It’s been over 24 hours since the official reveal of Halo 5: Guardians by 343 Industries, and the response from the Halo fanbase has been explosive, to say at the least. With the new piece of concept art, the announcement that the game will run on an entirely new engine, and the reveal of Guardians’ cover art, we’ve all had one major question on our minds.
Who’s the new guy?Let’s begin by establishing what we do know about this Spartan based on a tweet by Josh Holmes, Executive Producer for Halo 5.There we go then, this is:
> a new character
> a male Spartan
> somebody affiliated with ONI, as you can see the emblem on his chest plate.
Beyond that, we really don’t know anything about him. No doubt, more will be revealed at E3, but I’d like to stick on the speculation mitts anyway to see what might be made of this.
You may recall that Ridley Scott is set to be directing a digital feature for Halo which is said to be a web-series similar to Forward Unto Dawn back in 2012 which introduced the character of Thomas Lasky, a major character in Halo 4 who became the captain of the UNSC Infinity. Just a few days ago, we got our first piece of casting information for Ridley Scott’s digital feature along with a description of what the series may be about.
“a rising star in a futuristic army who is troubled by aspects of the military industrial complex he inhabits. Approaching combat situations with caution and logic, he inspires loyalty in his fellow Spartans.”
So Marlowe is a Spartan in the UNSC, a “rising star” who looks to inspire loyalty in his fellow Spartans. The set-up seems like a very similar premise to Forward Unto Dawn, as it served as a means through which the character of Thomas Lasky was introduced and developed for his major appearance in the game. Lasky starts out as a disbelieving cadet with controversial feelings on the war between the UNSC and the Insurrectionists, but when the Covenant come knocking on humanity’s door and humanity is plunged into a whole new war, Lasky has to take up arms and is taught the virtues of being a soldier by the Master Chief.
I really have to ask myself what exactly the point of Scott’s digital feature would be if it wasn’t connected in some way to Halo 5. All of the fiction by 343 from the very start has been connected to the Reclaimer Saga in some way, from laying the groundwork for the introduction of certain characters, to the very specific use of imagery to represent future events in the story.
This honestly sounds like it would slot in perfectly with the prologue scene of Halo 4 where Halsey’s interrogator asks questions about what made the Spartan-II program so effective. Halsey surmises that they’re looking to replace John as humanity’s hero, and this set-up with Marlowe being this rising star in the Spartan ranks sounds like it fits the bill for this mysterious new Spartan in Halo 5.
Interrogator: “Do you think the Spartans’ lack of basic humanity helped?”
Halsey: “What are you after? The others before you were Naval Intelligence, but you… you’re something else.”
Interrogator: “Records show Spartans routinely exhibited mildly sociopathic tendencies, difficulty with socialisation. Furthermore–“
Halsey: “The records show efficient behaviour when operating in hazardous situations. I supplied the tools to maintain that efficiency.”
Interrogator: “Do you believe the Master Chief succeeded because he was, at his core, broken?”
Halsey: “What does John have to do with this? You want to replace him…”
Marlowe sounds exactly like the kind of Spartan who’d be picked out for the particular job of replacing humanity’s hero. I think that this will be who the Spartan in the Halo 5: Guardians cover image is, it seems like the most likely option, but of course this could be completely wrong.
John’s character arc in Halo 4 was about deconstructing him as ‘the hero’ after so many years of fighting, this ended up being a literal deconstruction has his armour was removed at the very end of the game to give us a glimpse of what the man beneath had become. This new Spartan could potentially be an interesting foil to that development, laying the groundwork for a character conflict akin to that of the Ur-Didact and IsoDidact in Silentium.
Comments from Bonnie Ross and Frank O’Connor in an interview with The Guardian (heh!) have further shed some light on the place that John is in emotionally at the end of Halo 4.
“When we left him in Halo 4, he’s in a really challenging position […] He’s questioning many things he once firmly believed were true. He’s lost his best friend, he’s questioning his past and his purpose, he’s questioning who he is fighting for.”
“For us this is a really interesting point. For the first time he’s questioning everything he’s done for the UNSC in the past. Just as with past titles, we’re being really open about the fact that we want to tell this story over more than one game – this is about Master Chief’s journey: it’s about his past and his future.”
“If you look at Halo 1, 2 and 3 and know the origin story and know the fiction well, Master Chief is our hero, he is you, and he is saving humanity… but its been at a huge cost to his life and there are things going on – you saw them in 4 – that make him question who is calling the shots. Is he doing the right thing? That’s very interesting for us to explore.”
The mention of him wondering who is really “calling the shots” very much implicates ONI, as they’ve been behind a great number of shady things in Halo’s lore for years. This is obviously going to be a very personal journey for John’s character, and it’ll definitely be interesting to see a character like Marlowe who stands as everything that John once was under ONI’s thumb.
I, for one, really can’t wait to see how this all plays out.