Entertainment

Halo trailer reveals one of the biggest changes from game canon

It’s a new timeline. But who are the new characters?

Paramount+

The Master Chief will soon make the leap from your Xbox to streaming TV. But the story of Master Chief, the alien army known as the Covenant, and the arsenal of ring worlds known as Haloes may not resemble the games you remember.

What Happened? — During the NFL’s AFC championship game on Sunday, January 30, the first trailer for Halo premiered. The series, originally set for Showtime, will being streaming exclusively on Paramount+ beginning March 24.

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The trailer lays out a rough sketch of the premise. In the distant future, amid humanity’s losing war against the Covenant, the elite super soldier known as Master Chief (Pablo Schrier, American Gods) finds an ancient relic that will somehow lead humanity to the mysterious ring world known as Halo.

Accompanying Master Chief is Cortana, an A.I. companion played by Jen Taylor, who also plays the role in the games. As Master Chief says from beneath his own bloodied helmet: “Find the Halo. Win the war.” Simple enough.

The Last of the Spartans? — It’s been known for a while that Halo is following a different timeline than in the video games. Way back in 2018, Showtime’s Gary Levine told IGN that Halo "is a new story but we are being incredibly respectful of the canon and working with the Microsoft/343 people to be sure we don’t violate any of that."

The Halo franchise began with Halo: Combat Evolved for Microsoft’s first Xbox console in 2001. It now consists of multiple sequels and an array of tie-in media, including popular novels like Halo: The Fall of Reach that have inspired lore for the series.

The world of the Xbox video game series Halo comes to life on Paramount+, streaming on March 24.YouTube.com/Paramount Plus

According to the Combat Evolved manual (remember when games had those?), Master Chief was the last Spartan, a cadre of enhanced super soldiers kidnapped as children by the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and trained for war. However, in the books and graphic novels, there were several more Spartans who survived and are scattered throughout the galaxy.

It’s unclear what the plot of Paramount+’s Halo will be, and if what’s seen in the trailer are flashbacks, but the trailer does show us other Spartans than Master Chief. Almost all of them new characters never seen in any Halo game, including Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy), Vannak-134 (Bentley Kalu), Soren-066 (Bokeem Woodbine), and Riz-028 (Natasha Culzac).

This alone proves Halo has a different story than the games, as the latter portrayed Master Chief as the only surviving Spartan until 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians introduced a new generation of them. So just who are Kai, Vannak, Soren, and Riz? And who are they to Master Chief? That remains one of the biggest question looming over Halo right now.

HALO on Paramount+ will introduce a new group of Spartans who will serve as backup to Master Chief. But just who are they, really?YouTube.com/Paramount Plus

The Inverse Analysis — While hardcore Halo fans may be disappointed that the series isn’t simply adapting The Fall of Reach and Halo: Combat Evolved, it’s still something to see Master Chief in live-action. In fact, it’s special to see all of Halo come to life, from the energy swords to the Warthogs. And as a TV show, the worst thing Halo could do is make us just want to go play Halo: The Master Chief Collection instead.

Halo will premiere March 24 on Paramount+.

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