What is Halo reaching for?

Halo: Reach caught everybody unawares at this year’s E3. Sure, we all knew a new Halo game was inevitable but how soon (2010) and by whom (Bungie) were both welcome surprises, given that Brothers in Arms developers Gearbox have been rumored to be developing a new Halo title.

Despite confirmation of its existence, little else was revealed so we decided to do a bit of digging and what better place to start than Eric Nylund’s 2001 paperback Halo: The Fall of Reach. The novel was written around the time of Halo: Combat Evolved and was designed as a prequel to that game’s plotline, something that Bungie must have enjoyed as it’s now accepted within Halo canon.

Halo: The Fall of Reach tells the fate of Reach, a planet that was used as a Spartan training ground and follows the details that led up to the first chapter game, explaining the origins of the SPARTAN II super soldiers, specifically that of the iconic Master Chief. The trailer for Halo: Reach gives very little away besides Reach’s involvement and that of the Spartan’s involvement but the novel’s opening chapter may give away a few more details that correlate to the teasing silhouettes glimpsed in the game’s logo.

The initial chapter focuses on a group of four Spartans called Blue Team that are led by Master Chief, making a total of five Mjolnir-wearing bad-asses. How many silhouettes are there in the image? Yep, there’s five. Then comes the mentioning of Spartan Blue-Two, a female Spartan. Check the image again and focus on the character second from the left, the image looks suspiciously feminine (well, when compared to the mountains next to it).

So far two-for-two but here’s where it gets interesting; in the book Master Chief uses a snake-like fiber-optic probe that is connected to his helmet and, if you look closely, the middle figure not only strikes a Master Chief-like pose but he also has something attached to his helmet. The novel explains that this is used to scout out locations and target enemies, perhaps foreshadowing a system that will be present in the game.

The novel also has Chief ordering the other Spartans who then respond instinctively to his commands by marking, flanking and attacking as per his instructions which may be something that is going to be utilised in Halo: Reach. Other noteworthy mentions are the fact that Spartans used the Mjolnir Mark IV during the battle of Reach rather than the usual Mjolnir Mark V we’re accustomed to which may account for the slight differences in shape but, fear not, Master Chief gets decked out in his recognizable Mark V armor during the course of the story.

Take all of this with big dose of salt as, besides Bungie, nobody really knows exactly what Halo: Reach will be like but the similarities between the prequel novel and the teaser are hard to ignore.