30 Days of Halo: Day 23 – Favourite Moment of Halo 4

For long-time viewers of this blog, you will know that I hold the story of Halo 4 in EXTREMELY high regard. I think that 343 Industries’ first entry into the series is absolutely fantastic with a well written, emotional narrative and superb characterisation – my full thoughts on which can be read here.

So my favourite moment of Halo 4 was both easy and difficult to choose. I’ve spoken at length about the death of Cortana and the composition of Ivanoff Station which focus on the emotion of the narrative, but there’s one definitive scene which you spend 3 whole missions building up to which was pulled off perfectly.

The awakening of the Ur-Didact.

ImageThe final section of the level Forerunner has you teleported to Requiem’s core where you’re greeted with the sight of the Didact’s Cryptum. For those who don’t know, a Cryptum is a device that is used by the Warrior-Servant caste of Forerunner society as a stasis chamber which connects them to the Domain and allows them to meditate, it is what exiled Warrior-Servants choose to do by entering a state of ‘timeless xankara’.

“Chief… Chief, let go of the contacts!”


The Master Chief and Cortana do not know this, however, as they believe that the Cryptum is a satellite that will allow them to communicate with the UNSC Infinity as it’s being dragged into Requiem by the gravity well. By the time they realise, it’s already too late – John has begun the revival process.

ImageThe Covenant and the Promethean Knights stop fighting, both stare at the Cryptum in awe as it pulsates with a thick orange light and begins to rise in the chamber.

ImageEverything is suddenly knocked backwards, the Master Chief forced to take cover, as the Millennial Seal is broken. In the novel Halo: Cryptum, when Bornstellar awakens the Didact for the first time he states that when the Millennial Seal is broken, time feels as if it’s still – and this is exactly how it feels in the game as well. Not only that, but Chakas and Riser also open the Cryptum by singing a strange song that the Librarian had imprinted into their brains, it feels like no coincidence that the music at this point takes on the form of a sinister sounding choir to accompany the moment of awakening.

ImageJohn and Cortana watch from a distance as what looks like a closed, metallic flower is lowered from the bottom of the Cryptum – a strange figure encased within it. The descent stops and the flower’s petals open, revealing a hideously mutilated Ur-Didact who has been locked away for 100,000 years with no access to the Domain and the influence of the Gravemind’s torture still in his mind.

ImageHe stands and regains his composure, his armour assembles itself around him and he turns to assume control of his Prometheans. The Covenant kneel before him and shout out his name in praise.


ImageThe Didact then delivers one of the most memorable, chilling monologues in the series.

“So fades the great harvest of my betrayal… Even these beasts recognised what you were oblivious to, human. Your nobility has blinded you, as ever.”

John moves to aim his assault rifle at the Didact, but is grabbed by the Didact’s wrist-mounted containment field and rendered absolutely powerless.


“The Librarian left little to chance, didn’t she? Turning my own guardians, my own world, against me. But what hubris to believe that she could protect her pets from me forever. If you haven’t mastered even these primitives, then man has not attained the Mantle… your ascendence may yet be prevented.

Time was your ally, human, but now it has abandoned you.

The Forerunners have returned.

This tomb is now yours…”

ImageWith the last part of his speech, the last of his armour (his helmet) assembles around him and he throws John across the chamber like a ragdoll before opening up slipspace and causing the planet’s core to destabilise.

It’s a truly brilliant scene and a memorable introduction to the first Forerunner we see without armour covering their appearance. I can’t wait to see what 343 does with his character in future Halo media, as it’s all-but confirmed that we’ll see him again.


About haruspis

Writer and aspiring teacher who cares and talks far too much about fictional universes.
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15 Responses to 30 Days of Halo: Day 23 – Favourite Moment of Halo 4

  1. Slacker says:

    Did you know, the Elite that kneels and yells “Didact!” is Jul ‘Mdama, the leader of the Storm Covenant? I recently ranted a bit on how Jul should have been introduced a bit in Halo 4’s main story instead of Spartan Ops. I feel it would have been interesting to see what sort of conversation Jul and the Didact would have, considering Jul’s background and the fact the Sangheili and Warrior-Servant culture is pretty much the same.

    Also, I believe all Forerunners used cyrptums in exile, not just Warrior-Servants. If you remember, the Librarian talked about a former Lifeshaper, who was exiled but her cryptum was sabotaged.

    • haruspis says:

      Yeah, I learned about that in one of the Bulletins that 343 put up on their site a little while back. Did you know that there originally was a scene where Jul and the Didact spoke? It was when David Anthony Pizzuto was playing the Didact before he sadly passed away in February of last year, the scene has sadly been taken down from Youtube but I can remember it word for word.

      Didact: Who initiates this awakening?

      Jul: Pilgrims on the path of enlightenment.

      Didact: *growls* You are Sangheili, loyal and strong – even in your second form. You will serve well. How did y–


      No, this Sangheili was not responsible for my awakening after all… Was he *grabs John in containment field* human?

      Would’ve loved to have seen how the story originally went down with Pizzuto as the Didact.

      Also, the bit you’re talking about with the Forerunner using a Cryptum was one of the Theoreticals, Boundless. I’d be wary about saying that Cryptums were used by all rates because Boundless was sentenced by the Warrior-Servants who she ignored when they ordered her not to study Path Kethona.

      • Slacker says:

        That would’ve have been great. I really think Jul could’ve been an excellent supporting antagonist, in fact, although the emotional side of the story is damn near perfect, I believe 343i feel a bit short with the Storm Covenant. I’ve read the books so I know what happens between Halo 3 and Halo 4 but to those fans that don’t read, it just sort of felt like “Hey, guess who’s back for no explained reason!”

        I always thought that, in political exiles, Forerunners would connect their conscience with them Domain using cyrptums, to reflect on past decisions and the reasons why they failed. That’s my reason for my comment considering all castes, except the Engineers, can be politically exiled.

      • haruspis says:

        I totally agree. It would have been nice to have an extra few missions on Requiem (and even some exploration on Installation 03 before heading to Ivanoff Station) where the Covenant is fleshed out a bit more. It would have been nice to have a cutscene where we see Jul and the Didact unite forces, rather than just seeing a Knight wandering around with some Grunts.

        A definitive answer on this isn’t really possible to be given right now. Cryptums are typically referred to as “Warrior Keeps”, they were created by the Prometheans and we’ve only got 1 example of one being used by a rate other than the Warrior-Servants (and the reason why she was even in the sabotaged Cryptum was because it was the Warrior-Servants who exiled her). The Forerunners had other means of stasis and contact with the Domain, such as the slipspace pods we see in Ghosts of Onyx which suspend the occupant outside of our dimension. Having said that, you may well be right in saying that Cryptums were used for political exiles of any rate because until the Builders seized control of the Old Council it was the Warrior-Servants who were the highest rate.

  2. Slacker says:

    I like to think they didn’t make the game longer due to the Xbox 360’s aging hardware. The game is already pushing it’s limits and it’s shows through in both good and bad ways.

    It’s nice to see there’s still a bit of mystery surrounding Forerunner culture, even though such mystery in the Halo Universe has transferred to the likes of Ancient Humans and Precursors.

    • haruspis says:

      Yeah, the game as it stands takes up A LOT of space. Part of me thinks it might have been better to have Halo 4 released as the Xbox One launch title, we’d have a more complete product I think. Imagine what they could have done with an extra year…

      I can’t wait to learn more about Ancient Humanity and the Precursors, I’d love to see a novel centred on Forthencho and Yprin.

      BTW, tomorrow’s post will be a rather long breakdown on why I dislike Palmer as a character. 😛

      • Slacker says:

        Well, you can blame Mircosoft for that, they wanted to push out one more game on the 360 before switching focus to the next generation.

        More novels are indeed needed but in-game revelations would be nice as well. I like how the books are a bit more centered around the games now (or vice-versa) but the games have to reveal things the books don’t, every now and then.

        I don’t mind Palmer actually. I know she tends to pick and choose which orders to follow and she could really use some better dialog but I think there’s potential for her to grow as a character in future installments. Though, I’ve only seen her in Halo 4/Spartan Ops and have no idea whats she’s like in the Dark Horse comics so I may be wrong.

      • haruspis says:

        I think that 343 are on the right track here, as Bungie practically ignored the books throughout their time developing the series which was a huge mistake IMO. What 343 needs to work on is implementing the amazing revelations we’ve had in the novels into the game, explaining them with a bit more clarity.

        Much of this, again, can be put down to hardware limitations. The reason why the Terminals couldn’t be accessed as videos in the game itself was because of a lack of disk space, which really sucks but is at least understandable. Next gen will hopefully offer much more in the way of opportunities for storytelling.

        You’ll see my full views on Palmer tomorrow. 🙂

  3. Slacker says:

    In-game video Terminals would be awesome, although it seems like they really want people to use Waypoint, which definitely needs a bit of work.

    That will be an interesting read. I’ve seen a fair amount of hate towards Palmer but I never really understood why. You’re very good at reasoning and explaining every little detail about why something is good or bad so maybe I’ll end up hating her too. haha

    • haruspis says:

      While that certainly is part of what 343 want, Josh Holmes stated in a panel (GDCC, I think) that they were disappointed that their intentions were to have the Terminals be accessed in the campaign, but disk space prevented this from happening.

      I’ve also read a lot of hate about Palmer and a lot of it seems to be rather underdeveloped in its reasoning, and I’ve seen a fair bit of misogyny from some people who find the idea of a ‘badass’ female Spartan ridiculous. At the very least, I can assure you that I’ll do my best to articulate my feelings of the character based on her dialogue and (lack of) development.

      • Slacker says:

        Hahaha the idea of of badass female Spartan is ridiculous? In many ways, Kelly, Linda and other female Spartan II’s are more badass than John. Got to love the community though, they really are an interesting bunch.

        The only dialog I found appropriate for her was her opening speech for Spartan Ops, everything else is lackluster but we’ll save this conversation for the next post.

        I really need to watch more panel interviews with the development team because I’m pretty sure the reason for an in-game skill based ranked system in multiplayer also comes down to disk space but I’m not entirely sure.

      • haruspis says:

        Linda shot 7 Banshee pilots out of their vehicles while holding her sniper in one hand and hanging upside down with a bit of rope connected to her leg. If that isn’t the very definition of badass then I don’t know what is! I couldn’t help but laugh when Bungie said that “Jun is unmatched” as a sniper in the build-up to Reach’s release.

        You can probably find most of the panels on Youtube. I love going back to the ones from 2011 where they talk about the universe they’re building up with Greg Bear and the Forerunners (hey, that sounds like an 80s pop band :P).

  4. Slacker says:

    The Fall of Reach, The First Strike and even Ghosts of Onyx really let you see how amazing Spartan II’s can actually be. Seven headshots while one handing a sniper, hanging upside down, through a tiny slit in a fast moving vehicle? The ability to run up to 60kph and punches that nearly destroy an Onyx Sentinel? Yeah, let’s see how ridiculous a badass female spartan is. Plus, did they really say he was unmatched? I’m pretty sure I got more kills than he did in the mission
    “Nightfall” so I’m pretty sure Noble Six has already matched him. haha

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  6. Potomo says:

    This is definitely my favourite part of the whole game as well. Seeing a Foreunner for the first time in game, and not only that, but that Forerunner being a significant character from the books was just amazing. I also love the actors voice. He often plays villains (Harbinger in Mass Effect, Mr. Freeze in Young Justice) and he has a great voice for it.

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