To call Halo 4 one of the most anticipated Xbox 360 games of the year would be a definite understatement. It has been a full two years since Bungie’s swansong to the series; Halo Reach put control of the Halo franchise to the talented folks over at 343 Industries. Come November, the next installment in the franchise, Halo 4, will be released to the gaming public. We will again be playing in the shoes of Master Chief SPARTAN-117, or John as we like to call him now. The green SPARTAN has been MIA since 2007’s Halo 3 and gamers have been champing at the bit to continue his story.
And what a story we have been promised!
*I am aware that the full game has been leaked as well as its plot but this is written without any knowledge of the leaked plot. It’s more fun to speculate, anyway.*
Speculation has run rampant ever since the trailers started popping in and while 343 has kept mum about a lot of the plot, there is enough information out there to piece together a possible plot. Do note that I write this with a lot of conjecture and an unhealthy love of Halo lore.
Cortana has been the Chief’s companion since the first time we gazed through his HUD. As the series has progressed, she has become increasingly important to the series, to the Chief and, by extension, to us gamers. The trouble is, though, AIs in the Halo universe suffer from something known as Rampancy after being in use for too long. It’s a very interesting concept: supposedly after an AI has been in use for a few years it starts to develop sentience and like a teenager, it comes to understand its place as a subordinate of its makers. This causes the AI to unleash tantrums that can be very dangerous and as such, they are normally destroyed. Human AIs are normally terminated after seven years–Cortana has been active much longer. As an AI that has interfaced with Forerunner technology and has become aware of the true scope of things, Cortana is unique and her Rampancy will become a key aspect of Halo 4. It would be interesting if they pulled a Mass Effect 3 and placed her inside an autonomous body (ah, the fan service).
Halo 4, 5, and 6 are being collectively titled The Reclaimer Trilogy and the use of this term is not new. In fact, from the very beginning humanity has been called the “reclaimers” by remnants of the Forerunners such as 343 Guilty Spark. Perhaps in Halo 4, humans will finally get to understand what that term means. Most likely, it will refer to something known as the Mantle. The Mantle is a core belief in Forerunner ideology, a belief that a superior race, the Precursors, passed care of all biological life in the galaxy to the Forerunners and they above all else have this right. With the Forerunners basically gone, maybe it’s humanity’s turn to claim that mantle, but the denizens of Requiem might not want to give it up without a fight. I believe this concept could become the core conflict of the new trilogy.
There are more mysteries to solve. For example: what of Elizabeth Halsey, creator of the SPARTAN program? She was supposed to be on a Shield World; perhaps she makes an appearance. Or maybe we get to meet the Didact. Whatever the case, 343 Industries has big shoes to fill and I sincerely hope they do the expansive universe justice when Halo 4 is released on Nov. 6 exclusively for the Xbox 360.