The Story up to Halo 5: Spoilers and Reclamation

I am trying to understand the story of Halo 5. Halo is my favourite fps series, with its sci-fi setting, epic music and satisfying story campaigns. I have always found the story interesting but I love the gameplay more.

I have never read any of the Halo novels. I have never met another Halo player who has read the novels. To me the story of Halo is presented in the games, that is how the majority of players have experienced the story. I don’t have time to read the novels. To me what happens in the books, I do not consider to be apart of the story. I should not have to read the books to understand the story in the games

I loved Halo 4, loved the campaign, the personal story between Cortana and Master Chief. The Didact, Librarian confused me! The Forerunners are back, the Didact is alive but he wants to destroy humanity using the Composer to encrypt humanity! The Promethean are digitized humans! Humanity was in an ancient battle with Forerunners and the Flood. Humans and Forerunners are two different species now. When I went online, Halo fans revealed the novels explain background story- there are two didacts, there is a Precursor race, the Domain, the Flood and the Precursor are all related. I found this extremely confusing. What I don’t get is why would you keep the Didact imprisoned alive. If Forerunners chose humanity to succeed, why imprison the one guy who hates humanity, survive the original halo array blast, so he can escape and threaten Humanity again. Genocidal Forerunners are imprisoned on shield worlds to be kept alive – Does not make sense at all.

Halo 3 gave us the big revelations at the end of the game by 343 Guilty Spark that Humans are Forerunners, which makes sense over the course the original trilogy. Humans can activate/Forerunner technology, the Ark is located on Earth and the Gravemind eludes to humans and Forerunners being one and the same through (mission 9). Humans are called Reclaimers, which I thought was humanity reclaiming their lost Forerunner heritage.

Halo 3 nicely wraps up the story of the original trilogy:

Halo CE: We learn about the desperate struggle between humanity and the Covenant. We learn about the existence of an advanced ancient Forerunners civilisation, we learn about the Flood and their accidental release from containment. We learn about the purpose of the Halo array, a weapon to combat the parasitic flood by destroying their hosts – all intelligent life.

Halo 2: By playing as the Arbiter we get much needed insight to the inner workings of the Covenant, how their society works, their religious false beliefs, how the Hierarchs of the Covenant are deceiving the populace with the promise of salvation with Halos and the Great Journey. We also get the major revelation at the end of Halo 2 about the existence of the entire Halo array network, that all seven Halos can be activated from the Ark. Most importantly the Halo array has actually been used before to wipe out all intelligent life in the galaxy to stop the Flood.

After Halo 2, I had the question, if the Halo array was used to wipe out all life in the galaxy, how does life and diversity of alien species still exist?? To get a satisfying answer you have to watch Halo legends! There is an Origins video, which shows the Forerunner-Flood war and after the Halo array was originally activated, life was reseeded throughout the galaxy. I was annoyed by this, something as important as this should have been included in Halo 3 as it gives much need clarification between the Halo array, Forerunners and the Flood. This is why now the story of Halo has become convoluted, splitting important history and plot points between different media! All Halo games should presume the player is only experiencing the story through the games not other media, and the story of the games should be adequate to explain these significant past events.

Back to Halo 3: Humans make an alliance with the Elites. This is acceptable after playing as the Arbiter in Halo 2 and seeing the split of the Elites from the Covenant. This also allows the start of peace between humanity and warring alien species. Humans-Elites chase the Prophets and the rest of the Covenant to the Ark. The Flood who do not want to be destroyed leave the galaxy and arrive at the Ark to stop the activation of the Halo array. Master Chief/Arbiter stops the Covenant from activating the array saving all life in the galaxy. The Prophet is stopped. Now the resolution: Master Chief rescues Cortana from the Flood. Master Chief then destroys High Charity’s engines core, preventing the Flood from leaving the Ark. Now as the Ark is located outside the galaxy and the Flood is trapped, Master Chief then activate the replacement Halo ring with Cortana’s index which then destroys the Ark, the Halo and the Flood. The Chief and friends escape through the portal, back to the Milky Way galaxy. Not to mention before the Halo activation we get the satisfaction of killing 343 guilty Spark and the revelation that humans are indeed Forerunners, which makes sense as I explained above.

To me the original Halo trilogy, is actually a well told story that ends really well. I can see why Bungie left the Master Chief and Cortana story there. Halo Reach told a war story with the slight revelation at the end of the game that the Pillar of Autumn’s blind jump at the beginning of the Halo CE was not actually a blind jump – Noble 6 delivered a fragment of Cortana with the knowledge of the location of Halo (the Forerunner structure found near the end of the game contained this information).

Now after playing Halo 5, The Warden Eternal and Cortana claims that it was the Librarians /Forerunners plan all long for humanity to discover the Halo network (I guess Halo Reach and the blind jump supports this). According to the Warden, Cortana is the Reclaimer and that the Reclaimer is to inherit the mantle of responsibility for all life! Confusing, Cortana is alive, survived rampancy because of the Domain, and to uphold this Mantle she has activated Giant Guardians which upon their activation have caused mass destruction and loss of life. Cortana plans to use the Guardians to police the galaxy, promoting peace!

We saw Cortana sacrifice herself to save the Chief. A robot AI expressed the ultimate form of love, sacrificing herself to protect the Chief from a nuclear blast as he stopped the Didact and the Composer. Halo 5 undoes the epic ending of Halo 4. Your best friend is now the villain! Now Cortana is killing, threatening to kill alien civilisations that don’t follow her rules. She then tried to imprison the Chief!

I have read online that there are novels that explain what the Domain is, that it is something to do with the Precursors, who are somehow the Flood. Apparently the Precursors started this idea of the Mantle of Responsibility to preserve all life, but Forerunners wiped out the Precursors and that the Forerunners hate humanity… The Precursors have never been mentioned in any of the games, all of this is in the novels. This is just confusing!

So what is the Reclaimer, is the Reclaimer one individual or is it a species? Is the Reclaimer to inherit the legacy of the Forerunners or is to inherit the Mantle of Responsibility. What is Reclamation? Is Reclamation, controlling the galaxy with Guardians? Why did the Forerunners leave only humans the ability to activate Forerunner artifacts if humanity are not chosen and the Forerunners hate humanity?! Even though I love playing Halo 4 and 5, the story to me is so convoluted and confusing. According to comics/novels the Didact is still alive and so is Guilty Spark, even though the Master Chief killed them in the games!!! I now realise that throughout Halo 5 we were fighting against Cortana’s Promethean forces all along, she just let the Warden and the rest fight us!

Please 343 Industries, for Halo 6 please clarify/simplify the story. After Halo 3 my only real question was what really were the Flood? Was the Flood a biological weapon unleashed by another unknown alien race, but apparently now I have learnt the Flood are the Precursors. Please address important history events in the game and actually explain them for those who do not read any of the novels.

I think 343 Industries took a huge risk with the portrayal of Cortana in Halo 5. I think it was an extremely brave thing to do, as they knew a lot of fans would not like this new direction – seeing your best friend AI companion become the villain. I am interested to see how the Cortana situation is resolved. Hopefully Halo 6 will act as a final part in this story and will not drag on over too many games.

The problem with your not wanting to look into the Expanded Universe that is Halo is that 343i are, unlike Bungie, trying to tie Halo in to it.

You can still get a sense of the scale from the games but the books and media make it so much better. When I first saw the Librarian and Didact in Halo 4 I was amazed because I had read about them. Its a sweet sweet taste.

Now for an edit.

The Domain is something the Forerunners used like a galaxy spanning Internet. They also believed in the Mantle. A responsibility to all other life in the galaxy. But the Forerunnes killed the Precursors in a war long long ago. And those Precursors came back and made the flood to stop the Forerunners and let Humanity assume the Mantle. But the Didact didn’t like that and you got Halo 4.

The Story of Halo is more than just the games.

Now I realise the story is much greater than the games. It must be rewarding for fans who have read the novels to see all the in- game references to other characters and events. I am actually suprised how the halo games has such a vast and detailed history. Thank you for the explanation with the Domain and the Didact.