What is happening in Halo 5’s story? The good, the bad, and the odd
Ever since 343 Industries took over the Halo franchise just over three years ago, they had the (somewhat unenviable) task of continuing the story of the Master Chief. In Halo 4, they took it in an interesting direction by essentially questioning exactly how mentally stable the Chief is. Prior to Halo 5 releasing, the marketing campaign revolved around the possibility that the iconic supersoldier has gone rogue and must be brought to justice, another interesting take on one of the most popular characters in gaming history. Now that Halo 5 has come out though, we can see what direction the story actually went, and where it fell flat.
Massive spoilers ahead. Obviously.
With the introduction of Fireteam Osiris and the rest of Blue Team, Halo 5 essentially tried to do what Halo 3: ODST and Reach did by expanding the Halo franchise beyond just the story of Master Chief. The return of the Arbiter, and his efforts to stomp out the remains of the Covenant, also serve this purpose to excellent effect. With Osiris, you have soldiers that are tasked with arresting and possibly killing the legendary soldier that saved humanity. With Blue Team, you have soldiers that view the Chief as a friend more than just a mere leader. These clashing viewpoints would have made for an excellent background for the story of Halo 5, but…
…ultimately the hunt for the Master Chief wasn’t much of a hunt at all. Unfortunately, the marketing for the game proved to be too ambitious, although in all fairness that is probably something that is outside the control of those who wrote Halo 5’s story. It is still disappointing nonetheless that the massive Hunt the Truth marketing campaign was setting up what could have been a huge test of loyalty for longtime Master Chief fans, when in reality the Chief simply defied orders to return to the Infinity.
In any case though, the extremely anti-climactic death of Jul M’dama, the lack of in game exposition regarding any of the characters besides the Master Chief (i.e. Palmer and Halsey apparently don’t care that Palmer tried to kill Halsey, who was more or less considered a traitor), and the lack of continuation of almost any plot points from Halo 4 (Spartan Ops or otherwise) proved to be somewhat disappointing, almost as if 343 wanted to brush Halo 4 completely under the carpet. In fact, even the death of Cortana, a major point in the story of Halo 4 that prompted the Master Chief to question his own humanity, was more than just undone…
…because Cortana apparently has become the villain. Never mind the Didact and his speech about the return of the Forerunners: a large number of AIs have apparently gone into open rebellion over their short life spans even though AIs in the Halo universe have had 7 year lifespans for almost as long as there have been AIs. Putting aside the fact that this means there’s yet another man vs. machine scenario, this brings into question what will we be fighting in the next Halo game. After all, the remnants of the Covenant have been shattered, so does this mean that we will just be fighting Prometheans the whole time? Even if not, it is a huge stretch of the imagination that Cortana all of a sudden becomes invincible, omnipotent, and a megalomaniac even though it’s not the first time she interacted with Forerunner artifacts and she has never acted in such a way that indicated that she wanted to become the next galactic tyrant.