Halo: Nightfall Trailer Analysis

We deconstruct the Halo: Nightfall trailer, and speculate on how it all connects to Halo 5.

The trailer for the live-action series Halo: Nightfall dropped at San Diego Comic-Con International, revealing a story about a team of Marines that must stop a virus that only effects humans after it plagues the colony planet Sedra. Interestingly enough, the source of the virus can be found somewhere on an old Halo ring.

Xbox Wire describes the characters’ plight as a “horrific terrorist attack” and says that they will “forced to fight for their survival, question everything, and ultimately choose between their loyalties and their lives.”

Here are some tidbits from the trailer that may give clues about the plots of Nightfall and Halo 5: Guardians.

Agent Locke

Main character Jameson Locke will also be a playable character in Halo 5: Guardians. So far, we know that he’s a SPARTAN-IV agent working for the Office of Naval Intelligence. He’s also described as a “manhunter.” In Nightfall, he never wears the full Spartan armor seen on the Halo 5 promo, instead affecting something more similar to Marine wear, with dark-colored fatigues and metal shoulder pieces. In the trailer, he leads a team of seven into “hell,” the source of the disease – Alpha Halo. He’s shown wielding a pistol and a DMR.

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It’s unknown exactly what role Locke will play in Halo 5 as he seeks out the Master Chief and the Arbiter, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chief didn’t want to be found. He’s on his quest to revive Cortana, after all. Therefore, Locke might take the opposite path from the Arbiter and, instead of an enemy becoming an ally, show a friend becoming a foe.

This would jive with the Halo expanded universe’s portrayal of ONI as spies willing to elevate humanity at all costs, including giving weapons to the enemy. Maybe they know more about the new element, and the planet Sedra, than they let on.

Or, maybe “manhunter” isn’t as ominous a title as it sounds, and Locke will prove to be a loyal ally to the Chief during their joint mission. Locke appears to be a good, brave leader in the trailer, jumping into foggy hallways and cracks in the earth. Whatever happens, we know this is a setup for Halo 5 and Locke’s personality within the game.

The Team

Second billing in Nightfall goes to actor Steve Waddington. He plays Randall Aiken, described on Halo Waypoint as “a local commander with a remarkable history and deep-rooted mistrust of the UNSC.” He wears dogtags and uses an assault rifle. Aiken could be the one in the voiceover, explaining the new element and how the enemy is looking for “you”, the UNSC, not “us,” presumably the colonists of Sedra.

Christina Chong plays Talitha Macer, Locke’s fellow soldier. According to her uniform, she has blood type AB positive.

Luke Neal plays Michael Bradley Horrigan, shown in one of the promo photos holding a DMR and possibly suffering a gunshot wound. He appears along with Locke, Estrin, and Hundley in a promotional photo called “the field team,” and appears to be a petty officer second class in the Navy, based on his rank blazes.

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The other cast members include Alexander Bhat as Estrin, Alexis Rodney as Arras, Christian Contreras as Ramos, Eric Kofi Abrefa as Haisal, Jennie Gruner as Wisner, Shaun Blaney as Hundley, and Sarah Armstrong as Gaines.

The Alpha Halo

The team looks to be journeying into Installation 04, the Halo ring the Master Chief destroyed in the first game. In the expanded universe, it’s said to be slowly falling into its local sun. That could explain the fiery look of the broken Halo arm in the trailer.

The Disease

The diseased element, described as fatal only to humans and effecting people up to ten kilometers away, appears to have spilled onto the ground. It lays beside a pistol and a body, which has armor marked with the ONI symbol and a cartouche.

So, is the disease a human creation? If so, why was it brought to a Halo ring? Could this have anything to do with 343 Guilty Spark, once the resident AI of the Alpha Halo – and a direct connection to the Forerunners, who will presumably continue to be the antagonists in Halo 5? Or, maybe it’s simpler than that – a terrorist attack as officially described, with the terrorist having died for the cause.

One character, possibly Aiken, is shown sitting by a bedside at the very beginning of the trailer. This is where the distinction between “us” and “you” begins, and maybe this is where Aiken learns about the disease.

The Details

The Halo series has always incorporated codes and nods to Bungie’s fondness for the number 7, which appears in the Master Chief’s ID number and all around the Halo universe. An “H07” stenciled on a wall in the background of a scene in the ONI compound could be a cute reference to Bungie, even without their involvement in the project.

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Nightfall looks aesthetically similar to Alien and Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, with washes of color and dark or black shadows. It will be the first story set in the Halo universe after Halo 4, and will ideally whet fans’ appetites for Locke’s appearance in Halo 5: Guardians.

Nightfall is directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and written by Paul Scheuring, with Ridley Scott as executive producer, and will be available with Halo: The Master Chief Collection as well as on Xbox Live on November 11.

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