What We Know About Halo 4- Part 1

Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -

If like me, you’re a fan of Halo then you may have found yourself in a bit of a drought of content from this particular series of sci-fi shooters recently. It’s now over a year since Halo: Reach was released and while Combat Evolved Anniversary is only about a month away, we have up to Q4 2012 to wait for the next entirely new entry in the series. I thought now seemed like an appropriate time for some summation and speculation on the contents of Halo 4. So without further ado here’s more than you’d ever need to know about where the Halo universe appears to be going next.

Gameplay

 A piece of promotional art for Halo 4 bearing the new tagline.

Right now there’s little concrete news on anything apart from story and some visuals, but from what has been said about the gameplay we know this is going to be a Halo-ass Halo game. I doubt that comes as a big surprise to anybody, but just to emphasise what I’m talking about here, Frank O’Connor, franchise developer and director at 343 Industries, said that they had “awesome” content and/or features included in earlier builds of the game which were scrapped purely because they weren’t “Halo” enough.

About a year back Nate Walpole, an employee of 343 Industries, posted a video on the internet showing animation from what was presumably an early Halo 4 concept video, where a soldier appeared to use super power-like abilities to fight two other men. Some have believed this particular video sheds some light on the cutscene if not also the gameplay content of Halo 4, but it has been confirmed that this was scrapped and considering its nature, it certainly looks like the kind of thing that might not have been “Halo” enough to make it into the final product. What’s more, I doubt Walpole would risk his job and the secrecy of the project he’s working on by posting a video that has any real relation to the contents of Halo 4.

The E3 Trailer

In terms of character design the E3 Halo 4 trailer showed us a slightly different Chief and Cortana, with the most notable change perhaps being a jetpack inexplicably now equipped to the Chief. Both he and the Cortana have also taken on a slightly different appearance, and fans have noted that the voice coming from Cortana no longer sounds like that of her previous voice actress Jen Taylor. Again though, I think it would be overly-presumptuous to assume this is all reflective of the genuine content of Halo 4.

 343's real-life replica of the new MJOLNIR armour.

Firstly, it’s been announced that the Chief design seen in the trailer will not be the final design and that 343 are on about their fourth iteration of the Chief. Secondly, while Cortana’s voice does sound somewhat unlike Taylor’s, for the majority of the trailer it is muffled and we don’t really have a good chunk of speech from her to judge by. Lastly, there have been many trailers for games before now, even non-pre-rendered ones, which have shown details which were changed in the final game and this could well be another case of such a thing. 343 have shown off an all new design for the Chief’s MJOLNIR armour though, which they say they worked with the Halo community to create.

One thing that may legitimately be a clue at what we will see in Halo 4 is the Chief’s new pistol in the trailer. Don’t expect what you see there to be the final design for sure, but it’s likely that the silencer and the way the gun reloads could be a hint towards what we can expect to see in the next Halo. I wouldn’t be that surprised if we saw the Chief sporting some kind of jet pack either, especially as we have already seen such a thing implemented in Halo: Reach.

The Onyx Theory

Moving onto story, you may remember Halo 3 ended with the conclusion of the Human-Covenant War, the destruction of the Flood via a Halo array, and while the UNSC believed Chief to be dead, he and Cortana were instead stranded upon the wreckage of the UNSC Frigate “Forward Unto Dawn”, drifting towards an unknown planet (as can be seen in that E3 trailer). Fans of the Halo canon began immediately debating where exactly Chief and Cortana had found themselves and theories began flying on the online forums, two of the more bold I saw involving the idea that they’d travelled through time or teleported into the Marathon universe.

 A UNSC complex on Onyx.

More eagled-eyed players observed that not only was the unknown planet covered with lights, suggesting it was heavily colonised or some sort of mechanical construct, but that the lights on it were forming symbols that had commonly been associated with the Forerunners throughout the series. This led to a very popular but ultimately flawed theory that the planet from the end of Halo 3 was in fact Onyx, a Forerunner construct which appeared in the novel Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. In the novel the UNSC had colonised the planet-like construct and were using it as a base to train the new line of Spartan-III super-soldiers. However, when the Covenant attacked, a group of Spartan-IIs (that’s the kind of Spartan the Master Chief is), Spartan-IIIs, Dr. Halsey (creator of the Spartans and Cortana) and an officer by the name of Mendez retreated inside the construct to find that in the centre was a slipspace rift which teleported them into a Forerunner shield world installation. Keeping up?

The shield world installations or “micro dyson spheres” are compressed bubbles of space-time which the Forerunners created to use as outer-space bomb shelters for when they fired the Halo arrays. However, the Foreunners were betrayed by an AI called 05-032 Mendicant Bias who allied with the Flood, and were forced to fire the Halos before they could retreat to the shield worlds. The plot thread involving Halsey and the Spartans trapped inside the dyson sphere was not followed up on and has been left hanging ever since. The theory that the planet at the end of Halo 3 was Onyx would have wrapped up this loose end nicely, creating a Halo 4 where Chief and Cortana would reunite with their creator and their fellow comrades in arms.

Where and When?

 Onyx, as seen from space.

The only problem with the Onyx theory was that near the end of Ghosts of Onyx, the construct actually turned out to be entirely made of Forerunner Sentinels which detached from each other causing the entire construct to disintegrate, something that a surprising number of fans managed to overlook. The theory still stood up though that the planet the Forward Unto Dawn was floating towards was at least a Forerunner world if not a Forerunner shield world, and that with Forerunner technology at their hands Chief and Cortana may could be able to rescue Halsey and co. in Halo 4.

Since most of the Halo 3 ending speculation it has in fact been revealed that the planet or construct is called Sigma 7 and it has been confirmed that it is a Forerunner world. When exactly Halo 4 will take place is still something that’s unclear though, some believed that because a Halo 4 model of the Warthog had been dubbed the “2554” model it would take place sometime after the year 2554, however this was shot down when O’Connor said the UNSC actually started distributing the 2554 model near the end of the year 2552, the time around when Halo 3 ended and the exact time-frame of the upcoming trilogy still remains a mystery. What are we more sure of about where the universe is going next? Well, that’s something for next week’s blog. Thank you for reading.

-Gamer_152
 
Edit: As Giant Bomb user EchoEcho has noted to me, the Onyx theory also cannot work because at the end of Halo 3 the Forward Unto Down was floating somewhere near the edge of the Milky Way, while Onyx is located elsewhere entirely, in the Zeta Doradus system.

Moderator
#1 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -

If like me, you’re a fan of Halo then you may have found yourself in a bit of a drought of content from this particular series of sci-fi shooters recently. It’s now over a year since Halo: Reach was released and while Combat Evolved Anniversary is only about a month away, we have up to Q4 2012 to wait for the next entirely new entry in the series. I thought now seemed like an appropriate time for some summation and speculation on the contents of Halo 4. So without further ado here’s more than you’d ever need to know about where the Halo universe appears to be going next.

Gameplay

 A piece of promotional art for Halo 4 bearing the new tagline.

Right now there’s little concrete news on anything apart from story and some visuals, but from what has been said about the gameplay we know this is going to be a Halo-ass Halo game. I doubt that comes as a big surprise to anybody, but just to emphasise what I’m talking about here, Frank O’Connor, franchise developer and director at 343 Industries, said that they had “awesome” content and/or features included in earlier builds of the game which were scrapped purely because they weren’t “Halo” enough.

About a year back Nate Walpole, an employee of 343 Industries, posted a video on the internet showing animation from what was presumably an early Halo 4 concept video, where a soldier appeared to use super power-like abilities to fight two other men. Some have believed this particular video sheds some light on the cutscene if not also the gameplay content of Halo 4, but it has been confirmed that this was scrapped and considering its nature, it certainly looks like the kind of thing that might not have been “Halo” enough to make it into the final product. What’s more, I doubt Walpole would risk his job and the secrecy of the project he’s working on by posting a video that has any real relation to the contents of Halo 4.

The E3 Trailer

In terms of character design the E3 Halo 4 trailer showed us a slightly different Chief and Cortana, with the most notable change perhaps being a jetpack inexplicably now equipped to the Chief. Both he and the Cortana have also taken on a slightly different appearance, and fans have noted that the voice coming from Cortana no longer sounds like that of her previous voice actress Jen Taylor. Again though, I think it would be overly-presumptuous to assume this is all reflective of the genuine content of Halo 4.

 343's real-life replica of the new MJOLNIR armour.

Firstly, it’s been announced that the Chief design seen in the trailer will not be the final design and that 343 are on about their fourth iteration of the Chief. Secondly, while Cortana’s voice does sound somewhat unlike Taylor’s, for the majority of the trailer it is muffled and we don’t really have a good chunk of speech from her to judge by. Lastly, there have been many trailers for games before now, even non-pre-rendered ones, which have shown details which were changed in the final game and this could well be another case of such a thing. 343 have shown off an all new design for the Chief’s MJOLNIR armour though, which they say they worked with the Halo community to create.

One thing that may legitimately be a clue at what we will see in Halo 4 is the Chief’s new pistol in the trailer. Don’t expect what you see there to be the final design for sure, but it’s likely that the silencer and the way the gun reloads could be a hint towards what we can expect to see in the next Halo. I wouldn’t be that surprised if we saw the Chief sporting some kind of jet pack either, especially as we have already seen such a thing implemented in Halo: Reach.

The Onyx Theory

Moving onto story, you may remember Halo 3 ended with the conclusion of the Human-Covenant War, the destruction of the Flood via a Halo array, and while the UNSC believed Chief to be dead, he and Cortana were instead stranded upon the wreckage of the UNSC Frigate “Forward Unto Dawn”, drifting towards an unknown planet (as can be seen in that E3 trailer). Fans of the Halo canon began immediately debating where exactly Chief and Cortana had found themselves and theories began flying on the online forums, two of the more bold I saw involving the idea that they’d travelled through time or teleported into the Marathon universe.

 A UNSC complex on Onyx.

More eagled-eyed players observed that not only was the unknown planet covered with lights, suggesting it was heavily colonised or some sort of mechanical construct, but that the lights on it were forming symbols that had commonly been associated with the Forerunners throughout the series. This led to a very popular but ultimately flawed theory that the planet from the end of Halo 3 was in fact Onyx, a Forerunner construct which appeared in the novel Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. In the novel the UNSC had colonised the planet-like construct and were using it as a base to train the new line of Spartan-III super-soldiers. However, when the Covenant attacked, a group of Spartan-IIs (that’s the kind of Spartan the Master Chief is), Spartan-IIIs, Dr. Halsey (creator of the Spartans and Cortana) and an officer by the name of Mendez retreated inside the construct to find that in the centre was a slipspace rift which teleported them into a Forerunner shield world installation. Keeping up?

The shield world installations or “micro dyson spheres” are compressed bubbles of space-time which the Forerunners created to use as outer-space bomb shelters for when they fired the Halo arrays. However, the Foreunners were betrayed by an AI called 05-032 Mendicant Bias who allied with the Flood, and were forced to fire the Halos before they could retreat to the shield worlds. The plot thread involving Halsey and the Spartans trapped inside the dyson sphere was not followed up on and has been left hanging ever since. The theory that the planet at the end of Halo 3 was Onyx would have wrapped up this loose end nicely, creating a Halo 4 where Chief and Cortana would reunite with their creator and their fellow comrades in arms.

Where and When?

 Onyx, as seen from space.

The only problem with the Onyx theory was that near the end of Ghosts of Onyx, the construct actually turned out to be entirely made of Forerunner Sentinels which detached from each other causing the entire construct to disintegrate, something that a surprising number of fans managed to overlook. The theory still stood up though that the planet the Forward Unto Dawn was floating towards was at least a Forerunner world if not a Forerunner shield world, and that with Forerunner technology at their hands Chief and Cortana may could be able to rescue Halsey and co. in Halo 4.

Since most of the Halo 3 ending speculation it has in fact been revealed that the planet or construct is called Sigma 7 and it has been confirmed that it is a Forerunner world. When exactly Halo 4 will take place is still something that’s unclear though, some believed that because a Halo 4 model of the Warthog had been dubbed the “2554” model it would take place sometime after the year 2554, however this was shot down when O’Connor said the UNSC actually started distributing the 2554 model near the end of the year 2552, the time around when Halo 3 ended and the exact time-frame of the upcoming trilogy still remains a mystery. What are we more sure of about where the universe is going next? Well, that’s something for next week’s blog. Thank you for reading.

-Gamer_152
 
Edit: As Giant Bomb user EchoEcho has noted to me, the Onyx theory also cannot work because at the end of Halo 3 the Forward Unto Down was floating somewhere near the edge of the Milky Way, while Onyx is located elsewhere entirely, in the Zeta Doradus system.

Moderator
#2 Posted by Vinny_Says (5681 posts) -

I kinda forgot, how is it that Halo only killed the flood and not all life in the universe (therefore starving the flood) as was mentioned in the original Halo game?

#3 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@Vinny_Says: The Halo arrays collectively only have a range of the entire Milky Way, not the entire universe, and individually they only cover a fraction of that. But are you talking about when they killed the Flood in Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo 3? In Halo: Combat Evolved they didn't fire the array as that would have killed all the humans locked in battle with the Covenant nearby. Instead the Chief and Cortana destroyed the array itself by detonating the fusion reactors in the Pillar of Autumn which had crashed on the Halo. In Halo 3 they activated the array and simultaneously destroyed it, but it was made sure that there were no humans or separatist Covenant in range of the array, and the array was unfinished, as Guilty Spark put it, it would only eradicate "the local infection".
Moderator
#4 Posted by Vinny_Says (5681 posts) -

@Gamer_152: So it's entirely possible there are still more flood left after Halo 3? Because the Halo wiki claims they "Originate from an unknown point outside the Milky Way galaxy..."

#5 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@Vinny_Says: Yes, they could exist on other Forerunner installations and it's unclear how they got to the Milky Way in the first place, but there is the theory that they escaped from Forerunner research facilities within the galaxy. However, as a sentient and intelligent species they're essentially defeated, because in activating and destroying the Halo the Gravemind was on in Halo 3, Chief, The Arbiter and Cortana effectively managed to kill the Flood's "brain". Although, there are some that believe that the Gravemind has a way of existing outside of a physical body.
Moderator
#6 Posted by Vinny_Says (5681 posts) -

@Gamer_152: I...I don't want to fight them again. Unless they are a different strain of badass flood way more advanced than the ones who consumed the Halos and that don't need gravemind to control them.

Flood weaponry and flood vehicles would be cool, but that's pretty similar to the Gears of War locust....

#7 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@Vinny_Says: I doubt they'd pull that, it seems like a bit of a cop-out. I suppose we could encounter splinter groups of Flood in the upcoming trilogy but I'll get onto what I suspect the real main enemy is going to be in part 2.
Moderator
#8 Posted by JuggertrainUK (200 posts) -

I just hope this series doesn't end up like Star Wars, I am very excited to read more from you and see more from 343.

Keep it up dude.

#9 Posted by EchoEcho (813 posts) -

Nice write-up. One thing, though: At the end of Halo 3, Cortana and the Chief are stranded outside the galactic rim, which is where the Ark was and therefore where their half of the frigate ended up when the portal closed prematurely. I always thought that was the most obvious reason why the planet/structure they were floating towards couldn't be Onyx. It would not, however, preclude the possibility of it being the shield world that Halsey and the others ended up inside at the end of Ghosts of Onyx. This might not be the case, but it would be nice if it was -- it would finally tie up that storyline and connect what has been, up to now, two completely isolated aspects of the Halo fiction: the games and the novels.

#10 Edited by munnyman5 (184 posts) -

Firstly, kickass post.

Secondly, I'm deeply, deeply upset by the fact that things in the game are being scrapped for not being "Halo" enough.

Dude, I've played like 5 or 6 Halo games. I love that franchise, but enough is enough. I want Master Chief taking quests from old dudes who are from a Forerunner splinter colony, then using Kinect 2 (full Virtual Reality Edition) for hand-to-hand combat against Forerunner swamp-hogs or something. But it's almost certainly going to be what somebody said in an E3 wrap-up video: "Master Chief is gonna fall through that portal on that planet, and on the other side, there will be things to shoot."

I'd ask why they'd do something like that, but I'm 99% sure the answer is "something something business numbers money." But if idiots weren't buying things just because they had "Halo" on them, maybe the "business money numbers" would force them to be innovative and do some cool shit! Jeff was right; consumers are WEAK.

I think this franchise will TOTALLY be this generation's Star Wars, and it pains me to imagine that future. I guess I'll just go on hoping the story is good enough to drag me through the probably-samey gameplay, and maybe the books will be good as well. God, I'm going to turn into Vinny...

#11 Posted by Warihay (480 posts) -

Great post! Can't wait hear more about this game.

#12 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

I just now realized your avatar is from Halo.

#13 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10341 posts) -

Wait, why are they changing Chief's armor? Isn't it supposed to be the same stuff he was wearing at the end of 3?

#14 Posted by zombie2011 (4968 posts) -

So excited for this, i really didn't think Halo needed the Chief but as much as i loved Reach i kinda missed the guy.

#15 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3181 posts) -

Another thing you should take aim at is Cortana's lifespan. As a smart AI, she can only live for seven years, indicative of Cortana's somber tone when she says it'll take years for anyone to find the Chief and her. So with this in mind, the primary objective of Halo 4 might be to find a way to increase Cortana's lifespan. It's a theory, but a good one.

#16 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@JuggertrainUK: Same here and thank you.
 
@EchoEcho: Thanks and you're right about the location of the portal. I think it's a little obscure of an explanation as to why that planet can't be Onyx, as the exact location of Onyx is something not many people know (I had to look it up), but I'll add it to the post when I have time. I do think that now Chief and Cortana have access to Forerunner technology, no matter the location of the dyson sphere, they have a good chance of finding Halsey and the rest.
 
@munnyman5: Thank you. I don't think I'd go as far as you with the new ideas they should have for the Halo franchise, but I totally agree that it's a big shame they've been intentionally scrapping original ideas. The perpetuation of the Halo franchise is definitely a business-driven thing but I don't think this is just about consumers enjoying a familiar brand-name, I think the mainstream is much more comfortable and demanding of familiar aesthetics and gameplay, and that might be the biggest problem that the industry as a whole faces today.
 
When Jeff said consumers are weak though I don't think that is what he was referring to, or at least he wasn't just referring to that kind of thing. I think he was saying that for all our complaints about the games industry and our threats of boycotts and the such, when the opportunity is given we still go out and buy every game filled with the bad DRM, online passes and other annoyances we whine so much about. I totally get how you feel about Halo possibly being the next Star Wars but I think its gameplay still has some very strong merits and even if you are turning into Vinny, there are far worse people to be turning into. By the way, I love your avatar.
 
@Warihay: Thanks.
 
@LordXavierBritish: Yep, it's very slightly obscure but that's where it's from.
 
@MooseyMcMan: Conceivably there are ways Chief could get hold of a new suit of armour in the coming game, but you're absolutely right that it makes no sense that Chief wakes up with slightly different armour at the beginning of the Halo 4 trailer, that's why I described his jet boosters as "inexplicable". Of course I think it'd be perfectly valid to take that trailer as non-canon, there was pre-Halo 3 marketing stuff which didn't really fit into the story either.
 
@zombie2011: I've heard a lot of people say that and I kind of have to agree.
 
@Tru3_Blu3: Her lifespan isn't technically the issue but I know exactly what you're talking about. Don't worry, that's coming next week.
Moderator
#17 Posted by big_jon (5707 posts) -

Good stuff.

#18 Posted by Tylea002 (2295 posts) -

Not including awesome ideas because they weren't Halo enough = Weak. C'mon guys, make it stand out a bit. The covenant are gone, as are the flood. Please, god, introduce a new threat.

However, if the right level of 'Halo Enough' is totally hooking into the books, bringing Halsey and Kelly back, then god damn I would love that. It's a very long shot, but that would be rather amazing.

#19 Edited by Afroman269 (7387 posts) -

The onyx theory makes the most sense. That's what immediately came to mind when I saw the extra bit in the Halo 3 ending. That ghosts of onyx book was the last halo book I read.

#20 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@big_jon: Thank you.
 
@Tylea002: I think we are gonna see some new threats in the story, kind of, I'll be talking about that next week. Like you though, I'd really love to see them hook further into the novels. Seeing Chief and Cortana reunite with Halsey, Blue Team, etc. would be awesome. 
 
@Afroman269: I could see why you'd think that but I explained in the blog that the Onyx theory is wrong.
Moderator
#21 Posted by big_jon (5707 posts) -

Another interesting thing is the state of the Elites, I think it's safe to assume that they will return in some capacity.
 
However, they are on shaky grounds now, their power is questionable at this point, without the Prophets they now no longer have anyone to build and research science for them, perhaps they will take the place of the prophets in a new Covenant?

#22 Posted by TooWalrus (13127 posts) -

I really don't care for the theories and stuff that the game might be about, but I love the "what we know" analysis, so keep it up, man!

#23 Posted by big_jon (5707 posts) -

Also, I really don't like Chiefs new armour, it looks too anime of something.
 
I liked the Reach armour the most, it had a harder edge to it and looked more lethal, and heavy.

#24 Posted by Gamer_152 (14049 posts) -
@big_jon: I'll be talking more about enemies in part 2. It should be remembered that overall the Elites aren't really part of the Covenant anymore, they left during the Great Schism and were the leaders of the Separatists. I'm not sure what to think about the new armour, right now I think I like the MJOLNIR Mk. VI better.
 
@TooWalrus: Thanks man.
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