Halo 4 promises to introduce gamers to a whole new set of locations, enemies, and story lines surrounding the adventures of Master Chief and Cortana. While many elements of that new vision, including details about the new enemies in the game, remain under wraps, a closer look at concept art from the game helps to illustrate some of the most exciting new elements on the way.
Lost in Space
John-117 and Cortana have been floating through space aboard the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn for four years, seven months, and ten days. This interior shot of the shattered ship hints at some important story elements. Cortana's curled up form speaks to her distress, which will play strongly into some of the events of the game. As Halo 4 begins, Cortana will be facing her own imminent madness and death; as a smart AI, her seven year lifespan will create serious challenges to the unshakeable partnership between the two characters.
A Glimpse of Things To Come
This atmospheric piece is more than meets the eye. Depicting the observation deck of the Forward Unto Dawn, a closer look offers two big details outside the ship's window. The Covenant Banshee flying past proves that Master Chief isn't quite done with his fight against Elites and the rest of the Covenant races. More importantly, the glowing blue light further back reveals the opening into the vast Forerunner artificial world called Requiem. Events will conspire to send the Forward Unto Dawn through that gateway and down to the planet beyond the outer shell.
The Forward Unto Dawn will eventually pass through the outer shell of Requiem and crash land onto the surface of the planet inside, echoing the beginnings of Halo: Combat Evolved and Master Chief's unceremonious crash onto the original Halo. While it's unclear how central this crash site will be to the rest of the story, it's apparent that Master Chief will get at least some of his human-built weapons and vehicles from the remains of the hulking wreck.
One of the central locations depicted in Halo 4, Requiem is an ancient artificial world created by the mysterious Forerunner civilization millennia ago. A big part of Halo 4 will involve exploring its many secrets. Take a closer look at the art, and you can see that the pillar-like objects are actually hanging from above. That's because Requiem is surrounded by a huge outer shell, and numerous stalactite-like objects hang down from the interior of the ceiling.
This Forerunner artifact image comes with few details from 343 Industries, but it's not hard to make some guesses. At first glance, the artifact's shape calls to mind an ancient sarcophagus, or storage chamber. Could this be the resting place of a dead Forerunner, or even its ancient cryo chamber? Or does this Forerunner artifact have another purpose? 343 isn't telling, but the developers have hinted that this image relates to the multiplayer storyline.
The UNSC Infinity is the largest spacecraft ever crafted by human hands, clocking in around three and a half kilometers in length, and incorporating technology gleaned from the Covenant during the grueling war. It is also the home of the Spartan IVs and a secret mission that will send them into the deepest reaches of space. All of Halo 4's multiplayer will occur on or connected to the Infinity. Competitive gamesare part of the Spartan IV's training aboard the holographic combat deck. Cooperative away missions called Spartan Ops will send teams of up to four Spartans on new missions every week. Eventually, the Infinity will somehow come into contact with Master Chief and his battles on Requiem.
Ruined, Yet Still Alive
The Forerunner structures on Requiem may be ancient and at times overgrown, but 343 promises that we'll also see these facilities more active and alive than Forerunner ruins in previous games. While it's unclear who the new enemies will be on the planet, it's obvious by the familiar handheld shields in this image that the Covenant are also present on the mysterious world. 343 has suggested that we'll see interesting interactions between the Covenant and the new enemy force. Something tells us the new bad guys aren't going to like the Coveanant being on Requiem any more than they like Master Chief being there.
Here's another glimpse at the strange environment of Requiem, and the obelisk-like Forerunner structures that still exist there after 100,000 years. Requiem is a special variation on a Forerunner Shield World. Among other things, the Shield Worlds were constructed by the Forerunners as places that would remain safe from the Halo pulse that wiped out all sentient life in the galaxy. Have Forerunners survived all these centuries? Or does something else live here now?
This Elite Zealot is among the troops that attack Master Chief aboard the Forward Unto Dawn. While it's not clear exactly why the Covenant are out for human blood once again, you can look to the recent Karen Traviss Glasslands novel for hints. In that story, a radical religious sect of Elites comes to odds against both the rest of the Covenant as well as humanity. The Covenant and their appearance near the strange world called Requiem likely has something to do with the fallout from that conflict.
Everyone's favorite scurrying alien bullet bags have received a makeover. Specifically, new technology available to the Unggoy (the actual name of the Grunts) has allowed them to remove the bulky methane masks that once constrained them, and instead wear a more comfortable breathing tube plugged directly into their noses. No matter what they wear on their faces, we assume we'll still get to hear lots of nonsensical cries of terror from the Grunts as Master Chief charges into their midst.
Thanks to Matt Miller at Game Informer for the informing us.