Halo Wars 2 tells a very interesting and standalone story, but in what ways can it, and its future expansions, potentially influence the next Halo game, tentatively dubbed "Halo 6?"

The war for the Ark that takes place in Halo Wars 2 is, for the most part, an event that remains completely disconnected from the rest of the Halo universe. As the UNSC Spirit of Fire and her crew wage a desperate war to take the ancient Forerunner installation from Atriox's Banished, the rest of the galaxy remains unaware of this conflict, currently focusing on resisting Cortana and her Created regime. But the events that have taken place (or potentially will in future story expansions) in Halo Wars 2 can, and likely will, tie into the main storyline. Here are five ways that Halo Wars 2 can tie into Halo 6.

WARNING: Halo Wars 2 and Halo 5 spoilers ahead!

1. Halo ring at the end of Halo 5

The Halo ring shown in Halo 5's legendary ending is very likely to be the same ring that appeared near the end of Halo Wars 2. The ring in Halo Wars 2 was Installation 04c — the second replacement ring that the Ark's systems created after the first was used by the Master Chief to eradicate the Flood in Halo 3. Having successfully kept the Banished from taking control of the Halo, The UNSC and Professor Anders' main focus became disarming the ring before it left the Ark. After the UNSC successfully defended her position from an all-out assault by the Banished forces, the ring was disabled by Anders, with her expertise on Forerunner technology playing a critical role. However, Anders was unable to evacuate the ring before the Ark's systems sent Installation 04c into a slip-space portal that led to the Soell system — the original location of the original Installation 04. During the slip-space jump, the Halo ring unexpectedly falls out of slip-space. Investigating, Anders takes an elevator up to the ring's surface, only to find one of Cortana's Guardians waiting for her.

The evidence here is extremely strong. Given that the Guardians are under Cortana's control, and that the Halo ring suddenly dropped out of slip-space prior to reaching its destination because of one, it is very logical to think that Cortana is trying to take control of this Halo ring via this Guardian and repurpose it for her own plans.

2. The AI, Isabel

Isabel's existence as an AI means that she could potentially become an enemy, due to the rising of the Created.

Isabel's existence as an AI means that she could potentially become an enemy, due to the rising of the Created in Halo 5. However, this isn't guaranteed to be the case. Not every AI chose to side with Cortana. A good example of one that did not side with her was Roland, the onboard ship AI on the UNSC Infinity. While only a logistics AI, Isabel proved that she was capable of having a large influence when she hacked into the systems of the Banished flagship, Enduring Conviction, and began to burn the Ark's surface with plasma, triggering the Ark's automatic defense units. As a result, the Enduring Conviction was split in half and destroyed, neutralizing a major threat to the UNSC Spirit of Fire and her crew. Thus, we are given a prime example of how Isabel can tactfully influence a conflict.

If Isabel makes an appearance in Halo 6, she may be either a strong ally or a troublesome enemy for Cortana, depending on which way she sides in the conflict with the Created.

3. The universe-threatening Flood

Perhaps the most dangerous way Halo Wars 2 could influence Halo 6 is the possibility of the Flood on the Ark (revealed in the announcement of the expansion Awakening the Nightmare) finding a way to leave the installation. Depending on how successfully Atriox and the Banished engage the Flood, they could either be defeated before being able to spread, or they could find a way to infect one of Atriox's naval ships and leave the Ark — with the intent of finding and infecting civilization everywhere.

A return of the Flood could be devastating. Currently, military forces across the universe are disoriented and disorganized due to Cortana's Created uprising. Because of this, a resurgent Flood could have an extremely easy time taking advantage and infecting several worlds across the galaxies. Given that entire worlds can be taken over by the parasite in as little time as 24 hours, the Flood could very quickly form an effective fighting force, complete with a Gravemind, to rise up and challenge the Created, as well as the UNSC, Swords of Sanghelios, and other factions.

4. Atriox and the Banished

The Banished are an incredibly effective faction of ex-Covenant warriors, and they pose a serious threat to any enemy they face.

Atriox's Banished could very well play a large role in Halo 6. The Banished are an incredibly effective faction of ex-Covenant warriors, and they pose a serious threat to any enemy they face. With legions of skillful Elites, formidable Brutes, ferocious Hunters, as well as a massive arsenal of vehicles, aircraft, and a small collection of naval ships, the Banished are armed to the teeth and filled with soldiers that have an expert understanding of warfare.

In addition to their huge military power, Atriox and his officers are also skilled tactical commanders. While we don't know who Atriox and the Banished would fight for — they could ally with the UNSC against the Created, ally with the Created against the UNSC, or just remain their own group — it's certain that if the Banished get involved in Halo 6, their presence will be felt by all.

5. Captain Cutter, Professor Anders, and the UNSC Spirit of Fire

Similarly to the Banished, the crew of the Spirit of Fire has the potential to play a large role in Halo 6 as well. These men and women have already proven their unbelievable resilience by managing to step up to the plate against the larger and better equipped Banished forces on the Ark. If they appear in Halo 6, they will undoubtedly be a strong military force against Cortana and her Prometheans. In addition to the regular soldiers, Spartan-IIs Jerome, Douglas, and Alice are all present on the Spirit of Fire — and having Spartans on your side in a conflict is always a positive for your odds.

Professor Anders's Forerunner expertise could play a pivotal role in the fight against the Created.

In regards to Captain Cutter, he is a strong tactical mind, not unlike Atriox. Therefore, he would certainly be a valuable asset for the UNSC. Perhaps the individual with the most potential, though, is Professor Ellen Anders, whose Forerunner expertise could play a pivotal role in the fight against the Created. With her proven ability to interface with and disable or disrupt Forerunner technology, she could be a strong developer of countermeasures against Cortana and her Prometheans — possibly even the Guardians themselves.

Only time will tell

So, there are five ways that the factions, events, and characters of Halo Wars 2 could influence and tie into Halo 6. What do you think? Do you have any theories about how the game will impact the next big Halo installment? Let us know in the comments. If you haven't picked Halo Wars 2 up yet, consider doing so!

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