Before Halo 4 was launched, the big advertising concept behind its promotion was that Master Chief, the original hero of the series, was finally returning to take back the franchise after other characters had taken the lead in both ODST and Reach.
The first images and most of the promotional material focused on the Spartan, his improved look, his more detailed armor, his ability to speak and comment on what happens in the game.
After playing Halo 4, one of the most interesting aspects of the single player is that it seems, in many and subtler ways, that the game is actually about Cortana, the blue-hued Artificial Intelligence that has accompanied Master Chief since the first entry in the universe.
She’s actually the one driving the entire action of the game, either by subtly guiding Master Chief towards his goals or by straight up interacting with the alien technology and telling him what he needs to do to progress.
And it’s her hurting and her transformation that’s front and center in Halo 4 and the Chief remains a kind of mystery even as he emotes and talks more than he has done in his previous three appearances in the series.
Cortana has also received a significant visual upgrade and seems to have lost some of her modesty, which works against the story that she’s trying to create, but will certainly make her more important in the eyes of the Halo fanboys.
Don’t forget that 343 Industries has signed up for a trilogy of Halo games with Microsoft and that its core narrative is already planned out, which might mean that the small hints and ideas in this game might come to the forefront in the next two.
Are we ready for a Halo that’s not about Master Chief in the end?