its rich story universe. There are endless books to read, forums to pose questions and theories on, and movies/shows to watch. What do you guys think will happen in Halo Infinite? Let me know! Thank you for reading and until next time, wake me when you need me.