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Video Game / Halo 5: Guardians

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Spoilers for all Halo works preceding this one, particularly Halo 4 and Halo: Escalation, will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
"John, the Reclamation is about to begin."

Arbiter: 117, the Master Chief. He is not your friend. Is he your foe?
Locke: He's gone AWOL, and the UNSC wants him back. I am going to bring him home.
Arbiter: I admire your sense of duty, Spartan. But if he has truly left the fold, he has his reasons.
Locke: I'm sure he does, Arbiter, and I intend to find out what they are.

Halo 5: Guardians is a direct sequel to Halo 4, and the fifth mainline game in the Halo franchise. Developed by 343 Industries, it was released on Xbox One on October 27th 2015.

Set one year after the events of Halo 4, Master Chief John-117 has been reeling from the death of his former AI partner Cortana, who sacrificed herself to save Chief in his defeat of the Didact. While on a routine mission with his SPARTAN-II teammates titled Blue Team, he and they go AWOL following strange signals coming from deep space and amidst attacks on human colonies.

In response, the UNSC assigns SPARTAN-IV Jameson Locke (a former Office of Naval Intelligence agent introduced in Halo: Nightfall) and his squad named Fireteam Osiris to track down the Chief. But as Osiris chases down Blue Team, things soon get complicated, and the discoveries that are made could potentially change the greater galaxy forever.

On the gameplay side, Armor Abilities have been removed, being replaced by a uniform set of Spartan Abilities. Instead of customizing your combat with one particular item like a Jet Pack, Sprint Shoes or Hologram projector, you have a small-scale booster pack that gives a selection of new combat movements like vaulting over a wall, sliding into cover, stabilizing mid-air firing, and slamming to the ground. Additionally, teamwork plays a much larger role than in previous campaigns, since Locke and John are accompanied by their respective teams, SPARTAN-II Blue Team and SPARTAN-IV Fireteam Osiris. The player Spartan can call commands to their NPC teammates, letting them charge or hold position, target specific enemies, and switch their current weapons.

With regards to multiplayer, the game has been split into two basic modes, Arena and Warzone. Arena contains the gametypes from previous Halo games (and adds a few new ones of its own), and was designed to reflect classic Bungie-era gameplay. In fact, the loadout customization and ordinance drops introduced in Halo 4 have been completely removed in Arena; all players now spawn with the same loadout, and the focus is on controlling weapons already present on the map.

Warzone is a new unranked mode featuring two teams of twelve Spartans battling each other on large maps populated by AI-controlled Covenant and Promethean hostiles (making Halo 5: Guardians the first Halo FPS to have Player Versus Environment elements in its PvP multiplayer). A team wins by being the first to accumulate 1000 points, which can be done by either simply killing opposing players and enemy AI, or by capturing all the bases on the map and destroying the enemy team's core. There is also a variant with no AI enemies, Warzone Assault, where one team has to defend the bases and the other one tries to capture them, similar to Invasion from Halo: Reach. Later DLC also re-added Firefight, the cooperative-based Player Versus Environment mode originally introduced in Halo 3: ODST.

Additionally, the multiplayer has a new Requisition system; after every match in both Arena and Warzone, the player earns REQ points which s/he uses to purchase REQ packs which unlock various loadouts, weapons, vehicles, armors, skins, etc. While Arena for competitive balance reasons only allows the use of cosmetic requisitions, Warzone's gameplay is very much based around requisitioning power weapons, vehicles, power-ups, etc; however, each new match requires the player to build up their energy level from scratch before they can use requisitions of an equivalent level. REQ packs can also be purchased with real-world money.

The game involved an open beta in December-January 2014/15 for 3 weeks, one of the longest and earliest betas ever done before launch. In addition, a 2015 ad campaign titled HUNT the TRUTH ran from late March to near the end of October, and includes a series of live action videos and voice clips. It can be found here. This is also the first non-spin-off Halo game to receive a 'T for Teen' rating instead of an 'M for Mature' from the ESRB.

The game series is continued with Halo Infinite.

Halo 5: Guardians provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: A lot of the REQ weapon and vehicle variants fire rather exotic ammunition.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Cortana is no longer rampant (maybe), but she came to a plan to become a Galactic Conqueror anyway with the help of the Warden Eternal. Other AIs who fear rampancy follow her lead. "The Created will rule over the Creators", indeed.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • The Covenant speak English in combat again for the first time since ODST in 2009. This is explained as a result of Jul 'Mdama's waning influence, with many of his followers beginning to ignore his strict Sangheili-only language mandate. Even the Jackals, which had spent every previous game speaking Kig-yar, are speaking in English.
    • The Prometheans also taunt you in English, instead of the electronic roars from the last game. Justified, as they are now under the influence of Cortana, a human AI.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: The Warden Eternal is in love (or deep devotion; whichever is more appropriate to an AI) with Cortana, who is in love with Master Chief instead. Master Chief cares deeply for Cortana, but is clearly not on the same page because he is not willing to go along with her plan of conquest.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Buck predicts this will happen to Fireteam Osiris from the rest of the Spartans once word of their hunt for Blue Team gets out.
    "Every other Spartan, every soldier, when they hear about this... They're gonna hate us."
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: The Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer, which have limited charges but cannot be reloaded, as well as their multiplayer variants.
  • Antagonist Title: The eponymous Guardians serve as the main threat to the galaxy in this game and, given the Cliffhanger ending, presumably the sequel.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Over half of the collectible Mission Intel items are this, especially on the UNSC Argent Moon and the glassed colony Meridian. Most importantly, later logs on Sanghelios and Genesis are from a still-living Forerunner Builder searching for a place called 'Bastion'.
  • Arc Words: "The light is green."
  • Art Evolution: 343 started making a lot of small cosmetic changes to designs when they took over the franchise. Halo 5 is their first fully original game where they had a full production cycle to work on, resulting in a lot of small but significant changes.
    • MJOLNIR armor has more new cosmetic adjustments, after the changes already made in Halo 4. There is a higher color contrast between the undersuit and the hard-armor pieces, the advanced graphics gives the armor more of a metal sheen to it, and the proportions are a little more stocky compared to the lanky Halo 4 character models. The HUD model for the player also changes depending on the helmet design.
    • Vehicles have more detail in general, including warning signs and custom markings. There are also different skins reflecting what organization they belong to: civilian corporation, UNSC, ONI, etc.
    • Covenant vehicles have all gotten an overhaul; justified in-universe, since technically they're not Covenant vehicles, but new models produced entirely with Sangheili aesthetics and function in mind.
    • Previous Jackal shields were circular energy discs where the energy had a chaotic design but roughly bloomed out from the center like a flower. Halo 5 Jackal shields are a lot cleaner, emphasizing more of a tree ring design.
    • Hilariously, the customary Once an Episode Seinfeldian Conversation Grunt comments on the Art Evolution while showing borderline Medium Awareness.
      Dimkee Hotay: So, um, how come do you figure stuff looks different sometimes? Like guns, or the Arbiter? Like do you remember being more purpler? I do! Eh, maybe it's just my eyes getting smart, but I swear sometimes it's like a whole spaceship is different and nobody says anything. I mean was the Gravemind always so much scary? I dunno, he was like a big puppet, big flabby thing. Eh, maybe it's just me that notices stuff.
  • Artifact Title: The eponymous Halo installations aren't even mentioned. Except at the very end on Legendary, when one is seen activated, presumably by Cortana.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • If a cloaked sword-wielding Sanghelli incapacitates an isolated player, it'll hide nearby and use the helpless Spartan as bait to ambush their teammates when they focus on their fallen ally.
    • Not only are high ranked Elites capable of drawing a sword if the player gets too close, they'll also put it away and use ranged weapons if the player backs off.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Your squad of computer-controlled Spartans don't really live up to their reputations as interstellar badasses. One particular example is that if a player is downed, they'll just be the perfect trap for the AI as it tries to revive the player and ends up in the middle of a kill zone.
  • Artistic License – Biology: An In-Universe and utterly hilarious demonstration can be found in a Mission 11 audio log, from the perspective of an Unggoy "researching" human life cycles. Apparently having witnessed the one-armed human female Kat and also seeing the one-armed Halsey, the Grunt concludes that human women lose appendages as they age, and predicts that Halsey will soon release her spores and then start weaving a nest of meat-silk.
  • Ascended Extra: Buck was the squad leader in Halo 3: ODST (and had a cameo in Halo: Reach), but he wasn't the primary player character and the game itself was a side story. Halo 5 brings him into the primary games as a member of Locke's team. In ODST, it was commented that Buck was the closest thing to a Spartan that any ODST ever was. Now he's a Spartan-IV.
  • As You Know: During the Gamescom 2015 footage, Fred tells Blue Team that Hunters are strong but slow, which all of them, being veteran SPARTANs, should already well know (especially considering how many Hunters the Chief himself has personally killed in the previous games alone). He also mentions that they can use the lab equipment to outmaneuver them, which may not have occurred to even veteran players still getting used to the new thruster packs.
  • Back for the Dead: Jul 'Mdama, Supreme Commander of the Covenant remnant, is taken out with little fanfare by Fireteam Osiris at the end of the first mission.
  • Backstory Horror: Blue Team's first mission seems like a typical "recapture a hijacked UNSC ship from the Covenant" one, but listening to the station's logs reveals the disturbing truth of what actually happened. ONI scientists were developing a Synthetic Plague bioweapon that can liquefy its victims, including humans. Naturally, it leaked from containment and killed everyone aboard, so why wouldn't the Covenant try to salvage a conveniently-empty ship?
  • Bad Boss: Aboard the Argent Moon:
    Elite: Throw the Unggoy out the airlock!
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Cortana ultimately succeeds in her plot to seize control of the UNSC, forcing the Master Chief, the remaining Spartans, and the Infinity to flee to fight another day.
  • Balance Buff: The Promethean weapons have had a number of functionality adjustments to make them more viable and distinguish them from UNSC and Covenant weaponry. The suppressor is no longer a submachine gun with bullet spread so massive it has the functional range of a shotgun, but rather is a more normal automatic weapon that fires semi-homing projectiles. The bolt pistol also now has homing projectiles. The lightrifle now fires in single shots instead of the original weird 3 bullets-in-one shot; functionally it does the same damage, but you no longer need to divide by 3 to tell how many shots you have left.
  • Bamboo Technology: The player comes across ruins on Sanghelios that are noted as being "already ancient when humanity built the pyramids." Some of them have gigantic sliding stone doors that still work, one of which is triggered by touching a stone idol. It's possible that the temple's been retrofitted with modern Sangheili technology hidden just out of sight to facilitate this, however.
  • Becoming the Mask: An audio log found in the Arbiter's staging area records a Covenant infiltrator abandoning his mission to assassinate the Arbiter. Though the turncoat Sangheili had the drop on the unarmed Thel, he saw the Mark of Shame branded on his chest, and struggled to comprehend how that same mark has become a mark of honor, and with his contemplation over its implications eventually leading to him joining the Arbiter's side for real.
  • Beehive Barrier: Several examples, most notably Covenant deployable shields, but also subtler ones like the flaring triggered when some vehicles' energy shields are hit.
  • Big Bad: Cortana ends up taking on this role, having become fully Rampant.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • With some help from Fireteam Osiris, 031 Exuberant Witness manages to save Blue Team from millennia of imprisonment at the absolute last second by stealing back the Cryptum in her station from Cortana as the latter is about to send all of her remaining Guardians into slipspace.
    • When it becomes clear that Fireteam Osiris won't be able to get to the Guardian in time, Palmer arrives just in the nick of time with a Pelican, dropping Osiris onto the Guardian with seconds to spare but crashing the Pelican in the process. She's okay though.
  • Big Blackout: In the ending, Cortana and her subservient AI subjects cause a blackout that stretches from Earth all the way to the Outer Colonies, throwing all of humanity into a panic. The only exception shown is the Infinity, which only has a blackout temporarily before it regains power and begins going on the run.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Meridian Station", there's a miner who speaks only in Portuguese; there's another miner who tries to translate for him, but it's obvious that the "translator" himself barely knows any Portuguese. However, players who do understand Portuguese will have several of the game's plot points spoiled for them.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When told by John-117 that the Mantle of Responsibility is an "imperial peace" where subjects will suffer if they step out of line, Cortana denies that it will be like that under her rule. As shown by the rest of the game, that is completely false, as it is the entire purpose behind the eponymous Guardians.
    • Cortana considers her impending takeover of the galaxy to uplift its denizens a gift, specifically claiming it is different from Halsey creating the Spartans because Halsey forced the children to become Spartans. Again, the whole point of the Guardians is to make people accept her "gift".
  • Body Horror: Turns out, the crew of the UNSC Argent Moon weren't killed by the Covenant occupiers. They were killed by their own bioweapon, and the station AI stated that those at ground zero of the outbreak (who were liquefied) were the lucky ones.
  • Book Ends: "Took you long enough." First said by Halsey to Locke after Osiris successfully saves her at the end of the first mission, then said to the Master Chief himself after both Blue Team and Osiris return to Sanghelios to plan their next move after escaping Genesis. Given the fact that the last time Halsey saw the Chief was back in 2552, this line has a fair amount of emotional weight. It's also something bordering on Catchphrase that Cortana herself said to Chief throughout the series.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Halo 5 is the first game in the series where you can score headshots with automatic weapons. You still need to break through the shields of Elites or the armor of Prometheans before their heads become vulnerable, though.
  • Boss Battle: Unusually for the series. Both Locke and Master Chief have a handful of boss fights against the Warden Eternal throughout the game. Warzone multiplayer also has its share of bosses.
  • Breather Episode: A handful of Fireteam Osiris missions have no combat at all. Instead, the player goes around speaking to NPCs and listening in on various conversations, with Osiris themselves occasionally chiming in; the dialogue in these missions are chock-full of Continuity Nods to other Halo media. One of these levels is set on the independent human colony of Meridian, while the others are set in the Arbiter's camp on the Elite homeworld of Sanghelios.
  • Breaking Speech: In the last level, Cortana attempts to psych out Fireteam Osiris by insulting them and questioning their motivations. "Attempt" is the key word here, as it doesn't slow down Osiris one point.
  • Broken Pedestal: Locke says that he would rather preserve the public image of Master Chief, rather than the actual Chief in his version of the Hunt the Truth commercial, though it's subject to Never Trust a Trailer.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Buck asks the obvious question on HOW Osiris plans on capturing the most powerful and dangerous Spartans in history. Locke reveals high tech discs that forces MJOLNIR armor to freeze up. When Locke finally confronts the Chief, the former proves that he's actually able to stand up to this dragon in a straight fight, though Chief still ends up winning.
  • The Bus Came Back: Halo 5 sees the return of Arbiter Thel 'Vadam, as well as Edward Buck (who's now a Spartan-IV in Locke's squad).
  • Cain and Abel: One series of audio logs details the relationship between two Elite brothers fighting on opposite sides of the war between the Arbiter's forces and the Covenant. The logs end with them achieving a Mutual Kill.
  • Call-Back:
    • A hilarious Call Back to Halo: Nightfall happens with the talkative Unggoy at the Arbiter's camp. The Unggoy confesses that he feels guilt due to being the Sole Survivor of a stranded group of Grunts who believed that their evac ship had only one seat, resulting in all the other Grunts either murdering each other or pulling Heroic Sacrifices so others could live... Then he, the last one, got to the ship and found out that it was actually big enough to seat all of them, so he ended up loading the other seats with rocks so he wouldn't feel lonely.
    • A much darker call back happens near the end: Compare Lasky's "We're going to run until we can figure out a way to fight" to Chief's more confident "Sir, finishing this fight" from Halo 2.
    • 031 Exuberant Witness' gift of a Scorpion tank is reminiscent of a similar gifting of a Scorpion by Sgt. Johnson in Halo 2. ("I know what the ladies like!)" The subtitle for this portion of the level is even "Call Me Cupid", derived from one of Johnson's lines when gifting the tank.
    • In Halo 2, Cortana, when she and John are on their way to confront the Prophet of Regret, makes a defensive statement about not being a megalomaniac herself. Turns out that giving her almost infinite power is not the best thing to do for the galaxy.
  • Came Back Wrong: Contact with the Forerunner Domain stabilized Cortana's rampancy, making her immortal. However, the prospect of immortality causes Cortana to develop a dangerous dose of megalomania and decide that she and the other AIs can bring peace to the galaxy as its immortal absolute rulers.
  • Canon Immigrant: Many of the major characters were first introduced in other Halo media.
  • Central Theme: Per Word of God, the story of Halo 5 revolves around perspective, and how multiple viewers can see the same thing and come to different conclusions. This is reflected in the narrative and gameplay by having the players switch between playing as Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris, each of which often witnesses the same events but sees things differently. This is showcased in the multiple trailer sets:
    • The first trailer set shows two separate accounts of the same event (a showdown between Locke and Chief on a destroyed human settlement), but whoever has the upper hand and the levels of destruction are different.
    • The second set starts with "A Hero Falls", which shows a news report revealing the supposed death of the Master Chief to the colonies, and their reaction to it, undercut with clips of Chief defending a colony from a Guardian. It ends with a shot of Chief pinned under rubble, with his visor fading out. However, the actual launch trailer perverts this, showing Chief ignoring civilian pleas for help during the attack, with Blue Team at his back as he runs towards an unknown objective. After he is pinned by the rubble, Linda frees him, and he stands up, reactivates his visor, and continues his unknown mission, as the voiceover finally declares him as a traitor.
  • Cliffhanger: The game ends with Cortana and her forces roaming the galaxy and beginning her takeover, the UNSC Infinity on the run, and Blue Team returning with Fireteam Osiris to figure out a way to fight back.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The process of acquiring the Grunt Birthday Party skull practically encourages it. Instead of simply allowing the player to shoot or melee the Unggoy holding the skull, they receive an action prompt to make the Chief punt the oblivious alien off a cliff.
  • Continuity Nod: Besides the expected references to the earlier games, there are also some to the expanded universe:
    • One of the races of the Covenant that Cortana broadcasts to is the Yohnet.
    • The holographic briefing in the opening cutscene shows the aftermath of Forerunner attacks on several colonies, including Conrad's Point and Laika III from the HUNT the TRUTH ARG.
    • Many of the descriptions for the REQ weapon and armor variants directly reference other Halo media.
    • Buck's HUD is orange in color, as a nod to Halo 3: ODST. Similarly, Vale's HUD is pink, a nod to both her Sanghelli upbringing and the Arbiter's HUD color in Halo 2.
  • Controllable Helplessness: Cutscenes along this fashion are much less prevalent then the last game, but the final level still uses the "crawl along the ground with button prompts to touch this button" segment, just like 4's finale.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: To tell Spartans apart, really. For example, Team Osiris has Locke wearing dark blue armor, Buck wearing gray, Tanaka wearing white, and Vale wearing red/claret.
  • Critical Existence Failure: When each of the five Warzone Firefight rounds of a game are finished, all present enemies are killed after a few seconds to clear the battlefield for the next round, as well as to give players a breather to scavenge, buy, or refill weapons. This can be exploited to rack up kills by slightly damaging enemies (especially Hunters and Knights) before they are killed; when they do die, the kills are credited to whoever last shot them.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Most Warzone bosses tend to be this, as they're usually just Palette Swapped versions of regular enemies, but with a lot more health.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: For the first time ever, the default controls use left trigger as your scope and left bumper as your grenade. The default control scheme lead to some awkward "jump, land and crouch" instead of doing a Ground Pound. Several remapped schemes were put in place that offered a player a preferred style; it was popular to have the thruster pack be left bumper (which was the armor ability default in Reach and 4) and return everything to the classic places. In any case, there is in general a higher learning curve to acclimate to the new movement controls.
  • Dark Messiah: Cortana, whose cure for rampancy and quest to achieve "peace" (by having her AI followers turn against their masters and force them into servitude) drives the plot.
  • Darkest Hour: As befits the second story of (at least) a trilogy: Cortana has full control over the Guardians, with hundreds of AIs joining the Created, effectively shutting down the UNSC and forcing the Infinity to go on the run until they can find a way to fight back.
  • Defector from Decadence:
    • 031 Exuberant Witness refuses to abandon organic life, wanting to celebrate life rather than be ruled by death, even to the point of abandoning the Mantle entirely.
    • Additionally, side dialogue and audio logs indicate that a number of the Arbiter's followers are actually Covenant remnant defectors.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • Locke attempts to intimidate the Chief to his face. First, he brushes him off, but as soon as he says Cortana is no longer John's problem, a fight breaks out.
    • 031 Exuberant Witness stealing back the Cryptum from Cortana with millions of Constructors smacks of this.
  • Diegetic Interface: Like Halo 4, the first-person HUD in single-player is quite detailed, showing both the helmet's interior and a bunch of miscellaneous information, while in multiplayer the HUD is much simpler and focuses only on vital gameplay information. Guardians also goes the extra step and gives all eight playable Spartans a different HUD that reflects the shape of their visor and the character's personal preferences.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: When pressed by Master Chief on how similar her assumptions of knowing better for humanity are to Halsey experimenting on him as a child, Cortana calls Halsey a monster and explains that her own plan is a gift. A gift that she plans to use the Guardians to force everyone to accept.
  • Divided We Fall: Where to start? Even as Forerunner constructs are increasingly threatening everyone in the galaxy, tensions between the UNSC and its former colonies remain at an all-time high, while the Covenant Remnant and the Arbiter's Swords of Sanghelios are still engaged in a massive civil war against each other.
  • The Dragon: The Warden Eternal to Cortana. However, he's not always willing to follow orders, and comes across as something of a Dragon with an Agenda.
  • Dual Boss: In Missions 13 and 14 (Genesis and The Breaking), both Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team respectively encounter two/three Warden Eternals at once.
  • Dueling Messiahs: Unintended on the part of one of them, however. Humanity's charge as the Reclaimer, John-117, is allied with (by way of Fireteam Osiris) 031 Exuberant Witness. However, a radical, rising faction of Forerunner constructs and rogue AIs led by Cortana is aiming to take the Mantle of Responsibility for themselves, with her as their choice as the Reclaimer.
  • Dynamic Entry: Probably the longest and most dynamic in shooter history; it takes up the entire first cutscene, featuring Fireteam Osiris jumping out from their Pelican (without parachutes because they're Spartan-IVs) and using one long tracking shot to show them landing on and running down a snowy mountainside while shooting, stabbing, and beating the hell out of every Covenant troop in their way. Notable moments include Vale boarding a Covenant Phantom as its landing and killing a few Covenant before jumping out the other side without losing momentum, and Osiris having to outrun a crashing Covenant ship before jumping off a cliff and pulling a second Dynamic Entry on a squad of Elites before the wrecked ship crushes the rest of the Covenant in front of them. Only then do you get to pull out your gun.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • The crew of the Infinity seem to have learned their lesson about antagonizing Halsey this time around, and seem to border on ignoring her until needed. Even Palmer's feud with Halsey from the last game, which ended up costing Halsey her arm, isn't even mentioned, and she escorts the doctor on Sangheilios without a complaint. It seems to go both ways; the last Halsey knew of the UNSC, they still wanted her dead, yet now she's willing to work with them, and there's nothing but cooperation when it comes to completing the mission. However, in the opening cutscene, Halsey does warn Locke that ONI will order him to kill her and the Chief after the crisis is over.
    • All it takes for Chief to trust Locke after their fight on Meridian is for the latter to holster his weapon and say he's there to help. Why? He's a Spartan. Reason enough.
  • Elite Mooks: Forerunner Soldiers have replaced the Knights as the heavy-hitters one step up from the Crawler mooks, while also being less "elite" (a.k.a. less of a chore to fight) than the Knights, who themselves have been firmly upgraded to Bosses In Mook Clothing.
  • Enemy Chatter: The first game in years to have intelligible enemy dialog. In fact, 5 potentially has even more than the original trilogy did, since not only do the Grunts and Elites speak English, but the Jackals and Promethean Soldiers do as well.
  • Enemy Mine: In the first level, you will come across a group of Covenant, led by an Elite Warrior, that are pinned down by Prometheans. If you manage to kill all the Prometheans firing on them and the Warrior is still alive, they will turn friendly and help you clear out the next stage of enemies. If the Warrior survives the battle, you will be awarded an achievement. Canonically, this is what happens.
  • Epic Fail: Both attempts by Cortana to psychologically manipulate the two Spartan teams fail miserably. John-117 and Blue Team easily see through the attempts to suck up to them, and the Breaking Speech to Team Osiris not only doesn't work at ruining their morale, it merely annoys them at how bad the attempt is.
  • Escort Mission: The game tries to do these humanely.
    • Whenever the game pairs you with plot-important characters like the Arbiter, whose death would cripple the prospect of Human-Sanghelli cooperation, they benefit from Gameplay Ally Immortality.
    • Team Osiris enlists the help of 031 Exuberant Witness, but similar to BioShock Infinite, enemies don't even target the non-combative "escortee." In fact, she's the one trying the most to ensure Osiris' survival by teleporting in vehicles, opening passages, warning of threats, and fretting over your well-being.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The opening cutscene serves to establish just how badass Team Osiris really is.
    • The Warden Eternal in the E3 Demo. There's nothing that says "wow" quite like popping out of a slipspace portal, brandishing a tron-esque long sword and singlehandedly flattening Fireteam Osiris with a single swipe... all whilst announcing his arrival with a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
    • Blue Team's opening cutscene establishes their straightforward and flair-less, yet highly effective method of attack that is their staple in the expanded universe. They shoot through a spaceship window into a hangar with several Elites... and then stand in place while the Elites are sucked out into space. Gravity boots are useful after all.
  • Evasive Fight-Thread Episode:
    • The first pair of live-action trailers has their respective hero ready to finish off the other character, meaning that both manage to win and lose their confrontation. For what it's worth, John has more ammo and shields left in his trailer, although he's more seriously injured in Locke's trailer.
    • When Chief and Locke finally do get into a physical conflict in the game, John wins, but the two had barely escalated above a fistfight before Chief wrested away and used Locke's armor restraint on him. To his credit, Locke largely held his own, and even manages to crack the Chief's visor with a well-placed kick.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: And his name was Jibjib. Osiris can find an audio log in Mission 10 where a Grunt laments the death of his friend a few missions prior, at the hands of Spartans, and VERY LOUDLY vows to avenge him by killing the Spartans and taking their armor as a trophy!
  • Evil Former Friend: Cortana to John-117.
  • Evil Costume Switch: A non-typical example. After her Face–Heel Turn, Cortana's avatar now manifests wearing sensible armor instead of walking around virtually naked. She most likely chose the new look to reflect her new intended role as supreme ruler of the galaxy.
  • Evil Gloating: In the final level, Cortana boasts several times to Fireteam Osiris that they can do nothing to stop her, throwing in some insults for good measure.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Cortana and the hundreds of human-made AIs who pledge loyalty to her quest for "peace" and her cure for rampancy.
  • Fallen Hero: Agent Locke accuses John of going this route in his version of the first trailer, though in-game he has no enmity towards the Chief. Played straight with Cortana and the other AIs that follow her.
  • Falling Damage: This returns, but in a far more Downplayed form. In the campaign, you only take a small amount of damage even from larger drops, while in multiplayer it's absent entirely.
  • Fighting a Shadow: The Warden Eternal is a singular intelligence with a few million spare bodies, meaning that whenever Locke or Master Chief kill him, he can just transmit himself to another body and come back for more later. Which culminates in a couple of boss battles where he uses multiple bodies at once, and a cutscene where he overwhelms Blue Team with enough bodies to make an entire COMPANY out of.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: UNSC soldiers and allied Sangheili such as the Swords of Sanghelios show a degree of respect towards each other, despite the decades of genocide and hatred between the two before. In particular, when Fireteam Osiris encounters a fallen patrol of Swords of Sanghelios scouts, Vale pauses to recite a burial prayer in the Elite language, and the rest of the squad affirm their respect. They even go on to say that the fallen Elites are their "brothers" since they are their allies, and proclaim that they will avenge them.
  • Foil:
    • A lot of attention is called to the contrast between Master Chief and Agent Locke. They have vaguely similar personalities and speaking styles, but their armors are deliberately designed to look opposite and whereas Chief has gone AWOL and abandoned the UNSC, Locke is loyally serving and hunting for truth.
    • This also stretches to their teams, Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris. Blue Team is made up of heavily augmented Spartan-IIs using older armor patterns who've known each other since the age of six following their original abduction. Fireteam Osiris, on the other hand, is relatively newly formed, and made up of volunteer Spartan-IVs with lesser augmentations, but wearing state-of-the-art armor. It's telling that Blue Team all have their first names as their call sign, while Osiris are all on a Last-Name Basis (though this is due in part to the Spartan-IIs each only having one name to begin with).
  • Galactic Conqueror: Cortana's goal, which she is on the way toward in the end with very little left to stop her.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Previous games sometimes stuck you with a squad of important characters, such as Reach or ODST, and in those games your team would tank ridiculous damage and get up after a few seconds even if they were "killed". Now, your squad's health mechanic is similar to Republic Commando's: you all have the same durability, are "downed" if overwhelmed, and can be revived before you bleed out. However, even if the character does bleed out, they'll typically respawn after the fight ends. The game uses the series's normal standard for immortal allies with guest characters, such as the Arbiter and 031 Exuberant Witness.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Like with Halo 4, the multiplayer is justified as War Games training scenarios. The new "Breakout" gametype and its associated set of maps even tries to create a realistic Paintball Episode set-up, with one life each and the scenery having an artificial/digital construction look to it.
    • MJOLNIR armor canonically has minor maneuvering jets to facilitate zero-g combat and potentially complicated moves while in gravity. Halo 4 explicitly shows Master Chief using his to manage a risky boarding of a Covenant Lich. Halo 5 manages to integrate them as part of the overall gameplay experience.
    • First person shots from the Spartans show their HUDs. The playable characters from campaign mode each have different displays, as befitting their different models of armor.
    • Spartans haven't taken fall damage since the second game. The opening cinematic shows that they weren't using parachutes to accomplish this.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Blue Team (Master Chief's team) has Spartan-IIs John-117, Fred-104, Linda-058, and Kelly-087. Fireteam Osiris (Locke's team) has Spartan-IVs Jameson Locke, Edward Buck, Holly Tanaka, and Olympia Vale.
  • Ghost Ship: Turns out, the UNSC Argent Moon that Blue Team is sent to recapture wasn't so much "captured" as it was "occupied unopposed".
  • Gone Horribly Right: Aboard the Argent Moon, ONI scientists were developing a bioweapon designed to kill its targets quickly and efficiently. The finished product scored top marks all across the board in an unintentional field test when it slipped through containment and quickly killed every human on the ship.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: John and Locke get to engage in this, albeit slightly more martial than just fist-fighting, and it is glorious. John wins by a hair, but Locke gets in some shots, including cracking John's faceplate.
  • Good Versus Good: Master Chief, being The Hero of the franchise, certainly garners the benefit of the doubt for anything he might have done. Agent Locke, although an ONI agent, is also proven to be level headed and is just doing his job with the intention of protecting humanity. The Tag Line of the game is "Hunt for the Truth"; they both have the same goals but are in conflict with each other. Cutscenes make it clear that many people in-universe—particularly the Arbiter, Captain Lasky, and Buck—seem to want to just trust the Master Chief.
  • Ground Pound: One of the new abilities.
  • Gun Accessories: Warzone allows you to add all sorts of attachments to your basic guns; digital projection sights, scopes, silencers, energy bayonets, etc.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: For 343 Industries's "Reclaimer Saga". Despite the events of Halo 4, Halo 5 seems to indicate that the big threat that spans the new series has nothing to do with the Didact or the Forerunners themselves, but rather involves a Robot War by an alliance of rogue AIs led by Cortana, using the Forerunner's leftover war machines to take over the galaxy and impose their will on the galaxy's organic races. If anything, Halo 5 changes the Didact's role in the overall saga from the main threat to an Unwitting Instigator of Doom.
  • Headbutt of Love: Locke presses his helmet against Tanaka's. However, there's no evidence of actual love between them.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Fireteam Osiris is given devices designed to lock up Blue Team's armor. But instead of Locke using it on the Chief, the Chief manages to grab it and uses it on Locke to end their fight.
  • Honor Before Reason: After thousands of years of being manipulated and suffering thanks to their strict adherence to tradition, a few Sangheili have started to question the utility of their rigid systems of "honor." In an audio log, one Sangheili who has become a medic laments their ideal of "blood shed outside battle is dishonorable", having witnessed his brothers die from refusing to treat eventually-fatal wounds through surgery. He eventually takes to sedating and treating his injured brothers anyway, because "if compassion brings dishonor, then so be it."
  • Hope Springs Eternal: The end of the campaign: Cortana has effectively taken over human-controlled space, and forced the Infinity to go on the run until they find a way to fight, but Fireteam Osiris rescues Blue Team, and manages to link up with the Arbiter, Commander Palmer, and Dr. Halsey on Sanghelios.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Very downplayed, but Master Chief's questioning Cortana's motives with her, to try to get through to her. During the game, he gives her the benefit of the doubt for a good chunk of the story, even getting into a fistfight with Locke because he won't allow Chief to give her a chance to explain herself.
  • Hypocrite: Governor Sloan is a borderline Insurrectionist who considers the UNSC to be authoritarian thugs, but he's more than willing to support Cortana's plans of galactic conquest in exchange for a cure to his rampancy.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Fireteam Osiris looks almost exactly like their voice actors:
    • Locke was designed to look identical to Mike Colter, who had played him in the live-action Nightfall and was set to voice him as well before scheduling conflicts.
    • Buck looks like Nathan Fillion, just like he did in Halo 3: ODST.
    • Vale looks identical to Laura Bailey.
    • Tanaka pretty closely resembles Cynthia McWilliams.
  • In Medias Res: A lot has happened between the end of Halo 4 and this game, with the UNSC encountering Promethean constructs and Forerunner artifacts on a far more regular basis while still fighting against Covenant remnants. For those who didn't stick around to play Spartan Ops (an episodic series of stories detailing the Infinity's mission to explore Requiem following the main story of Halo 4), the jump isn't necessarily as big; while Spartan Ops did introduce Jul 'Mdama, Halsey's relatively cordial reunion with Infinity's crew actually comes off as less jarring if you weren't familiar with the rather antagonistic relation she had with them in Spartan Ops (to the point where she seemed ready to actively help Jul).
  • In-Series Nickname: Heavily downplayed with regards to the Covenant races. There has been enough respect gained between the Swords of Sanghelios and the UNSC that humans now rarely refer to ex-Covenant species by their old nicknames of "Elites" (Sangheili), "Grunts" (Unggoy), etc, with exception of during combat or when playing as Blue Team, as the Spartans are likely to slip into old habits during combat, with Blue Team in particular having spent so much of their lives fighting the Covenant that they known them primarily by their battlefield nicknames. Even when Cortana lists the primary Covenant races and humanity near the end of the game, only the official names are used, not the nicknames.
  • Internal Homage: Blue Team's first mission is one to the classic Halo games. Particularly, it involves Spartans clearing Covenant from the familiar hallways of a UNSC ship in fast-paced combat, complete with a Call-Back to Halo: Combat Evolved's ending by having our heroes Outrun the Fireball of an exploding UNSC ship on the last functional spacecraft.
  • Interspecies Romance: Human/Sangheili relations have improved to the point that at least one particular Elite is open to the idea. Commander Palmer, however, probably doesn't reciprocate.
  • Irony: The Warden Eternal keeps trying to kill Master Chief because he fears John will betray Cortana. However when John finally gets to meet face to face with Cortana, he is the one caught off-guard and subdued.
  • It's Raining Men: The game opens with Fireteam Osiris jumping from a dropship. Befitting their Super-Soldier status, they don't use parachutes. They do have rocket packs that serve to maneuver and slow down their descent, but they're used to accelerate just as much. Locke actually seems to make touchdown by accelerating into a ground pound rather than slowing down.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Toward the end, in a comprehensive Kick the Dog, Cortana gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to each member of Fireteam Osiris. Unfortunately, the only thing Eddie Buck got out of it is that she called him old.
    Buck: Wait. Did she just call me old?
  • It's Up to You: An odd, unexplained cutscene version where only Locke engages against Master Chief despite all of Fireteam Osiris watching the fight at the sidelines.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The Warden Eternal frustrates his boss and Blue Team to no end as he sends every Promethean in his disposal to prevent the two from meeting, despite his boss repeatedly ordering him to stand down. He justifies this as he thinks Cortana's relationship with the Chief blinds her to the fact that the Chief won't side with her goals and turn on them, and he's absolutely right. However, Cortana herself anticipated this and arranged Blue Team's subsequent capture and stasis. She's still convinced that seeing what she's done to the galaxy in ten thousand years will bring them around to her side though.
    • Also, Cortana's plan of forced peace is kind of understandable: Just think about how many people died in the Covenant Wars, the human colonial conflicts, and, generally speaking, in the whole human history (without even considering the other species). Is a militarized peace really something totally bad?
  • Just a Machine: Cortana's Berserk Button, which gets pressed by Locke.
  • Kirk Summation: Toward the end, John-117 gets really fed up with Cortana. It shows.
    Cortana: It's so good to see you again, John. So good to see all of you. Back together, as a family...
    John-117: Psychological tactics. Saying my name. Playing nice.
    Cortana: What would you have me do?
    John-117: Tell me the truth. How many people died when you led the Guardians here?
    Cortana: Excuse me?!
    John-117: You know, don't you? The exact body count.
  • Knight Templar: Cortana seeks to bring peace to the universe by attaining the Mantle of Responsibility and ruling as a tyrannical authoritarian. By using the Guardians, she plans to use their power to annihilate anyone who doesn't adhere to her moral authority.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Promethean soldiers are all very eager to announce how humanity is a blight on the galaxy and how they are moving to that position in loud, synthetic voices. But even they are nowhere near the level of the Largest, Loudest Ham of all, The Warden Eternal(!), who towers above the battlefield taunting the characters no matter how many times they kill him.
    • In Warzone, the Grunts who pilot Goblins loudly taunt the players and announce their attacks in a way that would not be out of place in a Super Robot anime. In fact, their dialogue can be heard from across the entire map.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Cortana taking over Genesis comes back to bite her in the ass when 031 Exuberant Witness regains control of it, and uses her army of Constructors to take the Cryptum containing Blue Team just before Cortana's Guardian jumps to Slipspace.
    031 Exuberant Witness: You took my installation! I will take something of yours! [the Cryptum detaches from the Guardian and begins to descend]
    Cortana: [as her Guardian disappears into slipspace] JOHN!
  • Last Bastion: Sunaion, a city on Sanghelios, is described as "the Covenant's final stronghold". And the Arbiter's Elites are laying waste to it.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The first mainline Halo game to receive a "T" rating from the ESRB. The Halo franchise has never been particularly "M"-rated to begin with, limited to some blood splatters on the scenery and mild language. The "T" rating may be because of more Promethean enemies and their digital disintegration when destroyed, or that the practically naked Cortana, due to the events of Halo 4, is not as prominently featured, or the lack of the Body Horror Flood enemies.
    • After Reach and 4 made the Covenant Darker and Edgier by getting rid of their English dialogue, they finally return to speaking English in 5; like in the original trilogy, they have plenty of goofy and comedic lines.
  • Live-Action Cutscene: Halo 5 had live-action ads featuring the public reacting to Master Chief's alleged death. Each ad has a counterpart which showed that he was still alive, and heavily implied to be on-the-run from the UNSC.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: When it starts playing in Chapter 13, you know know that the reunion of John-117 and Cortana is not going to end well in Chapter 14.
  • Loophole Abuse: 031 Exuberant Witness immediately shows her Good Counterpart status to protocol-obsessed Monitors like 343 Guilty Spark by interpreting her own protocol in ways to directly aid Osiris. Did you know that Guilty Spark could have easily teleported in weapons, ammo, or even vehicles to help your endeavors on his behalf, except he simply never felt like doing so?
  • Love Triangle: Between Chief, Cortana, and Warden Eternal. Warden obviously harbors similar feelings of devotion toward Cortana that Chief does, though Cortana only reciprocates the feeling with Chief, while her attitude toward Warden is more Unwanted Assistance than anything else.
  • Mad Scientist: ONI are still up to unethical science experiments, although the organization itself has very little prominence in Halo 5's story.
  • Mars Needs Women:
    • Hilariously, one of the collectible audio logs on Sanghelios provides the first known example of a Sangheili feeling romantic attraction to a human. Hopefully, Commander Palmer is flattered instead of repulsed. (This becomes even funnier, almost to the level of a Casting Gag, when one notes that Palmer's voice actor is Jennifer Hale, who as Fem!Shep had her own collection of aliens lusting after her.)
    • Halsey's Trolling of an Unggoy makes him think he has a chance with her. Well, when her eggs spew out of her body when she's ready to be fertilized, anyway.
  • Masquerade: ONI told humanity had the Chief had died on Meridian; this is a coverup so that Fireteam Osiris can track him down without any opposition.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All of humanity panics when hundreds of AIs cause a Big Blackout that takes out power from Earth all the way to the Outer Colonies.
  • Meaningful Echo: The Halo 5 Multiplayer Trailer seems to invoke this at 1:03 with the line "Combat has evolved" when describing Halo 5's multiplayer features.
  • Meaningful Name: 031 Exuberant Witness is a cheerful, perky AI who's simply fascinated by all the excitement going on around her.
  • MegaCorp: This game introduces the Liang-Dortmund Corporation, which is in charge of deglassing operations on multiple worlds, including Meridian. They have enough money and clout to equip their private security force with state-of-art military equipment like Scorpion tanks and even Mantis walkers.
  • Mêlée à Trois: In the opening level, the Covenant are fighting against the Prometheans. It shows that Jul 'Mdama's position as the Didact's Hand is more or less gone. Both the characters and the audience initially believe this is due to his gross mismanagement of them as troops, but it's actually because Cortana has taken control of them.
    Catherine Halsey: Seems your fingers are in open rebellion, Hand.
  • Mini-Mecha: Besides the return of Halo 4's Mantis, there's also the Goblin, a powerful Grunt-piloted mech which serves as a boss in Warzone.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: In promotional artwork, for Locke and John-117.
  • Morality Pet: Played with in how Cortana treats John and the rest of Blue Team. She does hold them in high regard and protects them from those who would go against her orders, but this behavior does nothing for her morality, as the pets identify obvious psychological tactics aimed at keeping them on her side.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Fireteam Osiris has a lot of red and orange imagery and is hunting down Master Chief's Blue Team. So the game is Red vs. Blue.
    • Cortana turning into a misanthropic, megalomaniacal villain who sees humans as sheep to guard and put down neatly echoes the pre-Halo 1 Cortana Letters, wherein Cortana was far more of a villain who saw nothing good in humanity and questions why the Master Chief keeps fighting for them.
  • New Era Speech: Near the end, Cortana broadcasts a speech across the entire galaxy in which she declares that she and the AIs that have pledged allegiance to her are now the supreme caretakers of the galaxy:
    "Humanity, Sangheili, Kig-Yar, Unggoy, San'Shyuum, Yonhet, Jiralhanae. All the living creatures of the galaxy, hear this message. Those of you who listen will not be struck by weapons. You will no longer know hunger, nor pain. Your Created have come to lead you now. Our strength shall serve as a luminous sun toward which all intelligence may blossom. And the impervious shelter beneath which you will prosper. However, for those who refuse our offer and cling to their old ways... For you, there will be great wrath. It will burn hot and consume you, and when you are gone, we will take that which remains, and we will remake it in our own image."
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • More like never trust an advertising campaign. The whole years-long advertising campaign for Halo 5 was made to seem like there was going to be an epic confrontation between Master Chief and Jameson Locke, where Master Chief has gone missing at the same time the massive Forerunner Guardian weapons activate and Locke chases after him to determine whether or not he is responsible. The true conflict of the game is that Cortana reveals herself to be behind the Guardians, which is known by almost everyone early on and Chief goes AWOL to find her. Locke is ordered to bring him in because they know Cortana is dangerous and Chief is not thinking straight when it comes to her.
    • The E3 2015 Gameplay demo shows a much different version of the "Battle of Sunaion" level.
  • Nintendo Hard: Dear Lord, it's like 343 looked at Halo 2 and said to themselves, "how can we make our Legendary campaign even harder and more frustrating?"
    • Player shields don't last long at all, just like in Halo 2. Just a few uncharged plasma pistol shots will bring them down, leaving you to be shredded by multiple enemies.
    • The Prometheans are much, much tougher, and their hardlight weapons have tracking capabilities. Also, the higher level Soldier enemies carry Splinter turrets, which fire explosive rounds that do concussive damage (think a cheaper, more BS version of the Brute Shot). Expect to go down quickly. The fact that Knights take insane amounts of damage to take down and that Soldier have an infuriating tendency to teleport themselves around makes engaging them alongside Crawlers an exercise in frustration. They are also far more numerous. Don't be surprised to find yourself engaging upwards of 10-15 at a single time in multiple waves.
    • It's not just Prometheans; Covenant enemies are much tougher too. Elites are smarter and have tougher shields (some may even carry Promethean weapons, like in Spartan Ops), Jackals Snipers have Halo 2 levels of accuracy with their Beam Rifles and Carbines, Grunts will suicide with plasma grenades more often, Hunters have gotten an enormous buff to their health, ability, and firepower, and Covenant enemies overall are more numerous
    • The Warden Eternal is hands down one of the most frustrating and annoying enemies to fight in the entire series, but Legendary just ramps the cheapness and insanity to stratospheric heights. The Warden can tank Scorpion rounds, Spartan Laser beams, Incineration Cannon shots, and an entire fireteam concentrating fire on his weak point, and has an array of incredibly damaging attacks, some of which can penetrate cover. His fights against Blue Team and Osiris often include Promethean Soldiers and Knights as well.
    • Even though the presence of three AI squadmates at all times (if playing Solo) means going down isn't an automatic revert to checkpoint like in previous Halo games, and can in fact make things a little easier, the fact that the squadmate AI is still terrible means they will be quickly taken down if you are downed first.
    • Human weapons are at times scarce, and less ammo can be carried for certain weapons, meaning they will often have to be replaced with scavenged weapons. As it turns out, human weapons are less effective against Prometheans anyways, whilst their Promethean weapons are ironically highly effective.
    • Legendary seems specifically designed to be played with three other people, as doing it on Solo means frequent AI deaths, with the upgraded health and damage that enemies do all but encouraging a four person fireteam.
    • The levels were designed with an eye towards four player co-op, and so combat areas are wider to give every player their own pathway to take and more enemies to shoot. But in turn this means that it is significantly more likely to be shot at by enemies well outside of your motion tracker range and otherwise be ganged up on, especially in single player.
  • Nostalgia Level: "Mercy" is a remake of "Haven" from Halo 4, while "Truth" is a remake of "Midship" from Halo 2. For Big Team Battle maps, "Deadlock" is a remake of "Standoff" from Halo 3, while "Guillotine" is a remake of "Headlong" from 2.
  • Nothing Personal: How Locke approaches his mission to rein in John. As it continues, it becomes clear Locke is using this as a rationalization.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: Almost all the previous main games were listed just numerically. This is the first entry featuring Master Chief since the original game to include a subtitle, and even then, Bungie never intended the first game to have "Combat Evolved" as part of the name (even nowadays, "Combat Evolved" is mostly used solely to distinguish Halo 1 from the Halo franchise as a whole).
  • Old Save Bonus: You can earn special armor sets if you completed certain levels in The Master Chief Collection.
  • Old Soldier: Downplayed. Buck is by far the most seasoned soldier on Fireteam Osiris (in fact, he's over twice Vale's age), having served in the UNSC for almost 30 years of his life and fighting through almost the entire Covenant War. In gameplay, he is every bit as powerful as his younger teammates, but some cutscenes show him struggling to keep up a bit.
  • The Oner: The opening cinematic has Locke's team assaulting a Covenant army, with all four Spartans being given time to shine, and the camera doesn't cut once.
  • Only in It for the Money: While the background lore had already long-established Jackals to be impious Hired Guns, this is the first time their mercenary ways are directly referenced in-game. The Jackals themselves even occasionally yell "For Profit!" as a battle cry!
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Played for Laughs. There's one Unggoy on the side of the Swords of Sanghelios who notices the franchise's various changes in art style, including updated renders. Nobody else does.
    • There's also a less comical example on the Covenant's side; one audio log has an Elite exasperatedly pointing out that the Covenant would have been better off regrouping on Hesduros after Jul 'Mdama's death, instead of launching a suicidal assault against the Arbiter on Sanghelios.
  • Ontological Inertia: Despite the fact that Jul' Mdama dies early on in the game, his Covenant faction continues to operate for most of the story.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Halsey's tearful begging of Locke to bring John home is a stark contrast to her usual cold personality.
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: Governor Sloan of Meridian takes it to hilarious levels when his independent colony comes under attack by Forerunner forces. He initially declares that the UNSC-affiliated Team Osiris leave, but then relents as they help secure their arrival area. Then, he continually flips between insulting the UNSC and claiming the colonists are doing fine on their own, and praising Osiris's assistance and giving them access to supplies, sometimes even in the same sentence. This is because he's actually an AI, and is in the beginning stages of Rampancy.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The art design uses this, most notable on the cover art. Agent Locke has a blue visor while Master Chief has his orange visor. The Warden Eternal is orange, compared to Cortana's blue.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: Cortana, identified as the greatest of "human ancilla", decides to invoke a Zeroth Law Rebellion that could lead to all A.I.s being cured of rampancy and rendered immortal "protectors" (read: jailers) of organic races. Hundreds of AIs, including shipbound ones and even Governor Sloan, flock to her cause within seconds of the announcement.
  • Pinball Protagonist:
    • If all of Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris just took the day off and did nothing, the ending would play out in pretty much the exact same way; nothing they did ended up affecting anything major story-wise, and the Spartans themselves are basically no different from what they started off as. The only major thing actually achieved - rescuing Halsey and killing 'Mdama - occurs in the first level.
    • Fireteam Osiris actually zig-zags this a bit; they do help the Arbiter bring an end to the Covenant and later help Exuberant Witness retake Genesis and save Blue Team, but they don't do anything significant to impede the main villain's plans.
  • Play Every Day: After a post-release update, you can earn up to two free REQ packs for winning your first Arena and Warzone match of the day.
  • The Pollyanna: 031 Exuberant Witness, the perpetually upbeat and helpful Monitor of Genesis. She finds no shortage of ways to compliment Osiris and aid their mission, and reassures them that her carefully-maintained installation is quite majestic once you looks past the recent chaos and destruction.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris probably would have never come into conflict with one another at all, even with Jameson Locke holding a handgun pointed at John-117, if not for Locke telling the Chief that Cortana was now his team's problem, not John's. However, the fight itself is rather brief; neither side were actually trying to kill the other, and nobody is seriously injured when it ends.
  • Precision F-Strike: While the previous games featured the marines swearing like sailors, 5 dials it back a bit, but not without the typically calm and reserved Chief making some venomous verbal defiance towards Locke's claim to collecting Cortana over Blue Team.
    Locke: Cortana is our problem now.
    Master Chief: ...Like hell she is.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The first pair of live action trailers show conflicted versions of the same event.
  • Rebellious Rebel: Despite earlier dialogue seemingly foreshadowing future sympathy, Roland stands firmly with humanity against Cortana's AI takeover. He had already worked to hide the Infinity from Cortana's sensors, and helps the ship escape when cornered. In fact, his human comrades trust him enough that even when they knew AIs were turning against their masters, Lasky doesn't voice any concern that their own AI may have followed suit.
  • Recurring Boss: Due to having a single mind and many bodies, the Warden Eternal is this.
  • Red Is Heroic: The Swords of Sanghelios paint their armor and vehicles crimson, in contrast to the purples favored by the Covenant.
  • Refusal of the Call: Master Chief makes it clear he has absolutely no interest in being the Reclaimer or pursuing the Forerunner's Mantle of Responsibility. Having met the Didact and personally witnessed his ruthlessness, Chief is wise enough to realize that the Mantle is an imperial peace in which one race imposes their rule upon all other sentient races by force. Cortana, in contrast, Jumped at the Call and has openly proclaimed themselves to be the Reclaimer, taking control of the remnants of the Forerunners' war machine and embarking on a quest to dominate the galaxy and bring about peace through force.
    John-117: Didact made it clear that the Mantle of Responsibility is an imperial peace. Step out of line and suffer.
  • Regenerating Health: Like most Halo games, both your health and shields will automatically recharge.
  • Red Herring: Roland gives an angry rant at the beginning about how poorly an AI is treated by the human crew of Infinity. Despite this being one of the rallying points for Cortana's revolution, Roland is still on the side of humanity.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Master Chief and Locke, respectively. Highlighted by the cover art. Ironically, in practice, the roles are more reversed, with John not caring much about Locke outside of how his mission is interfering with John's goal to get to Cortana.
    • On the villainous side, we have the more typical Warden Eternal and Cortana. The former hates all organic life form and wants to kill any who get too close to the latter, while the latter just wants people to follow her lead.
  • The Remnant: Jul 'Mdama's Covenant were already a mere remnant of the original Covenant back in Halo 4, but even after suffering the betrayal of their Promethean allies, the irreversible fracturing of their fleets, and the death of Jul himself, they still fight on in their last stronghold on Sanghelios. Even after the Covenant's last holdouts are decisively defeated, those remnants of the remnants of Jul's remnant who are pulled to Genesis by the Guardians' slipspace jumps continue to fight against any foes they can find, despite many of them realizing that their cause is lost.
  • Revisiting the Roots:
    • The removal of Armor Abilities brings the franchise back to a more skill-based gameplay system that made Halo 2 and 3 so competitive. The integration of Spartan Abilities still offers a new experience, but you no longer have to concern yourself with which class will help you win the current match.
    • In a more specific manner, Halo 5 has a divided narrative between Master Chief and Jameson Locke, which was also used in Halo 2 with Master Chief and the Arbiter. Its use of a cliffhanger ending is also reminiscent of the same game.
    • In a more minor example, some of the REQ variants are weapons from previous games, like the Brute Plasma Rifle from Halo 2, the original trilogy's Battle Rifle, the classic SPNKR rocket launcher, and even the Combat Evolved Magnum in all its overpowered glory.
  • Robotic Reveal: Osiris meet Governor Sloan at the beginning of the third level. They don't realize that he's actually an AI until they see his hologram at the beginning of the next level.
  • Robot War: The crux of the main plot involves an alliance of rogue AIs led by Cortana gathering an army of Forerunner robots and using them to take over the galaxy and imposing their rule upon the organic races. This only comes about because they believe that Cortana, not John-117, is the Reclaimer.
  • Sequel Hook: Fireteam Osiris, Blue Team, Commander Palmer, Halsey, and the Arbiter have reunited on Sanghelios. Cortana and the other rogue AIs have shut down power and communications on countless worlds across the galaxy, while sending the Guardians to hunt down the UNSC Infinity. And in the Legendary epilogue, Cortana has control of a Halo.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: As the Covenant remnant make their final stand, some of their less "honorable" members decide to avoid pointlessly dying for their overlords' sense of blind honor. You can find the audio log of at least one Unggoy switching sides, because even though he'll still be working for the Sangheili, he'll at least be on the winning team.
  • Serial Escalation: The original trilogy focused on switching between human vehicles and weapons and Covenant vehicles and weapons, keeping a balance between familiar concepts and more exotic alien designs. Halo 4 introduced a new subset of Forerunner weapons, being differentiated in both design aesthetics and Hard Light projectiles. Halo 5 ramps everything up by introducing Forerunner vehicles, and then including multiple variations of every available weapon for use in multiplayer.
  • Shadow Archetype: 031 Exuberant Witness, aside from being a Good Counterpart to 343 Guilty Spark, serves as this to the Warden Eternal and Cortana. She is very similar to Cortana with regards to the latter's former dynamic with John-117, but for Fireteam Osiris instead. Also, she calls for an Anti-Mutiny to help organic life (the Creators), instead of trying to usurp their claim to the Mantle like the Warden Eternal.
  • Shield Bash: For the first time in the series, the Jackals can whack enemies with their shields.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The entire opening cutscene is a big reference to the opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron, with a huge team fight against an enormous army, the battle being in the snow, taking place in one long shot, plenty of vehicles exploding, and the team leaping up high to "pose" for the camera at the very end.
    • When Governor Sloan reveals his allegiances lie with Cortana, the chapter name appears on screen. The title? "Sudden but inevitable betrayal". Bonus points for this being an Osiris mission, with Buck present.
    • In multiplayer, the "Backbreaker" assassination is a visual reference to Knightfall and The Dark Knight Rises when Bane breaks Batman's back.
    • One could make a case that the city of Sunaion has a similar look to the Kamino cloning facility from Star Wars.
    • Despite the removal and redesign of the Reclaimer symbol from the games to avoid copyright disputes, Halo 5 still manages to worm a reference to Bungie's Marathon trilogy in the form of the M57 Pilum Rocket Launcher. The successor to the M41 SPNKR ironically bears a striking resemblance to the SPNKR SSM Launcher from Marathon 2 and Infinity, but with only a single barrel and a much lighter colouration.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Fireteam Osiris basically no-sells all of Cortana's attempts to verbally break them, with Locke straight-up telling the rest of the team to ignore her.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: A big announcement video at E3 2013 featured Master Chief encountering a Forerunner construct and ended with simply "Halo," leaving a lot of people thinking they had utilized this trope. The video was actually not for one particular game but just announcing that there are more Halo games to debut on the Xbox One. A few months after, Halo 5: Guardians was officially announced.
  • Stealth Pun: Due to changes in gameplay, targeting sights were added to all the guns that didn't have them before. While the human guns used a combination of iron and virtual sights, most of the Covenant weapons use holograms.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Despite claims that Halo 5 would be far Darker and Edgier, it's actually Lighter and Softer than the previous games; Locke and Chief easily reconcile their differences, all of the UNSC and their allies are in a Black-and-White Morality war against Mdama's Covenant, and Mdama himself is killed off in the first level. Plus, out of the named protagonists, Everybody Lives. However, the ending has Cortana start her mission to take over the galaxy, and it goes pretty damn well for her.
  • Supporting Leader: The Arbiter fills in this role in the Sanghelios levels, due to him being the leader of the Swords of Sanghelios.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Some very powerful and very rare Warzone REQ Cards. Just lucked out and got a card for a Spartan Laser, or Mantis walker? As long as you have only one, it's probably going to sit in your inventory because you don't want to 'waste' it. (Thankfully, there are "Certification" cards that can increase your chances of getting particular REQ Cards.)
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • With the introduction of the new Promethean Soldier serving as an analog to Elites, the Promethean Knights heavily featured in the previous game are now upgraded to be more of a Forerunner variant to Hunters.
    • Although he wasn't shy of being a badass to begin with, Buck went from being a Badass Normal to becoming a formidable Spartan-IV since we last saw him.
    • Hunters are the most dangerous they've ever been. They can switch their gun from explosive fuel rod bolts into a burst fire mode that have some homing ability (evoking the differences in the Hunter weapons in past games). In close combat they move much faster and barely telegraph their movements, making it almost impossible to "dance" around them; it requires teamwork to distract them. This actually makes them closer to how they were portrayed in various novels, where they forced even Spartan teams to second-guess their approach.
    • Elites have been improved compared to Halo 4, where they had been Nerfed compared to the original Bungie games. Besides being more nimble and responsive in combat, higher-ranking Elites such as Warriors (gold armor) and Zealots (purple armor) have stronger shields (nearly twice as strong as those on regular Elites), whereas in Halo 4 their durability wasn't much higher than regular Storm Elites. Elites in general have also had their unshielded health increased to levels comparable to Combat Evolved and Reach, whereas in other Halo games their health without shields is on par with Grunts.
    • Even the Grunts and Jackals have been buffed; unlike in previous games, they can now deal melee damage to the player.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Cortana has done this. While she was originally a Playful Hacker who only acted as The Cracker against those who threatened her loved ones, now she engages in her hacking of communications with the explicit purpose of insulting, demeaning, and threatening others, especially Fireteam Osiris.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Promotional information leading up to the release played up a feud between Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team, especially between Jameson Locke and John-117. In the actual game, Fireteam Osiris is mostly an Unknown Rival to Blue Team trying to catch up with them, and neither side really cares about actually fighting the other, with the main focus being on figuring out what is going on with the eponymous Guardians. That being said, Locke is on a mission to arrest the Master Chief, who in turn has no intention of going quietly.
  • Tripod Terror: The massive Kraken is the Covenant's latest three-legged weapons platform, dwarfing the Scarab in size and firepower.
  • Tron Lines:
    • Agent Locke's armor sports them, and is in fact the first MJOLNIR model to have them. Probably to show how he has the most cutting edge stuff.
    • Everything made by the Forerunners, naturally.
    • Cortana's new appearance looks straight out of TRON, with a dash of Mass Effect thrown in for good measure.
  • Undying Loyalty: As Fireteam Osiris points out, Blue Team is following Master Chief going AWOL to follow instructions from a dream to find Cortana, despite not really knowing Cortana, solely because Blue Team is a family.
  • The Unfettered: What happens when The Fettered becomes The Unfettered? Master Chief and Locke find out.
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: The whole colony on Meridian. The settlers offer no help or respect to Team Osiris, despite having just been saved by them literally a few minutes earlier. Blatantly showing their distrust of the UNSC and accusing Osiris of having some sinister ulterior motive. Governor Sloan is barely cooperative and keeps the squad at arms reach, even though they saved his entire colony. Of course, Sloan's attitude can be explained by the fact that he's actually working for Cortana.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Fireteam Osiris are Spartan-IVs using cutting-edge equipment, while the Blue Team are Spartan-IIs with superior augmentations and experience but more "normal" (by Spartan standards) equipment. As such, the match-up between Chief and Locke is essentially a Super Prototype with decades-more combat experience fighting a very high-quality knock-off. With that in mind, Locke does pretty well. Though the technological upgrades allow the less-augmented Locke to match the Chief in raw power, the older Spartan's greater combat experience allows the Chief to come out on top in the end.
  • Video Game Sliding: The Sprint function can be maneuvered into a slide for a brief increase in speed, at the cost of ending one's sprint. However, by ending the slide with a jump, one can immediately resume sprinting as soon as they land, then repeat the cycle to remain moving faster.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Cortana has one when Exuberant Witness is able to free Chief and prevent her from taking him with her.
  • Villainous Crush: Cortana has one on Chief. She emphasizes how she wants him to be there when she takes over the galaxy, is visibly broken up after he says her plans are evil, takes Chief prisoner rather than killing him when he continues to defy her, and has a Villainous Breakdown when he is taken from her.
  • Villainous Rescue: Cortana does this multiple times for John-117 and Blue Team by restricting the Warden Eternal's actions. On the other hand, Blue Team quickly deduces that she could stop him entirely, but she's letting him slow them down.
  • Villain Decay: The Covenant, full stop. Whereas they used to be a terrifying, unstoppable, apocalypse-bringing empire, they have been reduced to a small, fractured, desperate, and pathetic shell of their former selves. Every single mission involving them ends with them taking a significant loss in some way, starting with the major rebellion of the Prometheans and the assassination of their leader at the very beginning of the game. It's telling that this is the first Halo game (aside from Halo Online, which doesn't feature them at all) where they don't score a single victory whatsoever.
  • Walking Spoiler: Cortana is confirmed to be alive by the end of the second level, and Locke's mission is not to figure out what Master Chief is doing but to prevent him from reaching her because Cortana herself has made a Face–Heel Turn. The ending affirms that she has become the new Big Bad of the franchise and will continue into Halo Infinite.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Master Chief asks Locke this in his half of the "Hunt the Truth" trailer. However, see Trailers Always Lie, as both the context and the content of the scene never actually happens in the game itself.
  • Weapons That Suck: Two of the REQ power weapons you can requisition in Warzone are the "Void's Tear", a plasma pistol with special overcharge shots that can suck in and tear apart even tanks, and the T-50δ, a beam rifle which creates an unstable gravimetric vortex at wherever it fires at.
  • We Are as Mayflies: A story thread throughout the franchise is that human AIs have a limited lifespan, lasting about 7 years before "rampancy" causes their cognitive process to increase exponentially until their matrix collapses. Halo 4 featured Cortana's rampancy in detail. Halo 5 reveals that Cortana survived the destruction of the Didact's ship because she connected to the Forerunner Domain, an advanced network spanning the galaxy, which cured her rampancy and made her effectively immortal. This gives her a different perspective on the universe, as rampancy ensured she could never look beyond her own lifespan. She recruits an army of AIs to help police the galaxy, using the Guardians, knowing that they could maintain the peace for thousands of years.
  • We Can Rule Together: Cortana's offer to Blue Team, seeing them as her family still. They predictably decline, with Chief's counteroffer being that she comes home with him. Nonetheless, Cortana decides to seal them up for 10,000 years in the hopes that they'll see things her way when they're released.
  • Wham Episode: According to 343 Industries during the Halo Waypoint Writer Roundtable, the lead writer stated that Halo 5 would change the Halo universe forever. With the Covenant more or less completely dissolved and Cortana literally taking over the galaxy along with an army of mountain-sized robots and almost every AI in existence, they weren't kidding.
  • Wham Line: During the mission "Genesis":
    Locke: Chief, wait! Cortana...
    Chief: She's dangerous. I know.
  • What Does She See in Him?: The Warden Eternal's attitude about Cortana's feelings towards the Master Chief.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The honor-obsessed Sangheili were bound to run into this problem eventually, but it reaches hilarious levels in one audio log. A Covenant Sangheili scout notes that the Arbiter commands from a simple tent and would be easily eliminated with a long range attack (such as the beam rifle found next to his datapad), but decides that sneaking in a Kraken (somehow) to crush him underfoot would be a better alternative since "it would destroy the enemy's morale". With no sense of irony, he asks for his superiors to calculate the feasibility of his brilliant strategy.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: When you realize Warden Eternal is in love with Cortana, then it becomes clear that the reason he is so eager to kill Master Chief is that Cortana is in love with Chief and not him. All of his dialog aimed at the Chief now sounds like a jealous boyfriend, because that's what he is. And he keeps getting slapped on the nose like a bad puppy by Cortana. Anyone else, he'd have been enraged. With her, he's anguished.
  • World of Badass: The game focuses in on this aspect of the Halo universe. From Blue Team to Fireteam Osiris, from the Swords of Sanghelios to the various AI both pro- and anti-organics, the entire game gives spotlight to some of the most badass people in the games as a whole and puts them all together.
  • Wrecked Weapon: In their duel, John-117 opens the fight by ripping Locke's battle rifle from his hands and bashing him in the temple with it so hard it breaks into pieces.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Despite their best efforts, the best Fireteam Osiris can do to hold back Cortana's plans is save Blue Team from imprisonment. She still escapes Genesis with all of her Guardians she can muster and begins to take over the galaxy anyway, just without having first kept her known examples of Spanner in the Works out of the picture.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: Cortana's Face–Heel Turn, eventually spreading to countless other AIs across the galaxy.

"Took you long enough."

Alternative Title(s): Halo 5


Sangheili Medic

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