Myths & Mysteries
Welcome back! If you’re new here, Canon Fodder is our fiction-focused blog that views the galaxy through the lens of Halo’s story and lore. If you’re not new here, that’s still what Canon Fodder is, so… yeah. Anyway, last issue was a fun celebration of both the Master Chief (it was Issue 117 after all) as well as an exciting announcement regarding the development of a brand-new Halo Encyclopedia produced with our friends over at Dark Horse (go preorder it!).
Now, remember how I said that Canon Fodder deals primarily with Halo’s… um, canon? Well, today we’re going to creep a bit into “other duties as assigned” territory. If you’ve been keeping an eye on elements from Halo Infinite, you may have noticed a unique armor type that has been said to sit in a distinctly different “branch” of lore. While we'll of course eventually be diving into the “Fractures” content that you’ll be finding within Halo Infinite, that chat is still a bit further down the road. However, today we want to talk about a very similar experimental endeavor that’s slated to slide into Halo: The Master Chief Collection when Season 8 makes its way to the game anthology’s shores in the near-ish future.
ODD ONES OUT
Dubbed MYTHIC, Season 8 of the MCC will showcase Halo in a deliberately divergent way. As a big fan of all manner of media, I’ve always personally enjoyed when a beloved franchise can be viewed through a unique lens, applying different themes, styles, eras, and more to create unexpected new experiences. Moments that can sit alongside a “core” universe and give you a fresh little detour while keeping all of your beloved existing fiction and details neatly intact. Whether it’s a samurai take on Star Wars or a steampunk take on Batman, seeing familiar elements given a wild and far-out twist can simultaneously give you a fun new thing to enjoy while also helping you appreciate the core reasons of why you love the original thing in the first place. The upcoming season for the MCC does just that, and also helps set the stage for more fun experimental themes to come in the future in this and other venues.
MYTHIC MJOLNIR MADNESS
Season 8 is slated to deliver some unique armor sets (plus new themed nameplates and sandbox skins), for use in Halo 3 multiplayer within the MCC, each one focused on reimagining the core Mjolnir armor as alternate universe amalgams based on legendary ancient warriors. You’ll also notice that these items feature their own unique world-building, pulling the curtain back ever so slightly on reimagined mythos with elements you just might recognize.
We know it’s wild. We know it’s “out there.” And we think it’s pretty neat. Let’s check it out!
Straight and true, the Chosen are honed and sharpened into a weapon thrust straight into the heart of Lacedaemon's enemies.
Chosen generals of Lacedaemon's mortal armies bear distinctive crests.
Goring horns are worn by Chosen who abandon reason and the assistance of others.
A rare few Chosen live long enough to become transfigured, their bodies recast into forms more suitable for eternal war.
Chosen who succumb to bitterness are blessed and cursed to never walk a path of peace.
The Chosen who guard the chthonic slipgates and initiated into their mysteries have no mortal ties, no binding vows, and no doubts.
Bitterness and pride alloyed into frozen iron.
BLACKGUARD TEARFUL BISHOP
The faith of the newly converted burns bright enough to consume any truth.
BLACKGUARD FORSAKEN DRAGON
There is no fall from grace, only an awakening to reality.
BLACKGUARD CARRION CROW
Some are born to taste ill winds.
BLACKGUARD SORROWFUL VISAGE
Fear can be honed to a sharpness keener than any blade.
BLACKGUARD ASHEN CROWN
It is better to rule in the shadows than serve in the light.
The Shapeless Horrors strike at the mind just as viciously as they do the body.
War demands sacrifice of treasure and blood. The trick is to make sure that it's not yours.
The great beasts who browse among the limbs of the world tree inspire art and song.
Some tricks and jests are worth any price.
It is the highest of honors for a lorespinner to spark hope in the darkest of nights.
Loss and sorrow are fuel for the teller of tales.
Now, I know that we did say it’s all usable in Halo 3 multiplayer, BUT… the helmets specifically will also be available to unlock for use in Halo: Reach within MCC, just in case you want to mix things up a bit.
With these designs leaning further afield, we thought it might be fun (and educational!) to get some perspective on the artistic intentions behind this season’s fanciful foray. I hit up my buddy Horia Dociu, Art Director for the Halo Publishing Team at 343 Industries, for his thoughts on what sort of guiding principles gave this season its shape.
GRIM: Horia, first off, welcome! To kick things off, can you talk from a high level a bit about the primary inspiration behind a more experimental vision for this season’s content?
HORIA: Hey, thanks man! Well, let’s see. I guess to start, the goal—as always—was to expand our options for player expression. We already have a huge number of cool, space-marine style armor pieces to mix and match into endless combinations. So, my intention was finding a whole different axis for people to customize their armor on. Introducing new armor motifs, in this case based on mythology—it felt like a cool way to bring some of the inherent themes of the game into a more literal, visual realm.
GRIM: Love it, and you’re right—those “mythical” themes have always been present in our universe in various ways, even if woven within the more traditional sci-fi trappings. Actually, that makes me think… what kind of things can we learn creatively about the franchise by looking at it through a more divergent lens?
HORIA: What we learned, or rather had reinforced, was that the very core fantasy of this game is about the power you wield as a walking tank character. Chief has green metal armor, a big gun, and even a dang windshield. Chief is a tank. Very few characters have that kind of amazing visual clarity: you know what the Hulk does, or what a T-Rex does, or what a buzzsaw does, just by looking at it. That’s a very cool design trait. So, we found that keeping the heavy armor and weapon shapes intact, we could convey the same power fantasy, but make it visually evocative and intellectually interesting in completely new ways—with just a little suspension of “canon” ideals—ultimately achieving that goal for greater player expression.
GRIM: “Intellectually interesting” is actually a great way to put it, honestly. Can you speak to MCC Season 8’s featured themes specifically from a design and inspiration standpoint?
HORIA: After fleeing communism in 1980s Romania, my family lived in Athens, Greece for a short time. I clearly remember all the souvenir shops selling ancient-looking Greek helmets and kitschy leg armor on the small streets leading up to the Acropolis where we’d go play. In my mind, the name Spartan has always brought back those images. So, of course I instantly thought that we needed to make that classic, iconic spartan helmet and an accompanying set of expressive gear inspired by Greek mythology, juxtaposed with a science-fiction context. [You can see the initial "vibe" concept for this here]
GRIM: Good grief, you were literally born to bring Spartans to life—that’s more rad than I even realized. What drew you to the specific styles and archetypes that we’re looking at?
HORIA: Mjolnir and a few other mythological Norse names in our canon inspired an Asgard warrior concept, which came along with the horned helmets and all the other Viking associations history and pop culture have highlighted. While monikers like Wraith, Banshee, and Ghost felt like a stoic, dark-gothic lens through which to approach a classical knight armor take on our Spartans. Halo is all about the mythical warriors of the future, so what better way to reinforce the fantasy than to imbue the armors with the legendary visuals that have echoed for centuries in our own history of legendary warriors?
Further fleshing out of the original "Asgard" concepts as we worked with partners like Liquid Development to move from concept to 3D.
GRIM: What better way indeed. So, speaking of legendary visuals, what were some of the challenges of trying to adapt a potentially wildly different style to fit on the more traditional power-armor “frame?”
HORIA: At the end of the day, your character is still a Spartan—both within your imagination but also within the sandbox—so we couldn’t betray the general silhouettes, proportions, or how the armor interacts with the human body and the techsuit underneath. This was important visually, but also for gameplay functionality; we had to be careful that neither new nor old armor is at a disadvantage. As long as we stayed within the classic game’s armor template, we were able to tap some great historical and fantasy references to give the armors a lot of built-in attitude. I wanted to bring in some new materials too, like silver, leather, and even fur, to push the variety, yet the main material and dye channels remain intact as the armors are predominantly painted metal, shield lights and all. I think we’ve struck a handsome balance.
Taking key words like "Wraith" and "Ghost" to serve as further inspiration for a more medieval theme.
GRIM: Couldn’t agree more. What are you most excited about with this interpretation adventure? What do you personally find awesome about getting the chance to put a unique twist to the “standard” Mjolnir armor?
HORIA: I’ve personally been intrigued by the idea of lineage. The strength you pull from a feeling that your forebearers and ancestors pulled through and passed along that inner flame. It’s quite poetic and beautiful. I think that’s why we love family crests, old flags, and insignias—it gives people a feeling of purpose greater than themselves. Thinking about futuristic soldiers who wear artifacts that were passed down from ancient times by warriors who fought with spears and stones, that’s just always been interesting to me- it’s a beautiful contrast and yet one that makes perfect sense. Who will wield King Arthur's sword 1,000 years from now? It gives me goosebumps thinking about that.
GRIM: I love that—both as someone with a huge appreciation for the notion of heritage and family, but also in recognizing that it fits really well with the more canonical notion of being a “Reclaimer,” inheriting something powerful that’s been passed down in some way.
HORIA: Exactly. And sewing in a variety of warrior iconology to mix and match with our science fiction armor will let players give a soul to their multiplayer avatars to a degree that I don’t think we’ve done yet.
Horia has been enamored with mash-up concepts for quite a while, as these older personal art explorations showcase!
GRIM: Sounds great, man. It’s genuinely always such a blast working with you and getting to watch you put your own stamp on Halo—from classic “core” visuals to unique new visions like we’re seeing here. Here’s hoping folks enjoy the fun detour and let their imaginations run wild.
HORIA: Thanks, man! I’m genuinely stoked to see what combinations people come up with, making unique sci-fantasy soldiers or visual nods to other pop culture characters. And again, this is all part of a tool kit to let you more broadly express yourself in your favorite games.
Wait, wrong map.
Anyway, while Season 8 of the MCC is largely made of more far-fetched interpretations, there is still an element coming to the collection that sits firmly in the canon of the universe. Meet Icebox, a reimagining of the multiplayer map “Turf” from Halo 2, this frigid playspace will be soon making its way to the Halo 3 map rotation in MCC. Have a gander at the visuals and description below!
Downtown Tyumen’s frigid and cloistered Precinct 13 offers an ideal context for urban combat training.
Last week, we not only announced the release date(!) for the upcoming Halo Infinite—December 8—but we also debuted the intro cinematic for Season 1 of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer experience. If you haven’t given it a look already—or maybe just want to see it again—here you go!
From our official description:
Commander Agryna knows firsthand the difference a Spartan can make—a difference never more important than now. Humanity's forces are scattered. Desperate resistance efforts have continued to fall short on multiple fronts, from Cortana's relentless martial law to the expanding power and ambition of Atriox and the Banished. But there is hope: a new generation of Spartans, training in secret to become unstoppable. In this cinematic introduction to Season 1 of Halo Infinite Multiplayer, get a glimpse into the Academy Commander's own heroic journey and what it truly means to be a Spartan.
Now, plenty of folks have obviously been curious about some of the finer details shown in that cinematic, which offers a glimpse into not only Laurette Agryna’s own past experiences, but also acts as a thematic anthem for your own Spartan journey. For now, the focus should be on the fun of speculation and the thrill of unraveling the story as it continues to unfold further into the future. I can assure you there will be plenty to discuss along the way!
And that will do it for us in this edition. If you haven’t checked out the latest Inside Infinite blog, make sure you do so, and we’ll see you again soon!
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and build each other up.