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'Halo 5: Guardians': What's in a name

Halo 5: Guardians
Halo 5: Guardians
Photo courtesy of Microsoft, used with permission

343 Industries made “Halo 5: Guardians” for the Xbox One official today and released a piece of key art. While the only details given were the name, the confirmation of a new engine and a release window, there’s a number of things that can be gleaned from both the subtitle and the artwork provided.

So why did 343 Industries go with the “Guardians” subtitle? Isn’t that encroaching into the territory of Bungie’s “Destiny” where players are called Guardians? You can make that case but “Guardians” already has a place in “Halo” lore and can implies a few different things.

Forerunners
Forerunners Photo courtesy of 343 Industries, used with permission.

Forerunners

Those that have read the Greg Bear “Forerunner Saga” books should be familiar with the Mantle of Responsibility. This is a Forerunner philosophy concerning the protection of life and cultivation of the various species throughout the galaxy. The Forerunners believed that they were guardians of the Mantle and references are made to this throughout the various books but was also mentioned in “Halo 4.”

Cortana said, “Guardianship for all living things lies with those whose evolution is most complete. The Mantle of Responsibility shelters all.”

At the end of “Halo 4,” the Didact said, “We are Forerunners, guardians of all that exists. The roots of the galaxy have grown deep under our careful tending. Where there is life, the wisdom of our countless generations has saturated the soil. Our strength is a luminous sun towards which all intelligence blossoms. And the impervious shelter beneath which it has prospered.”

If that doesn’t scream “Foreshadowing,” we don’t know what does. It’s not official that the Didact died at the end of “Halo 4” so there’s a strong likelihood that he will return for “Halo 5” to battle humanity for the right to be called “Guardians.”

343 Guilty Spark
343 Guilty Spark Photo courtesy of 343 Industries, used with permission.

343 Guilty Spark

“Guardians” is not just a reference to the Forerunners though. The AI stewards like 343 Guilty Spark that were left behind by the Forerunners to watch over the Halo rings also referred to themselves as guardians. This is potential spoiler territory for the books so we won’t go too deep here other than to say that 343 Guilty Spark is still out there and he’s looking for something. It might just be that the player’s path will cross with the mad AI.

Not just Master Chief?
Not just Master Chief? Photo courtesy of 343 Industries, used with permission.

Not just Master Chief?

Notice that the subtitle is “Guardians” and not “Guardian.” This, combined with the key art that shows a Spartan on the top with Master Chief reflected underneath, may imply that “Halo 5” could be more of a co-op experience than before. It could simply be a case where player one is Master Chief and the other players are different Spartans. Or, it could be something potentially more risky such as players not playing Master Chief at all but creating their own Spartan to take to the battlefield.

343 Industries plan to reveal more during Microsoft’s E3 media briefing on June 9. We’re not sure what questions will be answered and what more questions will be caused but, the above should help clue everyone in to what’s going on with “Halo 5: Guardians.”