Halo Infinite Could Be The Perfect Beginning
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Many players are delving into the (ring) world of Halo for the first time with the release of 343’s highly anticipated Halo Infinite. And it could be the perfect place to start!
343’s latest release in the Halo franchise is technically Halo 10 if we’re counting all the spinoff titles and side games, which could feel a little daunting to new players lacking in lore or backstory for the big man in green armor. The Master Chief as most of us call him, (Master Chef if you’re writing an article hungry) has been through the ringer since his introduction in Halo: Combat Evolved. His beginning as a seemingly flat alpha hero trope is light years away from the Spartan who came to wear the 1000lbs battle suit and once you get down to the detail of that transition in the games that followed you really begin to see where the cracks in his armor lie, though none of them have yet been big enough to catch a glimpse of his mysterious face.
The multiplex, non-linear character arc of Master Chief over the course of the series is applaudable. He’s gone from the most expensive piece of military hardware stomping through every battlefield, to a legend thought to have died to save humanity and finally to a man with a quietly complex mind dealing with the loss of friends and comrades. Halo Infinite literally kicks off with MC being clobbered and dropped from a cruiser into space. The indomitable hero is dragged across the hanger floor like a deflated balloon, picked up by the neck, and dropped into the void, creating an impactful opening scene for new and veteran players alike!
The respective worlds that Master Chief inhabits, whether cylindrical, inverted or spherical like our own, (sorry flat-earthers) silently build a huge amount of characterisation to accompany his limited dialogue. Each game introduces a shift in tone, utilising the environments of the world the player inhabits as the Chief, and each has developed the backstory of the character, who was forced into the Spartan II Program as a child. This past trauma is the driving force for the man inside the armour to continue his fight against The Covenant.
Halo Infinite operates as a “soft reboot” to the franchise while simultaneously tying up loose ends from Halo 5: Guardians, which is no mean feat, but what we’ve already seen from 343 demonstrates their capability with introducing new and twisting old story elements to ring out a little more meaning. Halo: Combat Evolved, according to it’s Cinematics Director Joseph Staten, was designed with loneliness and abandonment as a focus for many of the levels whereas Halo 4's pivot was the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana, his AI companion who’s been with him since The Fall of Reach (a battle that wiped out 99% of Spartan soldiers including most of Chief’s friends). This relationship between Cortana and John - Master Chief’s real name which only Cortana and her creator Dr Halsey, who also created the Spartan Project, use - is something that stays true as one of the most-loved elements of the Halo franchise. Which is something that is a big change about Halo Infinite after Cortana’s own character shifts throughout the mainline Halo titles. How can John learn to depend on anyone new after his friends and closest companions have left him?
“It's gone… why don't you trust me…” we hear in a saddened tone from his new companion known so far as “The Weapon”. Cleverly, we appear to be learning more about John through her uninitiated eyes to the Halo world.
And therein is the wonder of Halo Infinite. She is the lens new players are guided by. Just as our physical manifestation in-game is Master Chief, our mind is the AI in his suit. Bravo to 343 for reintroducing the symbiotic core of the series as a vehicle through which inexperienced players effortlessly download the fundamental lore to their neural network.
Halo Infinite drops players to explore not only the ringworld left by The Forerunners but also the Master Chief as a character. You’re inhabiting him on a new Halo that is different from the previous he’s seen throughout his campaigns against The Covenant, The Flood or The Prometheans that have led him to be the man he is. So while experiencing this new Halo is fresh and vibrant it doesn't detract from the wonder felt by going back and experiencing the older Halo titles. Of which are available through the Master Chief Collection or GamePass and contain some truly wonderful story elements that captivated so many gamers since 2001.