Hoorah, we’ve made the one week mark without failure!
This was a tough one to decide, though. The Halo universe is filled with an extremely diverse number of planets and installations that range from mere farming colonies, like Harvest, to entire worlds within Micro Dyson Spheres… Overall though, I think I’m going to go with Requiem.
First seen in Halo 3‘s Legendary Ending which showed the aft section of the Forward Unto Dawn slowly drifting towards a planet engulfed in a blue light shining over the horizon, Requiem (then simply known as ‘the Legendary Planet’) was a hot topic of debate amongst Halo fans for almost 5 whole years before 343 Industries gave us some details about Halo 4‘s story.
Requiem is a world that is steeped in the lore of Halo‘s universe, it was one of the first Shield Worlds constructed by the Ur-Didact as his initiative to defend the galaxy against the Flood. Hundreds of Shield installations were built, but the Master Builder, the Didact’s political enemy, managed to win over the Old Council by counter-proposing the Halo Array which he believed was the only means to truly wipe out the Flood. When Mendicant Bias defected to the Flood after speaking to the Timeless One for 43 years, he betrayed the location of most of the Shield Worlds and many were overrun – the consequences of which are seen in Halo Wars where you actually go to a Shield World and find it completely overrun by the parasite.
I really have to applaud the sheer amount of time that went into the concept art of Requiem, there are so many amazing pieces that inspire awe, splendour and a feeling of grandeur. These feelings translate perfectly into the game itself, as I still get goosebumps when you exit the cave by the Dawn’s crash site and see the huge, shifting spires floating above a city that has gone untouched for 100,000 years. Neil Davidge’s amazing ambient score really adds to the atmosphere, as tracks like Legacy play when you enter the ancient cathedral that is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Over the years, Halo has been really good at taking you to worlds which really do feel alive. The absolutely unforgettable moment of the original game where you step out of the lifeboat for the first time and look out at the horizon to see it curve upwards with swaths of land and oceans remains an awe-inspiring moment to this day, even if you’re not playing the Anniversary version with beautifully updated textures. The technology used for Halo 4‘s engine, though, really allowed 343 to make Requiem into a living, breathing world. You actually see the inner workings of the planet as the gravity-defying spires shift in the air, as the geometry of the levels changes so you’re forced to take alternative routes, it feels like every action you take has some kind of effect on the world itself.
Unfortunately, Requiem met an untimely end when the Librarian decrees that “Requiem’s time is at an end”, and Jul ‘Mdama uses the slipspace conduits to pull the planet into a sun. The UNSC Infinity only just manages to escape the supernova that ensues as she makes an emergency slipspace jump out of the system. I felt a bit sad over this because I really felt like Requiem was being set up as a new bastion for humanity to explore, it would’ve been really interesting to see Requiem eventually be established as a colony for humanity. With the impending return of the Precursors, humanity is going to need all the Shield Worlds they can get.