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Canon Fodder: Encyclopedic Enlightenment

Issue 126
Photo of Alex
  -  3 months ago

Welcome back, fiction fans, Spartans and Sangheili—the time has come for another Canon Fodder!

Last month, we revealed the description text for Kelly Gay’s Halo: The Rubicon Protocol (coming August 9) and showed off Thel ‘Vadam and Olympia Vale on the cover of Troy Denning’s Halo: Outcasts (coming later this year), amongst other lore goodies.

Today, we’re in the calm before the storm...

We’ve got the Halo Encyclopedia coming very soon, along with Season 2 of Halo Infinite, and much more to look forward to! So, let’s dive in for another month of fiction-focused festivity.


THE TWENTY-YEAR ALMANAC

Halo Encyclopedia header

The Halo Encyclopedia is almost here! This time next week (April 13), you’ll be sitting down to devour 488 pages of Halo lore spanning twenty years...

We’ve got some exciting plans around this release where we’ll be sharing some stunning renders of things that have been hitherto unseen in the Halo universe, and we’ve also got an almost hour-long roundtable discussion between myself, Jeremy Patenaude, Jeff Easterling, and Kenneth Peters about the encyclopedia itself.

Over the course of the next week, we’ll be releasing some snippets of that roundtable discussion on our social channels, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram! Here’s a peek at the first one...

We’ll also be publishing a glossary of terms here on Halo Waypoint on the day of release for the Halo Encyclopedia as well. This will serve as a companion for ease of reference, with a variety of terms relevant to what’s covered in the book.

As we’ve been teasing the release of this monumental tome, we’ve shown off some renders and artwork of new things that are depicted. As we wait with bated breath for next week, here’s a quick round-up of everything we’ve hitherto shown...

These include:

  • Ussa 'Xellus (David Heidhoff)
  • Lucy-B091 (David Heidhoff)
  • Silent Shadow (David Heidhoff)
  • Krelis (Stanton Feng)
  • Varric-pattern heavy cruiser (Jared Harris)
  • C718 Longsword (Ben Mauro)

And in case you’ve not seen, you can find a preview of some pages on places like Amazon which give a little glimpse into the first major section on humanity. 

What’s additionally special about this release is that there’s a digital version coming as well. No doubt many Halopedians will be combing through the vast expanse of the encyclopedia to update the site with every new image they can get their hands on.

You can pre-order the Halo Encyclopedia here, or grab the fancy cylix-covered deluxe edition (which also features an exclusive lithograph) here.


LONE WOLVES 

Season 2 of Halo Infinite is soon to be upon us. Titled ‘Lone Wolves,’ the next step in Halo Infinite’s journey will be releasing May 3. 

While it is not quite time to go into full details, rest assured that we will have much to talk about in our next issue of Canon Fodder—not just the new maps, armor, and other items, but exploring how it also continues the Spartan Academy story, featuring Spartan Commander Laurette Agryna and introducing players to two new heroes: Spartan Hieu Dinh and Spartan Sigrid Eklund.

Season 2 "Lone Wolves" concept art of Spartans Ecklund and Dinh

WE'RE (NOT) THE GIANTS NOW

We released the opening cinematic for Halo Infinite on our YouTube page today, which means that this is a perfect opportunity to talk about it in greater depth.

For those of you who either haven’t rewatched it for a while, or want to give it another rewatch anyway, here you go!

Openings can be a considerable challenge for any story, but for a twenty-year-old franchise on its sixth mainline instalment that is also welcoming a new generation of players to this universe, that challenge is somewhat unique. So, let’s break down some of the key beats that we really wanted to hit for Halo Infinite’s opening.

At the start, we immediately begin with some connective tissue with Halo 5: Guardians. You may recall that the Legendary ending panned down onto the view of a Halo ring next to a planet, and the inherent promise that was naturally made after two mostly Halo-less Halo games (barring the brief appearance of Installation 03 in Halo 4) was that a ring is going to factor into the story of the sequel in some way.

While some time has certainly passed in the setting when Halo Infinite picks up, that connective thread of picking up from the very last thing you saw in Halo 5 gives a great little “Aha!” moment for folks who played that game and immediately sets the story’s sights on where the major events to come will take place for newcomers.

Halo Infinite opening scene - Banished dreadnought rams UNSC Infinity

From there, panning up, we see the UNSC Infinity—humanity's mightiest and most advanced warship—getting ambushed by the Banished, getting rammed by one of their dreadnoughts.

This, too, was a purposeful move to immediately display the power of the Banished and their blunt force tactical approach, which is reinforced through its parallel to Halo 4’s Spartan Ops. At that point in the story, the UNSC had emerged not just as survivors of the Covenant war, but seemingly as the definitive victors, and after rebuilding much of what was lost we saw them rise up in arrogance and defiance, hubristically declaring “We are the giants now.

Many will undoubtedly remember the epic opening cinematic for Spartan Ops where the UNSC Infinity plows through one of the Covenant’s RCS-class armored cruisers, setting the stage for the action to come as the UNSC deploy to occupy Requiem. In Halo Infinite, we see this quite simply play out from the other end with the Banished, turning that imagery around as humanity are put in a position where their backs are against the wall once more.

As this plays out, we hear ghostly whispers from Cortana saying:

"Would you humor me? If you knew how you were going to die, how would you live your life differently?"

This question is repeated throughout Halo Infinite through the cycling fragments of data—the dust and echoes of Cortana’s sacrifice—strewn across Zeta Halo, and it is really the core thematic question of the game. It is the lens through which we come to view and understand everyone’s actions in the story—the Chief and the Pilot, the Weapon and Cortana, Escharum and Atriox.

This becomes the key to how we empathize with some characters we wouldn’t otherwise necessarily be inclined to, particularly within the Banished, who we later come to realize are something of a twisted mirror of humanity’s own predicament. Even the Master Chief comes to recognize something of himself in Escharum’s actions, as the Chief himself represents a moral line that humanity crossed in order to ensure its continued survival.

Halo Infinite opening scene - Master Chief grapples a pistol

As we fly into one of the UNSC Infinity’s hangar bays amidst the chaos, we see the Master Chief fighting off Banished forces (and more context around this can be discovered in the “Infinity’s Approach” audio logs by reclaiming Forward Operating Bases) and using his trusty wrist-mounted grappleshot to pull a pistol into his hands.

The grappleshot is something that you’ll be spending a lot of time using in Halo Infinite and showing off something that is actually possible (but also perhaps not necessarily obvious) in gameplay was a way to nudge players to try that out.

Indeed, Halo 5 similarly showcased many of the then-new Spartan Abilities available to the player in its explosive opening sequence with Fireteam Osiris deploying to the surface of Kamchatka, and so this beat in Halo Infinite’s opening might be thought of as a refined evolution of that intent.

Soon after, we have the confrontation between the two titans that are the Master Chief and Atriox.

Atriox is well-known for his grand entrances which typically culminate in him crushing a piece of Halo iconography in his gauntleted fist. In Halo Wars 2, he defeats the Spartan-IIs of Red Team with ease and crushes Douglas-042’s helmet; when Isabel recounts Atriox’s legend on the bridge of the UNSC Spirit of Fire, he catches the energy sword of his executioner in his hand; and when the Flood outbreak is contained on the Ark, a pod infector also meets its end within Atriox’s grip.

There’s a sense of eager anticipation in knowing that the Master Chief will not win this fight, as Atriox brings down Chainbreaker—his gravity mace—on the Spartan and knocks the AI chip out of his helmet.

Halo Infinite opening scene - Master Chief struggles to reach for AI data chip

This, too, has been a recurring image in Halo for a very long time. The data crystal chip that hosts Cortana and gets plugged into his head has been something of a symbol of their symbiotic bond and has evolved over the years—across Halo 3, 4, and 5—to also reflect its fragility.

(Let us also take this opportunity to honor the legendary image that is Poncho Chief...)

The Chief has just enough time to grab the AI chip before Atriox drags him to the edge of the hangar and tosses him into space. With this devastating defeat setting the stage for the story, the Chief has to build himself back up—both as a person who insists on shouldering the blame for Cortana’s actions and the immense guilt that he feels over not being able to save her, but also through gameplay as you invest in exploring the world to upgrade your equipment and make yourself more powerful as you progress through the campaign.

That’s about everything that went into the first ninety seconds of Halo Infinite’s campaign. Openings can certainly be a challenge, but within that challenge are opportunities that our partners at Axis Studios (who have previously worked on Halo 4 and Halo 5) helped realize.

After all, it’s never just about the words on the page (of which there are very few in this sequence) that tells the story, but the confluence of talent across directors, motion capture performers, producers, artists, and many more contributors that make the magic happen.

You can check out more on the Halo Infinite opening cinematic, including a closer look at some of the 3D models and some great concept pieces that explore things such as how the lighting of the scene evolves, over on the Axis Studios page for Halo Infinite.


SHIELDS OF REQUIEM

Shields of Requiem Mega Construx set

It was recently asked by Covenant Canon whether the Mega Construx set known as the ‘Shields of Requiem Lance’ are canonical and if there’s any lore about them. The answer to both questions, in fact, is yes!

The Mega Construx set (which you can find here) features four Covenant mercenaries composed of an Elite Ranger, Elite Minor, Jackal Minor, and Grunt Minor (though this is by no means representative of the entire Shields of Requiem). The description reads:

Repel the enemy with a team of fearsome Covenant mercenaries! Skilled in the art of combat, the elite mercenaries of the Shields of Requiem Lance take up the watch!

As one might surmise from their name, the Shields of Requiem were veterans of the Requiem campaign. Where they once loyally served Jul ‘Mdama during the most triumphant years of his Covenant, which culminated in the awakening of the Didact and the subsequent occupation of the shield world, the Covenant leader’s death threw this lance into the chaotic uncertainty that characterized much of the post-war era.

Staying true to their faith while recognizing and coming to terms with the diminished glory of the Covenant as countless warlords attempt to claim whatever scraps of the empire's war machine they can, the Shields of Requiem now work for-hire for any Covenant remnant leaders willing to pay for their services and expertise—something many find preferable to spreading their own forces too thinly to secure and defend Forerunner sites of value.

Operating out of their Lich known as the Sundered Psalm, this unlikely band of Sangheili, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy are called upon to protect all things ancient and holy. Though they may no longer serve in the land of the gods, the Shields of Requiem fight with the purpose and resolve possessed only by those who have glimpsed the divine majesty of the Forerunners with their own eyes and lived to tell about it.


COMMUNITY LORE CORNER

Speaking of seeing things with your own eyes, there’s nothing quite like seeing moments from the books brought to life by incredibly talented folks in the Halo community!

When it comes to science fiction and spaceships, one of the great opportunities presented by the genre is delivering amazing naval engagements in space, the likes of which you just won’t see anywhere else. Right out of the gate for Halo, with the release of Halo: The Fall of Reach, one of the most memorable moments comes about mid-way through the novel when Commander Jacob Keyes executes what would come to be referred to as the ‘Keyes Loop’ during the battle of Sigma Octanus IV in 2552.

This tactical maneuver and incredible feat of astrogation has since been depicted in the form of a scribbled series of diagrams in Halsey’s Journal, which came bundled with the Limited and Legendary editions of Halo: Reach, but DJC Animations decided that what we really needed was a full animation of the maneuver complete with contextual commentary.

And y’know what? He was absolutely right. Check out his incredible video below!

Looking to more recent fiction, our good ol’ buddy Halo Canon has been doing an excellent series of breakdowns on the campaign of Halo Infinite.

One particular video we wanted to highlight was this exploration of the history and lore behind the High Value Targets, the ‘mini-bosses’ found in the open world of Zeta Halo who possess special weapon variants you can unlock by defeating them.


COMMUNITY Q&A

We recently took to Twitter and r/HaloStory to solicit a new round of community questions for Canon Fodder, and these remain open spaces for you to submit questions for our consideration in future issues!

ScoutTheTrooper: Have any of the Banished Bloodstars or Spartan Killers shown up (unidentified) in previous material?

It has been hinted at in the past that Jega ‘Rdomnai’s own origins are out there in the extended fiction. Regarding other members of the Bloodstars and their appearances in other media, definitely give Halo Canon’s video above a watch!

LethalTerminus: Is there gonna be any talk about other Brute worlds outside of Doisac and its moons? I'd say it's a pretty big thing for the Jiralhanae moving forward.

Elements of the aftermath of the razing of Oth Sonin (“The Doisacking,” if you will) are definitely touched upon in the Halo Encyclopedia.

MESTRECHEFE117: I know it's last minute, but I'd like to ask if anything from Silver Timeline will be present inside the Encyclopedia?

The Halo Encyclopedia is focused entirely on the last two decades of core canon. While the Silver Timeline sees a great deal of contextual and thematic overlap, the Halo television series (which you should absolutely go and tune into!) is not part of this book.

DanZetty: Will there be lore associated [in the encyclopedia] with not only the games and books but also the comics and series such as Forward Unto Dawn and Halo Legends?

Yes! The Halo Encyclopedia is your one stop shop for all things core canon where you can experience lots of different elements of the Halo universe in a single place. Games, books, comics, and beyond—you'll find a little bit of everything within.

EternalCanadian: The Encyclopedia seems to have both new art and re-used/adapted game models for characters or species. What governs the process for deciding who gets a new art piece versus reusing/adapting an already existing model?

This is a really good question. With unlimited time and resources, we'd probably have new art for everything in the Encyclopedia!

During development, we had to make decisions based on a variety of factors, such as: the overall significance of the object in question, the quality of existing assets in that object's current state, and the overall content framework of a page or section in the book, among other things.

It basically comes down to a very long, blue-sky list of things we'd love to create new art for that we must inevitably pare down during the production process based on the criteria above. However, with all that said, we're still extremely excited about all of the new art that we were able to pack inside this book!

Blackhawk510: Will we get to see more visual depictions of UNSC fixed-wing fighters? I.E. Baselard, Nandao, Crow, etc.?

Yes indeed, including some from this list!

Cool_Fruitcup: What can we expect to learn in regards to species like the Lekgolo and Yanme’e, where we currently don’t know much about their culture, societies, etc?

Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it! Rest assured, we do believe that fans will find new details pertaining to some of the elements mentioned here.

Morhek: Any bones you can throw our way about the much-speculated but little-seen Banished Karve ship?

As a matter of fact, yes! This is one of the ships visualized in the Halo Encyclopedia, so the appearance of the much beloved karve will soon be a mystery no longer!


And so, we come at last to the finish line.

We’re super excited to see folks get their hands on the Halo Encyclopedia, it’s an absolute treasure trove of lore that you’ll all be chewing on for a good while to come. Be sure to keep an eye out for that roundtable discussion as we drop teasers over the next week, and above all keep being awesome!

Until the next time. Season 2 awaits...