Halo: Plot Summary

To get the most out of Halo 4’s campaign it’s worth knowing a bit of Halo history, but as the story has been told over five games (and 11 years) it’s easy to lose track of what’s happened. So, grab a beverage of your choice, sit back and enjoy a 10 minute trip down Halo memory lane.

The Forerunners and the Flood

  • The Forerunners are an ancient race who tried to contain an outbreak of the Flood after their first contact with the parasites.
  • After realising the Flood could not be contained, the Forerunners built the Halo Array, a series of gigantic weaponised rings. The Halo Array was designed to destroy all life in the galaxy, depriving the Flood of its source of food.
  • Exhausting all other options, the Forerunners activated the Halo Array, destroying all life in the galaxy with the exception of a number of species that were cataloged and kept in a Forerunner installation called the Ark.

Humanity in the 22nd Century

  • By the 22nd century humanity had mastered long range space travel and were organised into a Unified Earth Government (UEG), supported by the United Nations Space Command (UNSC).
  • Humans were in the process of establishing colonies across the galaxy. However, tensions between newer and more established colonies turned into violent uprisings.
  • Spartans, enhanced supersoldiers in powerful armor, patrol the galaxy, crushing uprisings and stopping any emerging rebellions before they start.

The Covenant

  • The Covenant, an alliance of alien species who share political, military, and religious affiliations, worship the Forerunners.
  • They view humanity as heretics, against their religion, and decided they needed to be exterminated. The Covenant started their first contact with humans by attacking the Harvest colony.

The Fall of Reach

  • War between humans and the Covenant broke out as a result of this attack. Humanity was no match for the Covenant and was eventually reduced to having just two strongholds, Reach and Earth.
  • Reach was destroyed by a Covenant plasma bombardment.  All the Spartans, with the exception of Master Chief (John-117), were killed during the Fall of Reach, but managed to protect an important AI construct, Cortana.
  • Cortana becomes the AI on the UNSC ship the Pillar of Dawn, which flees Reach with Master Chief on board, led by Captain Jacob Keyes along with Sergeant Avery Johnson.

Setting foot on Halo

  • To avoid disclosing the location of Earth, Cotana jumps the Pillar of Autumn to random co-ordinates, finding one of the rings in the Halo Array, alongside another Covenant fleet of ships.
  • An attack from the Covenant forces the Pillar to crash land on the ring and a battle starts on its surface.
  • During the battle, the Flood, who were being contained on the ring, are set free, consuming everything in their path.
  • Master Chief meets the Forerunners’ caretaker of the ring, Guilty Spark, an automaton. Guilty Spark advises Master Chief that activating the ring will destroy the Flood and the Spartan starts activating the firing sequence.
  • However, Master Chief and Cortana discover the full genocidal power and purpose of the ring and detonates the Pillar of Autumn’s fusion reactors to destroy it (and the Flood) in the process.

Mombasa, the Prophets and the Great Schism

  • The Covenant then set out to a find the artefact that will allow them to fulfil a religious prophecy relating to the Forerunners.
  • The artefact that enables the Covenant to do this is located on Earth, near New Mombasa, Africa. The Covenant is not aware that activating the Array will destroy all life in the galaxy at this point.
  • A battle takes place over New Mombasa and the Covenant, led by the Prophet of Regret, retreats by slipstreaming  the Covenant ship above the city. Captain Miranda Keyes, Master Chief, Cortana and Johnson follow the Covenant ship, which leads them to another ring in the Halo Array. Master Chief lands on the surface and takes on the Prophet of Regret who is intent on firing the remaining rings.
  • The Chief defeats the Prophet and is plunged into water.

High Charity, the Prophets and the Arbiter

  • Meanwhile, on the Covenant mothership, the High Charity, the player is introduced to the Elite who oversaw the Covenant’s defeat on the original Halo, at the hands of their perceived “devil”, the Master Chief.
  • As punishment the Elite is given the title of Arbiter and is sent on a suicide mission to kill a heretic.
  • Once this has been accomplished the Arbiter returns to High Charity, only to enter into an internal struggle between the Elites and the Brutes, the Great Schism. The Elites are cast out and the Arbiter is plunged into the same water as Master Chief.


  • Both warriors end up in the tentacles of Gravemind, the Flood hivemind. Here the Arbiter is made aware of the genocidal nature of the Halo rings and agrees to team up with Master Chief to shut them down.
  • The Chief heads back to Earth while Cortana stays behind to detonate the ship they arrived on to destroy High Charity.
  • Tartarus, the chief Brute, then attempts to use Miranda Keyes to fire the Halo Array, but is stopped by the Arbiter, Johnson and Keyes working together.
  • The Array goes into standby, and the team is told they must go to the Ark to prevent the Array firing. Cortana stays behind with Gravemind, while the others leave to finish the fight.
  • Master Chief lands in Africa to fight his way back to New Mombasa. Another Covenant Prophet, the Prophet of Truth, activates the Forerunner artefact, opens a portal and enters it followed by the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn.

The Ark

  • Master Chief and the Forward Onto Dawn crew find the Ark, along with the Prophet of Truth, who is ready to activate the Ark and fire the Halo Array. They also find another  Halo ring that is being built by the Ark. Keyes is murdered by the Covenant and Johnson is forced to activate the Halo Array.
  • Gravemind and Cortana return, with Gravemind finally showing his genocidal intentions.
  • Gravemind is defeated and Master Chief, Arbiter, Johnson and Cortana set off to destroy the Halo Array, using an Index that Cortana has been hiding.
  • Guilty Spark decided he could not allow this to happen and murders Johnson to prevent the Array’s destruction. Master Chief destroys Guilty Spark in return and blows up the Ark by activating the half-built new Halo ring.
  • The ring self destructs, nearly stopping our team’s escape on the Forward Until Dawn. Half the ship makes it through the escaping slipstream portal, with the Arbiter on Board. The other half, with Master Chief and Cortana on-board, doesn’t make it  and remains floating in space at the edge of the galaxy, broadcasting a distress signal.

And so begins the story of Halo 4, we’ll see you on Tuesday 6th of November for the title’s launch. Many of the images used in this article are taken from the Halo Nation wikia. Visit them for more Halo knowledge than you could possibly ever consume!


2 comments on “Halo: Plot Summary

  1. Very cool idea!

    I’ve been there since the beginning and this was still a fun read!


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