Halo Infinite's summary says Master Chief will face the greatest foe he's ever faced. I can't imagine that is referring to the banished. They are smaller and less powerful than the covenent. My guess is it will be the Harbinger mentioned in the 2020 demo.
Yeah I am really not sure what’s up with campaign. If they’re retconning or skipping the whole Cortana/Guardians thing then they need something of a similar scale to replace it with.
The Banished just aren’t that. In Halo Wars 2 the game also made them centre stage and was kind of underwhelming for two reasons IMO:
- The game never explains what the Banished motivation or end goal is. It’s asserted out of nowhere that we should be worried about Atriox getting a ring and attacking humanity but that’s not a motivation; that’s what he’s doing. With the Covenant they’re doing that because of religion and have a very real reason to hate humanity. The Banished don’t have any reason that’s been given about why they would want a Halo ring or want a war with the UNSC. Why would a group which claims it’s not the Covenant be doing exactly what the Covenant did? Juls Storm Covenant where he’s manipulating the Old Believers for power makes way more sense.
The Banished are depicted as just another Covenant splinter group. There’s some big talk in the intro to HW2. But taking down a bunch of unarmed scientists and taking advantage of the Ark portal closing makes then across as opportunists rather than an actual credible threat. The UNSC would have easily beat them without the Guardians taking out their fleet and homeworlds. In fact until insert plot device from the trailer “deleted Cortana”, per the books they were scampering around terrified of that AI so I guess they’re a big deal now.
The Banished aren’t an Endgame level threat like the Flood or the Didact. If we re just fighting Banished all game it would get pretty dull and wouldn’t have those high stakes. In every main Halo game apart from Halo 5 the galaxy faced utter annihilation from these insidious threats.
Having a surprise faction be it the Flood or the Prometheans or the even the Guardians adds to the drama. If it’s just the Banished you won’t have that.
Basically the Banished on their own are going to be a little boring.
As for Infinite. I am worried that the game is going to end with a cliffhanger. If it’s ten years of Halo they would have to do that so certain plot beats might get pushed into that. A bit like how Destiny 2 teased the Darkness and then made a load of season campaigns building up to that. I think the Harbinger is some kind of Precursor or a Mendicant Bias style AI who is going to unleash the Flood. I just feel like we would have heard it by now if they were in. 343 wants to promote the game, why wouldn’t you say we’re bringing Flood back?
As for proof: if we had like three or four Promethean style weapons then that would be a faction. If it’s just one I feel that more an omage or reference. Bit like the sentinel beam and in fact it might be mounted on sentinels. The Prometheans were meant to be Cortanas Terminator robot army. If, as the trailer strongly suggests, they’ve dropped that plot point, then the Prometheans don’t serve any purpose anymore that can’t be done by sentinels. They MIGHT come back as allies potentially depending on what happens on this ten years of Halo story they want to tell but that’s speculation.
Normally I’d say the proof would be that they’ve said this game is a spiritual reboot and a new Halo CE. The Flood showing up and having those big multi faction battles was a massive part of Halo CE. It should be a given that there’s more than one enemy faction (sentinels don’t count) but I am concerned this is ODST 2 where it’s just the Covenant enemies.
Also some of the audio recording shorts 343 put out really sound like Flood screeches and it feels like they did a lot of Forerunner audio for just the sentinels. Plus I think a Youtuber made the argument that they were doing recordings of Tasmanian devils which apparently is where the Promethean sound comes from; not sure how accurate that claim is.