Halo 5: Guardians is just under two weeks away (and already being played by some lucky members of the press and prominent streamers) and is set to continue the evolving story of Spartan-II soldier Master Chief John-117. It also introduces us to Spartan Locke – who is heading up a task force comprised of some familiar returning characters to…wait. They’re hunting Master Chief? Is he the big bad guy in Halo 5? Just what the hell is going on?
Without going into any detail regarding the actual plot of Halo 5 (despite the fact that we don’t know it yet) here’s a primer on all you need to know about what’s going on when Halo 5 kicks off. Be warned that it contains spoilers for Halo 4, as well as various other pieces of Halo canon that have set up the stakes for this epic intergalactic man hunt. So, without wasting any more time…
What happened to chief after Halo 4?
Halo 4 was a big game. Big in the sense that it had to introduce us again to Master Chief who had been deep in cryogenic sleep after being ripped into another part of the universe after Halo 3. The UNSC had presumed he was dead, and it took a while for that to actually change. Thankfully his AI partner Cortana managed to wake him up, and they eventually found themselves on a planet riddled with ancient Forerunner enemies and a broken off sect of the series enemies, the Covenant. Lead by Jul ‘Mdama, these Covenant forces were seeking to reach the core of the Requiem with Master Chief in tow trying to figure everything out in amongst dealing with Cortana reaching the end of her lifespan, and going truly nuclear from time to time.
Eventually the core was reached, an ancient being called the Didact was awakened and his plan to digitise all sentient life was put into motion. Not seeing the logical loopholes in this, the Covenant worshipped the Didact and followed him towards Earth to wipe out the human race. Master Chief managed to stop them all, but not before the Didact used a weapon called the Composer to digitise all of New Phoenix into little bits of 1s and 0s and send them back to Requiem. There they were used to create new Promethean Knights, which fell under the command of Jul ‘Mdama.
Cortana eventually gave into her rampancy, Master Chief got really sad but Earth now knew he was alive and ready to kick Covenant ass again.
That’s a lot to digest. Can we go over it again?
Master Chief ran into some Covenant and old Prometheans. Their leader tried to turn all human life on earth into Promethean robots. Chief stopped them, but they managed to get some. Cortana died and became an AI for Microsoft devices everywhere. Chief got sad but is home. Got it?
Got it. So what happened next?
Lots actually. Since the Covenant were still out there and causing all sorts of problems for the UNSC on various planets, Master Chief was dispatched to go and deal with them. Because the poor guy hasn’t had enough of them already. During these events master Chief is reunited with his former Spartan-II Blue team, consisting of Kelly-087, Fred-104 and Linda-058. The four then became a task force that the UNSC used to wipe out the Covenant, and investigate suspicious activities around UNSC instalments.
At around the same time, our Spartan Locke comes into play. There’s a massive prequel to Halo 5 during the events of Halo: Nightfall which basically introduces us to Locke, but hardly anything that happens there directly ties to the reason he’s now chasing Master Chief. What you do need to know is that after Nightfall, Locke opted to become a Spartan-IV. He underwent numerous augmentations in the process, and afterwards became the leader Fireteam Osiris. They’re a team many familiar Spartan-IV soldiers from previous games, including Olympia Vale, Edward Buck, and Holly Tanaka.
This is kind of where Halo 5 kicks off, but it’s not yet the end of why Master Chief is suddenly being hunted.
Cool, so Master Chief and Locke basically don’t even know each other at this point? How did things escalate so fast?
Well here’s where things get a little vague, because it’s all part of the Halo 5 prologue in a sense. Take that as a spoiler if you want.
At the beginning of Halo 5, Master Chief and his team are busy investigating an extremist organisation known as Sapien Sunrise. It leads Chief and his team to a peace delegation on Biko, where the UEG and Covenant clan of Sangheili are convening. A Sapien member is disguised as a UEG bodyguard, and Chief wastes no time, um, wasting him as soon as he arrives. This leads to a massive fire fight where 18 human lives are lost, and eventually results in the failure of Master Chief to protect and keep Richard Sekibo alive (a pretty important human ambassador). For reasons unknown, the UEG and Biko government cover all this up by implicating that Master Chief and his Blue Team attacked the conference and have gone rogue, with news quickly spreading regarding the “Fallen Spartan”.
Shortly after that, Chief and his Blue team embrace going AWOL after questioning the loyalties of their governments and embark on a mission to find and destroy Jul ‘Mdama and the Covenant forces that have begun attacking major human outposts. This leads them to the UNSC Argent Moon, a research vessel that has been missing for two years and is now occupied by Sangheili forces loyal to ‘Mdama. This is where Halo 5 kicks off.
At the same time, the human installations I previously mentioned were all being attacked by strange Promethean enemies, which Chief understands are under ‘Mdama’s control. The UNSC, however, don’t and quickly declare Chief and his Blue team as terrorists and orchestrators of the attacks. A ruse was then employed to suggest that the Chief had died in a Guardian attack, so that Agent Locke and his Osiris team could hunt the former patriot down without suspicion. This is where Locke’s side of the jumping Halo 5 story begins.
Ok whoa, lots to take in again. Shorter version please?
Chief and his Blue team were hunting an extremist Covenant group which then inadvertently got them setup to take the fall when their mission to protect a human ambassador failed. The team then went AWOL to stop new Promethean attacks on earth colonies orchestrated by Jul ‘Mdama and her Covenant forces. At the same time the UNSC declares Chief and his team traitors, fakes their deaths and set Agent Locke and his Spartan team loose to find and bring him in. Enter Halo 5.
My head. Do I really need to know all this and more before playing Halo 5?
Probably not, and I suspect the game will do a good job of filling in the important blanks considering it’s the first on the Xbox One. But without this (and playing some of the previous games) you lose some of the emotional weight behind it. Particularly because most of these characters are ones players have fought as and alongside. Seeing them bash heads is interesting.
Also, it’s going to be interesting to see how Cortana plays a part in all of this. Yes yes she died in a way that AIs do, but she has a lasting emotional impact on Chief that should be explored quite deeply.
That is quite interesting actually. What happens next?
Well we don’t know. That’s really for Halo 5 to answer, and all the Halo titles after that. You didn’t think Microsoft was letting it go, did you?
So it’s just going to get more confusing?
Yeah, probably. We’ll pick it up again after Halo 5 launches, deal?
Last Updated: October 16, 2015