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The Arbiter

OP Xenomorph63

When I first played Halo 2 I had a blast playing as the arbiter and having missions focused on him. So, why do you guys think that there were no "other player" type missions? I think there is no Arbiter missions because you can play with him as second person and he follows cheif for almost the whole game. But what do you think?
Simple - the backlash Bungie received back in the day for doing so.

I don’t mind it as much now but back in the day, all I wanted to do was play as the Chief. I know i’m not alone in this and there were articles about it etc.

If you’re a fan of MGS, it felt like the Raiden situation all over again. There’s a reason why both Kojima and Bungie reverted to the original protaganist (well, Big Boss is Solid Snake for all intents and purposes).

The Arbiter was good for story building but given the choice, i’d still rather have Chief as the main protaganist and I am glad he was in Halo 3
Simple - the backlash Bungie received back in the day for doing so.

I don’t mind it as much now but back in the day, all I wanted to do was play as the Chief. I know i’m not alone in this and there were articles about it etc.

If you’re a fan of MGS, it felt like the Raiden situation all over again. There’s a reason why both Kojima and Bungie reverted to the original protaganist (well, Big Boss is Solid Snake for all intents and purposes).

The Arbiter was good for story building but given the choice, i’d still rather have Chief as the main protaganist and I am glad he was in Halo 3
Odd, I always thought the Arbiter’s inclusion was fairly well-received. To be fair, my friends and I thought it was super cool but didn’t bother to look online or anything to see others’ opinions on it.
tuhin94 wrote:
Simple - the backlash Bungie received back in the day for doing so.

I don’t mind it as much now but back in the day, all I wanted to do was play as the Chief. I know i’m not alone in this and there were articles about it etc.

If you’re a fan of MGS, it felt like the Raiden situation all over again. There’s a reason why both Kojima and Bungie reverted to the original protaganist (well, Big Boss is Solid Snake for all intents and purposes).

The Arbiter was good for story building but given the choice, i’d still rather have Chief as the main protaganist and I am glad he was in Halo 3
Odd, I always thought the Arbiter’s inclusion was fairly well-received. To be fair, my friends and I thought it was super cool but didn’t bother to look online or anything to see others’ opinions on it.
I mean, it does provide an alternative look to the Covenant and does well to 'humanise' them but there was some initial backlash. It'd be foolish to say that most people disliked it as frankly this cannot be proven but I think that Bungie making a point of Chief being the main protagonist in Halo 3 before its release may indicate that it was at least controversial.

To quote a few sources:

"Halo 2 gives up some of its focus from a storytelling standpoint, which becomes especially apparent once you finish the campaign. A great deal of attention is paid this time around not to the humans struggling for survival, but to the Covenant and what turns out to be a major political upheaval within their ranks. You spent the first game indiscriminately killing these fiends--yet now you're expected to be sympathetic to them and their hatred for humankind." (Gamespot, 2004 - https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/halo-2-review/1900-6112628/)

(Regarding Master Chief) - "The first game gave you just enough to make his status as ​“Humanity’s Last Hope” something that truly felt epic and intriguing.
However, the structure and pacing of Halo 2 dramatically reduces his role in the game, to the point of nearly being misleading. Look at any of the trailers, any of the commercials, any of the marketing, and it’s clear the Chief was being touted as Mankind’s savior in its darkest hour — when in fact he’s reduced to a background character that’s barely there for half of the game (at least, that’s what it feels like). And it just seems odd to me to take a nearly iconic figure like the Master Chief, and do anything that might diminish him. (Opuszine.us, 2004 - https://opuszine.us/reviews/halo-2-2004-bungie-studios)

Granted, one is a major publication and the other is one admittedly i've not heard of before (you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find 2004 news articles!), it does somewhat demonstrate the confusion/disappointment in the Chief not being playable.

However, that said, the same sources also say:

"To the game's credit, all this adds some newfound complexity to the story (even the collector's edition version of the game's manual is written from the Covenant perspective), and the plot itself is executed quite well." (Gamespot, 2004)

Furthermore, the Arbiter's inclusion was also a 'cover-up', with alot of these reviews making no mention of the switch to the Arbiter. I think IGN demonstrates this in their review:

"Bungie has wisely placed heavy restrictions on what can be revealed regarding the story of Halo 2. In fact, I can only talk about the first three chapters, which center on Master Chief's arrival to Earth and subsequent combat in the streets." (IGN, 2004 - http://uk.ign.com/articles/2004/11/08/halo-2-limited-collectors-edition)

To be honest though, whilst I initially disliked it, I do not mind the Arbiter's inclusion in hindsight. We now know more about The Covenant than we ever did in Halo CE, their political class and internal struggles, the impact of the first Halo game and more. I am glad we got to stay as the Chief in Halo 3 but that said, we did gain a great deuteragonist in Halo 3 and a good returning character in the 'Reclaimer Trilogy'.
tuhin94 wrote:
Simple - the backlash Bungie received back in the day for doing so.

I don’t mind it as much now but back in the day, all I wanted to do was play as the Chief. I know i’m not alone in this and there were articles about it etc.

If you’re a fan of MGS, it felt like the Raiden situation all over again. There’s a reason why both Kojima and Bungie reverted to the original protaganist (well, Big Boss is Solid Snake for all intents and purposes).

The Arbiter was good for story building but given the choice, i’d still rather have Chief as the main protaganist and I am glad he was in Halo 3
Odd, I always thought the Arbiter’s inclusion was fairly well-received. To be fair, my friends and I thought it was super cool but didn’t bother to look online or anything to see others’ opinions on it.
I mean, it does provide an alternative look to the Covenant and does well to 'humanise' them but there was some initial backlash. It'd be foolish to say that most people disliked it as frankly this cannot be proven but I think that Bungie making a point of Chief being the main protagonist in Halo 3 before its release may indicate that it was at least controversial.

To quote a few sources:

"Halo 2 gives up some of its focus from a storytelling standpoint, which becomes especially apparent once you finish the campaign. A great deal of attention is paid this time around not to the humans struggling for survival, but to the Covenant and what turns out to be a major political upheaval within their ranks. You spent the first game indiscriminately killing these fiends--yet now you're expected to be sympathetic to them and their hatred for humankind." (Gamespot, 2004 - https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/halo-2-review/1900-6112628/)

(Regarding Master Chief) - "The first game gave you just enough to make his status as ​“Humanity’s Last Hope” something that truly felt epic and intriguing.
However, the structure and pacing of Halo 2 dramatically reduces his role in the game, to the point of nearly being misleading. Look at any of the trailers, any of the commercials, any of the marketing, and it’s clear the Chief was being touted as Mankind’s savior in its darkest hour — when in fact he’s reduced to a background character that’s barely there for half of the game (at least, that’s what it feels like). And it just seems odd to me to take a nearly iconic figure like the Master Chief, and do anything that might diminish him. (Opuszine.us, 2004 - https://opuszine.us/reviews/halo-2-2004-bungie-studios)

Granted, one is a major publication and the other is one admittedly i've not heard of before (you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find 2004 news articles!), it does somewhat demonstrate the confusion/disappointment in the Chief not being playable.

However, that said, the same sources also say:

"To the game's credit, all this adds some newfound complexity to the story (even the collector's edition version of the game's manual is written from the Covenant perspective), and the plot itself is executed quite well." (Gamespot, 2004)

Furthermore, the Arbiter's inclusion was also a 'cover-up', with alot of these reviews making no mention of the switch to the Arbiter. I think IGN demonstrates this in their review:

"Bungie has wisely placed heavy restrictions on what can be revealed regarding the story of Halo 2. In fact, I can only talk about the first three chapters, which center on Master Chief's arrival to Earth and subsequent combat in the streets." (IGN, 2004 - http://uk.ign.com/articles/2004/11/08/halo-2-limited-collectors-edition)

To be honest though, whilst I initially disliked it, I do not mind the Arbiter's inclusion in hindsight. We now know more about The Covenant than we ever did in Halo CE, their political class and internal struggles, the impact of the first Halo game and more. I am glad we got to stay as the Chief in Halo 3 but that said, we did gain a great deuteragonist in Halo 3 and a good returning character in the 'Reclaimer Trilogy'.
It’s all very interesting, so thanks for posting those! Seems like Bungie didn’t put too much consideration into players not receiving the surprise of playing as the Arbiter in a negative way. I remember Joe and Jason discussing the cutscene before “The Arbiter” and how they were amused by the idea of players being confused as to what was going on if they skipped the cutscene before the level. I see what GameSpot is trying to say, though I don’t necessarily feel the same way.
tuhin94 wrote:
tuhin94 wrote:
Simple - the backlash Bungie received back in the day for doing so.

I don’t mind it as much now but back in the day, all I wanted to do was play as the Chief. I know i’m not alone in this and there were articles about it etc.

If you’re a fan of MGS, it felt like the Raiden situation all over again. There’s a reason why both Kojima and Bungie reverted to the original protaganist (well, Big Boss is Solid Snake for all intents and purposes).

The Arbiter was good for story building but given the choice, i’d still rather have Chief as the main protaganist and I am glad he was in Halo 3
Odd, I always thought the Arbiter’s inclusion was fairly well-received. To be fair, my friends and I thought it was super cool but didn’t bother to look online or anything to see others’ opinions on it.
I mean, it does provide an alternative look to the Covenant and does well to 'humanise' them but there was some initial backlash. It'd be foolish to say that most people disliked it as frankly this cannot be proven but I think that Bungie making a point of Chief being the main protagonist in Halo 3 before its release may indicate that it was at least controversial.

To quote a few sources:

"Halo 2 gives up some of its focus from a storytelling standpoint, which becomes especially apparent once you finish the campaign. A great deal of attention is paid this time around not to the humans struggling for survival, but to the Covenant and what turns out to be a major political upheaval within their ranks. You spent the first game indiscriminately killing these fiends--yet now you're expected to be sympathetic to them and their hatred for humankind." (Gamespot, 2004 - https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/halo-2-review/1900-6112628/)

(Regarding Master Chief) - "The first game gave you just enough to make his status as ​“Humanity’s Last Hope” something that truly felt epic and intriguing.
However, the structure and pacing of Halo 2 dramatically reduces his role in the game, to the point of nearly being misleading. Look at any of the trailers, any of the commercials, any of the marketing, and it’s clear the Chief was being touted as Mankind’s savior in its darkest hour — when in fact he’s reduced to a background character that’s barely there for half of the game (at least, that’s what it feels like). And it just seems odd to me to take a nearly iconic figure like the Master Chief, and do anything that might diminish him. (Opuszine.us, 2004 - https://opuszine.us/reviews/halo-2-2004-bungie-studios)

Granted, one is a major publication and the other is one admittedly i've not heard of before (you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find 2004 news articles!), it does somewhat demonstrate the confusion/disappointment in the Chief not being playable.

However, that said, the same sources also say:

"To the game's credit, all this adds some newfound complexity to the story (even the collector's edition version of the game's manual is written from the Covenant perspective), and the plot itself is executed quite well." (Gamespot, 2004)

Furthermore, the Arbiter's inclusion was also a 'cover-up', with alot of these reviews making no mention of the switch to the Arbiter. I think IGN demonstrates this in their review:

"Bungie has wisely placed heavy restrictions on what can be revealed regarding the story of Halo 2. In fact, I can only talk about the first three chapters, which center on Master Chief's arrival to Earth and subsequent combat in the streets." (IGN, 2004 - http://uk.ign.com/articles/2004/11/08/halo-2-limited-collectors-edition)

To be honest though, whilst I initially disliked it, I do not mind the Arbiter's inclusion in hindsight. We now know more about The Covenant than we ever did in Halo CE, their political class and internal struggles, the impact of the first Halo game and more. I am glad we got to stay as the Chief in Halo 3 but that said, we did gain a great deuteragonist in Halo 3 and a good returning character in the 'Reclaimer Trilogy'.
It’s all very interesting, so thanks for posting those! Seems like Bungie didn’t put too much consideration into players not receiving the surprise of playing as the Arbiter in a negative way. I remember Joe and Jason discussing the cutscene before “The Arbiter” and how they were amused by the idea of players being confused as to what was going on if they skipped the cutscene before the level. I see what GameSpot is trying to say, though I don’t necessarily feel the same way.
Yeah, it’s interesting nonetheless. I actually did enjoy the ability to use active camo at will and the later Arbiter levels but the first two, especially after the Flood show up out of nowhere, didn’t really impress me.

I think I was still bitter at the time due to MGS2 but that’s just me. I’m sure there’s a large amount of players out there like yourself who didn’t mind it though!
While I think the main question of why Bungie stopped the 2-characters idea has already been answered, I would add that maybe they had nowhere to fit it into the actual story. Since Halo 3 was (at least for the first few missions) built on the scrapped extra few missions to end off Halo 2,it may be that they never had any spot to reasonably put the Arbiter on his own in a mission.
  • Arbiter, Johnson, 343 and Miranda were all just going to head back to Earth after killing Tartarus and stopping Instalation 05 from firing. Meanwhile Chief was going to get back to Earth and have a few missions. So in the original Halo 2 plan, there doesn't seem to be any spot to put another Arbiter mission.
  • In Halo 3 the Arbiter was fighting alongside Chief from the jungle all the way to Installation 04b (if co-op is canon, otherwise he is there most of the time). So it seems the only place they could've put an Arbiter mission was after Crows Nest (Arbiter could have left chief to go do a spec-ops sabotage with some elite buddies to help breach Voi) or after The Cartographer (again a spec ops mission to blow up some AA guns so that the air assault seen in The Covenant can happen).
  • As for halo 4, its all about Chief so another perspective / mission set doesn't fit well
  • As for Halo 5, we kind of got that and it did work, it was just more of one perspective/story than the other instead of a nicer Halo 2 balance.
  • Halo Reach, while it could've been cool to play a lowly elite during the invasion (maybe a ranger or spec ops so that its is a story of two somewhat-but-not-entirely-important soldiers) it may not have worked with the feeling of doom / not winning in the end that Bungie seems to have wanted. And of course that would add like 8 missions to development which is probably expensive.
Also as for the backlash about Arbiter missions back in the day, I started with Halo 2 so I guess I was just used to it so when I got halo 1 I was a bit disappointed that it was all Chief (though now I appreciate it for what it is.... a masterpiece). What I don't understand about the anger is why people wanted SO MUCH master chief. I know people like him and he is like the DOOM Guy where they both shoot stuff to look tough but didn't people think about, well you know, getting too much chief and becoming bored with the character?