Some of the best character writing in the series

Post has spoilers for infinite.

I personally believe that Infinite has the best character writing in the series. It does well with the villain, the protagonist, and the supporting cast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this level of emotion shown by characters in a Halo game. There were so many moments of character growth. We have never seen chief this emotionally vulnerable. It’s always been Cortana that pulls in the emotional part of the relationship. This all started back in Halo 4, 343s first Halo game. This would be the first time we’ve seen chief Express more than just a bad -Yoink!- one liner. He was constantly worried about Cortana’s safety. He did this more towards the end of Halo 3, but not to the extent of 4. We get to see an actual relationship between the two that isn’t just “plug me into that computer, now go kill some aliens, studmuffin”. When she reveals her rampancy, his first priority is getting her back to Halsey to save her. Everytime Chief is separated from her, the objective always says “Save Cortana” or “Find Cortana”. While he does try to stay a stoic badass in 4, there are moments were that stoicism falls and he gets vulnerable.

Now Halo 5 is where we see this even more. More of it with Cortana, but also with blue team. Granted, Halo 5 didn’t have the best story, but it did give us a lot more insight into chief and his character. Especially when his best and arguably only friends are finally put into a game. The connection we see blue team have with chief, while not as deep or complex, is a lot better than we’ve gotten in the other games. The only other relationships we’ve seen chief have are with Johnson and Arbiter. He’s known Johnson since his early days as a spartan, but we still don’t get to see chief Express anything concerning the relationship until Johnson dies in 3. And he only ever says one word to the arbiter. Granted you don’t really need to talk to someone to form a bond with them, but it wouldn’t hurt. We see in Halo 5 that blue team cares about chief, and he cares about them. Each member of blue team expresses that they are with him till the end. Even when chief tells them that he wants to go after Cortana alone, they tag along cause that’s their friend. And to me it seemed like chief appreciated that. I think it goes to show that chief really relates to spartans well, for obvious reason. A theme which comes up a lot in infinite. And we got to see even more of his relationship with Cortana and how he tries to bargain with her to come back after her betrayal. Say what you want about how the gameplay in 343 titles is, but they do write characters nicely.

Now Infinite. This game to me has the best master chief in all of the Halo games. The loss of Cortana devistates this man. The loss of the UNSC by the banished, the loss of A LOT of spartans. All of it effects his character. And the things that messes with him the most, having to walk around with a spitting image of Cortana after all she’s done. The theme of trust is brought up a lot in this game. The chief doesn’t trust Cortana 2 electric boogaloo. The pilot, Fernando, doesn’t trust chief to get him home. The main villain, Escharum, doesn’t trust the harbinger. Cortana 2, who I’m going to just call the weapon from here on out, is revealed to just be Cortana without having met chief. This is what causes him to not trust her. We can see this several times and the weapon even brings it up a few times. Now we know why he doesn’t. She did penetrate the universe with guardian shaped -Yoink!-. But I think Chief’s lack of trust is unwarranted. We know why Cortana is the way she is. When she was cured of her rampancy, something happened to her. Sure Cortana turned evil in 5, but that’s not the Cortana chief knew. Like it literally isn’t. Her rampancy cure changed her. This doesn’t change the fact that the weapon acts exactly like Cortana. Which is why chief is so quick to delete her. And I love the way they show the weapon’s reaction to this. She becomes sassy and petty, understandably. She cant possibly understand why he would want to delete her until it’s revealed who and what she is. Where she then even asks chief to delete her. But this is where we see some growth in chief. He sees that she is different and while doesn’t quite trust her, is willing to work with her. And she also causes him to open up more. He talks about is feelings and it feels like such a breath if fresh air. For most of the series chief was a rock with I: face painted on it.I think that a great moment for chief was the I think second time he tries to delete the weapon. When she is trapped in a terminal of some sort and is struggling. When the HUD starts asking chief for authorization his access codes are 034 and Samuel. That hurt when I saw it. For those who don’t know, Samuel was a spartan that was part of chief’s original team. His spartan number was 034. Chief’s blue team originally had 5 members, not 4 like we see in Halo 5. Sam died during the Spartans first contact with the covenant. He was the first spartan ever to die in combat. This death in the books greatly effected chief and plays into some of the moments we see in infinite. Like Everytime we come across a dead spartan, the way he always places his hand on them really shows that he feels a connection to his fellow spartans, more so than the rest of the UNSC. That’s also probably why when the weapon finds out that Cortana destroyed the spartan training facility and almost 80 Spartans were loss she was speechless. Granted Spartans are very important, but she probably knew what that meant to him. Now in this game he’s allowed to express himself. Now I’m not saying his is Shakespeare or anything, but it’s leagues above what we’ve had in the past.

When it comes to the villans, Escharum feels more complex compared to the prophets. Hell, the origins of the banished give them enough background. But the addition of Atriox “dying” and their planet being destroyed and the fight for survival on the ring just adds more to the brute leader. During the campaign he’s constantly spouting about making Atriox’s wish come true and cementing his legacy. The brute leader’s goals are that of revenge and honor. While the great journey of the prophets had layers to it with the whole lying and death of the universe thing, Escharum’s motivations feel more personal compared to that of the prophets. The Harbinger was a new species that was introduced to the series which was interesting. It’s a shame we only saw one of her species, but I personally don’t feel like this is the last we’ll see of her species. She wasn’t as fleshed out as Escharum was, but it’s most likely because she wasn’t the main antagonist, so it’s understandable to not see her fleshed out. This Halo honestly had one of the best antagonist. I know the didact had a back story, but it wasn’t explored through the campaign. It was mostly through the terminals you would find. And while with the terminals the Didact does become more of an actual character, he isn’t quite the character the Escharum was.

Now the pilot. Mr. Fernando brings in a side of Halo I feel we don’t get to see enough. The human side. Sure chief is human, but he’s also a super soilder with super human strength, a suit that weighs a ton, and a little lady in his head who talks to him while he shoots aliens. Fernando shows the player What the everyman might go through in this type of situation. One part that stuck out the most is when he confesses to stealing the pelican. His explanation as to why he did surprised me cause it was the most human thing I’ve seen in Halo. He said he did it cause he was scared. That blew my mind when he said it. Not because he was scared, but because being scared doesn’t really happen in Halo. Sure we have those marines you can find throughout the games that are on the brink of killing themselves, but I feel like those are more Easter eggs than anything. I think I can remember Lasky mentioning it once in 4, and I think Kat night have alluded to being scared while Reach was being glassed. Fear is such a human emotion. To see it on full display in a game like this was amazing to see. I actually felt for the guy. He wasn’t a spartan, an ai, a captain, a pilot, or even a soldier. He was just some shmuck who was at the right place at the wrong time. Imagine seeing the crowned jewel and full might of humanity falling in what Escharum says was 4 minutes. That type of human reaction we only get to see in one other game, Halo Reach. During the missions Exodus and New Alexandria we see actual civilians panicking and frieghtened. And New Alexandria wasn’t just some city. The city is lined with tons of skyscrapers. It’s one of the most dense cities in the region. That would be the equivalent of watching New York City or Los Angeles falling in what equates to a day. That would be terrifying. Granted, we don’t see it in as much detail as we do in infinite, but it’s one of the very few examples of how most normal people would react to living in the Halo universe. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.

Tldr: Halo infinite has the best character writing by far in Halo with some of the most complex and fleshed out characters and the best written. Master Chief.

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I completely agree with you. Chief expressing more humanity and less machine.
What I found most intriguing was the fact that we see someone, Fernando, actually stand up to Chief in defiance. But despite that, continues to help because he knows Chief is his only hope of leaving.
Also, the introduction to the campaign showing just how powerful Atriox is was fantastic. Here’s the savior of humanity who has fought armies. And here is a big viking gorilla who defied the covenant. Who will win in a one on one? We got our answer lol.

It was moving to see such vulnerability coming from the Pilot [a very masculine character] and it being treated with such respect. I was surprised and touched and I hope to see more of that in games going forward.

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