Halo 4 is coming; it's time to start a new fight. But who are we fighting? Where? When? Why? These are the questions that cloud the future of the Halo universe in mystery, and have been keeping fans speculating for years. Hopefully, by next year (fingers crossed), we'll get answers. Until then, we'll keep inspecting the established fiction, digging into the known back-story, and playing the past games for clues. The objective of these articles is to cover a wide range of subjects in the Halo universe that I think will pertain to Halo 4. This is not only meant to create a platform for discussion, but to inform those who are not fanatics of the same degree, but who are interested regardless.
There will be heavy discussion of the Halo fiction here, so please do not continue on if you do not wish to be spoiled. You have been warned.
Part 1: The Legendary Planet
I felt like I had to start this series of articles off by addressing arguably the most obvious subject for discussion by fans regarding Halo 4: the so-called "Legendary Planet". The initial thought of Master Chief and Cortana being killed distressed many fans as we finished Halo 3, but fortunately we didn't get too depressed as the after credits sequence showed us that the two were still alive on the rear half of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn that didn't make it through the slipspace portal that sent the Arbiter back to Earth. The cutscene ends with the two drifting in unknown space (potentially near the Ark, which is 262,144 light years from the galactic center of the Milky Way [see source 1]) as Cortana sends out a beacon for rescue and Chief enters cryostasis, finally getting the rest he deserves after saving the galaxy, and all of that jazz.
While a strange ending, I was pleased with it. I envisioned Master Chief becoming a sort of Michael Moorcock-ian Eternal Champion character. A hero of all times and places, asleep until the universe needed him the most. So understand my mixed emotions when I learned that, of course, there was a piece missing. When the game is beaten on the legendary difficulty setting, the complete ending is unlocked, which you can view below (skip to 7:05 to see The Legendary Planet):
It shows Master Chief and Cortana drifting toward a mysterious planet with strange Forerunner glyphs, and the super creepy music that accompanies it suggests it isn't good news for the duo. The next four years that followed Halo 3 is a bunch of debate among fans about what the hell the planet is, with two popular theories rising above the others as the most likely of all of them, with fans pledging support for one-side-or-the-other (some MACHOs vs. WIMPs level of debate, for sure). But we'll get to that soon enough.
Finally, after many years of zero information on the subject, we see the Legendary Planet again in the Halo 4 announcement trailer. Check it out below ( skip to 1:14 to see our mysterious friend):
We see Master Chief waking up from cryostasis to find Cortana yelling his name and the Forward Unto Dawn under attack from...something... After Chief retrieves Cortana, he exits the cryostasis room and proceeds to escape the spaceship with the help of a thruster pack and the gel-gun thing from The Dark Knight. When he finally exits the ship, he finds The Legendary Planet opening up, about to shallow him and the Forward Unto Dawn whole. Cut to the Halo 4 logo, and a creepy mix of the classic Gregorian Chant theme of the Halo franchise.
Not a lot of new information there except, of course, Halo 4's announcement, but we learn in an interview of Frank O'Connor (Franchise Director at 343 Industries) that at least we can count on the structure not being "man made" . So that's something, I guess. But there's two bits of information to be examined before we talk about the two popular theories.
First off, in a supposed "leak" of Halo 4 plot and gameplay details, we learn that The Legendary Planet is actually called "Sigma 7" by a secretive branch of the UNSC Navy, ONI, whom has been studying the Forerunner technology on the planet. Sigma 7 is described in detail in the leak:
Halo 4 is set on a Forerunner planet that has an inner and outer surface that provides two distinct styles.
The outside is very industrial and features a wide range of hostile Forerunner tech and AI. The video showed space combat here. The inside of the planetoid is hollow and is sectioned off in to many tiers/bands (almost resembling Halo rings) that feature a myriad of natural environments not only resembling earth’s but many other alien terrains.
Later, Microsoft commented on the leak, denied it, and called it "speculation at best.".
And second off, during the Halo 4 panel at Halo Fest this year, 343 Industries released a concept art video. Taken at a glance, it's a neat trailer with awesome artwork and great music, but if you look for it you can see many pictures of The Legendary Plane in this trailer, and what may be the surface/inside/whatever of the planet. I'll leave you folks to spot it below:
So that's really all the information we have on The Legendary Planet. Now let's talk about the two popular theories on what the planet could be.
The first, and most likely theory in my opinion, is that The Legendary Planet is a Forerunner colony or planetoid-sized spacecraft, similar to High Charity in Halo 2. This can lead to many possible scenarios of what the planet is hiding, like live Forerunner, a new Gravemind that has taken refuge, or something more...sinister...if the description for Halo 4 on its official website is taken into account (bold and underline added by myself).
Halo 4 is the next blockbuster installment in the iconic franchise that's shaped entertainment history and defined a decade of gaming. Set in the aftermath of Halo 3, Master Chief returns to confront his own destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe. Halo 4 marks the start of a new trilogy that begins with its release in 2012.
What could this ancient evil be? I think I have a couple ideas, but we'll save those for a different time.
The second theory is that the planet is a Shield World , a world created by the Forerunner to protect anyone from the Halo installations' radiation pulse by opening a slipspace portal inside the planet to a Dyson Sphere outside of the range of the rings. My problem is that people believe that The Legendary Planet is a very specific shield world, Onyx, a former top-secret training ground for the UNSC to train Spartan-IIIs, a cheaper version of the Spartan-IIs like Master Chief, that were used as one-use suicide soldiers. The fate of Onyx is covered in the book Ghosts of Oynx. To sum it up, though, the attempted firing of Installation 05 in Halo 2 awakens Oynx, which is revealed to be a Shield World. The surface of Oynx is actually built out of billions of Sentinels, and after activating the slipspace portal which several characters from the book enter, they all brake apart and scatter. This is why I don't believe that The Legendary Planet is Onyx, as it's effectively destroyed.
For now, we must bid farewell to The Legendary Planet until future information on Halo 4 is released, or until the release of the next Halo book, Glasslands, this year as the book as been said by 343 Industries to cover what happened to Oynx after Ghosts of Oynx. I'll update this blog post in the future when new information about the famous Legendary Planet is revealed. Until then, discuss, ask questions, or wait for the next part of this series which will deal with a new aspect of the Halo universe that could relate to Halo 4.
Thank you for reading.
1) Halo 3, The Ark, Cutscene [starts at :10 seconds]
2) IGN Interviews 343 Industries Frank O'Connor - Halo CE Anniversary and Halo 4 [skip to 3:52 for relevant information]