The Halo Show Has Nothing To Do With Games, And That’s Why It’s Good

After watching the first episode of Halo, I’m totally on board. I am a Halo lover of traditions, which means that even if I experienced with enthusiasm the campaigns of Haloit’s Combat evolved by Guardiansparticipate in regular Halopedia wiki dives and own a beloved copy of Eric Nylund The fall of the scopeI did not consume all the Halo universe has to offer. (Ghosts of OnyxI swear I’ll join you someday.) But based on the Halo stories I know, I think the Paramount Plus series offers a much more compelling look at the Master Chief than anything the games have done so far.

Spoilers for the first episode of Halo below:

It’s hard to translate video games to film and television. It’s only recently been done properly with Esoteric, Castlevaniaand the Sonic movie. And the common thread running through all of these hit titles seems to be “throw away every established story the public knows and tell a new one.” HaloSteven Kane’s showrunner said in an interview with Variety that “We didn’t watch the game. We didn’t talk about the game. We talked about the characters and the world. So I never felt limited by it being a game.” His comments drew criticism from Halo fans on social networks worried that this show was nothing like the games. It’s not, and that’s what makes it really good.

I love that the central premise of the first episode has almost nothing to do with fighting the Covenant. It would have been very easy to do a show on the Master Chief with his Blue Team buddies racing on the Gravemind or the 343 Guilty Spark. Instead, the entire first episode is all about the friction between the Chief and his UNSC handlers – a topic that wasn’t even touched on until Halo 5: Guardians and, even then, only in the context of “I have to save my AI girlfriend/mom, and you won’t let me.”

The showrunners were absolutely right in their choice to “not watch the games”. The result is a story that asks us to come to grips with the very reason the Spartans were created: as weapons for the suppression, repression and subjugation of humanity – a premise the games don’t tell us. have almost never asked to interview. The Spartans have always been these superhuman, emotionless human-killing machines, but we’ve never had a chance to see how the Spartans themselves feel about it. That’s the promise of this show, and I’m super invested in the conclusions she will draw from it.

This does not mean that I liked everything about the first episode of the series. I am baffled by the introduction of a high-ranking human into the Covenant faction, and, as my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore alluded to in his Halo notice, it’s a bit too horrible. Halo like a game has never been like armament of war. You took down the Covenant, and they fell – they never exploded in a cloud of purple mist. Maybe this choice was made considering the in-game ratings or some other unknown, but I always thought this choice meant that when horrible things happen (like That Scene in Halo 4), they hit harder. The bloody violence of Halo the show seems to lack the same gravity and comes across as a cheap feeling game of thrones-like free.

I will also say this: Master Chief is already the chosen one. In games, Cortana literally chooses him based on nothing more than her perception of his “luck”. So I find his additional “I’m a very special boy” modifier in the form of his supernatural connection to the series’ mysterious artifact a bit annoying.

In the end, this is only the first episode. There’s still time for the show to turn into a “Wow, let’s kill aliens” festival. But if he continues on the path set by this first episode, I think the series will be a refreshing entry into the Halo cannon.