The Halo story is a little hard to follow. There's super soldiers, alien plant monsters, Prophets called "Regret" and a ship named "Pillar of Autumn." With characters rattling off story details as plasma blasts and Needler spikes are whizzing passed your head you probably came out of most Halo games not knowing what the heck was going on.
Well, we've got the solution right here where we give you all the most important details of Master Chief's story so you won't be jumping into Halo 4 this winter without a little bit of how and why he ended up on a strange planet filled with ancient robots and even more Covenant.
In the beginning were the Forerunners
The Forerunners were an ancient race of super-advanced aliens who built the giant halo weapons array, the Arc, and are worshiped by the Covenant. The giant halo weapons array was built to completely annihilate a parasitic alien life-form known as the Flood but apparently was also the downfall of their entire civilization.
The ancient aliens battled the Flood through centuries of war only to become completely overwhelmed. As a last ditch effort to defeat the Flood, the Forerunners constructed the Halo-Array that would kill every sentient life-form in the galaxy, eliminating the Flood's ability to grow. So, at the push of a button they were able to kill the flood and themselves. Not necessarily the best of solutions.
The UNSC are the good guys
In the Halo universe, humans like to explore space, so they developed the ability to travel faster than light, called slip-space travel, settled colonies across the galaxy, and created the United Nations Space Command. With the advanced technology that comes with intergalactic space travel also comes better ways to fight wars, leading the military to create elite groups of super soldiers called Spartans, who become essential to humanity’s survival when the bad guys show up.
The Covenant are the bad guys
Several alien species, including the multi-mandibled Elites, brutish Brutes, and cowardly Grunts, come together in the fanatical worship of the Forerunners to create the Covenant. After encountering humans for the first time, Covenant leaders consider them heretics to their gods and declare a holy war on the human race. The alien invaders eventually drive off or kill all of the human colonists until they reach the last UNSC controlled planet, Reach.
The Flood try to eat everyone
The Flood is the third side of the conflict in the Halo series. They attack anyone and everyone, have really gross looking nests, and mutate whatever lifeform they get attached to. Flood enemies are basically zombified versions of the alien species you find in the game including humans, Brutes, and Elites.
Victims become infected by the relatively small face hugger-like parasites that latch onto and infect the host. Flood come in various shapes and sizes, from the wall crawling Stalkers to the Hulking tanks to the monsterous Gravemind.
The Spartans fight the Covenant, but fail
Originally, the SPARTAN-II super solders were created to help fight human rebels in the UNSC colonies, but when the Covenant attacked they became the best weapon against the alien invaders. Eventually, the sheer numbers of the Covenant forces overpower the Spartans, leading the UNSC to create the lower class SPARTAN-III soldiers we see in Halo: Reach.
The last of the SPATAN-II soldiers is John-117, otherwise known as Master Chief. He was hand chosen by Cortana to be her protector. So, now they hang out together all the time.
Noble team saves Cortana and Reach gets glassed
One of the last groups of elite special operations Spartans, called "Noble," is stationed on the planet Reach when it comes under attack by a full-scale Covenant invasion. It was up to Noble team to stave off the invasion, help with the planet-wide evacuation, and essentially ensure that the series heroes, Master Chief and Cortana, make it off the planet alive as they make a desperate slip-space escape in the Pillar of Autumn - resulting in the noble deaths of Noble team. After the UNSC’s defeat, the Covenant bombards Reach, completely destroying anything that was left alive. Bummer.
Master Chief lands on the first Halo ring
When the ship carrying Master Chief and Cortana drops out of slip-space, they crash land on a ring-like space station called Halo. In order to discover what the space station is, they travel to the Halo’s central control center so Cortana can jack into the computer R2-D2 style. While that is all happening, Covenant forces accidently unleash the flood leading Halo’s AI monitor 343 Guilty Spark to push Master Chief toward activating the ring.
Just as Chief is about to activate the rings, however, Cortana realizes that would cause the destruction of all life in the galaxy, so they decide to set off the self-destruct on the Pillar of Autumn instead. So, the ring blows up, crisis is averted and the Chief goes home a hero
The Covenant attack Earth
Shortly after the destruction of the first Halo ring, a Covenant fleet invades the city of New Mombasa with one of the highest ranking Covenant officials, the High Prophet Regret, in command. The UNSC manages to defeat the attacking fleet and in an effort to escape, Regret makes a slip-space jump directly over the city with Master Chief and Cortana in tow.
Meanwhile, the Elite commander who failed to protect the Halo ring from getting blown to smithereens by our hero gets demoted to Arbitor and is eventually betrayed by the Covenant hierarchy causing him and the Elites to side with the UNSC.
As this all happens, Chief tracks down Regret who is trying to set off a second Halo. The failed attempt to activate the rings leaves Chief and Cortana separated and the rings in stand-by mode waiting to be activated from "The Arc."
Chief finishes the fight
After the fiasco with the second Halo ring, Master Chief ends up crash landing on Earth where another Covenant leader, the High Prophet of Truth, manages to open a slip-space portal to the Ark, the control center for the Halo-array and location of Cortana.
The Chief and Arbitor manage to kill the Prophet of Truth with the help of the Flood Gravemind before Truth is able to set off the Halo rings. But Gravemind betrays them when the deed is done.
As they escape the Flood, the heroes discover that the Ark was building a replacement Halo ring to which they decide to prematurely activate to destroy the ring, the Ark and the Flood all with one stone. When they succeed, Master Chief, the Arbiter and Cortana escape in the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn, but it gets cut in half by an unstable slip-space portal. The Arbiter crash lands on Earth and Cortana and Master Chief are left floating through unknown space, setting us up neatly for the events of Halo 4.
And here we are
That is everything you absolutely need to know to have any clue as to what is happening when you power on Halo 4 at the end of the year. Do you have any special memories you hold close to your heart from the Halo series? Be sure to spout them out in the comments below.
GamesRadar is the premiere source for everything that matters in the world of video games. Casual or core, console or handheld - whatever systems you own or whatever genres you love, GamesRadar is there to filter out what's worth your time and to help you get even more from your games. We deliver the best advice, the most in-depth features, expert reviews, and the essential guides for all the top games.