After almost three years since Halo 5: Guardians, Xbox's most iconic franchise has had its next big release teased with Halo: Infinite. Revealed at the start of Microsoft's E3 briefing, Infinite showcased 343 Industries' brand new Slipspace engine, as well as a shift to an aesthetic inspired by Bungie's original games.
However, while the trailer seemingly provided little information about the story and setting, Halo fanatics like myself and others have dissected it, and the amount of information hidden within may surprise you. Here's every known detail (so far).
Setting: A brave new world
While the trailer clearly shows the Master Chief and his UNSC allies stranded on a Halo ring, determining which ring specifically is tricky. However, there are several hints that strongly suggest it is Zeta Halo, or Installation 07. The first of these is the appearance of wildlife on the Halo ring. Both Halo: Primordium and Halo: Hunters in the Dark, two of the franchise's novels, reference the fact that Zeta Halo is home to various fauna, with Hunters in the Dark specifically mentioning these deer-like creatures.
Another strong hint is the appearance of ancient structures with some form of written language carved into them. Though it isn't hard evidence, this may suggest the presence of ancient humans at one point. This is consistent with Zeta Halo, which is known in the lore to have had humans living on it during the time of the Forerunners.
Perhaps the strongest evidence for Zeta Halo being in Halo: Infinite is the fact that the beeping radio in the trailer relays morse code that references it. The Reddit community slowed down the audio and analyzed each individual noise from the radio, and what they were able to decipher was "SOS ZETA HALO GRD". While the meaning of "GRD" is debatable, the meaning of "SOS ZETA HALO' is clear.
The last hint about the setting of Halo: Infinite comes from Twitter user Masterz1337, who, by viewing the video on a full 4K display, was able to make out an electronic screen within the Pelican dropship that displays a date: 5/27/2560. This means that Halo: Infinite will likely take place about a year and a half after the events of Halo 5: Guardians.
Story and plot: Chief teams up with a new AI
Since the game will almost certainly be on Zeta Halo and take place long after Halo 5, we can piece together what the plot may be like. During the events of Halo: Primordium, Forerunners on Zeta Halo trapped humans in a place known as the Palace of Pain. Here, they forced them to undergo horrific experiments with the Flood parasite to try to find a cure. The Forerunners eventually fired the Halo Arrays, but it's possible that the Flood here survived because they were in a research facility — and we may have to fight them.
This is further supported by research done by Reddit user kittylyncher, who, after replacing the writing seen in the trailer with similar English lettering and then running it through a cryptogram solver, found that one of the possible word combinations was "Enemy Within". This could be directly referencing the Flood that are within Zeta Halo's depths.
When it comes to how the Chief and his allies will fight Cortana, there's relatively little to go on. However, Reddit user juicebawwx discovered that zooming in on the artificial intelligence chip that Chief puts into his helmet reveals a serial number. At a glance, none of the numbers are clearly identifiable aside from the final zero in the sequence, but upon even closer inspection, it seems that it isn't a zero, but a D.
Since Cortana's serial number doesn't end with a D, this can't be her. In addition, none of the AIs in Halo lore have this either, so it has to be an entirely new character. A possibility that myself and Halo community leaders MetalHedSpartan and HiddenXperia realized was that the AI could be named Durandal. The reason why ties back to a classic piece of literature: The Song of Roland.
Within the comic anthology Halo: Library Edition, it was hinted that the Song of Roland would play a large role in the next Halo game. In that story, the Frankish knight Roland is betrayed by his comrade Ganelon and is killed after fighting valiantly. However, Ganelon is weakened after the fight, opening the door for the Frankish king Charlemagne to come in and defeat the criminal. Durandal is the name of the sword Roland used, and is made "of the same steel and temper as Joyeous and Curtana."
Based on this, it's extremely likely that "Durandal" is some form of powerful construct that Roland, the UNSC Infinity's AI, fuses with in order to take the fight to Cortana. While Roland might die, this will potentially make way for the Master Chief (who is like Charlemagne in this scenario) to take advantage of Cortana's weakened state and defeat her, saving the galaxy. This possibility is only strengthened by the fact that one of the stories in Halo: Tales from Slipspace shows Cortana describing herself as "joyous", which is directly in-line with the description of Durandal.
What do you think of everything this trailer hints at? Were you surprised at how much was contained in it? Let me know.
Halo: Infinite currently has no release date, but be sure to check out the Master Chief Collection, Halo Wars 2, and Halo 5: Guardians if you're looking for Halo action.