Star Wars: Battlefront II – A Narrative Appraisal, Part 1

Yup, I’m going to bat for this game!

The loot box controversy has understandably dominated the narrative surrounding the release of Battlefront II, feeding into the wider issue in the gaming industry as a whole which has been building up for some time now. The unfortunate consequence is that discussion about the story and campaign has been… largely sidelined, which is a real shame because I feel there is a lot to love here.

I’m always somewhat intimidated when it comes to writing about Star Wars because I often wonder what exactly I have to add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said by countless others. However, this is a unique occasion where I do have a lot to say about this story – the epic tragedy of Inferno Squad – that has gone unsaid.

Having read Christie Golden’s Inferno Squad novel, providing a more complete contextual picture of these characters, I wanted to write a narrative appraisal encompassing both works (as the novel really is an essential component of the game).

So this will be the first of three articles exploring and analysing the campaign of Battlefront II, which will go as follows:

Part 1 – Context (Inferno Squad and Operation: Cinder)

Part 2 – The Tragedy of Inferno Squad (main campaign)

Part 3 – Resurrection (story DLC)

Oh, and deflector shields for spoilers are down! Continue reading

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Celebrating 16 Years of Halo With 16 Obscure Lore Facts

Sixteen years…

It occurs to me that Halo has been in my life longer than it hasn’t. I was seven when Halo 1 released and I’m twenty-three now. This series has been alongside me throughout the most formative years of my life.

As I’m sure is the case for many of you, I simply cannot imagine what it would be like not to carry these stories – these countless hours replaying the campaigns, indulging in the multiplayer, custom games, and Forge, lining up the camera for the perfect shot in Theatre – with me. Not only that, but Halo has been integral to my development as a writer too. Since starting this blog over four years ago, I’ve written over a hundred articles – from crackpot theories to novel-length analyses of whole games.

This is a series that I’ve lived and breathed. From the moment I stepped out of the escape pod onto the surface of Installation 04, looking up at the edges of that curved metallic band in the sky that looped over my head and back around to hold the ground beneath my feet, I was enraptured. There was nothing like it.

There still isn’t.

So, to celebrate Halo’s sixteenth birthday (though Halo sort of has two birthdays, since The Fall of Reach released about two weeks before Halo 1), I thought I’d reach into the depths of the Domain to draw up a list of my sixteen favourite super obscure lore facts.

Continue reading

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“You ARE Forerunner” – A Complete History of Human-Forerunner Origins

“You are the child of my makers, inheritor of all they left behind. You are Forerunner… but this ring is mine.”

It’s been over ten years now since Halo 3 released and we ‘finished the fight’ (er… sort of?), bringing with it this ‘reveal’ from 343 Guilty Spark at the end.

The statement is comprised of three words. Words that one would think are about as direct and unambiguous as you can get – “You are Forerunner” – and yet this continues to be one of the most misunderstood and misappropriated lines in the entire series.

I wrote an article on this over two-and-a-half years ago, but the additional wealth of information we’ve received (from both lore texts and behind the scenes tribulations) since then has compelled me to revisit this topic with the hope that it will be something of a definitive and comprehensive record on how the relationship between humanity and the Forerunners developed from 2001 to now.

Despite what is commonly thought in the ongoing ‘Bungie versus 343’ discourse, the question of the relationship between humanity and the Forerunners has not been definitively answered and the context behind Bungie and 343’s approach to addressing it is far more complicated than it appears on the surface.

So, let us forge pathways out of darkness and see what the Domain has for us to uncover… Continue reading

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Rise of Atriox, Issue #3 – Review

“Atriox looks to Decimus to find others who can help the Banished expand their tech and maintain their fleet as the number of Banished continues to grow. Decimus recalls a Kig-Yar scientist named Sig Raan who resides in a secret Covenant facility on the planet Otraak. Is Sig Raan still loyal to the Covenant or will Decimus be able to convince her to help the Banished?”

We’re three issues into Halo: Rise of Atriox and I can’t help but wonder to myself whether the first two issues could have been a fluke, whether we’re going to be hit with a sudden lapse in quality as we cross the half-way mark of this series.

As it happens, they are absolutely keeping this up and I’m loving it! I’ve passed the point of doubting this series because it’s proven that it’s worth its salt three times over for me.

Issue #1 illustrated the pointless and visceral violence that Atriox and his thirty nine brothers endured and how that fire forged him into the person he is; Issue #2 expanded on a part of Isabel’s narration from Halo Wars 2 – Atriox’s rise to power from the moment he defied the Covenant, igniting the spark of revolution after killing the Executioner…

Now, Issue #3 marks something of a shift in the storytelling – in its tone, its visuals, and its perspective – as we finally get to see Atriox and Decimus on their own adventure in pursuit of their own goals. Continue reading

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Why I Love Halo: Nightfall – Part 2

We left off last time with our motley crew of Sedrans and ONI operatives (sorry for the proper nouns, Randall!) making ready to deploy to the fragment of Installation 04, known as Alpha Shard. Quite simply, the plan was to nab the smugglers responsible for mining the element used in an attack on Sedra City, then detonate a HAVOK nuke to destroy this shard of the Halo ring while they escape live happily ever after (or, as ‘happily’ as one can in the Halo setting)…

As William Butler Yeats once wrote in The Second Coming, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” – a line echoed by Randall as we come to the point where the nature of this narrative takes an unexpected turn through the use of a bit of narrative substitution.

This is also about the point where people definitively decide whether they love or hate Nightfall.

I am here to make the case for the former… Continue reading

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Why I Love Halo: Nightfall – Part 1

This one’s dedicated to Grim, who moved this right to the top of my ‘to-write’ list

Y’know, when Halo: Nightfall originally released, I, like many, wasn’t too sure what to make of it. I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t swept off my feet the way I was two years prior when Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn gave us Halo’s first foray into a feature-length live action production. That was a new and unexpected feeling.

Nightfall’s reputation sort of settled on a default negative in the fanbase and there haven’t been very many thinkpieces on it, so it’s a text that has sort of fallen by the wayside.

I’ve always regarded Nightfall better than most and I want to give it its due. I rewatched it four times over the last two weeks in order to formulate my final thoughts, which are currently spread across fourteen whole pages of notes, so this is gonna be a long one! Continue reading

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Rise of Atriox, Issue #2 – Review

“Atriox, a valuable asset to the Covenant army, is slowly growing more aggressive and powerful among the Brute ranks – becoming a danger to the Covenant itself. Seeing this, the Executioner must end Atriox before Atriox ends him!”

Another month passes, another issue of Rise of Atriox drops. I could get used to this!

In the second issue of this ongoing serial (it feels really nice to have five months of constant Halo releases to look forward to), we’re revisiting a scene shown in Halo Wars 2.

Where the first issue illustrated the pointless and visceral violence that Atriox and his thirty nine brothers were thrown into by the Covenant that forged him into the person he is, the second follows up on another part of Isabel’s narration from Halo Wars 2 – Atriox’s rise to power from the moment he defied the Covenant, igniting the spark of revolution. Continue reading

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