Note: This blog is a continuation of What We Know About Halo 4- Part 1
Looking at the narrative of Halo 4, perhaps one of the most important details to note is that 343 already have their overall story-arc planned out for the entirety of the upcoming Halo trilogy, which they’ve dubbed the “Reclaimer Trilogy”. A reclaimer in the Halo fiction seems to be someone who reactivates or reclaims a Forerunner installation, so this fits nicely seeing as 343 have been very strongly implying that the Forerunner are probably going to factor even more heavily into Halo 4 and possibly the upcoming trilogy as a whole than they have in the previous Halo games. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is even set to include new terminals (like the ones found in Halo 3) which will contain texts that tie into the upcoming trilogy.
Interestingly, Frank O’Connor has said that as the UNSC were no longer at war after the end of Halo 3, they were able to put their time and resources into researching Forerunner technology and that we’ll see the fruits of this research in Halo 4. It might just be me but I get the sense O’Connor is hinting at the inclusion of new UNSC-Forerunner hybrid weapons and possibly vehicles in the coming games. The fact that it would have taken some significant amount of time to perform this research and development is what makes me suspect there may be a significant gap of months or even years between Halo 3 and at least the majority of the events in Halo 4. It’s also been said that we’re going to see more Forerunner technology in a state where it’s “not inert and dead”.
A surprising amount can be gleaned from the concept art released thus far for the game. Much of it seems to include rather picturesque Forerunner environments, although one particular image that has piqued interests is of an as yet known world. It could be a better lit Sigma 7, an all new planet Chief will visit in the game, or some other kind of new construct. Other concept art seems to show brand-new ships, although it’s not quite clear which factions of the Halo world they belong too, I’ll let you decide for yourself. One piece of the artwork also appears to contain Pelicans moving towards some of the mysterious new ships, just in case you needed more confirmation that the UNSC were returning.
The Chief and Cortana
As far as characters go, 343 seem determined to keep under wraps who will and who won’t be returning from previous games, but it has been said that not only will the upcoming trilogy deal with the “fate” of Chief and Cortana, but that they wish to use it as an opportunity to further develop Chief as a character and the Chief-Cortana relationship. Take that as you will. O’Connor has also said that Cortana’s deteriorating mental state may also be addressed in the upcoming game or games.
In case you’re unaware of Cortana’s predicament, let me explain. In the Halo universe there are two kinds of artificial intelligence, smart AI and dumb AI, the difference between the two being that smart AI can learn new information, while dumb AI cannot. Cortana is of course the former, however the problem with smart AI is that as they learn new information and their mental maps begin to interconnect and create endless feedback loops, it takes more and more effort for them to process information, until they are unable to operate properly and enter a state known as “rampancy” where they become highly emotionally unstable and must be permanently shut down. For most AI this happens after about seven years and while Cortana was first activated in late 2549, about three years before Halo 3, how far into the future it is in Halo 4 will have a significant impact on her. It was hinted at in Halo 3 that she may already be developing rampancy and some think that her rampancy was somehow created or sped up by her interaction with the Gravemind.
The New Enemy
Finally, I think one of the biggest questions has been who the new enemy is going to be in the coming Halo trilogy. The Gravemind and a considerable portion of the Flood were eradicated at the end of Halo 3 and while some think the Gravemind is capable of surviving the death of even his physical body and that there may be mindless Flood lurking on other Forerunner installations, bringing them back as the main enemy immediately would seem like a huge cop-out, as would bringing back the Covenant who were basically defeated when Master Chief and the Arbiter killed the Prophet of Truth and the last of their leaders fell. That’s not to say we won’t see the Flood or surviving Covenant Loyalists return, just that they’re unlikely to be the primary threat. As time has gone on though I’ve become more and more convinced that the main enemy in Halo 4 are a lesser-known race of the fiction called the Precursors.
The Precursors are a race whose history in the Halo universe dates back before even that of the Forerunners. They had more advanced technology than the Forerunners and were capable of both intergalactic travel and the acceleration of the evolution of life. It seems that humans are likely their direct descendents and the “mantle”, which was the philosophical code of the Forerunners, may also have come from the Precursors. All but one of the Precursors was thought to have been wiped out in a war between their species and the Forerunners, however even if the Precursors do not return as a collective threat, it may be that this single Precursor is to become Halo’s new bad guy.
Why am I so sure the Precursors (or Precursor) are the new adversary to Chief and the UNSC? Well, as explained earlier Halo has basically no other enemies left to bring out, the Halo 4 web page Microsoft put up around the time of E3 described an “ancient evil”, the new Halo novel Halo: Cryptum has gone to some efforts to further include the Precursors, the Precursors have strong connections with the Forerunners who seem to be a much more prominent part of the upcoming trilogy, O’Connor has said that something in Halo 4 has the universe in chaos, and the creature shown at the end of the Halo Fest concept art video could also well be one of the aforementioned beings.
Duder, It’s Over
So there’s more than you could possibly need to know about Halo 4. Personally, I think the people at 343 seem genuinely passionate about the property they’re creating and I expect that they’ll create a game of some quality in Halo 4. 343 seem to have been very good about bring together a group of rather talented people from the games industry for this one, I’m just worried that by iterating on the same basic formula repeatedly they’re setting themselves up for a trilogy of games that might not be everything they have the capability to be. Thank you for reading.