Last year saw the release of some of the best games this industry has ever seen, from the free roaming Assassins Creed 3 to the competitive first person shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. However, one of the most outstanding games of the year has to have been the revival of the Halo franchise with Halo 4! In this blog I will briefly cover the history of Halo's expansive story-line with the most significant events which led up to that memorable moment: "Wake up John ..."
We will visit the history of the mysterious Forerunners, the elusive species who created the fabled super weapons known as "Halos", and slowly progress from the construction of the Halo array to the discovery of Requiem years later, by the revived Covenant and the Humanity. So if you are planning on playing the epic game that is Halo 4, or are still confused by what happened in the game, then take a read through this simplified timeline to understand just how we got this crucial point!
Rule of the Precursors
The galaxy is ruled by an ominous species known as the Precursors, who mercilessly harvest sentient civilizations when they reach sufficient intelligence. Ancient Forerunners have reached this stage within their evolution but have learned of the Precursors plan to destroy their species, prior to it's execution. In light of this news the Forerunners retaliate by going to war and eventually destroying the Precursors; attaining the title as leaders of the galaxy.
Arrival of the Flood
Mysterious ships of unknown origin creep in from the outside the galaxy, carrying vials of an unknown powder. These ships are discovered by pre-historic humans, who at this age are advanced spacefarers with technological capabilities which closely match that of the Forerunners. Humans use these vials to feed animals favoured by Humans and San'Shyuum (Prophets) alike, known as Pheru. These pets begin to manifest growths caused by the consumption of the unknown powder found in the alien vials. Individuals in both Human and San'Shyuum civilizations consume these growths which often moult from their pets, and later develop and aggressive and infectious disease which will later become known as the Flood. The infection rapidly spreads through both populations destroying populations and worlds, forcing Humans to flee aggressively into Forerunner territory.
As the Humans spread into Forerunner territory, aggressively taking worlds to colonize, the Forerunners see this advance as an attack against the Forerunner and as a grave offense against the Mantle - the belief through which the Forerunners govern themselves. The Forerunners wage war against the Humans, with an army lead by the Didact, in order to drive them back without knowledge of the impending threat. This pressure leads to the formation of a Human-San'Shyuum alliance in order to defeat both the Flood and the Forerunners. The Human-Forerunner war begins.
Flood Cure Discovered
The Human-Forerunner war rages on and the Didact steadily makes progression against the Human- forces, who are weakened by fighting a two front battle. Despite the pressure of their impending fate, Human scientists make a ground-breaking discovery by creating a cure capable of reversing the aggressive virulence of the Flood infection. Through the reverse-engineering of the Floods own genetic make-up, the cure was able to turn a third of the Human population who were inoculated from mere potential victims of the flood into highly virulent and infectious prey - capable of destroying the flood threat within a radius when infected by the Flood. A third of the Human population was sacrificed in order to push the Flood back into the far reaches of the galaxy.
Humanity is Defeated
Despite the apparent defeat of the Flood, the Didacts pressure on the Human and forces had pushed them to the brink of defeat. The , knowing the fate of their species, surrendered to the Forerunners in an attempt to avoid the complete repercussions of their betrayal against the Ecumene, leaving the Humans to face the Didact and the Forerunner Navy alone. The Forerunner gradually force the Human front back to their home planet, where after years of conflict they eventually succumb to the Didact's army. As punishment for their crimes against the Mantle, the Didact commands that the Humans be devolved, their technological advancements lost, their intelligence regressed, and their species reverted back to a prehistoric level - to best match their "animalistic behaviour".
The Flood Returns
The Forerunners exist in harmony following the aftermath of the Human-Forerunner war, unknowing of the threat which led to the Human's aggressive expansion. The Forerunner eventually makes first contact with the Flood, ending the years of peace the Forerunners relished in as the Flood slowly progresses into Forerunner territory once more.
Halo Array is Built
The increasing threat of the Flood to the Ecumene leads to the rise of an extremist Forerunner group, led by the Forerunner Builder Faber, to power. Faber and his group of Builders convince the Forerunner council to support the plan to create a series of weapons capable of extinguishing life from the galaxy and starving the Flood, leading to their eventual destruction. The Didact openly opposes this decision and is forced into exile.
The Didact Awakens
After a thousand years of exile and meditation within a Cryptum crudely planted on the Forerunner homeworld by his powerful wife, the Forerunner Librarian, the Didact is awoken by a young Forerunner manipular; son to Faber's right hand. Faber abuses his position as Master Builder, using the Halo's he had helped to create against Charum Hakkor, the home planet of Humanity, and imprisoned the Humans who survived. The Didact, knowing this, usurped Faber and took control of the Forerunner navy and the battle against the Flood.
With the Didact now in control of the Forerunner navy, he pursues the war against the increasing Flood threat. Despite advancements in Flood combat, Forerunner Lifeworkers fail to replicate the Human cure and Forerunner Warrior-Servants fail to effectively reverse the Flood threat. The Forerunners create the Composer, a machine capable of transforming a biological consciousness into Artificial Intelligence (AI) allowing for the creation of Promethean Knights capable of combatting the Flood without the threat of falling to the Flood.
Fall of the Didact
The Didact eventually comes to realise that he does not have enough Promethean Knights to effectively combat the Flood. Knowing this, he uses the Composer to enslave large populations of remaining Humans, saved by the Librarian, as Promethean Knights in order to increase his arsenal. Upon discovery of this, the Librarian betrays the Didact seeing his actions as crimes against the mantles and a descent into madness. Assured that her husband will come to repent his mistakes, she imprisons him in Requiem to spend his years in meditation.
Activation of Halo Array
After the Librarian imprisons the Didact, the Forerunners exhaust all their combat options and the Flood progress in their spread, eventually over running the Forerunner forces. Left with no other choice the Forerunners are forced to consider utilising the Halo array to finally put an end to the Flood. The Librarian, passionate about the Humans and other life within the galaxy, catalogues all the species she can in preparation for re-seeding the galaxy with life. The Forerunner-Flood war finally reaches a critical point, at which the Forerunners are left with no choice but to activate the Halo array extinguishing all life from the galaxy and ending the Forerunner rule.
Re-seeding the Galaxy
Through the work of the Librarian, the galaxy is gradually reseeded through mechanisms on the Halos and the master structure known as the Ark. As the species slowly begin to resettle and species such as Humanity, the , and the Sangheili (Elites) begin to advance, the Halos are forgotten for 100,000 years. During this time, 343-Guilty Spark the monitor tasked with the maintenance of Halo Installation 04 slowly begins to descend into rampancy, a state of emotion which causes catastrophic system errors and disregard to protocol in Artificial Intelligence.
The and the Sangheili, after a short lived war over the use of Forerunner relics, form an alliance which will later become the alien theocratic hegemony known as the Covenant. Over the next three thousand years the Covenant will forcefully recruit more species into their alliance, and brainwash them into following their beliefs where the Forerunners are considered their deity and ancient Forerunner technology is considered relics.
Humanity assumes first contact with the Covenant through a small group of Jiralhanae, on the agricultural world Harvest. Upon discovery of Humanity and their role as inheritors of the Forerunner throne, a group of three take control over the now superiorly powerful Covenant through black mail and deceit, and call for the genocide of Humanity in order to protect the lies of which ensure their seat in power. Harvest becomes the first Human world that falls to the Covenant, leading to the start of the Human-Covenant war.
The Humans, technologically inferior, are rapidly over powered by the Covenant; each Human world discovered by the Covenant is destroyed as they progressively attempt to find Earth. In desperation, Humanity utilises a set of super soldiers, termed Spartans, who were created to combat radicalist forces during the colonial civil war prior to the Human-Covenant war, in order to aide the fight against the Covenant.
Discovery of Halos
The Human fortress world, Reach, is eventually discovered by the Covenant. The Pillar of Autumn, a UNSC warship, escapes Reach following a randomised vector in order to avoid the Covenant following them and discovering Earth. Upon exiting slipspace they arrive at Installation 04 and are attacked by a Covenant fleet who had arrived before, this assault forced the Pillar of Autumn to emergency land in the Halo, leading to Master Chiefs discovery of the Flood, the purpose of the Halos, and 343 Guilty Spark. With this knowledge and the help of Cortana, an Artificial Companion, Master Chief destroys the Halo preventing the release of the Flood and the Covenant from firing it with the belief that it's ignition will allow them to follow the path of their gods, the Forerunners.
Battle of Installation 05
The Covenant eventually discovers the location of Earth, and despite the Master Chief and the UNSC's best efforts, the Covenant breaches Earth's defences and head to New Mombasa in search of a Forerunner relic known as the portal. The UNSC In Amber Clad follows the Prophet of Regret when he exits New Mombasa intent on not losing him, upon exit of slipspace they discover Installation 05 already occupied by the Covenant. The Master Chief kills Regret and prevents the Covenant from firing a Halo once more; by preventing the activation of Installation 05 all Halos were placed on stand by mode where they could only be activated remotely from the Ark.
The Arbiter discovers the truth of the Halo rings through 343 Guilty Spark on a Forerunner gas mining facility, when pursuing a heretic at the orders of the Prophets. Upon this discovery and a loss of power within the Covenant, the Sangheili revolt against the Covenant and side with Humanity in order to stop the Halos from being fired.
Battle of Installation 00
The Covenant, still on Earth, finally unearth the portal - an ancient Forerunner portal to the Ark. The Covenant pass through the portal, quickly followed by Humanity and their newly formed allies the Sangheili to the Ark. Here Master Chief, after a long battle between Humanity and the Covenant on the ark, prevents Mercy from activating the Halo array and destroying all life in the galaxy. Despite this success, Master Chief counters another foe as the Flood manifests itself as a Gravemind, a sentient Flood mass, on the Ark forcing him to fire a proto-Halo, termed Installation 04B - destroying the Halo, the Ark, and forcing the Master Chief to flee into a collapsing slipspace portal, leading to him to be deposited outside Requiem.
Lost in Space
As Master Chief slowly drifts towards an unknown planet he enters cryo-stasis in order to ensure his survival, leaving Cortana alone as she broadcasts a rescue beacon to any UNSC presence within the area. Over the next four years Cortana will descend into rampancy as she reaches the end of her seven year life span as a "smart" Artificial Intelligence in loneliness.
Discovery of Requiem
The Covenant discover the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, forcing Cortana to revive Master Chief. After descending to Requiem after a catastrophic battle, the Master Chief battled through the many layers of Requiem only to release the Didact after mistaking his cryptum for a transmission beacon. Upon revival by the Master Chief, the Didact assumed his position as leader of the Forerunner military taking control of the resident Promethean Knights and assuming a new directive the re-ascent to masters of the galaxy. The UNSC Infinity, now on Requiem after discovering Cortana's distress call, attempt to leave Requiem under the orders of Captain Del Rio for fear of destruction after the recent alliance between the Didact and the rogue Covenant faction known as the Storm, despite the Master Chiefs concerns of their possible threat to Earth. Disobeying the Captains orders to remain aboard and to surrender Cortana, Master Chief leaves the Infinity in pursuit of the Didact to prevent his departure.
Retrieval of the Composer
During the Master Chief's efforts to prevent the Didact from leaving Requiem, the Master Chief is baited into a brief meeting with a computerized essence of the Librarian, who explains that he is the result of many years of Forerunner planning an manipulation and of his implanted immunity to the Composers effects. However, despite these efforts, Cortana's rampancy leads to a failure in stopping the Didact from entering his capital ship, the Mantle's Approach, leading to his departure from Requiem in search of the Composer, a key weapon in the Forerunners re-ascent. This search takes the Didact and Master Chief to the Ivanoff Research Station, an ONI facility orbiting Installation 03, where the Composer has been discovered by Humanity and is being studied. The Didact's forces, , rapidly overwhelm the research station and acquire the Composer. The Didact utilizes the Composer killing all Humans on board, save the Master Chief who was immune to it's effects.
Retrieval of the Composer
The Didact, now in possession of the Composer, leaves Ivanoff Station and enters slipspace once more, this time with his destination as Earth. Upon emergence the Didact's ship comes into contact with the Earth defense fleet who had been warned prior to the arrival by the UNSC Infinity, shortly after fleeing Requiem. Here the Master Chief is able to gain access to the Mantle's Approach in an attempt to put a stop to the Didact, once and for all. Once in the core of the ship, the Master Chief discovers the Didact encased within a shield as he prepares to activate the Composer in order to enslave all Humans on Earth. Cortana uses her Rampancy to overload the shield generators, leaving the majority of her personality in the ship, dropping the Didact's shield and allowing the Master Chief confront the Didact. Cortana, who has gained control of the Mantle's Approach's systems, is able to detain the Didact long enough to allow the Master Chief to force the Didact into the slipspace rupture below the Composer and detonate a HAVOC nuclear missile within the ship, destroying it and preventing further damage from the Composer. The Didact is forced. As a final act, Cortana is able to protect Master Chief from the devastating blast of the bomb but at the cost of herself - Cortana and the Didact are lost, and Humanity is once against saved by the Master Chief.