March 10, 2009

More Weight

> — Staff @ 4:31 pm

A detailed look at the fiction of Microsoft and Ensemble’s Halo Wars…

It would be unfair to suggest that there hasn’t been an exceptional amount of skepticism directed toward Ensemble Studios’ Halo Wars over the past few months – and there’s likely not been more weight placed on a single Halo title to succeed than since the franchise’s first release in 2001.

With Bungie’s trilogy masterpiece complete and Halo 3: ODST rounding off the series with style, Microsoft and their new Halo Studio are now at full stride, preparing to further their ambitions with the franchise. Halo Wars represents the first fruits of this effort and if Ensemble Studios fails in this regard, it could certainly bode dismally for the new studio’s future efforts.

Not only has the development cycle for Halo Wars been inordinately protracted, with a handful of release schedules missed, but the sales strategy for the game has generated severe resentment amongst many hardcore Halo fans. The publisher has required players who want Bungie’s Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3 to purchase an $80 collector’s edition of Ensemble’s title (the XBLM release date for the map pack is still yet to even be announced). This decision amplifies not only concern about the possibility of similar marketing cross-pollination between completely different games in the future, but even more so, it has generated concern about the overall quality of Ensemble’s product — the first Halo title made outside of Bungie’s studio. The question at hand in that regard is: “shouldn’t the game generate sales on its own merit, rather than having to resort to leaning on Halo 3’s still-existing massive fanbase?”

In the weeks preceding its launch, Halo Wars has been lauded by Ensemble and journalists alike as a grand story for hardcore Halo fans. Being cut from this cloth ourselves, we at Ascendant Justice seriously wondered if their words would be proven accurate or if they would in the end be nothing more than a marketing facade – or perhaps the result of said journalists’ lack of knowledge regarding Halo’s fiction. The little that we had seen, although amazingly rendered through Blur Studios’ computer-generated cinematics, was a bit disjointed and confusing within Halo’s existing fiction. We knew the Flood were involved, but to what extent? How would this be reconciled with the Halo trilogy, which prides itself (with its fans’ support) on being the preeminent introductor of the Flood – and Halo Wars takes place twenty years before the chronology of Halo: CE.

And so we have it: a crucible, much like the one witnessed in Arthur Miller’s time-honored tale. How will Halo Wars perform beneath a torrent of skepticism and imbedded frustration? Will it be worth its weight, proving to the masses that Halo fiction can be properly executed outside of Bungie’s four walls, or will its failure pave the way for further defacing of the franchise at the hands of a disconnected publisher?

These are the questions that permeated in our minds just a few days prior, when we – Cocopjojo and Vociferous – plunged headlong into the campaign cooperatively…

Important Note: The following is an extensive look at all of the events found in the game’s campaign and the prefacing fiction provided by supplemental works, including Halo Wars: Genesis. For those who have an interest in experiencing Halo Wars’ story firsthand, we seriously recommend that you play through the campaign prior to reading this piece.

[Continue to Page One]


  1. Fantastic analysis (Voc/Cocop?). I can only hope future titles can expand on the fiction detailed in the books and the Terminals.

    Comment by Deepblue — March 10, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  2. Very well written, just as always. Maybe Microsoft should hire you to make sure that all future Halo titles stay “Halo”.

    Comment by IMOMXJ — March 10, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

  3. There is one part of the fiction that could probably not have been used in the game but appears in “Halo: The Flood”

    When Anders is going into the cryo pod at the end, she is wearing clothes. Going into cryo with anything touching your skin leaves it red, sore and blistered. She would be in incredible pain over most of her body when she awakes. Spartans have such high pain tolerance, they can wear their armor into cryo.

    While not appropriate for the game, I thought this should be told that people don’t wear clothes in cryo

    Comment by Niall — March 10, 2009 @ 9:58 pm

  4. Also, when the two ships collide inside the Micro Dyson sphere, this is very unlikely to happen.

    I’m not sure if it is just UNSC warships, but in Halo: First Strike(?) the UNSC ship had emergency boosters that would blast the ship sideways. This was used to dodge plasma bolts, and if the Spirit of Fire had them, could have dodged the ship.

    A line could be Serina saying “emergency boosters empty” just to fill in the fiction

    Comment by Niall — March 10, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  5. Well, the Spirit had been serving as a civilian vessel and then was refitted for military service, so it’s entirely possible that it was lacking in many of the technologies that more advanced UNSC ships had.

    Comment by Cocopjojo — March 10, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

  6. i love the game but my biggest concern continuity wise is that the spartans shoudnt have shield generators because that doesnt happen until a few days before the fall of reach and this is set way before then!

    Comment by BigHaloFan — March 11, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  7. Niall raises a good point, but it is brought up that the Spirit of Fire was orriginaly a transport ship, and transport ships dont need to manuver quikly.

    But the story doesn’t explain why it is that the Arbiter’s ship is there at all. Sure it would head to the opening to destroy the humans when they came out, but not right infront of it. The Arbiter should’ve positioned his ship somewhere near the entrance, not infront of it. I guess it could be said, though, that because Senghelli aren’t strategicaly smart he wouldn’t have thought of that.

    But, covnenant ships have shields, why didnt they stop the SoF from colliding with their ship?

    And in response to the article writers: This isnt the first Halo story to have plot holes, most (if not all) books have something in them that is later revealed to be false. In some of these story problems there are many theories that could explain them, and later one of those theories are chosen. Why wouldn’t that happen with Halo Wars?

    Comment by John — March 11, 2009 @ 7:03 am

  8. Oh yeah, I forgot to say:

    The biggest plot hole in Halo Wars, which isnt mentioned in this article, is that the SPARTANs have shields.

    According to Halo: the Fall of Reach, the surviving SPARTANs got shields for MJOLNIR armour in the year 2552. Which is 21 years after Halo Wars. But this isn’t a big story thing, and they could re-write this part of the story in future releases, like the Brutes in Halo: First Strike (one of Cortana’s copies says that they have never seen Brutes before).

    Comment by John — March 11, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  9. There is one aspect of the Flood you are overlooking. The Flood were never named in Halo Wars, and may have been thought to be “native” to the Shield World. It would not be the first time the Forerunner added life to a world they created, (such as the avian creatures in the Halo trilogy,) and 100,000 years of evolution could produce some very surprising results.
    The Thrasher forms don’t appear to be Flood Pure Forms, in my opinion. They are much less functional than others such as the Halo 3 Pure forms and even the Juggernaut, using an inordinate amount of biomass to produce a creature that is only a minor threat to vehicles. I would guess rather, that they are a native creature used as a host. And if there can be one native creature, why not more?
    The Covenant may never have identified them as the Flood in their Holy Scriptures, but as an isolated threat on that one construct.

    Comment by Rictus_Bane — March 11, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  10. Or maybe it’s structure just couldn’t take such high forces pushing it so that’s why it was left out. Though I still don’t understand why the covenant ship, nimble as they are, couldn’t evade.

    Comment by IMOMXJ — March 11, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  11. Thanks for reading the article guys. It was a beast for us to put together, so we appreciate your support and attention.

    Just a few things to note:

    Elements like the effect of cryo with clothing, the Spartan’s shields and the UNSC’s emergency boosters are never addressed directly in the games, so yes, they may be contradictions within the expanded canon, but not to the degree of the Flood — which extends itself to the novels and more importantly, the core games themselves.

    We could have obviously created a laundry list of every single thing dealt within Halo Wars which wasn’t seamlessly connected to the existing canon, books included, but that wasn’t our goal here and it isn’t with any title we look at, including the original trilogy which has similar “issues” to the ones mentioned by you folks above (ie. elements which conflict with the novels).

    Our goal was to address whether or not Halo Wars works as a “prefacing continuation” of the story found in the trilogy and to this end it most certainly does, even despite the Arcadia and Flood plot holes which were easily the most egregious and the ones we felt were significant enough to address.

    Comment by Vociferous — March 11, 2009 @ 11:19 am

  12. I don’t sweat the “Spartans have shields” because the game really never shows any visual evidence to support this assumption. I figure the “shield” bar may as well be a secondary health indicator.

    Comment by Deepblue — March 11, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  13. Well, it does make the beeping “depleted shields” noise and then the regeneration hum as it recharges. It is a problem, but like voc said, our goal wasn’t to list every fictional fault that the game has.

    Comment by Cocopjojo — March 11, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  14. I think the Covenant Destroyer was the Prophet of Regret retreating. When the Spirit of Fire jumped into the system, the Arbiter struck his colleague and ordered the Honor Guard to escort the Prophet to safety. Which is why Regret lived on to be in the Halo Trilogy. The destroyer was on it’s way out when the Spirit blasted out of the catacombs, this left virtually no time for either ship to move as one just came out of an enclosed space and the other was going into the enclosed space. Realistically, though, the destroyer does slam right through the Spirit and takes virtually no damage itself because of the shields. By the time the Captain gave an order and Serina obeyed, it looked quite impossible for the Spirit to miss the destroyer. In space battles where such evasive maneuvering is used, thousands of kilometers stand between the ships that are engaging. The Spirit and destroyer were far closer than that, moving towards each other at full speed.

    While they could have covered it, a naked woman entering cryostasis would have raised the rating from teen considerably. That shouldn’t be a big deal. People forget that staying true to canon, and being appropriate for the audience sometimes requires compromise.

    The Spartans do very much resemble how the books detail them to be. The reason the Spartans have shields in Halo Wars gameplay is for gameplay purposes. It makes them more distinguished special forces units and allows people to make a connection between the Spartans in Halo Wars and the Master Chief in the Halo Trilogy. It’s a minor canon oversight but one that I don’t mind too much because it plays out very well. The real question I have is how Forge was able to take on the Arbiter at all and why no one is complaining about the Honor Guard Elites being blue in the Cutscene “Monsters”. I guess it’s just too awesome to have anything bad to say about it?

    I don’t wish to mention the Flood here. There’s not enough to speculate about, they’re there only shortly, the Shield World hates them, and Serina doesn’t seem to even care about them. Whatever happened beyond that is not yet known. But Arcadia is one I have been trying to figure out. Anders does try to document some ruins and within the Covenant Dome there are ruins around the Super Scarab. But I honestly think the reasons for going to Arcadia at all are personal for Anders. Whatever the reason Anders chose to go to Arcadia, it had to of been for her own gain since it’s her homeworld. Nothing said otherwise before the Covenant abducted her from the Shield World, which I assume they arrived to after Harvest, possibly before the invasion of Arcadia.

    I think people look into things too much. It can all be explained later. I praise Halo Wars for being as bold as this article said. Most people ridicule them for not sticking to the canon, but I praise them for adding to the canon. It all depends on perspective.

    And this was a very interesting read. Ascendant Justice really needs to take a break once in a while. You guys always post top quality critiques on a regular basis. Good work looking deep into Halo Wars. People need to read this so they understand what the game is rather than just believing what the negative rumors say.

    Comment by JadedTarget — March 11, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  15. awesome. been waiting for more of these. thank you.

    Comment by Ninja — March 11, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  16. Naill might have been right, but I think they hardly could’ve put a naked woman in a video game. I don’t think they where simply allowed to. Especially if you see Cutter had to force her into the cryo pod. How would that look if she didn’t have any clothes on?

    And I don’t mind the spartans having shields in game. It makes them better units, the great units they deserve to be. And besides, they don’t have them in the cutscenes, so I’m fine with it.

    Comment by Thijs — March 11, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  17. This was probably the most interesting review I’ve read on this site so far (and there have been many good ones), and the first I agree with completely. Halo Wars has some flaws, but they are so minimal, they are relatively easy to overlook and explain away. I’ve actually seen greater plot holes in existing Halo fiction.

    I think Halo Wars’ true triumph is exploring entirely new facets of the universe that have remained untouched up to this point. Even H3: ODST will take place in a familiar time/place setting.

    Another minor, minor detail: Spartan shield technology wasn’t introduced (to John-117, at least) until early 2552. But considering the UNSC already has some plasma/laser tech and have studied Elite/Jackal shields for five years, it makes sense that Halo Wars Spartans would have shields.

    Comment by WolfSarge — March 11, 2009 @ 6:29 pm

  18. You guys continue to amaze and dazzle with your indepth examination of the story of halo. In being a “hard core” halo fan I love reading your works. I agree there are many plot holes in the story but most of them are minor. I agree with your deduction on the flood and how they should have said more about it in the story. Great work guys once again and I can’t wait to see what you put out next.

    Comment by Argosprtn — March 11, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  19. Very nicely written and researched article. I offer some observations based on my own research. Take these as my opinions only.

    1. You refer to the Sangheili Clan as Decided Heart, but in context I think they were implying the Sangheili world itself was called that, not the clan.

    2. Do you consider the Prophesy a destroyer? In the artwork of the Genesis graphic novel, the Prophesy was represented several times as a cruiser despite a few text listings as a destroyer. This may be a similar case to In Amber Clad being referred to as a destroyer in Ghosts of Onyx, when it was clearly a frigate according to Halo 2. Just curious why you chose that stance. I’m personally considering it a cruiser as it’s the same design as the Halo 2 cruiser. A design of UNSC destroyer was shown on the opening page of Genesis coming out of Slipspace. That design is NOT the Halo 2 cruiser design, but rather something new.

    3. Should it be differentiated that when the Prophesy’s NAV core was wiped, it was according to Admiral Cole’s directives for keeping the Covenant at bay and not the official Cole Protocol? Cole mentioned in the Genesis text it would be years before it passed through the politicians, but that Cole was determined he would use it among his fleet until the time it became official? The protocol, as such, was only in draft form at the time of the Prophesy incident in 2531, but the Cole Protocol was not officially sanctioned until 2535. Should it still be called the Cole Protocol by name?

    4. Is there any evidence that Anders was lecturing on Arcadia? I know it was mentioned that she was born there, but in the Genesis text, I don’t think it mentioned which planet she was lecturing on. If there’s a source I missed, could you point me to it please? I had wanted to assume that as well, but I had no reference to back it up.

    5. Did you notice that Côte D’Azur (though misspelled) is referred to here as a UNSC colony, where it’s earlier reference in Halo lore was just a city? Error on Nylund’s part, or an intentional inclusion?

    6. Also, notice that Onyx was mentioned by Anders in a University lecture to perhaps hundreds, when it wasn’t supposed to be known at that time? Ghosts of Onyx mentions ONI made Onyx “a virtual black hole” as far as common knowledge is concerned back in 2511, when Anders would have been a 7 year old? How’d she know about it at all? Interesting that this possible flub is also from Nylund’s work. :)

    Comment by Stephen Loftus — March 11, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

  20. Thanks for those Stephen. Typically we don’t do an addendum to the text of our articles, but in an effort to keep this as an accurate resource for the events of Halo Wars as we know them now, we’ve made a few of your changes to reflect a more neutral stance where there’s no absolute record.

    As far as the Cole Protocol issue, we felt like the original text was as accurate as it needed to be. The Cole Protocol was a protocol, even if ONI/UNSC had not operationally endorsed it yet. That coupled with Serina’s use of the terminology makes us comfortable with how we phrased it.

    Concerning the errors/retcon from “Genesis” to the novels and vice versa, yeah they are pretty bizarre. We’re not entirely certain what the writing process is for the books and the graphic novel, but those are interesting finds and it’ll be even more interesting to see if they are one day reconciled.

    Anyways, thanks for reading and we appreciate everyone’s comments here. :)

    Comment by Vociferous — March 11, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  21. as usual guys, LOVING it. I was waiting for this article specifically because I’m unable to play RTS games. the only non twitch game ive ever been able to play was mass effect and that paid off dividends in action and massive set pieces… but i digress.

    So now, I’ve caught up with what happens storywise. I’ve gotten what I wanted from Halo Wars, which is MORE HALO CANON. Nextup: I need to go find the cutscenes in entirety to dload (Looking to HBO for that, but nothing as of yet).

    Randomly, I posted on the script post again to mention that maybe a CGI feature film for Halo might be a good idea, and hearing what you have described in regards to the cutscenes in HW, I am even more inclined to believe thats what we all really need!

    as always, a faithful reader,

    Comment by Matthew Scott — March 12, 2009 @ 8:10 am

  22. That is amazing artwork on the front pic, can you give me a url of it or wherever you found it?

    Comment by Bowser962 — March 12, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  23. Overall, a good and neutral overview. Of course, the slippery nature of canon has to be addressed that we are but humans, fans of human work (it’s bound to be conflicting).

    Not really Halo Wars releated, but I think you did a fairly good job of rectifying The Cole Protocol with the timeline; I’m assuming that your presumption is that the UNSC lost contact and sent the Argo, and meanwhile Johnson and his crew had not yet arrived at another planet? Thus the lack of intelligence makes sense.

    As for the Flood: it’s entirely possible that either Regret misidentified the Flood or hid them from the other Hierarchs. I mean, he’s the callow and rather stupid youth; he’s scheming in Halo Wars, but I don’t think he really demonstrates tactical brilliance or any attributes that conflict with his presentation in later games. Perhaps he was worried that his power would dissipate if his fellow Hierarchs learned of the parasite?

    Comment by David Fuchs — March 12, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  24. Seeing as how The Apex shield world had a whole fleet of forerunner ships, it makes me wonder what sort of technologies could be in the Onyx shield world just waiting for Dr. Halsey, Lt. Fred, and company to find.

    Comment by Jon — March 12, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

  25. Great write-up – well laid out.

    Serina’s ‘sarcrastic one-liners’ or whatever you want to call them felt a little too forced. The writing for Cortana’s sardonic comments were well weaved into what was actually occurring and her actual personality. Serina is dry and standoff-ish, and her comments seem like Ensemble was trying to force a point that all smart AI’s had humor.

    One thing that really super bugs me still is Anders’ 30 second observation and how she came to the conclusion that they should go to Arcadia. Cutter within his character would never have agreed (yet he did), and that fast of an analysis is near impossible. The only possible explanation of the speed of her observation is the fact that she studied under Halsey, which is still a pretty weak fall back IMO.

    Comment by Maj Williams — March 13, 2009 @ 3:51 am

  26. An excellent article, as always, but I felt I should put my two cents in as far as the flood issue. In the letter you supplied here about the flood, it was never stated that the flood were previously undiscovered, only that they hadn’t expected to find them on the ring.

    This tells me that they could very well have known about the flood due to their previous encounters on the shield world(s) but simply hadn’t expected to find them on Halo. The only problem with this is “The Last Flight of the Infinite Succor” where they seem to have little knowledge of the flood, but I believe this could be attributed to the vast size of the covenant…

    As an example, when we, as humans, hear or read about a disease or animal that is dangerous, we very seldomly imagine it to be as bad as it really is (with some exceptions). Without firsthand experience with the flood, the member sof the Fleet of Particular Justice could very well have simply not known just how big of a threat the flood really were, and so were caught by surprise.

    I would, however, like to bring to the table the issue of the brutes. As I recall, the only time we see the brutes in the campaign is when we reach the shield world, at the very beginning. This seems, to me, extremely random, as we never see any chieftains, nor do we ever hear from or about the brutes in the rest of the game. What was the point?

    Comment by Sangheilioz — March 13, 2009 @ 7:16 am

  27. I also would like to commend all at Ascendant Justice on their thorough analysis. Definitely one of my favorite websites.

    I agree with Sangheilioz about the text from the Prophet of Supposition. His letter states that the discovery of the flood on the sacred ring was suprising, being that the rings are the vehicles for the Great Journey, the hierarchs would not expect there to be a danger such as the flood on these holy relics.

    In the Last Flight of the IS, Half-Jaws conversation is more evidence of this. The Flood is described as a test that the Covenant must pass on their way to the rings and the Great Journey, so it would be surprising to have the parasite contained on the rings themselves.

    As for the question of why the UNSC has no knowledge of the Flood, I may be misinformed as I have not read the entire Halo Wars timeline yet. Do we know when or even if the Spirit of Fire ever made contact with the UNSC again after leaving the Shield World. I know after the credits for the Legendary Ending, Serina wakes Cutter up saying she found something. Has it been explained in any of the fiction what they found? Do we know whether it is human/covenant/forerunner/flood or something else?

    Comment by UNSC Epicurus — March 13, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  28. Bravo! And yet again the writers at Ascendant Justice write another superb overview/review. I do find it interesting how Ensemble did not even bother filling up the severed fiction involving the Flood and the Covenant.

    As you said, all they needed to do was one line.

    Comment by Alexander — March 13, 2009 @ 6:31 pm

  29. What concerned me was the matter of the Arbiter’s armour. I had always assumed that there was only one single suit of armour that had been passed down from the first Arbiter to the last, yet after Forge kills the Arbiter on the sheild world, one of the Spartans is seen shoving the corpse off the ledge, shortly before the entire planet is destroyed. It is completely unreasonable that the armour survived to be salvaged later, so the only conclusion I can think of is that the Covenant simply made a new suit. This just seemed odd to me.

    Comment by Moriarty 321 — March 13, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  30. One story moment I had a problem with was at the Apex site when the Arbiter drew his two energy swords in a sudden gesture clearly intended to threaten the Prophet of Regret. After The Cole Protocol made a point to mention that drawing a weapon in the presence of a Hierarch was a death sentence, it felt wrong that Regret made no response to the threat and the Arbiter subsequently shut down his blades and they both acted like nothing had happened.

    Comment by stryker1138 — March 13, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  31. Moriarty: In Halo 2, it was stated that each Arbiter dies in the completion of their tasks, which means that it’s extremely unlikely that the armor is ever recovered.

    Stryker: The Arbiter wasn’t threatening the Prophet. They were talking about the Covenant’s forces, and the Arbiter wanted to “take what [they] have” to fight humanity (in other words, take control of the troops and move forward with the war). So he drew his swords while saying it to the Prophet to show his determination and aggression toward completing that task.

    Comment by Cocopjojo — March 13, 2009 @ 10:58 pm

  32. The Halo Wars Arbiter (‘Moramee) was massive for an Elite. Even if the Armor of the Arbiter were recovered from past Arbiters they would likely need to have made a suit specifically for ‘Moramee.

    Every Arbiter from first to last was supposedly interred in the mausoleum. We know ‘Moramee couldn’t have been, but others may have been and the armor recovered then.

    Comment by Rictus_Bane — March 14, 2009 @ 12:15 am

  33. Good read, I like that you only focused on the canon of the story (which does have some questionable events) and did not bitch about the new units as many on the Halo Wars forums are wont to do. As for myself I didn’t think there were any unresolvable canonical issues (with anything, but I’ll address the story). Here’s three possibilities that resolve all conflicts that I’m aware of:

    1 – The Spirit of Fire takes a long time to make it back to UNSC controlled space, and only in time to be in the battle at Reach.

    2 – The Prophet of Regret left the Shield World before the Flood presence was known.

    3 – There are different types of Shield Worlds that perform different functions (Onyx was protection from Halo, the Shield World in Halo Wars might just be protection from the Flood).

    Obviously I’m not saying that this is what happened, but I believe that just because no explanation is offered doesn’t mean that no explanation exists.

    Comment by EldritchWarlord — March 15, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  34. As usual, great article.
    As someone already mentioned, I to have also always thought that all of the Arbiters wore the same armor, it would be fairly stupid not to upgrade it otherwise.
    “…but take heed , your armor system is not as new as ours…”
    It has gone what, twenty years? Although, maybe the entire point of the ceremonial armor is to be simple, so that it realy is up to the Arbiter to prove himself worthy. Next quote also confuses me;
    “…Every arbiter first to last…”
    This is something that Truth says, while talking to Thel in the mausoleum. The Prophets usualy take things very literal. I would however believe that the Covenent have a similar tradition, honoring their “spartans”, that none of them die, that they all rest in for the Great Journey.
    But thats just me speculating…

    Another thing I realy dont understand is why the Spartans have a shield system in their MJOLNIR IV armors, I didn’t know it had such a system…

    But here is something that I find interesting, the unknown shield world, the one referd to by Mendicant bias in a terminal, could it be the sheild world in Halo Wars?

    Comment by Janaka — March 15, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

  35. Comment by Janaka — March 15, 2009 @ 8:50 pm

    Next quote also confuses me;
    “…Every arbiter first to last…”

    They’re just graves. Several might not have that Arbiter’s corpse in them (given the nature of their tasks) but each is honored for their service and sacrifice.

    An unrelated thing has occurred to me: “What if the infection defiles the relic?” The “infection” is most likely the Flood and it seems that the Elite is concerned that opening the relic will allow the Flood to contaminate it.

    But that makes no sense, there were no Flood on Harvest. Perhaps the Elite was really voicing his concern about Flood being in the relic.

    As the article mentions, the Covenant encountering the Flood on Halo was surprising to them, but maybe only because the Halos are the holiest of relics (and thus, logically, the best guarded). And the Elite is worried about the Flood because the Covenant had often encountered the Flood within lesser relics.

    Comment by EldritchWarlord — March 16, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  36. Janaka: I believe Mendicant Bias referred to the Legendary Planet at the end of Halo 3, not Halo Wars’ Shield World.

    EldritchWarlord: I think the Shield World in Halo Wars is more of a ship hangar rather than an actual “shield world”. Also, I believe the technology that was mentioned in Ghost of Onyx is the teleportation module (The transdimensional device which transported SPARTANs, Mendez and Halsey to another realm).

    Comment by Subtank — March 17, 2009 @ 12:48 am

  37. Excellent assessment which I am grateful for, thank you. It has added significant depth to my understanding of the Halo Wars story and how it relates to the larger Halo universe.

    With regards to the nit-picking regarding the Arbiter drawing his swords. I believe it is the way of elites that should they draw their weapon they must kill or be killed. Maybe this doesn’t apply to an Arbiter but I doubt it. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Comment by kebabhead — March 18, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  38. Comment by kebabhead

    With regards to the nit-picking regarding the Arbiter drawing his swords. I believe it is the way of elites that should they draw their weapon they must kill or be killed. Maybe this doesn’t apply to an Arbiter but I doubt it. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I believe it does not apply to the Arbiter here, especially since he was a criminal before becoming Arbiter. You have to remember that by virtue of being an Arbiter, he is already stripped of honour and must regain it through martyrdom, hence he has no honour to lose from this action.

    I do love, though, how the Honour Guard Elites in the background shift slightly when he draws the blades, as if getting ready to pounce on him should he make a move against the Prophet.

    Comment by Sangheilioz — March 19, 2009 @ 4:55 am

  39. I didn’t really like the way they portrayed the Elites. Elites are supposed to be lean,nimble and fit, standing tall and proud, while in the cutscenes they are displayed as hulking brutes who charge blindly toward the enemy.

    And did anyone notice that none of them were using projectile weapons in the cutscenes except for needlers? Other than that they were shown slowly striding towards the enemy with their energy swords, getting struck down.

    Comment by Wildcard1992 — March 19, 2009 @ 2:54 pm

  40. Where did the art for the title come from? That Scarab and the…..can’t remember the name of that UNSC aircraft, well anyway, it looks sick.

    Comment by Trooper117 — March 24, 2009 @ 7:33 pm

  41. Its a Vulture. But agreed, awesome artwork.

    Comment by JMart3 — March 25, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  42. […] answered on the Halo Wars story (or any thing halo story related really) I would recommend Ascendant Justice Website… they give ridiculously in depth explanations of halo lore and such and have been featured on […]

    Pingback by halo wars story question - Community Forums — March 25, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  43. […]And did anyone notice that none of them were using projectile weapons in the cutscenes except for needlers?[…] – Comment by Wildcard1992.


    I noticed it too. If you look throughout the entire cutscenes, you should also notice that the Elites never used Plasma Rifles.

    Based on my observation and knowledge regarding the Covenant Weaponry, Needlers are seen as a frail weapon in terms of firepower but superior in homing on a target. Plasma Rifles, as seen in all Halo novels and trilogy, are the Elites’ best friend. Maybe they got too lazy on pointing directly at the enemy? :P

    Comment by Subtank — March 29, 2009 @ 6:19 am

  44. yea i dont like how the elites wher portrayed in halo wars at all. also did it piss off anyone else that forge killed the arbiter! the arbiter could have died in a much cooler way than being shanked with a butter knife by a johnsen wanna-be.

    Comment by they got leader — April 2, 2009 @ 2:19 am

  45. Well some of these are false dilemmas, as far as the elites using needlers it could be as simple as needlers being preferred in the relic as there was less of a chance of inadvertently damaging it. Even if Regret ultimately decided to blow it that was a surprise to the Arbiter (and certainly everyone else), ergo it is safe to assume that the elites did their operational planning with some degree of caution toward the relic and issued needlers.

    As far as the infection comment, its pretty clear that the covenant views humanity as a disease he could be referring to the humans stepping foot in the relic.

    The final note is that your missing some dialogue in relation to the Arcadia plot, the Covenant seems to have been aware of it’s location independent of the relic on Harvest.

    Indeed there is a line of dialogue indicating that “The relic led them to the same world as it led us” or something to that effect while the arbiter and the prophet are talking that prefaces the Anders kidnapping plot.

    So the Relic doesn’t lead the Covenent to the Shield World, it leads them to Anders, she is what moves the plot forward on that account. (That she could casually determine in 30 seconds the same conclusion that the covenant likely plumbed). So the Arcadia thing is a side trip.

    Although I have the feeling that several of the missions were probably changed after the cutscenes were finalized, as some seem to be very mildly incongruent in away that makes it look like the mission dialogue is rationalizing them.

    All in all I enjoyed the game and feel it added immeasurably to the Halo Universe. Although I have the sneaking suspicion that they went to the effort to segregate 3 other Spartans to justify an all Spartan 4 player co op feature in Halo 4, that right now is just a cynical mistrust towards MS manifesting itself.

    Comment by Gierling — April 7, 2009 @ 1:23 am

  46. Comment by EldritchWarlord
    An unrelated thing has occurred to me: “What if the infection defiles the relic?” The “infection” is most likely the Flood and it seems that the Elite is concerned that opening the relic will allow the Flood to contaminate it.

    But that makes no sense, there were no Flood on Harvest. Perhaps the Elite was really voicing his concern about Flood being in the relic.


    I thought he was talking about humans as the “infection” not the flood.

    as far as the flood being on the shield world, there is no mention of the hierarch seeing them, let alone setting foot on the outside surface (and they aren’t on the inside) – so were, presumably, assumed to be native fauna at the time.

    Comment by Jebel Krong — April 7, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  47. @ 44

    Yeah, I enjoyed the action cutscene with the final fight against the Arbiter, but I thought Spartans should have been involved with his death. To me, Forge wasn’t *so* badass that he could take an Arbiter down. (And to be clear, he was definitely going to get his ass kicked the first time if the lady hadn’t been there.)

    If they really wanted Forge to give the death blow, I’d have settled for a Spartan distracting or shooting the Arbiter and Forge taking advantage of that.

    Comment by Sovieron — April 21, 2009 @ 2:11 am

  48. in regards to the sheild world being diffrent than onyx I have been thinking maybe its an older sheid world & after that design failed they might have had to update their design to include sipspace protection
    at least thats my hypothisis

    Comment by Dragrath — June 1, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  49. As to the shields for Spartans, they could be confiscated jackal-shields, which ONI had ordered for every military personel to capture any and all Covenant-based technology whenever they came across it. Granted that shields weren’t fully developed for the MJOLNIR suit till Covenant forces were located on the outskirts of Reach’s system. The UNSC had been collecting the shield technology for almost two decades, which gave them ample time to recreate and improve the technology…hince why in Halo Wars the Spartan shields last only a short while compared to the shields when your on the Pillar of Autumn.
    And as for Anders wearing clothing in cryo…they could have just been imaginitive about where the camera was at…you really don’t need a full frontal to get the point she’s naked.
    And as for the shield world might be an older version. Highly doubtful considering it was created at the same time as the others, since the Array had to be up as fast as possible. I think that it is merely a fallen shield world. Not all of the Forerunner stuff was impregnable. Hell if you look at the array rings on the level of Halo 3 “The Covenant” you notice that some of the Ring worlds are tinged look drastically changed. Thus leading to the assumption that the Flood found the rings and learned where some of the shields were at.
    And Forge doesnt come off as being completely badass. It’s completely impossible for a marine to really expect to when a fistfight with an Elite of any class. Considering that Master Chief himself had trouble brawling with Elites in melee formats. Plus the size of the Elites give them that much more of an advantage that it would seem almost impossible for a Marine to take down an Elite especially the Arbiter.

    Comment by the13loodwake — June 7, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  50. Haha,well I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but Harvest seems to have way more than just a northern and southern pole ocean in the opening cutscene. I don’t know why such a small knitpick bothers me so much but oh well, so much for Harvest being composed of mostly land and not water…

    Comment by Jack — June 30, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

  51. Far too often, rabid fans of large stories, Halo included, make silly mistakes when analyzing the events of canon, assuming that all is known and revealed and that no deception has occurred. Thankfully, there’s so much lying and misrepresentation in Halo’s storyline that most fans know well enough not to take dialogue at face value, but still many fans seem to think the narration is omniscient.
    Several times now, this site has pleased me with much more careful observation, and the commentary in this article (or whatever else it can be called) concerning apparent plot holes in Halo Wars are no exception.

    If the cinematics are as good as claimed, I might have to endure through the game (I’m simply not a fan of the genre) once to see them.

    Anyway, thanks for yet another fine read.

    Comment by TheAsterisk! — September 23, 2009 @ 3:02 am

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