Is Halo moving away from Military Science Fiction?

After watching the most recent gameplay trailer, I’m asking myself one major question.

Is Halo moving away from its roots in serious military science fiction?

From my perspective, the books Fall of Reach, First Strike, and Ghosts of Onyx all really solidified a well flushed out world of serious military science fiction. The aesthetic of the original games evolved from CE to Reach, but always in the direction of military science fiction. Reach in particular was a very “military” game. I personally loved this direction. To this day I can play any of those games and feel like its a realistic world that takes itself somewhat seriously. Some easter eggs exist in each game, but generally they have more of a dramatic and serious story than an adventure packed story… Halo has always been more like lord of the rings to me than star wars, in that Lord of the Rings has comedic moments but mostly takes itself seriously, whereas star wars is a bit more on the goofy action adventure side.

For me, Halo 2 was the furthest that the originals got from being serious military science fiction. In particular, that game leaned a bit too far into the action side of things (with scenes like bringing the covenant back their bomb,) and drifted away from the gritty military science fiction that we saw in CE. I think I personally disliked Halo 4 and 5 mostly because they took that a step further aesthetically. In general, Halo 4 and 5 are… shiny. They lost the matte, industrial aesthetic we saw in the original games, and adopted a more glossy science fantasy feeling, and the Spartans started to feel less like the serious special forces group they were in the books.

I’ve been glad to see some of the matte aesthetic coming back into Halo with Infinite, and I was pleasantly surprised by the campaign teaser we got a while back at E3 (which had some beautiful music, and some moments that almost felt like Halo 3 or Reach “The missions change, they always do.” This new campaign teaser showed me a world that felt very… arcade-ish. The writing was very shallow, the characters felt one dimensional and goofy, the music was mostly verbatim from the original games, with at least one very abrupt transition that didn’t feel good. The explosions, shields, and outlines are all very cartoonish, and the FOB mechanics felt immersion breaking.

I’m curious what y’all think. Is 343 moving Halo away from being serious military science fiction? Have we just not seen enough of Infinite to know for sure?

By saying that “Halo 2 was the furthest that the originals got from being serious military science fiction,” wouldn’t that mean Bungie moved away from being “serious military science fiction?” And that 343 is only continuing (after some hurdles) what Bungie started.

I think in terms of Halo 2, Bungie wanted to ‘up the ante’ in terms of spectacle.

For me, I sort of see the hard military sci-fi as being one part of the grander Halo experience. The Flood offer a lovecraftian horror vibe, while the Forerunners supply the ancient mystery aspect.
Each games has leaned more in different directions, with 4 and 5 definitely leaned more into the space magic, maybe a little too much for some.
It’ll be interesting to see how they approach Infinite.

> 2535466172439828;2:
> By saying that “Halo 2 was the furthest that the originals got from being serious military science fiction,” wouldn’t that mean Bungie moved away from being “serious military science fiction?” And that 343 is only continuing (after some hurdles) what Bungie started.

Not necessarily. Halo 2 was a bit of a departure and leaned more into that sort of action, but Halo 3 was a bit more balanced, and ODST and Reach were definitely strong steps towards military science fiction.

> 2533274810945725;3:
> I think in terms of Halo 2, Bungie wanted to ‘up the ante’ in terms of spectacle.
>
> For me, I sort of see the hard military sci-fi as being one part of the grander Halo experience. The Flood offer a lovecraftian horror vibe, while the Forerunners supply the ancient mystery aspect.
> Each games has leaned more in different directions, with 4 and 5 definitely leaned more into the space magic, maybe a little too much for some.
> It’ll be interesting to see how they approach Infinite.

Agreed! Reach was missing a bit of the horror aspects, but certainly still hit the ancient mystery. I felt like Halo 4 and 5 entirely removed the ancient mystery aspect by taking the forerunner in a very bright, active, moving aesthetic. As you said, they leaned more into the space magic.

Hoping that the writers for the trailer weren’t the writers on the campaign, but some of those lines were clearly from gameplay or cutscene. I’m concerned that the cinematic nature of the universe will be lost on an open world, but hopeful that they might be able to pull it off.

What “very abrupt transition that didn’t feel good” are you referring to in the trailer?

You ask is Halo moving away from military science fiction then clearly detail how 4 and 5 did just that? Lol

But yeah I would agree the leaning on more military themes is one of the things that gives or what used to give Halo it’s own distinctive feel, probably feeds partly into why CE and 3 are seen as the best or feel like the most Halo.

It seems Infinite isn’t fully embracing that aspect of the franchise but at least we know there’ll be a focus on at least rescuing marines which can then help out, hop in your vehicle etc. From what I remember Halo 5 almost completely lost marines.

> 2535466172439828;6:
> What “very abrupt transition that didn’t feel good” are you referring to in the trailer?

24 seconds into the trailer, they simply cut from the original theme to a newer version of it. It just didn’t feel graceful. In general I’ve been disappointed by audio for this game, but I’m also just nitpicky because I do audio for a living.

> 2533275004674037;7:
> You ask is Halo moving away from military science fiction then clearly detail how 4 and 5 did just that? Lol
>
> But yeah I would agree the leaning on more military themes is one of the things that gives or what used to give Halo it’s own distinctive feel, probably feeds partly into why CE and 3 are seen as the best or feel like the most Halo.
>
> It’s seems Infinite isn’t fully embracing that aspect of the franchise but at least we know there’ll be a focus on at least rescuing marines which can then help out, hop in your vehicle etc. From what I remember Halo 5 almost completely lost marines.

Yup! Halo 4 and 5 were certainly moving away from it, but it’s unclear to me if Halo Infinite will be in the same direction, or if we’re getting a more prominent military science fiction element than was there in 4 and 5.

I would love it if the marines in Infinite worked on some sort of fireteam system a la the Reach campaign.

> 2533274812002202;8:
> > 2535466172439828;6:
> > What “very abrupt transition that didn’t feel good” are you referring to in the trailer?
>
> 24 seconds into the trailer, they simply cut from the original theme to a newer version of it. It just didn’t feel graceful. In general I’ve been disappointed by audio for this game, but I’m also just nitpicky because I do audio for a living.

Just watched again and you my friend, are indeed way too picky (in a good way.) Must be good at your job though, but I do understand what you’re getting at.

I actually think one of Halo’s biggest strengths is that it can work very well in different genres. The Fall of Reach is very much traditional military sci-fi. But then you have works like the Forerunner Trilogy that delve into things like Lovecraftian horror and borderline fantasy. Then you have things like ODST which always felt less military and more of a detective story.

So for me, 4 and 5 leaning away from military sci-fi wasn’t really much of an issue and if Infinite does so then I’m still not concerned too much. I think there is room for Halo to explore all sorts of angles.

I’m not very concerned with halo not being too militaristic, the core gameplay loop is what I’m hooked into and it plays fantastic. The multiplayer does actually feel and look more militaristic than the campaign though, which for the longevity of the game probably is a good thing as its main competition is COD and Battlefield. Reach was definitely my favorite of all the campaigns for its grounded and impactful set pieces, dialogue, and gritty design, but Infinite is a breath of fresh air and looks to offer a lot of fun new ways to experience halo.

When forge comes out I’m sure the community will make custom experiences that lean towards that more gritty military theme, especially since AI will be forgeable. I’m also sure that the community will make horror themes and tons of goofy minigames that could range from military sims, battle royals, death runs, puzzle maps etc etc. As long as the art style is solid I don’t think it matters too much.

Let’s say you re-created the second mission of Halo CE in Halo Infinite forge, there’s very little dialogue, how different would the two games feel? I bet that Infinite would probably play very true to the original Halo CE yet the game would feel way more modern with all the new abilities and sandbox tools. You could also revamp the entire attack section to add more objectives to it and make the pace faster.

While I think what you are saying has a lot of truth within your specific context it ignores the reality of the Halo Universe. The very existence of the Forerunners made this direction inevitable. Everything so far in the Halo Universe has been the result of mutation, DNA (imprints), and very sophisticated technology. The beginning of the Halo franchise was based of very little understanding of Forerunner tech and the other races that existed. It’s only natural that things become further from the natural “human” mission or path as the series progresses.

Infinite seems like it’s going for a little bit of everything as far as those different directional choices. But from what I’ve seen so far, it has a satisfying level of that hard military sci-fi feel from earlier in the franchise. Definitely more so than the previous 2 games. Marines seem to have a more prominent role in game once more, the aesthetic is more traditional, and especially the CE-esque goal of rallying your forces to fight for control of the ring.

Halo has existed in both more grounded military sci fi and more fantasical military sci fi. It essentially meanders its way in and out of both (which is awesome imo)

I wasn’t a fan of the last two games’ aesthetic choices, but I do like that Infinite seems to be leaning back in the military direction. It’s not as gritty and militaristic as Reach, but I like that it feels at least on-par with CE in a lot of ways.

I think what’s throwing you off is that there’s still a lot of the shiny, glowy stuff from the 343 era in Infinite, but I appreciate the effort they made to at least tone that stuff down and bring it more in-line with the old games. 3 and Reach are still my favorite games aesthetically, but Infinite looks pretty high on the list thus far IMO.