The Halo expanded universe goes far beyond Master Chief. In fact, Halo Infinite‘s new setting, a Halo ring never before explored in the games, connects to a story set hundreds of thousands of years before humanity’s war with the Covenant.
Installation 07, or “Zeta Halo” as it’s referred to by the UNSC, was built by the ancient Forerunners (the advanced alien species that preceded modern humanity and the Covenant) as the ultimate weapon meant to assert their control over the galaxy that later used to wipe out the parasitic Flood. But it also once housed humans. How did humanity get to this Halo ring and what purpose did they serve in ancient galactic history? We learn much more about humanity’s secret history with the Forerunners and Installation 07 in the Forerunner Trilogy novels by Greg Bear.
While it’s set three years after the events of Halo 5: Guardians and is being billed as a return to the series’ roots before Master Chief’s fight with the resurgent Forerunners, Halo Infinite is still a continuation of the earlier games by 343. It’s fitting, then, that the new adventure will have a major Forerunner influence.
Here’s what we know about Installation 07 and what it might mean for Halo Infinite:
What is Installation 07?
The only Halo ring left that was directly built by the Forerunners, Installation 07 is part of a powerful weapon array and a habitable biome all at once. Thousands of years before the Halo games, Installation 07 was the home of Mendicant Bias, the AI who would later appear in Halo 3‘s terminals.
Along with forests, it offers just about any type of environment one would need for a Halo game that evokes the original: laboratories where Flood were stored, other Forerunner research labs and prisons, low-tech human settlements, and Mendicant Bias’ AI core. The Forerunner tie-in book series involved a lot of hiking across forests, facing strange wildlife, and traversing the underground metal tunnels.
And this Halo ring is big, 20,000 kilometers in diameter bigger than the other six current Halo rings, which measure 10,000 km in diameter. The size is more than perfect for what 343 Industries is calling the largest and most ambitious Halo game yet. The developer has teased that players will be able to explore much of the ring and the map teased in the first gameplay footage will allow you to more freely tackle objectives around the ring in whatever way you choose.
343 creative director Chris Lee teased that players will be able to learn a lot about Installation 07 throughout their adventures on the ring.
“While players will experience the core storyline in a certain order, they’ll have the freedom to explore the Halo Infinite world to uncover secrets and incorporate their own playstyle along the way,” Lee told Games Radar.
On Installation 07, humans were caught in the crossfire of conflicts between the Forerunners and the Flood. Years of war, destruction, and reconstruction made Installation 07 a patchwork of greenery and bare metal.
Human and Forerunner History
Bear detailed a lot of Forerunner and human history in his books, which almost feel like The Lord of the Rings of Halo, with ancient conflicts played out across a giant landscape that has almost as much personality as the characters. Because of the people living there under the auspices of the Forerunners, Installation 07 is actually one of the oldest sites of human habitation in the universe.
The Halo universe’s humans originated on Earth but have a history rather different from our own. In Halo lore, humanity is 150,000 years old and achieved spaceflight well before what we consider prehistory. They spread out to other solar systems but wound up in a war with the Forerunners. The humans lost that war (after humanity allied with the San’Shyuum) and were literally blasted back to the Stone Age, with history on Earth effectively restarting until it led to the far-future story that plays out in the games.
But some humans were also allowed to live on Installation 07, which was part of a Conservation Measure created by the Forerunners to index all sapient species in the galaxy before and as an answer to the spreading Flood. Bear’s novel Halo: Primordium follows humans living on Installation 07 and shows how Forerunners subjected humans to grotesque experiments to test their immunity to the parasite.
Installation 07 was fired twice, once by Mendicant Bias against the San’Shyuum, which are referred to in the Halo games as Prophets, the species that formed the Covenant, and the second time as part of a larger plan to fire all seven Halo rings to destroy the Flood. As you already know if you’ve played the games, the second firing wiped out all species in the galaxy for millennia. Fortunately, the few remaining Forerunners left alive managed to “reseed” (or repopulate) the galaxy with what species they’d “saved” with the Conservation Measure.
The events of The Forerunner Trilogy connect to the main villain of the recent Halo games, the Didact, a Forerunner political leader and military commander who resumed his war against humanity in Halo 4 after a near eternity in stasis. With him also comes the Mantle of Responsibility, a philosophical viewpoint that steered the entire Forerunner culture. It’s also a nationalistic flag of military and technological superiority, so the conflict over who holds the Mantle has been a major source of plot in 343’s Halo trilogy. By the end of Halo 5, Master Chief’s AI companion Cortana has technically assumed the Mantle by naming herself head of an AI faction and gaining control of the Guardians, robots built by the Forerunners to protect the Mantle.
If that sounds a bit vague and overwrought, well, it is. Halo 4‘s lore was busy and convoluted, either immersive or all shaky scaffolding depending on how you look at it. But it does explain why Installation 07 is a suitable choice for the end of a trilogy that began with the Forerunners taking revenge for something no human alive knew had happened.
Halo Infinite is out on Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC in Holiday 2020.