Published on May 16th, 2014 | by Scot Mackay


Blog: Halo 5 – An Addiction Revisited

No matter where we come from, what colour our skin is, the flags we salute, the Gods we pray to, we have one thing in common. We are human.

I chose something else….

….I became Master Chief.


When I began playing halo all those years ago, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the biggest gun and start blasting it in all of those alien faces as I waged a one man war across Earth, Star ships, Ring worlds and Shield Worlds. I rescued Marines and civilians who were down to their last bullets and their last drops of hope.  I led suicidal charge after suicidal charge and I survived what they said could not be survived.  I become war personified…but then something changed.

Halo has done something to me that no other game has.  It has bonded with me at my core and has grown as I have grown.  From my first instances of enjoying what seemed to be a standard first person shooter it evolved before my eyes with a depth of narrative and exploration that I could never have imagined.  The story pushed the constant fighting into the background and brought a much more human element to it and it’s easy to see that from the battle hardened Master Chief of old, he has most certainly become more than just a suit of armour.

The biggest example of this for me is the sudden loss of Cortana in Halo 4 and the repercussions of that loss for not only me but Master Chief as well.  The guiding light that had supported you and carried you through each and every encounter, the voice of reason in your ear, the very voice that kept Master Chief sane and the player engaged and informed….was gone. There was emptiness, a void and as powerless as I was to do anything about, it seems that those lovely folk at 343 Industries have different plans.

From the events of Halo 4, it was clear that Master Chief was being pushed aside like an aging piece of hardware that had outlived its usefulness.  Becoming more secluded and isolated from the race that had borne him, rebuilt him and moulded him into a weapon, he sits apart questioning what it is to be human and what his role in the future will be. The only constant in his life, the only ‘person’ that would understand him and never fail him, was taken from him. Now we aren’t talking about that time you lost your pet or the time you misplaced the TV remote. We are talking about the complete removal of someone’s emotional crutch that they needed to function.


Do you believe the Master Chief succeeded because he was, at his core, broken?

—UNSC interrogator to Dr. Halsey.

This is where I believe the plot could take a darker perspective.

Without the soothing companionship of Cortana in his ear or the clinical directions given by Dr Halsey or even the Fatherly concern offered by a now deceased Sgt Johnson. Master Chief now has to explore his only weakness…his emotions.  With his limited experience of interacting with people out with a military structure, his mind is effectively institutionalised and so closed off that it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him to suffer the same feelings of disconnection that plagued Dr Manhattan from the Watchmen comic series.  Could we see a new threat to humanity being introduced or could John’s indifference to humanity leave the human race without its greatest protector. I decided to try to work it out.

Now try to stick with me and my raving craziness.  Scanning the pre-rendered trailer and recently released screenshots for any details and clues as to what situation John 117 has found himself in, I decided to create an elaborate plot in my head to put a possible scenario in place.


Here are some little things I spotted in the trailer…

  • We see John walking across a desert world, judging by the rock structures in the background, I would hazard a guess and say that this is not Earth.
  • Johns armour is damaged and worn, with a large crack covering his visor and the dark green colouring been slowly stripped away by the open elements. This tells me that he has been searching for some time and has abandoned one of the first things a soldier is taugh….to maintain all of your equipment that keeps you alive.
  • Does this show a single-minded determination and a complete abandonment of self-preservation?
  • The revelation of a large being that has similar design and uses the same gravitational qualities as the Promethean Knights further adds to the alien world theory but note that the being does not attack Master Chief and vice versa. My theory is that Master Chief has searched for these beings to gain information not to out-and-out kill them.
  • The empty Cortana chip is now hung on a chain much in the way American soldiers carry their dog tags around their necks maybe to hold on to the memory of a fallen comrade. With the search of Cortana being his sole purpose for existing it’s interesting to see that Master Chief doesn’t carry the chip in the port at the back of his helmet but close to hand.

As for the new screenshots….



Looking at the Halo 5: Guardians screenshot I can’t help but notice that the top Spartan (Blue visor) is a lot slimmer and lighter armoured than the heavier typical MJOLNIR Mark VI armor of Master Chief shown on the Australian side of the picture. Also with the difficulty telling male and female Spartans apart, I believe that this could be the female Spartan Sarah Palmer from Halo 4 wearing her standout silver/grey armor, complete with Pioneer Visor.

Now I may be grasping at straws here but my mind works like this with too much coffee and too much free time.

My theory goes like this: Cortana exists somewhere in the digital nirvana created by the Prometheans to store all the living life forms of the galaxy as digital information.  Her rampancy will be affected by this, either destroying the Promethean database and repairing herself with the ancient technology or (now here is the kicker) ….she comes back as a HUMAN.

Stick with me.  The Prometheans gathered all life and stored them digitally so that they could be re-seeded throughout the galaxy when the time was right, which means as well as turning living tissue into digital information, they can turn digital information into life.  Seeing as Cortana was built from the cells of Catherine Halsey and merged with technology in a sort of reverse Robocop style, I think this could be an absolutely mind-bending possibility. I mean, why else would John believe that she is alive?

So with this in mind and John abandoning the human race for a little me time, I could see the military sending someone to bring him back either peacefully or by force. This is where the Sarah Palmer comes in.  As someone who has seen John in action and is aware of his capabilities Sarah could be on mission to find Halsey or to bring back John. Either way, this hints at the co-op element of Halo and could bring some interesting gameplay and make for even more interesting decisions and alignment of loyalties in the end.

Halo isn’t just a first person shooter.  It doesn’t have to contend with the new breed of FPS games coming out such as Titanfall, COD or Battlefield.  These all offer similar gun-toting experiences but where they fail is the mass of the universe created by Halo that rivals the likes of Star Wars. Its lore, its community, its daunting beauty is a force to be reckoned with and, so far, has been nigh on impossible to equal.

It doesn’t matter if I am wrong or right, it doesn’t matter if I have to wait a whole year and a half for this game.  To me Halo has been the start of a journey that I began in 2002. 12 years later, I may be a little older, fatter, balder, weighed down by parental responsibilities and generally going a bit senile but my love for the series is as strong as it has ever been.  Microsoft will have given 343 Industries a blank check and the entire backup they need to make Halo 5 the definitive Xbox 1 experience and I truly believe that the John 117 and Cortana story is far from finished.


Cortana –  “Before this is over, promise me you’ll figure out which one of us is the machine.”


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About the Author

A 33 year old father of three from Inverness who has a deep rooted passion for the noble profession of gaming. As a child he explored dungeons, defeated Dr. Robotnik, explored space and even managed to help Mickey and Donald escape the World of Illusion. He is currently the Charlie Sheen of Titanfall and Is looking forward to The Division. He is known to obey Wheaton's Law 60% of the time. GT: RayzingKane

2 Responses to Blog: Halo 5 – An Addiction Revisited

  1. Robert Young says:

    I like this post very much and can see how vast the halo world is – it’s one of my fave series. I do like the scenario you speak of but I’m wondering where that could kick off, would it start telling two stories and you switch between both John and Sarah until they eventually cross paths?

    Also this could be one small chunk of a massive story with this being one of a new trilogy which brings the series tall to 8 not counting the side story games like Reach, Wars and ODST.

  2. Alex Porter says:

    Great read, some very interesting theories although I recall reading somewhere that the mystery Spartan is an all new character so it won’t be anyone we know! 🙂 It’s also interesting when you covered the point of John losing basically everyone he could confide in (Cortana, Johnson, etc.). If you read the books, Spartans were only every comfortable around other Spartans so the whole lone-gun soul-searching thing sounds like a real possibility! 😀

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