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Were the Covenant Ever Scary? - RANT

OP Archon Vaxal

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I would tend to agree that the current balance of power does undermine the tension, but once again, I think it makes sense. I at least don't want another Disney Wars problem on our hands where the good guys SHOULD be in a position of power, yet somehow aren't. It also wouldn't really make sense for players who thought they defeated the Covenant in Halo 3 only for another, stronger Covenant to show up in 4 that once again poses a massive threat to humanity (again this would be falling in the same trap Disney Wars has). So, 343 turned to the Forerunners to create new big baddies for humanity to fight and be the underdogs again. Based on the reception, this wasn't a great move, but for me it is because I strongly dislike Disney Wars (except for Rogue One) and would hate to see Halo fall down the same path.
I mean, it isn't really a strong argument to say that it makes sense for a story to fail in a pretty fundamental way - that being the creation and sustaining of some basic level of tension that keeps people invested in the story. The setting can be as logical as is possible, but if no one really cares about what is going on anymore then why bother? If the setting leads to a state of affairs where the protagonist ends up more powerful than all the antagonists, and where the tension deflates as a result of that, then the setting is itself flawed and should not have been developed that way by the writers. Simply put in this case, the UNSC should not have been allowed to rebuild so quickly from the end of the war, and should not have had all this new technology showered upon it by the writers so soon after the war. In doing so, there's not much point to continuing post-Halo 3.

All the mechanisms that allowed for this to happen, many of which you covered in your first post in this thread - such as the role ONI is playing in making factions fight each other, to the role that the San-Shyuum played in technology and governance, to the imitativeness of the Covenant, to the fact that some human colonies were spared, to the disappearance of the entire Hurgok species, to the notion of humans being good at using Forerunner technology; all these mechanisms could and should have been addressed differently if 343i wanted to avoid the pre-Created situation of there being nothing in the setting that could ever really pose a threat to the protagonists. All of these mechanisms should have been either downplayed (Such as in the case of Covenant imitativeness, human ingenuity with Forerunner technology, or the role of the San-Shyuum in the Covenant), or simply not introduced (Like the disappearance of the Huragok and ONI's extreme meddling in the affairs of others), so that the Halo universe would have some degree of immersive tension left in it. I'm not particularity immersed in the idea of the Infinity plowing through fleets of Covenant ships. I find that boring after the first or second time. So, basically, the setting should not have found itself in the position in the first place where the most logical situation to develop was also the situation that effectively killed off it's ability to create antagonists that weren't a complete joke to the protagonists. The UNSC becoming the sole superpower should not have ever been the most logical option in the first place, in otherwords (And I disagree that it was the most logical option based on what we know, but I'm not really here to argue that particular topic. I'll just assume it's true for this.)

I do hear your thoughts on the issue of not invalidating the outcome of Halo 3 however, and that is something I also feel quite strongly about. I don't ever want to see a return of the Old Covenant, nor a Human-Covenant War 2.0, in any way. That would completely kill off my interest in the series. I don't think however having the UNSC as the underdog post-Halo 3 would necessarily invalidate that so long as the antagonists that it fights are not clones of the Old Covenant, and so long as it doesn't just devolve into the same old conflicts that the series has completely worn out by now. In my above post I describe how 343i should create new factions and polities that are completely divorced from the idea of the Old Covenant and the attitudes and behaviors of the characters that used to exist within the Old Covenant.

And if we really want to shake things up in a way that enshrines the outcome of Halo 3 whilst retaining the protagonists as the underdog, we could maybe re-evaluate the UNSC's role as being the setting's universal good guys and having someone else be the protagonists, whether that be the idea of some group of humans who are against the growing power of ONI within the heart of the UNSC and UEG, or perhaps some rising fusion of ex-Covenant and former UEG human worlds that seek to challenge the status quo of forming nations and exclusive identities out of species and the idea of zero-sum interactions between them that has ruled the setting for millennia. Though these would be quite experimental and likely a disruptive evolution of the setting on par with the advent of the Created, and would require a lot of proper setup.
It's called bad writing. Frankly I'm just ignoring everything 343i has added to the Halo universe (because I especially agree with your point about how Humanity should NOT be in any state to do, well, anything at all after the war) and write it off as Slipspace Timeline where everything is horribly twisted into a funhouse reflection of the Prime Timeline. It's also moving faster than the Prime Timeline, in which Master Chief has just entered cryosleep.

It's petty, I know, but it's the only way to preserve the quality of the Bungie/Nylund era.
Many of OP's complaints include the Bungie/Nylund era...

If anybody bothered to read all of OP's original posts they would see that their problem is with the Covenant AS A WHOLE, throughout the entire series, not just current, or post-Halo 3 covenant.
All the mechanisms that allowed for this to happen, many of which you covered in your first post in this thread - such as the role ONI is playing in making factions fight each other, to the role that the San-Shyuum played in technology and governance, to the imitativeness of the Covenant, to the fact that some human colonies were spared, to the disappearance of the entire Hurgok species, to the notion of humans being good at using Forerunner technology; all these mechanisms could and should have been addressed differently if 343i wanted to avoid the pre-Created situation of there being nothing in the setting that could ever really pose a threat to the protagonists. All of these mechanisms should have been either downplayed (Such as in the case of Covenant imitativeness, human ingenuity with Forerunner technology, or the role of the San-Shyuum in the Covenant), or simply not introduced (Like the disappearance of the Huragok and ONI's extreme meddling in the affairs of others), so that the Halo universe would have some degree of immersive tension left in it. I'm not particularity immersed in the idea of the Infinity plowing through fleets of Covenant ships. I find that boring after the first or second time. So, basically, the setting should not have found itself in the position in the first place where the most logical situation to develop was also the situation that effectively killed off it's ability to create antagonists that weren't a complete joke to the protagonists. The UNSC becoming the sole superpower should not have ever been the most logical option in the first place, in otherwords (And I disagree that it was the most logical option based on what we know, but I'm not really here to argue that particular topic. I'll just assume it's true for this.)

I do hear your thoughts on the issue of not invalidating the outcome of Halo 3 however, and that is something I also feel quite strongly about. I don't ever want to see a return of the Old Covenant, nor a Human-Covenant War 2.0, in any way. That would completely kill off my interest in the series. I don't think however having the UNSC as the underdog post-Halo 3 would necessarily invalidate that so long as the antagonists that it fights are not clones of the Old Covenant, and so long as it doesn't just devolve into the same old conflicts that the series has completely worn out by now. In my above post I describe how 343i should create new factions and polities that are completely divorced from the idea of the Old Covenant and the attitudes and behaviors of the characters that used to exist within the Old Covenant.

And if we really want to shake things up in a way that enshrines the outcome of Halo 3 whilst retaining the protagonists as the underdog, we could maybe re-evaluate the UNSC's role as being the setting's universal good guys and having someone else be the protagonists, whether that be the idea of some group of humans who are against the growing power of ONI within the heart of the UNSC and UEG, or perhaps some rising fusion of ex-Covenant and former UEG human worlds that seek to challenge the status quo of forming nations and exclusive identities out of species and the idea of zero-sum interactions between them that has ruled the setting for millennia. Though these would be quite experimental and likely a disruptive evolution of the setting on par with the advent of the Created, and would require a lot of proper setup.
You do make a good point. The rebuilding of humanity could have taken longer. However, we still run into the issue of what antagonist to use, even against a weakened humanity. The way I see it, there are basically 4 possible scenarios. These scenarios do not involve the sudden creation of a brand new faction/race cause that would raise a lot of questions about where they came from, why they didn't show up sooner, etc. I don't think this is a good way to go

1. The Covenant vs humanity (current or weakened like you want). Using them as a primary antagonist again is a very bad idea I agree. People would complain just like they did with the Swarm in Gears 4 and it nullifies the ending of Halo 3 just like Force Awakens did Return of the Jedi. Not good. Best to leave the splinter groups as secondary antagonists that can pose a threat to some UNSC but not humanity as a whole (like Halo Wars 2).

2. Rebel factions or the UNSC themselves. While this is an interesting idea, I don't think it would make for a great game and should be left for other lore. People are already unhappy about the current direction the franchise is taking and that still has strong ties to the race that made the titular artifacts. Using rebels would completely alienate both the Covenant and the Forerunners, which I think would cause even more complaints about the series losing its identity.

3. Forerunners vs weakened humanity like you want. Not even a fight unless they retconn the power of the Forerunners so they don't completely obliterate a weakened humanity, which is definitely not ideal.

4. The current scenario. I think this makes the most sense. It fits the pattern of history repeating itself (humans vs forerunners, the created revolting against the creators), and it is still tied to Halo, just through the creators of the installations not the installations themselves. Humanity is barely reaching the level they were at before the Forerunner war, so they still are relatively weak compared to the Forerunners. Once they unlock the secrets of reaching the level of the Forerunners and MAYBE even some Precursor tech, then the series definitely needs to end because then I'd agree with you humanity will be so overpowered that there will be no tension whatsoever.

So I really think there's no way to avoid complaints. Bungie clearly had plans for a Halo 4 due to 3's ending, so if the series ended with Reach people would be mad we didn't get 4. And regardless of which route 343 went, I believe people would still complain and wish for a different way. It's a no win scenario.
It's called bad writing. Frankly I'm just ignoring everything 343i has added to the Halo universe (because I especially agree with your point about how Humanity should NOT be in any state to do, well, anything at all after the war) and write it off as Slipspace Timeline where everything is horribly twisted into a funhouse reflection of the Prime Timeline. It's also moving faster than the Prime Timeline, in which Master Chief has just entered cryosleep.

It's petty, I know, but it's the only way to preserve the quality of the Bungie/Nylund era.
Many of OP's complaints include the Bungie/Nylund era...

If anybody bothered to read all of OP's original posts they would see that their problem is with the Covenant AS A WHOLE, throughout the entire series, not just current, or post-Halo 3 covenant.
This guy... this guy, right here, gets it.

When you have situations where the Old Covenant is repeatedly demonstrated to be a paper tiger, on a consistent basis, it comes across as a failure on the writer's behalf for doing nothing to reconcile that with the supposed threat that the Covenant allegedly posed.

If an Elite can be routinely tossed around like so much garbage by Brutes and Spartans, are they even that much better than ODSTs? If a Hunter can be defeated by pulling some half-baked Black Widow crap and "literally going around them", like big, walking pairs of Maginot Lines, are they much more of an obstacle than a Ghost? If Covenant armor-sets can be punctured and torn through by a .22 (as literally every book and game seems to suggest), then why can't marines just take down Hunters with a bit of overlapping fire? If the Covenant are so "imitative" why do they never "imitate" humanity and take a few pages from the human tactical lexicon- you'd think they'd pick up on a thing or two after three decades of war.

We're told that the Covenant are terrifying... but we're shown Blue Team outmaneuvering and plowing through entire platoons as though they're not there, on a consistent, almost leisurely basis, throughout the books.
We're told that Elites are trained from birth how to fight and are proud warriors... but then we're shown that cutscene where Red Team stonewalls thirty of them, effortlessly, while Forge somehow doesn't get immediately gutted by an opponent who should be well out of his league.
We're told that Brutes are nothing to tangle with, lightly (by Cortana, even)... but then were shown Jerome "John Wick-ing" his way through Elites and Brutes like they're just overgrown plastic flamingos.
We're told that a UNSC fleet has to outnumber a Covenant fleet 3-to-1 to stand a chance... but then you have Infinity just floating there like a big "results may vary" sign- and even before Halo 3, the Pillar of Autumn managed to stay remarkably intact despite being surrounded by the entirety of the Fleet of Particular Justice, and the In Amber Clad somehow wasn't engaged and destroyed by Regret's ship, above Delta Halo. Where were those two ships, now that I think about it? And you have the Spirit of Fire somehow not being immediately melted into slag by Enduring Conviction- yeah, yeah, it's to make time for a Level in the game, but the books were at least consistent about the amount of damage Covenant ships can dish out... most of the time.
Hell- in The Flood, an Elite captain is literally referred to as "a very dangerous warrior"... but at the end of the book... John just... "crushes a Spec-Ops Elite's skull" with his hand. Just... out of the blue, where he'd shown no ability to do so, previously, and had even commented that he preferred to stay out of an Elite's melee-range. And after days/hours of fighting, while exhausted. This type of crap even happens within the same, damn book- I am honestly getting supremely sick of this nonsense. Just pick a damn lane and stay in it, for crying out loud!
We're told (in Envoy) that Elites are "natural fighters"... but we're shown such embarrassments as Jul 'Mdama and Avu 'Med Telcam in the Kilo-5 trilogy.
We're told that an Elite is worth 100-or-so Prophets... but we're shown them getting ROFLSTOMPED by Headhunters, to the point of it almost being played for laughs.

My conclusion: Halo has an extremely serious problem with plot armor.
I agree. Remember that Halo 2 trailer that said "THE GREATEST THREAT IN THE UNIVERSE"? Or when they glassed Reach in mere hours in the book? Ever since the end of the OG trilogy, the covenant have become cliche, boring, bad aliens. The problem is that this has no solution. The war is over. They lost. The elites are allies now. Not to mention that over-humanizing them and explaining every single detail of them removes all the mystery that allowed you to imagine that they were much worse. The way they behave in Halo 5 and the expanded lore from nowadays insults their initial concept.
elGocsila wrote:
I agree. Remember that Halo 2 trailer that said "THE GREATEST THREAT IN THE UNIVERSE"? Or when they glassed Reach in mere hours in the book? Ever since the end of the OG trilogy, the covenant have become cliche, boring, bad aliens. The problem is that this has no solution. The war is over. They lost. The elites are allies now. Not to mention that over-humanizing them and explaining every single detail of them removes all the mystery that allowed you to imagine that they were much worse. The way they behave in Halo 5 and the expanded lore from nowadays insults their initial concept.
I would argue that the Covenant were made into a joke long before the reins were passed to 343. As I've elaborated, many, many times, throughout my posts, here.
I agree in parts but have some thoughts to contribute in disagreement.

The early books (especially Contact Harvest and The Fall if Reach) really gave a sense of what humanity was up against and what a savage enemy the Covenant was. I think that was also portrayed well in the early games. Consider how tough the Covenant was to get past in their hordes. Or even a single active-camo Elite coming at you with a sword on the bridges of the Alpha Halo.

I agree with you that the AI of Hunters is problematic throughout. But for me the real disconnect is the cutscenes, particularly from Halo 4 and 5. My best example is Jul M’dama’s death. Guy went out like a switch, so easy I literally didn’t know it was him. Far from the bullet-sponge Elite we’ve all run away from as Spartans, these guy died fast as a cardboard cutout.

The cutscenes have gradually lost all of the desolation and despair that made them so good in the first two games.

I don’t think the Covenant’s downfall was quite as inconceivable as you do though. You talk about adaptation but the end came so quickly, what chance was there to adapt? They hadn’t had to adapt throughout the vast majority of the war, because the scene was set: humans lose space battles, but have a chance to win on the ground, and that chance was Spartans. Spartans are built to be great against high odds in ground battles, like their original namesakes. Add in the Flood and the Covenant has two pretty serious chaos elements thrown in its face very late in the day. Not too much of a stretch for them to prove locally insurmountable, then when the head is cut off, the body generally falls. Lastly the Covenant is a religious group, so fervour took the lead over tactical intelligence many times, again particularly during the end-game on Earth.

So in short I do lament the fact that cutscenes are now just unimaginative gloss. Even the first one of Halo 5 which is great quality in and of itself, doesn’t bear up to scrutiny based on what kind of enemy the Covenant should be.

If if they can realign these with the lethal nature of the individual Sangheili warrior, what’s left of the Covenant could still be more that just a plot vehicle for humanity’s rise.
The Covenant was terrifying from Contact Harvest up to Reach.
They were just semi-compotent to downright incompetent from everything beyond that.
Honestly they aren’t scary but how can halo be halo without them?
I think the biggest problem with new Covenant is that their leader Jul M'dama wasn't even in Halo 4.He was just shown in Spartan Ops and terminals.If they just would have put that terminal cutscene where he is first shown in the Campaign, the new Covenant would be more interesting.Then in Halo 5 he is shown for the first time in Campaign,and he is killed immediately.So in both Halo 4 and 5 the new Covenant are presented in the worst possible way.They have no personality,no leader and no real goal for what they fight for.
I think the biggest problem with new Covenant is that their leader Jul M'dama wasn't even in Halo 4.He was just shown in Spartan Ops and terminals.If they just would have put that terminal cutscene where he is first shown in the Campaign, the new Covenant would be more interesting.Then in Halo 5 he is shown for the first time in Campaign,and he is killed immediately.So in both Halo 4 and 5 the new Covenant are presented in the worst possible way.They have no personality,no leader and no real goal for what they fight for.
This thread is not strictly about the New Covenant.
I think the biggest problem with new Covenant is that their leader Jul M'dama wasn't even in Halo 4.He was just shown in Spartan Ops and terminals.If they just would have put that terminal cutscene where he is first shown in the Campaign, the new Covenant would be more interesting.Then in Halo 5 he is shown for the first time in Campaign,and he is killed immediately.So in both Halo 4 and 5 the new Covenant are presented in the worst possible way.They have no personality,no leader and no real goal for what they fight for.
This thread is not strictly about the New Covenant.
I know what you mean,i also hate that the"Good"guys always win,but this is how it is 90% or more in every game,movie,books.I always think why no one comes to an idea in a game that you play as opposite side,why it this constant "Good"guys defeat "Evil"against all odds in every Universe created.I agree that in Halo Universe it seems to be too easy how Humans defeat Covenant,i wish it were different but im afraid the series is shifting towards younger audience.
elGocsila wrote:
I agree. Remember that Halo 2 trailer that said "THE GREATEST THREAT IN THE UNIVERSE"? Or when they glassed Reach in mere hours in the book? Ever since the end of the OG trilogy, the covenant have become cliche, boring, bad aliens. The problem is that this has no solution. The war is over. They lost. The elites are allies now. Not to mention that over-humanizing them and explaining every single detail of them removes all the mystery that allowed you to imagine that they were much worse. The way they behave in Halo 5 and the expanded lore from nowadays insults their initial concept.
I would disagree that putting some light on the Covenant took away from imagining them far worse. Expanding on them showed how good or bad someone could be in the Covenant. Broken Circle displays this in various characters, as does Contact Harvest, or Cole Protocol. I would think not expanding on them, leaving them as a "mystery," just keeps them as a cliche one-dimension bad alien.
On the Jiralhanae, the Jiralhanae have always been depicted as being at least on par with the Sangheili in terms of performances on the battlefield, and in fact given their size (half a ton, nine foot tall apes that tower even Sangheili), strength and physical resiliance, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Brutes can literally toss around Elites like dogs with a chew toy, considering that Jiralhanae are strong enough to overpower Spartans and hail from a culture who places a strong emphasis on battle prowess and physical strength and are tough enough that assault rifles and the like are ineffective weapons against them when considering the effectiveness of these weapons in real combat time frames. And that before you consider the fact that the Jiralhanae lug around 500 kilograms of armour around with no trouble.

Furthermore, the Jiralhanae are pragmatic and utilitarian warriors who adhere to a strict pack mentality. This means that the Jiralhanae are not bound to a strong sense of honour but instead approaches things in a practical matter and work more effectively as a team given their nature as pack hunters with strong familiar ties to their clan. In comparison, the Sangheili's military structure emphasises personal gain and glory over the team and thus Sangheili are more individualistically thinking compared to the Brutes, and in regards to their honour it can prove to even be a crutch considering how the Sangheili. For example, there have been occasions where Sangheili would rather hold onto an uncharged plasma rifle than pick up a human assault rifle, and given their views on the ties between blood and honour, would refuse medical treatment due to their views that being cut outside the battlefield would "spill" honour. Meanwhile, the Jiralhanae have no such qualms.

I believe the OP is far too dismissive of the Jiralhanae as "dumb brutes" and because of his bias towards the Sangheili it narrows his view on what I find to be a rather interesting species who serves as a dark mirror for humanity: tenacious, practical and innovative like Halo humanity, yet aggressive and brutal in nature which holds back the species. But that's my personal opinion.
On the Jiralhanae, the Jiralhanae have always been depicted as being at least on par with the Sangheili in terms of performances on the battlefield, and in fact given their size (half a ton, nine foot tall apes that tower even Sangheili), strength and physical resiliance, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Brutes can literally toss around Elites like dogs with a chew toy, considering that Jiralhanae are strong enough to overpower Spartans and hail from a culture who places a strong emphasis on battle prowess and physical strength and are tough enough that assault rifles and the like are ineffective weapons against them when considering the effectiveness of these weapons in real combat time frames. And that before you consider the fact that the Jiralhanae lug around 500 kilograms of armour around with no trouble.

Furthermore, the Jiralhanae are pragmatic and utilitarian warriors who adhere to a strict pack mentality. This means that the Jiralhanae are not bound to a strong sense of honour but instead approaches things in a practical matter and work more effectively as a team given their nature as pack hunters with strong familiar ties to their clan. In comparison, the Sangheili's military structure emphasises personal gain and glory over the team and thus Sangheili are more individualistically thinking compared to the Brutes, and in regards to their honour it can prove to even be a crutch considering how the Sangheili. For example, there have been occasions where Sangheili would rather hold onto an uncharged plasma rifle than pick up a human assault rifle, and given their views on the ties between blood and honour, would refuse medical treatment due to their views that being cut outside the battlefield would "spill" honour. Meanwhile, the Jiralhanae have no such qualms.

I believe the OP is far too dismissive of the Jiralhanae as "dumb brutes" and because of his bias towards the Sangheili it narrows his view on what I find to be a rather interesting species who serves as a dark mirror for humanity: tenacious, practical and innovative like Halo humanity, yet aggressive and brutal in nature which holds back the species. But that's my personal opinion.
I disagree with none of what you're saying. My point is: if Sangheili are so routinely outmatched by Brutes and Spartans all the time, why does no one in-universe call out the fact that their reputation as fearsome warriors seems to be smoke and mirrors?

John-117, himself, refers to the Sangheili as "the iron heart of the Covenant" (in The Fall of Reach), and almost every official guidebook and marketing source we see says that the Elites are skilled and generally to-be-feared, but then almost everything we're shown seems to directly contradict that.

We're told that Elites and Brutes have a rivalry and that the Sangheili have generally kept the Brutes at a low status-level throughout the Jiralhanae's career in the Covenant, but that kind of becomes difficult to believe when we're shown that damned cutscene of Atriox's origins (as entertaining as it was to watch). It makes no in-universe sense that the High Council would so flippantly neglect the Brutes when (as we're shown time and time, again) the Brutes seem to out-perform Elites at every turn.

My issue is: we're told one thing by the games and books and characters of the universe, but we're repeatedly shown the exact opposite.

I don't dislike the Brutes, at any rate, I just find them to be the least inspired of the Covenant. The least... complex and interesting.
On the Jiralhanae, the Jiralhanae have always been depicted as being at least on par with the Sangheili in terms of performances on the battlefield, and in fact given their size (half a ton, nine foot tall apes that tower even Sangheili), strength and physical resiliance, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Brutes can literally toss around Elites like dogs with a chew toy, considering that Jiralhanae are strong enough to overpower Spartans and hail from a culture who places a strong emphasis on battle prowess and physical strength and are tough enough that assault rifles and the like are ineffective weapons against them when considering the effectiveness of these weapons in real combat time frames. And that before you consider the fact that the Jiralhanae lug around 500 kilograms of armour around with no trouble.

Furthermore, the Jiralhanae are pragmatic and utilitarian warriors who adhere to a strict pack mentality. This means that the Jiralhanae are not bound to a strong sense of honour but instead approaches things in a practical matter and work more effectively as a team given their nature as pack hunters with strong familiar ties to their clan. In comparison, the Sangheili's military structure emphasises personal gain and glory over the team and thus Sangheili are more individualistically thinking compared to the Brutes, and in regards to their honour it can prove to even be a crutch considering how the Sangheili. For example, there have been occasions where Sangheili would rather hold onto an uncharged plasma rifle than pick up a human assault rifle, and given their views on the ties between blood and honour, would refuse medical treatment due to their views that being cut outside the battlefield would "spill" honour. Meanwhile, the Jiralhanae have no such qualms.

I believe the OP is far too dismissive of the Jiralhanae as "dumb brutes" and because of his bias towards the Sangheili it narrows his view on what I find to be a rather interesting species who serves as a dark mirror for humanity: tenacious, practical and innovative like Halo humanity, yet aggressive and brutal in nature which holds back the species. But that's my personal opinion.
I disagree with none of what you're saying. My point is: if Sangheili are so routinely outmatched by Brutes and Spartans all the time, why does no one in-universe call out the fact that their reputation as fearsome warriors seems to be smoke and mirrors?

John-117, himself, refers to the Sangheili as "the iron heart of the Covenant" (in The Fall of Reach), and almost every official guidebook and marketing source we see says that the Elites are skilled and generally to-be-feared, but then almost everything we're shown seems to directly contradict that.

We're told that Elites and Brutes have a rivalry and that the Sangheili have generally kept the Brutes at a low status-level throughout the Jiralhanae's career in the Covenant, but that kind of becomes difficult to believe when we're shown that damned cutscene of Atriox's origins (as entertaining as it was to watch). It makes no in-universe sense that the High Council would so flippantly neglect the Brutes when (as we're shown time and time, again) the Brutes seem to out-perform Elites at every turn.

My issue is: we're told one thing by the games and books and characters of the universe, but we're repeatedly shown the exact opposite.

I don't dislike the Brutes, at any rate, I just find them to be the least inspired of the Covenant. The least... complex and interesting.
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
You're forgetting the fact that every Elite has more or less the same childhood and upbringing. All are trained the same way, and their skillets are expressly made uniform as a means of ensuring meritocracy. A poor showing on one Elite's part kind of has to be a poor showing for the entire species, or at least that Elite's entire Clan.

And by this, I don't mean to suggest that genes and biology play no part in a person's overall success level, but the whole of Sanghelios has been embroiled, at least for a thousand years, in an arms race against each other, even during the Covenant's rule. When the ability to mate is predicated on one's success on the battlefield, both in terms of survival, and in culture, you'd think that that would have thinned out the incompetent a long time ago.

My point about the Elite/Brute rivalry wasn't about how they stack up against each other, and the point about "glassing form orbit" is erroneous when one remembers that the Brutes joined willingly. When the Hierarchs and the High Council are watching things proceed and have all of the information at their fingertips, it makes no sense that they'd put the Brutes lower than Elites on the totem pole, when Brutes (seem to) repeatedly outperform Elites at every turn. If the matter is over which group would best serve the Great Journey and the Covenant's military needs, the leaders of the Covenant must have been just as oblivious as literally everyone else in the Halo universe not to notice that the Brutes (apparently) Roflstomp Elites in combat, every time.

My issue is: if everything you're saying is correct, you'd think that the characters in the actual universe would point that out. Or at least hint at it, beyond just blatant insults and biased opinions.
Halo has a big problem, in this regard. It says one thing, does the opposite, and makes no attempt to reconcile the conflicting messages. It feels like a lot of the writers seem to repeatedly forget the maxim "show don't tell".
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
You're forgetting the fact that every Elite has more or less the same childhood and upbringing. All are trained the same way, and their skillets are expressly made uniform as a means of ensuring meritocracy. A poor showing on one Elite's part kind of has to be a poor showing for the entire species, or at least that Elite's entire Clan.

And by this, I don't mean to suggest that genes and biology play no part in a person's overall success level, but the whole of Sanghelios has been embroiled, at least for a thousand years, in an arms race against each other, even during the Covenant's rule. When the ability to mate is predicated on one's success on the battlefield, both in terms of survival, and in culture, you'd think that that would have thinned out the incompetent a long time ago.

My point about the Elite/Brute rivalry wasn't about how they stack up against each other, and the point about "glassing form orbit" is erroneous when one remembers that the Brutes joined willingly. When the Hierarchs and the High Council are watching things proceed and have all of the information at their fingertips, it makes no sense that they'd put the Brutes lower than Elites on the totem pole, when Brutes (seem to) repeatedly outperform Elites at every turn. If the matter is over which group would best serve the Great Journey and the Covenant's military needs, the leaders of the Covenant must have been just as oblivious as literally everyone else in the Halo universe not to notice that the Brutes (apparently) Roflstomp Elites in combat, every time.

My issue is: if everything you're saying is correct, you'd think that the characters in the actual universe would point that out. Or at least hint at it, beyond just blatant insults and biased opinions.
Halo has a big problem, in this regard. It says one thing, does the opposite, and makes no attempt to reconcile the conflicting messages. It feels like a lot of the writers seem to repeatedly forget the maxim "show don't tell".
If I may in regards of the rivalry and the high council. From an outside perspective that would make sense. However, why would half the council, Sangheili, openly admit to that? From their eyes, the jiralhane are a lower, barbaric race could never be equals to them and their excellence.

Would be similar to a roman legion soldier compared to some random Germanic barbarian at the time. The "primitive," could be far stronger then the legionnaire, but would the Roman admit that the other could truly be better? Likely not, but rather seen as a useful servant. Within a similar vein, the Sangheili would not see the Jiralhanae as much more then useful muscle in certain areas, or for unsavory things like in Reach.

We are somewhat told though in Contact Harvest that the council was aware of the "fight to the top" mentality the Jiralhane have. That mentality, commanders told the council could be a threat to the Covenant. Thus the thought of using them as a far more lower-caste then what they could have possibly been otherwise.
Ado Ulamee wrote:
Well the fact is this matter is a lot more complicated than simply the physical prowess of individual Elites and Brutes. Before we discuss that, I should point out to you that a fundamental flaw in your argument is that you are comparing an entire species who range in a variety of traits and characteristics - and thus skill and ability - with a group of developed super soldiers taken from the "cream of the crop" when it comes to the range of human ability. The average Elite is no match for a Spartan in terms of skill and ability on the battefield - especially when a firefight is determined more by tactics, effective use of resources, marksmanship, and so on far more than who's bigger and can punch harder. Now contrasting an Elite with a marine, it's obvious that the Elite has many tactical advantages over the marine, but have a squad of marines, and you'd find that the marine's teamwork and efficiency would allow them to hold their own against even a dozen Elites for one fundamental reason: Elites are more warriors than soldiers, and this is especially true when the average Elite isn't that much different from a marine in skill and ability on the battlefield (marksmanship, use of tactics, etc.). Sure, Elites are bigger and stronger, but again that means little on the battlefield where a marine with a sniper rifle in his hands could put a bullet in-between the eyes of an angry Elite with an energy sword. This BTW applies to all species in the Covenant, not just the Sangheili. The Covenant may have superior technology and numbers, but their culture and ideologies, as well as the lack of proper training and treatment for species like the Unggoy and Jiralhanae that holds back the Covenant's military prowess from reaching it's full potential.

This doesn't mean that the claim that the Sangheili were the "iron heart of the Covenant" is -Yoink-. That fact has always been the case as the Covenant military is entirely Sangheili dominate and is reflective of the Sangheili's cultures and ideologies. It's the Covenant who are leading the Unggoy on the ground just as the Sangheili are cleansing planets from high orbit, and this has been the case for almost the entirety of the Covenant's existence, and we have seen on many occasions of very capable Sangheili that can rival, if not outmatch even humanity's Spartans in skill, ability and battlefield performance. Take Thel 'Vadam, or Rtas 'Vadum who are very capable warriors in their own right. But do not mistaken these characters as merely representations of their species when these individuals are considered remarkable amongst the rest of the Sangheili.

As for the Sangheili/Jiralhanae relationship, the Sangheili have been the leading military caste in the Covenant since it's very foundation. In comparison, the Jiralhanae have only been part of the Covenant for 60 years before it's collapse and when they were inducted into the Covenant the Brutes weren't united nor had the military power to fight them off or have much sway on the Covenant's political arena. Thus, the Sangheili could use the Jiralhanae anyway they saw fit. It didn't matter if the Brutes can punch Elites across the room when the Elites can glass them from orbit and leverage their far superior technology against them (energy shields, active camo, weapons that can blow off limbs, crystal shards that track its targets). It is only after nearly three decades of war and the machinations of the Prophet of Truth that the political position of the Jiralhanae has changed so drastically that they were considered near equals with the Elites - and eventually supplanted them as the leading military caste in the Covenant.

Well it seems that you and I have different opinions on the Jiralhanae as a race in the Halo universe.
You're forgetting the fact that every Elite has more or less the same childhood and upbringing. All are trained the same way, and their skillets are expressly made uniform as a means of ensuring meritocracy. A poor showing on one Elite's part kind of has to be a poor showing for the entire species, or at least that Elite's entire Clan.

And by this, I don't mean to suggest that genes and biology play no part in a person's overall success level, but the whole of Sanghelios has been embroiled, at least for a thousand years, in an arms race against each other, even during the Covenant's rule. When the ability to mate is predicated on one's success on the battlefield, both in terms of survival, and in culture, you'd think that that would have thinned out the incompetent a long time ago.

My point about the Elite/Brute rivalry wasn't about how they stack up against each other, and the point about "glassing form orbit" is erroneous when one remembers that the Brutes joined willingly. When the Hierarchs and the High Council are watching things proceed and have all of the information at their fingertips, it makes no sense that they'd put the Brutes lower than Elites on the totem pole, when Brutes (seem to) repeatedly outperform Elites at every turn. If the matter is over which group would best serve the Great Journey and the Covenant's military needs, the leaders of the Covenant must have been just as oblivious as literally everyone else in the Halo universe not to notice that the Brutes (apparently) Roflstomp Elites in combat, every time.

My issue is: if everything you're saying is correct, you'd think that the characters in the actual universe would point that out. Or at least hint at it, beyond just blatant insults and biased opinions.
Halo has a big problem, in this regard. It says one thing, does the opposite, and makes no attempt to reconcile the conflicting messages. It feels like a lot of the writers seem to repeatedly forget the maxim "show don't tell".
If I may in regards of the rivalry and the high council. From an outside perspective that would make sense. However, why would half the council, Sangheili, openly admit to that? From their eyes, the jiralhane are a lower, barbaric race could never be equals to them and their excellence.

Would be similar to a roman legion soldier compared to some random Germanic barbarian at the time. The "primitive," could be far stronger then the legionnaire, but would the Roman admit that the other could truly be better? Likely not, but rather seen as a useful servant. Within a similar vein, the Sangheili would not see the Jiralhanae as much more then useful muscle in certain areas, or for unsavory things like in Reach.

We are somewhat told though in Contact Harvest that the council was aware of the "fight to the top" mentality the Jiralhane have. That mentality, commanders told the council could be a threat to the Covenant. Thus the thought of using them as a far more lower-caste then what they could have possibly been otherwise.
But the Prophets make up 50% of the High Council. Half is half, and the Prophets have always been portrayed as the more pragmatic half of the Covenant leadership.

That seems fishy, to me. It might make sense, if the Elites lived up to their reputation, and could back up their words with real authority. But, apparently, according to... about sixty percent of the Halo fandom(?), the Elites are just "ODST Lite".
True, but the Sangheili were in charge of military matters, not the san shyuum. We saw they disliked the idea of the Unggoy joining the armed forces as proper foot soldiers after the Unggoy rebellion.However, the Writ of Union decreed that military matters were not their job, thus they relented. As for their reputation, would say as others have and that it just depends on the Sangheili at the time. You will have warriors like Fal 'Chavamee who wiped out an army, to Vil 'Kthamee, whose talent laid with Huragok communication and being more keen with observations. Outside of that he appeared pretty average.
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