Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Epilogue

The finish line is in sight now, as the story of Halo 4′s campaign draws to a close. The Ur-Didact has been defeated, the Composer destroyed, and Cortana has sent John back home as she herself bows out of the narrative with her head held high. It’s the end of a very significant chapter in the life of our hero, now that his best friend is dead we’re left wondering – what’s going to happen to him? How will he deal with such an emotionally crushing event? Where’s he going to go and what’s he going to do?

These are, of course, questions for another time – this period of denouement following the climax of the main story serves to illustrate the Return stage of the Hero’s Journey. So let’s get right to it!epilogue1 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Midnight

And so, here we are at last. The climactic conclusion to Halo 4′s campaign, and the penultimate post of this analysis which is likewise drawing to a close.

The Ur-Didact has recovered the Composer and used it on Ivanoff Station to assimilate everybody present, leaving John the only human survivor following the Librarian awakening his geas and granting him immunity to the device. The Didact is on his way to Earth to secure his final victory, but John and Cortana are close in pursuit – armed with a nuclear device they intend to use to destroy the Composer and prevent the human race from being imprisoned as the Didact’s new warriors. Cortana’s rampant condition is heavily deteriorating at this point, everything seems to be falling apart as the Didact’s hour of victory is at hand.

“I often think of him as Atlas, y’know he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders the whole time.” ~ Armando Troisi, Making Halo 4: A Hero Awakens

There’s a great deal to cover in this instalment, as it’s the point in which all the themes of the game converge. So strap yourselves in, Spartans.midnight1 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Composer

And so, we reach the beginning of the final act of Halo 4′s story. This is where the characters hit their lowest point, where all seems lost for our protagonists and their goals. At the end of the previous mission, just as it seemed like they were about to succeed, John and Cortana failed to stop the Ur-Didact from departing Requiem as Cortana’s rampancy took a turn for the worst. He escaped and has emerged from slipspace, John and Cortana in close pursuit on the back of a Covenant Lich, in the shadow of a familiar sight – a Halo ring, Installation 03.composer2 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Shutdown

I can give you over forty thousand reasons why I know this game is awesome. I know it because the story’s thematic resonance is disproportionate to its suggested size, I know it because its character arcs are more emotional than that of the common shooter. But for all that, I’ll never actually know just how deep I can delve into this universe that spans one hundred billion years of lore. As we reach the end of act two of Halo 4′s campaign, we get a glimpse, a tiny glimpse, at the pattern which has emerged out of those one hundred billion years – a pattern which we will refer to as the ‘God Loop’.

John has crossed the threshold, his Hero’s Journey continues following the meeting with the Librarian, the ‘Meeting With The Goddess’ according to Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, and defiance of Del Rio’s plan to return to Earth, resisting the ‘Temptation’ stage where the hero is tempted away from their quest. At this point, we’re building up to the point of ‘Atonement’ where the hero must confront and be initiated by whatever holds the ultimate power in his or her life – in John’s case, it’s Cortana. The Ur-Didact is preparing to leave Requiem to recover the Composer in order to imprison humanity by transforming them into his subservient Prometheans, while John and Cortana pursue him on their own as Infinity returns to Earth.shutdown1 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Reclaimer

So here we are, at the half-way point of this little project. So far, we’ve covered what has primarily been the build-up in the narrative, the setting of the stage for that point in the plot where the stakes get raised higher than ever and the direction of the story becomes clear. Reclaimer is that tipping point – it’s a pulse-pounding, character-evolving, revolutionising part of the narrative which charts the rest of the Reclaimer Saga on its ultimate thematic course.reclaimer1 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Infinity

Onto act two of Halo 4′s story which serves as the rising action in the plot, introducing us to and developing a series of critical thematic elements surrounding humanity, our history, and setting the stage for the rest of the Reclaimer Saga by continuing to build on the concept of the Mantle which is, as we’ve covered, intrinsically liked to humanity’s destiny.infinity1 Continue reading

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Halo 4, Level-by-Level Analysis – Forerunner

Onto the third mission of the campaign, titled Forerunner. This marks the end of the first of Halo 4′s three acts in the story,  the set-up where we’re introduced to the characters, their relationships, the world they live in, the disruption of the status quo, and so on. The end of the first act typically comes when the narrative hits a turning point where the lives of the main characters are changed forever, we see this in Halo 4 through the awakening of the Ur-Didact.

Generally, the end of the first act leaves us with a question which the narrative seeks to resolve by the end of the game. Forerunner leaves us with a good number of questions which are tied in directly with the main themes of the game, all of which ultimately feed into the Reclaimer Saga as a whole.

“We had to create a situation that was going to knock him out of his comfort zone; the Master Chief has settled into this comfort zone of being ‘the hero’. It’s interesting, early on how we discussed about the hero’s journey, and like ‘how do you have a hero’s journey when he’s already a hero’? The journey is the important part, the growth is the important part, and so really where does he still need to go as a human? That became the key not just the story of Halo 4 but the entire trilogy.” ~ Chris Schlerf, Making Halo 4: A Hero Awakens

The agenda for what John is to be faced with for the rest of the story is therefore made abundantly clear. For 343 Industries, the question of how to knock John out of his comfort zone and deconstruct his role as ‘the hero’ comes in two flavours in Halo 4 – Cortana’s rampancy, which continues to deteriorate over the course of the story, and the introduction of John’s first proper nemesis, the Ur-Didact.forerunner2 Continue reading

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