Halo Legends. Photo: Radio Times
Halo Legends. Photo: Radio Times

Halo is based upon a huge game universe

Beginning with 2001’s Halo: Combat Evolved, the Halo series charts the ongoing conflict between spacefaring humanity in the 26th century and an alien theocracy knew as the Covenant. In that first game, Master Chief John-117, a genetically enhanced Spartan supersoldier encased in advanced armor, faces off against the Covenant for control of a Halo — a ring-shaped space station/superweapon created by an ancient and extinct race the Covenant worship as gods. The game changed the perception of first-person shooters on home consoles and gave Microsoft its first huge win in that market when the game was released as a launch title for the original Xbox.

Sequels followed — five so far in the main series with a sixth, Halo Infinite, due out in 2021 (we hope) — and a surprising number of spin-offs. New characters appeared to play off against the stoic Master Chief and the spin-offs further developed the Halo universe by featuring more story-driven first-person shooters or switching to other game mechanics like Real-Time Strategy. Books, comics, and animated series further deepened the breadth of the franchise’s universe and history.

The television series will attempt to “weave deeply drawn personal stories” with action and adventure set within that “richly imagined vision of the future.” Anchoring those stories will be Master Chief, played by American Gods Pablo Schreiber.

In a 2019 interview, Levine told Rotten Tomatoes and a small group of reporters that Schreiber has “the physicality to be a Spartan, to be Master Chief. But he is [also] a great dramatic actor.” A mention of Schreiber’s comedic chops and the “twinkle in his eye” suggests Master Chief may be seen without his helmet or armor; a first for Halo should it happen. Although Levine added, “we’re not violating anything big,” so Master Chief may remain within his armor throughout the series, as reported by Rottentomatoes.

How to watch the Halo movies in order

Halo Legends

Starting with a bit of a strange one, Halo Legends is actually a series of different short stories, set at different times, and made by different studios. So you’ll get a range of stories here that differ in tone and you can essentially choose when to watch them as they take place at various points in the Halo timeline.

The full list of those individual story titles is The Duel, Homecoming, The Babysitter, The Package, Prototype and Origins. While we said it does not matter when you watch these, Origins takes place just before the events of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn so if you want to stick to the true chronological order, hold that one back until then.

Halo: Landfall

Halo Landfall is a tantalising look at what could have been. We mentioned earlier that Neill Blomkamp was set to make a full-length Halo movie and while that was still a possibility, he made this short live-action film that gave us a look at what we would have been in for had his film idea gone ahead.

It’s a quick watch this and if you are a fan of the gaming franchise, you should definitely check this out as it really is impressive how they have taken the designs from the games, especially the brutes, and brought them into the live-action world. As for when this is set, it acts, kind of, as a prologue to Halo 3 so watching it just before playing that is your best bet, as reported by Radiotimes.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn

Photo: Screen Rant
Photo: Screen Rant

Released as a web series in anticipation of Halo 4 and later distributed more widely, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn was marketed as a closer look at the life of Captain Lasky, an important figure in the story of Halo 4. It follows Lasky and explores his younger days as a cadet in military academy early on in the Human-Covenant war. Eventually the school is besieged by the Covenant, with Lasky and friends having to use their wits to survive the full force of the alien hegemony. Towards the end, Lasky witnesses the Master Chief in action, being rescued by the legend himself, and inspiring a deep admiration of Spartans that he carries with him through the rest of his career.

This film is perhaps the best of all the Halo adaptations. It is not only a decent sci-fi story in its own right, but it also contains an interesting twist in perspective, making the audience consider how the average human sees the Covenant and Master Chief. Contrary to the games, where players slaughter Covenant by the hundreds, in Forward Unto Dawn, a single Elite is a terrifying, almost unstoppable force, and one can begin to see why the Master Chief is viewed as an almost mythological figure among ordinary people. Lasky has been an important figure in the games for a while as Captain of the UNSC Infinity, and Forward Unto Dawn is a very solid B-movie with some cool set-pieces and genuine heartfelt moments. Audiences will definitely want to give this one a chance.

Halo: Nightfall

Another film released in anticipation of Halo 5, this time in live action. This story was meant to serve, along with Halo 2: Anniversary Edition, as an introduction to the character of Jameson Locke, who would be the deuteragonist of Halo 5. Locke was played by Mike Colter in the film and provides his likeness for the games, though scheduling conflicts prevented him from portraying the character in Halo 5. The story follows Locke and his team on an assignment from the Office of Naval Intelligence. This mission has him tracking terrorist activity, and eventually brings him to the wreckage of Installation 04, the Halo ring from the first game. They become trapped on the ring and have to find a way off the installation, all while facing an intimidating new form of alien life.

Despite the Halo branding, this film mostly ends up as a kind of generic sci-fi story, and didn't receive favorable reviews from critics. Jameson Locke is a decent character in theory, but the story doesn't explore any of the traits that make him interesting, like his willingness to get his hands dirty or his work with ONI. Microsoft claimed the film would have connections to the upcoming Halo TV series, but there has been little word on this since its release. Fans of Locke or Mike Colter may wish to check it out, but otherwise it's safe to skip, according to Gamerant.

Halo: The Fall of Reach: The Animated Series

Another some to watch before playing Halo 5: Guardians, it was made with complementing that game in mind, this animated film clocks in at an hour and is comprised of three acts that put the focus on Master Chief and the Blue Team and serves as an origin story of sorts for them

The characters each reflect on their earlier days and the process that they went through to become super-soldiers as part of the Spartan-II program. The Fall of Reach is based on a book by Eric Nylund and that is well worth a read as, unlike this film, that actually carries on to see the fall of reach itself.

Showtime Production began in Budapest during the fall of 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic led to a long delay. It is currently in production again with Paramount+ setting it for an early 2022 debut.

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