The Story So Far

Everything you need to know about Halo's story so far

With the release of Halo Infinite hopefully coming towards the end of this year, let's take a moment to revisit the story so far.

After a year-long delay, Halo Infinite should be released at the end of this year bringing yet another title into the long-running series. In order to prepare for its release we present to you...


Halo: The Story So Far

From Reach to Halo 3.


Halo: Reach

Despite coming out after Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo: Reach is the beginning of the narrative arc as far as the video games are concerned so we’ll start here. The year is 2552 and humanity is in the midst of a war against an alien civilization known as the Covenant.

Reach is one of the United Nations Space Command’s (UNSC) most important military strongholds, and the only form of defense standing between the Covenant and their search for Earth.

The Covenant begins to launch an all-out assault against Reach leaving an impossible mission for a team of spartans known as Noble Team: Defend the stronghold and help Dr. Halsey (the mastermind behind the spartan project) escape with an AI known as Cortana.


The latter is accomplished as the remaining members of Noble Team sacrifice themselves against the oncoming waves of Covenant forces while Halsey escapes in the UNSC ship, Pillar of Autumn.

Halo: CE

Halo: CE starts off with the crew on the Pillar of Autumn discovering a large and mysterious ringworld structure and shortly crash-landing on it after getting attacked once again by the covenant. While there is a lot of lore and backstory involved with each of the Halo titles, here are the most important takeaways from Combat Evolved...

The flood — a parasitic organism that is capable of infecting and then controlling any sentient life — is introduced. It is revealed that Master Chief, Cortana, and the rest of the Pillar of Autumn crew crash landed on an installation called Halo, which is intended to wipe out all life in the galaxy, thereby eliminating any potential hosts for the flood.

343 Guilty Spark, the caretaker of the ring world, attempts to trick Master Chief and Cortana into activating Halo, only to be thwarted at the last minute. Cortana and Master Chief destabilize Autumn’s reactors, thereby destroying Halo and wiping out a Covenant fleet. Which brings us to...

Halo 2

A Covenant Elite (a high-ranking species in the Covenant that typically fill positions of leadership or authority) commander undergoes a trial for his failure to stop Halo’s destruction. The commander is found guilty and subsequently tortured, before being stripped of his rank.


His new title is that of the Arbiter, a title given to Elites who are in periods of great crisis or turmoil. The new Arbiter manages to track down 343 Guilty Spark, while the Covenant Prophet of Regret figures out the location of Earth.

While Master Chief and Sergeant Johnson (a UNSC member who survived Halo with Chief) are being recognized for their actions at the installation, their celebration is cut short by a Covenant invasion. The Prophet of Regret leads an attack against the African City of New Mombasa, which Chief and Cortana successfully defend forcing Regret to flee.


As Regret attempts to retreat, Master Chief and company follow the Covenant forces in a UNSC ship named In Amber Clad. Emerging out of a slip space portal, they come into full view of yet another Halo installation.

While Master Chief attempts to eliminate Regret, Sergeant Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes (daughter of Jacob Keyes, a former UNSC Commander who died at the hands of the Flood at the first Halo) track down the activation key for the new Halo, realizing the danger it poses.

After killing Regret, Chief’s location is promptly bombarded by Covenant forces. He falls into a lake and is seen getting dragged under by tentacles.


Internal squabbling consumes the Covenant following the death of Regret and the remaining prophets turn the traditional honorary guard duties of Elites over to the Brutes (another species of Covenant). Meanwhile, the Arbiter manages to retrieve the index (activation key) after subduing Johnson and Keyes.

Tartarus, the chieftain of the Brutes shows up at this point to break the news that Elites are being phased out by the Brutes. He then sends the Arbiter falling down a deep pit where he is saved by the same tentacle monster that captured Master Chief.


The source of the tentacles is revealed to be a Flood creature known as Gravemind and it reveals the truth of the Halo rings to the Arbiter. Gravemind then sends both fighters to different locations to supposedly stop Halo’s activation.

While the Chief ends up on a Covenant ship called High Charity, a flood-infested In Amber Clad crashes into a Covenant city waging civil war. Cortana realizes this was a distraction to overrun the city with the flood. When the Covenant Prophet Mercy is consumed by the flood, the Prophet of Truth commands Tartarus to go to the Halo structure and activate the installation.


The Arbiter was sent to the Halo structure and joins forces with Johnson before confronting Tartarus, who is trying to activate the ring in a control room. After the Arbiter tries to explain the reality behind the Halo(s), Tartarus activates it anyway leading to a battle wherein the Brute is slain and Keyes dislodges the index.

This deactivation sets all the other Halo rings in standby for remote activation from something called, “The Ark.” Master Chief, having snuck onto the same ship as the Prophet of Truth to escape the flood-infested Covenant city informs UNSC Admiral Hood he is, “finishing this fight.”


Halo 3

Sergeant Johnson discovers Master Chief in Eastern Africa after the ship he snuck onto crash landed on Earth. Upon waking up the Chief attacks the Arbiter only to find out that he has been working with Johnson and the rest of the UNSC. The newly formed group discover a UNSC outpost in the jungle, where it is revealed the Prophet of Truth is looking for the ark — a forerunner artifact — in order to set off all the Halo rings.


Before Admiral Hood’s forces can reach what remains of the Prophet Truth’s convoy, the Covenant leader activates a buried artifact opening up a slip stream portal allowing him to escape. At the same time a flood-infested ship crash lands nearby. Chief and the crew eliminate the threat and find a message from Cortana, who had remained on High Charity at the end of the events in Halo 2.

Before Admiral Hood’s forces can reach what remains of the Prophet Truth’s convoy, the Covenant leader activates a buried artifact opening up a slip stream portal, allowing him to escape. At the same time a flood-infested ship crash lands nearby. Chief and the crew eliminate the threat and find a message from Cortana, who had remained on High Charity at the end of the events in Halo 2.


Cortana warns The Arbiter and Master Chief that she cannot divulge much, as she’s being monitored by Gravemind. However she does note that the portal, which the Prophet of Truth escaped through offers a way to destroy the flood without activating the Halo rings. Accordingly, everyone makes their way through the portal, bringing them to the Ark.


Truth captures Sergeant Johnson because he needs a human to activate the Ark. Keyes is killed trying to rescue Johnson but the Arbiter manages to intervene in time by slaying Truth and halting the rings’ activation. It is then revealed that the Ark is constructing a new Halo to replace the one Chief destroyed in CE. His plan is then to activate it while it’s still contained in the Ark, thereby eliminating the flood locally.


To carry out this plan Master Chief rescues Cortana, who has the activation index of the destroyed Halo, from High Charity and then makes his way to the Halo being created in the Ark.


The Arbiter, Chief, and Johnson finally make their way to the Halo’s control room only to be betrayed by 343 Guilty Spark who up to this point had been purposeless once the Halo he originally presided over (from CE) was destroyed. Chief destroys Guilty Spark and then activates the Halo before escaping to the UNSC frigate ship Forward Unto Dawn.

The force of the Halo self-destructing breaks Forward Unto Dawn in half with only the front half of the ship, carrying The Arbiter, making it through a slipstream portal back to Earth.


While The Arbiter is seen at a memorial service on Earth for the fallen soldiers in the Human-Covenant war, we see Forward Unto Dawn adrift in space. Cortana puts out a distress signal but warns the Chief that they may not get rescued for years. Entering a cryonic chamber, Chief tells her to, “Wake me when you need me.”

That’s where the story ends and gets picked back up in Halo(s) 4 and 5

If you’ve managed to make it this far enjoy this video of an early look at the Halo: Infinite multiplayer beta.