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Video Game / Halo: Reach

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Remember where it all began. Remember Reach.note 

"Not gonna lie to you, Lieutenant - you're stepping into some shoes the rest of the squad would rather leave unfilled. Me, I'm just happy to have Noble back up to full strength. Just one thing - I've seen your file, even the parts the ONI censors didn't want me to. Glad to have your skillset. But we're a team. That lone wolf stuff stays behind. Clear?"

Halo: Reach is a First-Person Shooter which also happens to be the final Bungie-produced Halo game, released September 14, 2010. It is a prequel to the original trilogy, dealing with the events described in the Expanded Universe novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. It follows a group of SPARTAN-IIIs (and one SPARTAN-II) called NOBLE Team. You take on the role of the newest addition, Noble Six, as you fight through the fall of the eponymous human colony. It has a completely new engine (unlike Halo 3: ODST) and is Darker and Edgier (700,000,000 people die on Reach, and you can't change that). The game is also structured more as a war film, as opposed to the Space Opera-esque original trilogy.

Like ODST, the gameplay hearkens back to the days of Halo: Combat Evolved; there is no Guns Akimbo, and health (unlike shields) will not fully recharge without a health pack. However, weapons have received an extensive overhaul, and a major new feature is the Armor Abilities, individual upgrades that allow you to access specific abilities such as Active Camouflage, Sprint, Evade, Armor Lock and a Jetpack. There is also a great deal of customization; the cosmetic changes you make to your personal Noble Six will transfer into the campaign, and you have direct control over almost every aspect of a potential multiplayer match (including a heavily revamped Forge mode).

Until 2019, it was the only Xbox 360-era game in the main Halo series not to be included in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection compilation for the Xbox One. In December of that year, Reach was added to the collection and was the first part of the MCC to be ported to the PC.

Halo: Reach provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: As New Alexandria gets evacuated in the eponymous mission, so does the hospital. It's now overrun by Covenant who have set up a communication jammer needing to be destroyed.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books written by Eric Nylund, it is stated that it was impossible for outsiders to tell a female Spartan from a male one in full MJOLNIR armor (this is backed up by both Red and Omega Teams in Halo Wars and guest fighter Nicole-458 from Dead or Alive 4). Then Reach comes along and gives Kat and Female Noble Six Hartman Hips and shapely figures; this seems to have been the first step in a full-out Retcon, judging by the physiques of Spartans in post-Reach media. From a Doylist perspective, it's also because there'd be little point in having customizable player gender if one could not tell guy and girl apart. From a Watsonian perspective, it's been stated that Noble Team wore heavily modified MJOLNIR armor which came from a somewhat different group of manufacturers than the Spartan-IIs' own armor.
  • A Day in the Limelight: When you play the co-op campaign, player 2 is absent from cutscenes and technically doesn't exist in Halo canon. But if at the Lone Wolf level, player 2 survives longer than player 1, they get the final death scene instead... Of course, if you're playing over Live, this is where the game glitches out, picking a white helmet at random and showing it on everyone else's screens in the final cutscene. They also get an action figure.
  • Alien Sky: Almost every view from the surface of the planet makes it clear that this is not Earth, as it features two moons and a very hazy blue fog. Because it is a human colony and the place you are trying to defend, it is atypically "friendlier" than most uses of this trope.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted. This is a throwback to Halo: Combat Evolved, where the aliens didn't speak English (aside from the Plucky Comic Relief Grunts), making them much scarier as a result. Even the Grunts are scary little creatures this time around. Exactly one alien, the Dreaming Grunt, has any English lines at all. It's only for a joke, obviously.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The Limited and Legendary Editions of the game come with Dr. Halsey's journal (co-written by Expanded Universe godfather Eric Nylund), which is a goldmine of information on the specific details and adds plenty of additional fuel for Wild Mass Guessing; the evolution of the MJOLNIR armor, the progress of the Spartan Program (including the differences between SPARTAN-IIs and IIIs), key figures of the modern UNSC meeting for the first time, development of AI technology, newspaper articles on other battles in the Covenant war, examination of Forerunner ruins... the works.
    • One key detail from the game itself that the journal expands upon: the Cortana that Six took to the Pillar of Autumn was in fact a fragment of the original Cortana, a sub-divided incarnation who had been spending months translating Forerunner text while the main Cortana was with Master Chief. They were merged back together shortly after the game ends. In addition, it's implied that Cortana had specifically translated information on the location of the first Halo ring and she took the Autumn there on purpose.note 
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not made clear exactly who the militia members that Jun and Noble Six team up with are (are they legit Colonial Militia, an informal citizen defense force, random gun nuts, or straight up Insurrectionists forced into an Enemy Mine against the bigger threat?). What is clear is that they disobeyed an evacuation order to protect their turf from the Covenant and that they are somehow in possession of some extremely high-powered (and illegal) military-grade weapons.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: The Energy Sword and Gravity Hammer, which have limited charges but cannot be reloaded, as well as the multiplayer only Golf Club.
  • And This Is for...:
    • Emile will say this for Kat and (less commonly) Jorge while manning a MAC gun against Banshees and Phantoms in the final level.
    • Soldiers will occasionally say "This is for Harvest!" in combat.
    • An achievement for avenging a teammate's death is called "This is For Jenkins!"
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Doing just about anything gets you Credits to spend on armor pieces/effects, as well as new combat commentary in Firefight.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: During "New Alexandria", if you get trapped on a rooftop with your Falcon destroyed, you have the ability to call in a new one to fly to your location.
  • Anti-Grinding:
    • There is a cap on the number of Credits you can earn per day, and the "cR" earned by a specific action go down the more it is done, based mostly on the rank of the Commendation(s) it relates to. The first time the Credit cap was hit (repeatedly by numerous people in the same way), one of the Bungie forum mods implied the guys hitting it were cheaters. Turns out they were playing Gruntpocalypse. Cue rumours of Bungie saying repeatedly playing the same gametype is cheating up until one of the Bungie staff members said that repeatedly playing your favorite gametype or checkpoint was perfectly legal.
    • If you're playing completely offline, you can ignore the above, as you gain around 1.1 Credits per second of gameplay (and nothing you do affects this rate), and it is truncated at the end of a session. When you take your Spartan online, however, you will be ranked down to a predetermined cap (if you're over it).
    • The initial online level cap was Lt. Colonel Grade 3, but the cR you earn continues to count towards your next rank despite the fact that you can't see your progress. Players jumped several ranks once the cap was lifted.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The whole game, to a certain extent. The bonus materials in the Legendary Edition present it exactly as such.
  • Art Evolution: Compared to the original Halo trilogy, this game features a noticeably muted color palette to better resemble war footage, with environments either weathered with time or in the process of being destroyed compared to the more carefully maintained environments. The Mjolnir armor and its' variants shown in previous games were designed to be very slim, form-fitting and self-contained. This game shows them with a number of tactical additions including raised shoulder pauldrons, ammo belts, supply pouches and tech add-ons. The In-Universe explanation is they are heavily modified from the standard, with Halsey even saying with contempt "What have you done to my armor?"
  • Artifact Title: There isn't a Halo ring in sight for the main campaign; however, one does appear in Forge World, and the Pillar of Autumn is shown flying toward Installation 04 right before the credits.
    • Played for laughs once the game became part of The Master Chief Collection. Spotting the Chief in his very brief cameo (see Easter Egg) unlocks the Achievement "Collection Eligibility Confirmed", with the description "See he is in the game..."
  • Artificial Limbs: Kat's right arm is actually a robotic replacement. You can also get one for your own Spartan, once ranked up enough, by buying one of 3 chest pieces.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Your allies will completely ignore anything that's further than about 100 meters away from them. This does not apply to your enemies, who will happily shoot at anything even clear across the map. This is most glaringly obvious in the vehicle sections on Legendary difficulty, in which your turret gunner will sit around picking his nose while Ghosts blast at your vehicle from long range.
  • Artistic License – Space: In addition to imported species thanks to human terraforming, Reach is depicted as having some pretty noticeable native creatures, such as the ostrich-like moa and the massive killer primate-things, the Gutas. The problem is that Epsilon Eridani, Reach's parent star, is only about 800 million years old at most. Reach probably shouldn't have any native life yet (or at least nothing more advanced than primitive single-celled things). Possibly Hand Waved by the presence of Forerunner structures, implying they introduced non-native species at some point.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • In response to friendly fire, some Troopers will yell, "Don't make me teabag you!"
    • One of the industrial companies used as scenery is named the 'BXR Mining Corporation', which is a reference to the infamous BXR button combination from Halo 2, where scoring a melee hit (B), cancelling the animation by pressing the reload button while your magazine is full (X), and then firing with the Battle Rifle (R) was a virtually guaranteed kill.
    • In the Master Chief Collection version of the game, you can have a fireteam soldier with the call sign "DUST" named "N. Echoes", a reference to the "Dustin Echoes" Lady Mondegreen from Combat Evolved.invoked
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • People who paid for the pimped-out Legendary Edition of Reach got a bonus "Flaming Head" armor effect for bragging rights... and discovered how a flaming helmet is synonymous with a bulls-eye.
    • Really, all the armor effects have this problem, as running around electrified or announcing your death with birthday confetti does wonders for the enemies' kill scores. Does cheer you up, though. Yay!
    • The assassinations may look cool, but they can be cancelled if you're killed, and you can have your kill stolen in the middle of performing one.
  • Ax-Crazy: Emile, mildly; he's the only one of Noble Team to carry a melee weapon (and a pretty big one at that), and he's the only one who screams threats at the enemy when he dies. Background materials reveal that Noble even has a seventh member on standby, who acts as a substitute for Emile when deployed on counterinsurgency operations because Emile is overly aggressive towards insurgents.
  • Back Stab: While basic Assassinations remainnote , if you hold the melee button behind an enemy, a short animation actually shows you stabbing (or otherwise killing) the target. These animations are quite detailed, with the specific animation chosen accounting for whether you are a Spartan or an Elite, what enemy type you are attacking, what part of the body you were aiming for, your elevation in relation to the target, and whether you were in mid-air when you initiated the attack. You're not invincible while doing so, and other players can kill you to cancel it,note  which makes successfully performing a fully executed Assassination a bit of a humiliation move.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Downplayed. No matter how much effort the UNSC puts into defending Reach, in the end, the Covenant glasses the planet. Fortunately for you, your efforts do allow the last hope for humanity to escape, ultimately leading to the Covenant's defeat.
  • Badass Boast:
    Emile: Sir, you don't have the firepower.
    Carter: [calmly] I have the mass.
  • Beehive Barrier: The Drop Shield Armor Ability, based on a similar item from Halo 3, except now it recharges your shields and health but isn't 100% impervious to damage while active.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The entire campaign is about a team of six elite cyborg soldiers running around a doomed planet pulling progressively Bigger and more Damned Heroics until sacrificing themselves so Master Chief can be the Big Damn Hero for the rest of the war.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The game is Doomed by Canon since it takes place during the Battle of Reach. Also because no one on Noble Team, except Jun, survives the game. The only thing that keeps this from being an outright Downer Ending is the fact you got Cortana off-world, and Reach itself becomes a pristine, green world again... 34 years after the events of Halo 3.
  • Black Speech: The Covenant species no longer play the Aliens Speaking English trope straight anymore (not even the Grunts) and this trope is in effect in its place. A canny player might pick out a few recognizable words that are used in other contexts. Particularly, the proper names of various Covenant species and their respective homeworlds can be heard in the enemy combat dialogue. For example, this is a Rousing Speech given by an Elite commander during the "Deliver Hope" commercial.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted, as Emile, who is revealed to be black in concept art, is the last of the non-playable members of Noble Team to die.
  • Blatant Lies: Kat uses this, dripping with sarcasm, when she says she wouldn't know anything about where to find the resources necessary for the plan she just thought up, the secret program denied by three successive administrations, or whatever experience Noble Six may have had in said program.
    • They tell you that the large Tyrant-class AA guns are completely invulnerable on the outside. This is an outright lie, as a great many speedrunners and vets alike know that it IS in fact vulnerable and can be destroyed from the outside, the rear-end of the gun's turret is especially vulnerable to concentrated heavy weapons fire.
  • Book Ends:
    • For the Bungie-developed Halo games as a whole:
      • The last full level of the game is titled "The Pillar of Autumn", the same as the first level of the first game.
      • The credits sequence is of Captain Keyes talking to Cortana as the Pillar Of Autumn flies towards an alien ring.
    • Noble Six's damaged helmet is the first and last thing seen in the campaign.
    • The player's control of Noble Six begins and ends with the respective donning/removal of their helmet. As a Rewatch Bonus, players will notice in the beginning the mountain seen at the end of the game is intact; it had part of it gouged out during the glassing of Reach. Even though it's a Wound That Will Not Heal, it recovers its ice-tapped glacier and natural beauty anyway.
    • At the beginning of the game, Carter warns Noble Six to leave their "lone wolf" behavior at the door. The final level of the game is called "Lone Wolf", and has Noble Six completely and utterly alone against the hordes of Covenant aiming to kill them.
  • Border Patrol: This game introduces boundaries that give you ten seconds to return to the level before killing you. Height boundaries, too, where the warning appears if you fly too high in a Jetpack, and also while standing on the rooftops of some buildings in multiplayer/Firefight, most likely to stop campers with Sniper Rifles.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The Covenant Plasma Pistol, due to its commonality, high damage, and a slight retool, gains its greatest affinity with this trope since the first game. Most classes of Elite in multiplayer will spawn with one.
    • The Assault Rifle has been given a small but nice boost in power and especially accuracy, and an awesome new look. At times, you may find yourself turning down the shotgun or magnum for the assault rifle.
    • The Sprint armor ability is arguably the default armor ability, as it is the one players always start with on every campaign level and is present in virtually every multiplayer mode, including those which disable other armor abilities. It simply gives a player some additional running speed for a short duration and recharges in a similarly short amount of time. While it might lack the flash and uniqueness of other armor abilities, the option to quickly close to point-blank range, move swiftly between cover, or beat a hasty retreat makes it arguably one of the most versatile and useful abilities. In fact, Sprint was the most commonly used armour ability; when people turn down jet packs so that they can run faster, you know this trope is what's happening. This is the reason why subsequent Halo games have Sprint as a default ability that doesn't need to be specifically equipped because 343 Industries knew the same thing would happen otherwise.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing:
    • Elite Generals. They've got double the shields and about 50% more health compared to a regular Elite, requiring on Normal difficulty almost a full mag of assault rifle fire to drop their shields plus an additional half a mag to kill them. They also frequently carry concussion rifles or fuel rod guns. Zealots might count as actual bosses too, since there are only three encounters with them in the game (one of which has them backing up the Field Marshal).
    • Brute Chieftains first appear from the second act onwards and are spread thin for the remainder of the game. Their shields are only slightly stronger than those of an Elite, but they've got tons of health and take a good 3 dozen rounds of assault rifle fire to kill even after their shields are brought down, and carry heavy weapons such as gravity hammers, fuel rod guns, plasma cannons, or plasma launchers. They are, however, slightly less tanky when compared to their counterparts from Halo 3.
    • Hunters, as usual, count too; in fact, they're even more powerful than they were in the original trilogy.
    • The Elite Field Marshal, the only one in the campaign mode, is the closest thing the game has to an actual antagonist. He appears a total of three times (primarily during cutscenes), and when you finally face him, he's a particularly tough enemy to kill (his stats are about the same as an Elite General, though he has slightly more health and carries both a fuel rod gun and an energy sword). He's also backed up by Zealots.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: One of the Firefight voices is the Master Chief. If you preview his voice, one of the phrases the Chief says is "Did ya miss me?"
  • Broken Bridge: A literal example is in the mission "Tip of the Spear". Once completing the local objective, a Pelican flies by and drops a temporary spanning platform across such a bridge, allowing the player to continue with the mission. Justified in that said local objective was to take down a Covenant anti-air cannon that was preventing your air support (like the Pelican that fixes the bridge) from getting close.
  • Broken Faceplate: A few examples:
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • A spiritual version with Armor Abilities, which were actually first seen years ago in Red vs. Blue (the Halo 2 era), of all places, where each Freelancer operative had a unique special ability permanently integrated into their armor. Tex had invisibility, York had regeneration, and Wyoming had the Game-Breaker power of space-time manipulation. These Armor Abilities and the AIs used to run them were what distinguished Project Freelancer from its rival, the SPARTAN programs. However, neither Bungie nor Rooster Teeth have claimed Red vs Blue as the inspiration for the feature.
    • Dr. Catherine Halsey has been a major character in the Halo Expanded Universe since its very beginning, as both the creator and director of the SPARTAN-II program as well as one of the leading human experts on the Forerunners. Reach marks the first time she's ever appeared in any game, almost a decade after her debut in Halo: The Fall of Reach.
    • Likewise, the idea that Cortana is an AI clone of Dr. Halsey, which was never contradicted by any game but is first established in The Fall of Reach, is finally confirmed by having Jen Taylor do voice-acting for both of them (as well as by Halsey's journal).
    • Most of Noble Team's members are themselves technically this, as the SPARTAN-III program was originally introduced in the 2006 novel Halo: Ghosts of Onyx.
    • Gamma-One and Gamma-Five from the radio conversation Easter Eggs are revealed to be Marine Lieutenants Jake Chapman and Buckman, who were originally mentioned in Halo: First Strike.
  • Call-Back: Most of the achievements reference quotes from the rest of the series.
    • Hell, most of the level chapter names reference quotes and chapters from other games. For example:
      • The second chapter of "The Silent Cartographer" in Halo is called "It's quiet..." The first chapter of "Nightfall" in Reach is called "...too quiet."
      • Two of the chapters from "Long Night of Solace". The first, "First Floor: Aliens, Beaches, Secret Launch Stations" references "The Library" from Halo, which used a variation of it, "Fourth Floor: Tools, Guns, Keys to Super Weapons". The second, "And The Horse You Flew In On", references the first chapter of "The Maw", "And The Horse You Rode In On".
      • The second chapter of "The Package": "This Cave Is Not a Natural Formation". "... Someone built it, so it must lead somewhere."
    • If you demo Sgt. Johnson's Firefight voice in The Armory, he'll start his infamous "I woulda' been yo' daddy" line before stopping himself.
    • In fact, 90% of what the returning characters' Firefight voices say is callbacks.
    • Occasionally, if you are killed by an Elite in Firefight or Campaign, they will let loose their infamous victory yell from Combat Evolved: "WORT WORT WOOOOORT!"
    • In the mission "New Alexandria", you can run into a terrified Trooper, who thinks the aliens are former humans. This is eerily similar to the Crazed and Suicidal Marines in CE and 3 respectively, both having been traumatized to insanity by the Flood.
  • Call-Forward:
  • Cap:
    • The initial release had a level cap of Lt. Colonel Grade 3 online, while offline had no limit. Gamers of higher ranks were teased with armor they couldn't buy until the entire Reach community completed 117 million Challenges. While there were bragging rights involved, this was partially an Anti-Grinding test by Bungie, as they wanted to become aware of any exploitable credit glitches before offering the whole armory.
    • On a more persistent level, there are different limits to how many Credits you can earn in a day, either online or off, to prevent players from abusing the system.
  • Captain Obvious: Your NPC allies, especially Noble Team, like pointing out the obvious.
    Militiaman: They're shooting at us!
  • Car Fu: In the Master Chief Collection re-release, the achievement "Worker's Compensation" demands the player kill an enemy by impact from the forklift, a vehicle so slow that driving it into even a Grunt deals it no harm. It turns easy when one discovers nobody said you had to be driving the forklift; flinging it into an enemy with the Gravity Hammer is also an option.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: In terms of equipment permutations, this is much more true in this game compared to other titles in the series. This is not limited to Noble Team either, as Army Troopers, despite all having nearly the same basic uniform, have many variations on the basic kit for different battlefield roles and situations, combined in several semi-randomized ways for each instance (though all such things are purely cosmetic in gameplay terms). Justified, particularly for Noble, who use a variation of the same armor permutation system that was developed to allow the player to customize their armor.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Averted, as the female MJOLNIR armor is as covering as the males. That said, while the female breastplate is the same as the male's, the female MJOLNIR armor does emphasize the hips and butt (especially for Kat) compared to the male model. Understandable, as the MJOLNIR armor is really bulky and there's little else Bungie could have done to differentiate the female Spartan model from the male's, with the only other real difference being that the female model is noticeably thinner than the male one.
  • Character Development: Although most of Noble Team is static in terms of their personalities, Noble Six changes subtly. He starts out as a lone wolf, and although he dies alone, he learns the importance of teamwork and sacrifice. Although it's easy to miss, six's comment to Jorge that detonating the slipspace drive would be a one-way trip is him arguing to Jorge that he should not do it, to which Jorge pushes back with his "don't deny me this" comment. Six is later in a similar position, where he could escape to the Pillar of Autumn (which had a chance of being shot down without cover) or stay behind and sacrifice himself to ensure that the Autumn itself escapes. He chooses the latter. It seems clear that he learned from Jorge, and possibly Carter, who also sacrificed himself minutes before Emile's death necessitated Six's sacrifice in turn.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: One by one, Noble Team dies (or just disappears, if they're Jun), including Noble Six.
  • Charged Attack: The new Plasma Launcher, in addition to series staples Spartan Laser and Plasma Pistol.
  • Cherry Tapping: The extended Assassination animations work like this: A simple melee attack will kill the enemy instantly, same as it always has, but holding the button slightly longer gives you a full neck snapping / kidney puncturing / Energy Sword impaling / drop-kicking kill sequence. You aren't invincible for the 2-3 seconds it takes, and your target can be saved by a teammate (or an opportunistic enemy) by killing you before it's finished. An ally can even steal your kill! "Yoink!"
  • Chilly Reception: You're informed at the beginning that you're being brought in to replace a well-liked member of the team who the others would have preferred to honour by leaving the spot empty. This doesn't have much of an effect on gameplay, but in a couple of early cutscenes some characters are dismissive or just ignore you. Except Jorge. By the end of the game this is of course entirely gone.
  • Citadel City: Reach itself, being the main military stronghold of the UNSC. It's heavily guarded by a fleet of 100-150 warships at any given time, twenty orbital defense platforms (each capable of destroying a Covenant ship with one shot), a nuclear minefield, and enormous quantities of soldiers. Then the Covenant show up with an even larger invasion force.
  • Command Roster:
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Because the game takes place in the same timeframe as Halo: Combat Evolved, many of the gameplay elements are a callback to that game:
      • Your armor now has a separate shield and health meter, and the shield recharges more slowly than in Halo 2 or Halo 3.
      • Elites dodge and strafe like crazy, just like they did in the first game.
      • Hunters fire explosive bolts instead of a continuous energy beam.
      • The pistol functions similar to how it did in the first Halo. In other words, it is awesome (and yet still balanced by having a smaller magazine and closer range, making it doubly awesome).
      • Allied troopers are no longer Made of Iron, sadly, being reduced to near their (relatively low) Halo: CE levels of health (although ODSTs are now noticeably tougher than regular soldiers). They can actually drive okay now, though. That said, you still might see a few capable of eating fuel rods for breakfast!
    • Brutes behave as they did in Halo 2 (no shields, but increased health and vulnerability to headshots if you knock off their helmet). Fortunately, they're still not as insanely durable as they were in Halo 2, and their berserker mode from that game hasn't returned either.
    • Cortana resembles her appearance in Combat Evolved, with short hair and a very *ahem* child-like body.
    • In the mission "New Alexandria", one of your potential objectives is to escort Sergeant Buck.
    • In the epilogue, look closely at the bodies on the ground. They're other Spartans.
    • Halsey's journal has nods to almost every other bit of Halo media, from Halo Wars to Halo Legends.
  • Continuity Snarl: This game takes place in the same timeframe as the last section of the Combat Evolved prequel novel Halo: The Fall of Reach. The two don't always agree (the fact that Bungie deliberately played fast and loose with continuity doesn't help things). The biggest difference is that in The Fall of Reach the battle of Reach seemed to take place over the course of maybe a few days, with only two main attack waves, while in the game it is about two months of fighting, with an initial surprise ground force followed by an out-and-out slug fest for weeks. But Bungie has stated that any new information overwrites any previously-existing information. note 
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • No matter what weapons the enemy AI fires, they all seem to have some degree of homing capability.
    • Dual-wielding was removed for the player, but some Elites will still do it. Not as bad as it sounds; they only dual-wield the Plasma Rifle, two of which are the equivalent of a Plasma Repeater.
    • Got those Elite Zealots, Field Marshals, or Generals in your sniper scope? While they're facing the wrong way? Well, they screen-watch. You read that correctly. The higher ranking Elites on Heroic or Legendary refuse to let themselves be sniped, even if they're not "aware" that you are present. Aim at one, and they'll begin to inexplicably strafe and dive for cover, while not attempting to shoot, and while no other enemies react.
    • Even the Grunts become psychic at high enough difficulties, vastly preferring to suicide-run you with Plasma Grenades if you even think about activating Active Camo near them.
    • Of course, none of these compares to the worst and most blatant aspect - the enemies on Heroic and Legendary fire their weapons faster than normal. On Heroic it's noticeable, but on Legendary it's borderline Refuge in Audacity. Watch in horror as the Covenant turret that spots you start firing about 20-30 shots at you in the span of 2 seconds, and you get hit with every single one of them when you already die in 3 shots, to begin with.
    • Along with the enemies firing faster on Heroic and Legendary, they aren't susceptible to the handicaps of certain weapons, most notably the plasma pistol. Enemies can overcharge a plasma pistol in about half the time a human player can, and are not subjected to the overheat that accompanies a released overcharge. They may resume firing instantly after an overcharge.
  • Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel: Inherent in that the game came out years after the original and video game graphics jumped significantly in that time. The armor of Noble Team looks more functional than Master Chief's in Combat Evolved. On the strict canon side, much of it is explained as the Pillar of Autumn being a single ship with limited supplies and stock crew complementnote , while Reach had some of the most advanced military research facilities in the entire UNSC.
  • Cosmetic Award: Takes the customizable armor of Halo 3 up to eleven, with dozens of parts for many different parts of the armor available for Credits earned by doing pretty much anything. Upon launch, the degree of customization was revealed to be even bigger than previously thought, to the point to where you can edit your character's voice in Firefight.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Played straight in Spartan vs. Spartan multiplayer, but averted in the Spartan vs. Elite gametypes for the first time in the series; Elites are generally larger than their Spartan counterparts, shields regenerate slightly faster, and their health will return to full given time, while the Spartans can take more damage. Additionally, in most official modes, Elites have exclusive access to the Dodge armor ability, while Spartans have exclusive access to Sprint. However, outside of official modes, both Spartans and Elites can use them interchangeably.
  • Creator Cameo: The names assigned to the various UNSC soldiers are mostly those of real-life Bungie (and Rooster Teeth) employees. The Master Chief Collection re-release added the names of a few 343 Industries employees.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Noble Team's ability to kill Covenant in cutscenes is remarkably greater than in actual gameplay. Particularly the AI members of Noble Team, who for balance reasons tend to not do more than draw fire, though their invincibility and infinite ammo does mean that if left alone to their own devices, Noble's NPC members will eventually kill the opposition.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • Kat, with shields inexplicably down, is killed by a shot to the head while running through an open area. While the description of the Collar/Breacher variant worn by Kat ("Too bad they don't make artificial situational awareness") suggests carelessness, an earlier point in the game has her mention that her shield generator was acting up, possibly suggesting instead that the Covenant glassing going on at the time took out everyone's shields, which would turn this into a subversion.
    • Emile focuses so much on killing an Elite Zealot in front of him that he's caught completely off guard when he gets stabbed in the back by another Zealot that was slowly sneaking up on him in order to foil his motion tracker.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!:
    • Reach changes the control scheme considerably from Halo 3 to accommodate Armor Abilities and the removal of dual-wielding. Many accidentally used their Armor Abilities instead of switching grenades or switched their grenades instead of meleeing.
    • Thankfully, the "Recon" control scheme is extremely similar to Halo 3's default, while "Bumper Jumper" is identical to Halo 3's version.
    • Bungie overhauled the Banshee's controls in addition to its appearance. Tricks have been moved to the left bumper, and the Fuel Rod Cannon is now a separate weapon you have to switch with Y - but good luck figuring this out if you're playing on anything higher than Normal.
  • Darker and Edgier: This taking place in one of largest and most brutal battles in the Human-Covenant War, it's to be expected.
  • Death by Irony:
    1. The Leader: Goes down with the ship
    2. Brains of the Team: Shot in the head
    3. Heavy Weapons Expert: Died in explosion
    4. Blade Enthusiast: Stabbed in the back
    5. Lone Wolf: Died alone
    6. Stealth Expert Sniper: Gets away
  • Death from Above:
    • Using a Target Locator you can align orbital bombardment into a designated zone, basically the Halo version of the Hammer of Dawn.
    • The achievement "If They Came To Hear Me Beg..." is for assassinating an Elite by jumping to it from a sufficient height to kill you.invoked
    • ODSTs from the jetpacking "Bullfrog" squad have a tendency to quote the trope verbatim.
  • Death Seeker: From one interpretation, Emile. It's officially stated that Emile cares about almost nothing but killing Covenant, and his whole life has been nothing but that, save for watching his family be killed and his homeworld be glassed.
  • Deflector Shields: In addition to the traditional recharging shields, one Armor Ability gives you unbreakable shields temporarily, but immobilizes you, while another creates a breakable Beehive Barrier that recharges the health of anyone inside it.
  • Developer's Foresight: It's Bungie, what did you expect?
    • Since your Spartan is customizable for the campaign as well as multiplayer, the helmet shown at the beginning and end of the game is the helmet your Spartan wears. Out of all these helmets, by far the craziest looking is the GUNGNIR helmet, which eschews a visor for a teeny little camera nestled in a massive armor plate. Start a campaign wearing it and you'll realize that the hole in Six's helmet (no matter the make) is where it is because that's where the camera is on this one helmet.
    • When you first get the Jetpack, you can actually bypass having to use the elevator to get to the top of the building. Instead, you can use it to get to a point where you can hijack in midair one of the ambient Banshees and fly to the top, saving yourself a whole lot of hurt and ammo. And you can use a charged shot from a Plasma Pistol to short out a Banshee's engines (one of them will actually try to dive right near you) to make this much easier.
    • Whip out the pistol for the first time, Noble Six will cock it. Pull it out again after that, they merely flip the safety off. And this happens until you pick up a new pistol or respawn. The Covenant pistol works similarly, with Noble Six flicking a switch on the side the first time and just pulling it out every time after that.
    • Firing the assault rifle until the magazine's empty will result in Six pushing the firing bolt forward when reloading, chambering a round. Reload before you run dry, and Six will simply stick a new magazine in. A similar thing happens with the pistol and its slide, or the DMR. The sniper rifle has had a mechanic like this since the first game.
    • Because Forge World is one map and is only being customized from Forge, it means that Bungie was able to introduce entirely new maps to the online playlist without the need for a DLC update. That's right, new online maps for free!
  • Developer's Room: In the level "The Package", there is a hidden "Tribute Room" that contains various Bungie/Halo-related easter eggs, most notably several terminals thanking various parts of the fan community, including the members of, the staff of Rooster Teeth, and the first person to record the Warthog Jump. Interestingly, a cutscene reveals that this room is actually Dr. Halsey's lab; the aforementioned terminals are even written from her perspective!
  • Died in Ignorance: At the end of the campaign mission, "Long Night of Solace," Jorge-052 is forced to stay behind to manually detonate a makeshift bomb and destroy a Covenant Corvette-class ship from the inside and cripple the forces invading Reach. Thankfully he's not around to witness a massive Covenant fleet arriving via slipspace mere seconds later.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Grenade Launcher in a nutshell. Most online players completely ignore the weapon due to its very bouncy projectiles, and by doing so, never learn that the grenades can double as EMP bombs and impromptu trip mines. The regular mode isn't anything to laugh at either; you can become extremely lethal with the launcher if you're already good at bouncing your frags. Due the skill required of it, the developers nicknamed it the "Pro Pipe".
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: The level "Long Night of Solace". After a Covenant super carrier appears above Reach, Noble Team plans a daring and dangerous mission to board and destroy it using an improvised bomb made from a slipspace drive. One of your team members ends up having to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to detonate the bomb, and for a split second, it seems like the Covenant have been dealt a major blow, until seconds later when an enormous Covenant fleet arrives in the system, making it All for Nothing.
  • Doomed by Canon: No effort was made to hide the fact that Reach falls before the Halo Trilogy even begins. Regardless if any character in the game survives, Reach itself is doomed. The Tag Line provides the page quote for both this page and the Trope page.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: The Hologram Armor Ability creates a copy of you that moves in a straight line towards a point (or spot) you designate. It's designed as a decoy and can be a sniper's worst enemy. This creates some funny videos where players behave the same way a hologram does (running in a perfectly straight line, bouncing off of scenery and not firing) and are ignored by the enemy team while they run behind them...
  • Double Meaning: From the beginning, you know the end: On the surface, this could easily refer to Reach's inevitable fall as it was long established in canon before this installment came out. However, seeing as this came out after Halo 3, the end result of the Covenant war is also established: humanity wins! Halsey reflects on this (and Noble Six's sacrifice) in the epilogue.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Whereas most of the team go out with epic Heroic Sacrifices, Kat gets unceremoniously nailed in the back of the head by a Covenant sniper.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Some levels follow this trope, especially on Legendary difficulty. For example, in "Exodus", you start out with only a pistol against Suicide Grunts, Skirmishers and Brutes, and ammo for it and the DMR is extremely sparse. Then the game starts throwing armored Brute Chieftains into the squads, coupled with Hold the Line sequences. Suitable Covenant weapons such as the Needle Rifle are also lacking. The worst is probably the part of the "Pillar of Autumn" where you have to Hold the Line for about 15 minutes against multiple waves of Brute Captains and Chieftains, with almost no ammunition for your good weapons.
  • Downer Beginning: The game opens with a shot of your Noble 6's shattered helmet followed by some lovely shots of the glassed Hell that Reach has become. "From the beginning, you know the end", after all.
  • Dull Surprise: The troopers you are looking for in the first mission don't seem too shocked to encounter the Covenant at all, despite that usually meaning you are quite screwed.note 
  • Dwindling Party: In the back half of the game, this happens to NOBLE Team. First Jorge sacrifices himself to blow up a Covenant supercarrier, then Kat has her head blown off by a sniper, then Jun bows out to escort Dr. Halsey to safety, then Carter rams a Pelican into an enemy Scarab, then Emile is outflanked and shanked by an Elite, then finally Noble Six makes a bloody Last Stand against Covenant forces after the Pillar of Autumn escapes.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Jorge sacrifices himself by activating a UNSC warp drive in the middle of a Covenant super-carrier, tearing it apart.
    • Carter rams his Pelican into a Scarab.
    • Emile, after blowing up a heavy Covenant ship with an AA MAC cannon, gets a sword jammed through him, but simply turns around and stabs the offending Elite in the neck while falling off the sword.
    • The player is allowed to give Noble Six a death worthy of any Spartan: having gotten Cortana to the Pillar of Autumn while watching the rest of Noble Team die, Six stays behind, and finally dies surrounded by dead Elites, fighting first with guns, then with their fists, to the very end.
  • Easter Egg: It's a Bungie game, so there are plenty of them:
    • Dance the night away, Covies!
    • The cowardly Trooper seen in Wrong Genre Savvy below.
    • Hello again for the first time, Master Chief.
    • Then there's the whole business about the Data Pads, which are strewn about most of the levels, sometimes only on Legendary. Each Pad can be read to shed some... interesting light on the backstory of the Halo series.
    • There are semi-hidden radio conversations found in most of the multiplayer and Firefight maps that, when pieced together, tell the story of what was happening on the rest of Reach while Noble Team were doing their thing.
    • There's also a few hidden switches that do a few neat things, like a pair on "The Package" that spawn four Banshees for the players if pressed simultaneously. Another neat switch lets players fly Pelicans (and Phantoms). Yep, that vehicle that everyone's wanted to fly since Halo CE. Thank you, Bungie.
    • Even the Feelies got in on this trope; according to Eric Nylund, while most copies of Halsey's journal had two specific pages ripped out, a few (no more than five) copies were shipped in complete form, with the expectation being that someone would eventually post the missing pages online. However, that ended up never happening, so 343i had to post the pages themselves over five years later.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: At the end of the game, you must defend the Pillar of Autumn from a fleet of Phantoms and Banshees using, for the first time in the games, a MAC Cannon.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Noble Team isn't the average Spartan-III group; it's comprised of a specially selected few equipped with MJOLNIR armour and counts a Spartan-II amongst them. Noble Six him/herself has an impressive pedigree in the backstory; Halsey even states in one of the trailers that they're the only Spartan besides the Master Chief himself to achieve a classification of "Hyper-Lethal". And Noble has two of the highest-ranking Spartans in the entire corps with Commander Carter and Lt. Commander Kat.
  • "End Is Nigh" Ending: Subverted, the game ends with the planet in the final stages of being reduced to glass, and then it cuts to the Distant Finale showing the planet being rebuilt.
  • Epic Launch Sequence: Near the end of the game, you're given a special package and told to deliver it to a drydocked ship before the Covenant destroys either of them and humanity's chances of winning the war, and nothing else. Said ship is immediately revealed to be none other than the Pillar of Autumn as soon as you lay eyes on it, even though it's at least a mile away when you first see it. Naturally, many players wanted to see the ship take off once they'd finished the mission. Guess what?
  • Establishing Character Moment: Near the end of the first level, Noble Squad gets ambushed by Elites with Energy Swords. Your character gets tackled by one (really emphasizing how big they are compared to you), avoids a stab to the stomach, and then punches the enemy in the jaw. Of course, it only serves to piss it off and you get saved by Carter, but it does demonstrate Noble Six's Defiant to the End personality.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Apparently whoever was making the subtitles had trouble understanding Jun in the beginning cutscene of "Tip of the Spear":
    Jun: Det charge link is loud and clear!
    Subtitles: Time to bake that cake we made last night!
    • According to a developer commentary video, the euphemistic line about baking a cake was part of the original script before they decided to change the line. Apparently, this subtitle just never got corrected when that happened. Perhaps THAT'S why Jun can be heard saying "What, you don't like my cooking?" in "Nightfall". It's not even the first time a Halo game has had a cut line remain in the subtitles.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Noble Six is never referred to by name, only by "Six," "Lieutenant", and the more generic "Spartan." The only thing given in supplementary materials is the Spartan code B312 (the codes effectively function as last names for Spartans, with Master Chiefs being 117).
  • Evil Overlooker: A very subtle example, but the game's cover art features a Covenant battlecruiser hovering among the clouds in the background.
  • Expy:
    • The new Concussion Rifle fires explosive shots from a six-round magazine that fall slightly as they travel. Sound familiar?
    • The Needle Rifle handles exactly like the Covenant Carbine, save that it shares the Needler's capacity to create supercombine explosions.
    • A badass NPC ally with a skull design on his headgear, which he is never seen without. Remind you of anyone?
  • Face Death with Dignity: The last we see of Jorge is him smiling at Noble Six before throwing the latter off the supercarrier so they're a safe distance away when it's destroyed, telling them to "make it count".
  • Fade to White: After Dr. Halsey eulogizes Noble Six's death after his Last Stand, the game ends on a fade to white.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: It doesn't matter how hard you try or how many Covenant you drive back; Reach will fall.
  • Fast-Killing Radiation: Inverted in spectacular fashion. After the mission "New Alexandria", the Covenant begin glassing the eponymous city, with Kat picking up a reading of 40 million Roentgens, later rising to 90 million, from their beam weapons. The thing is, this is roughly eight thousand times the lethal dose for humans, and Noble Team should have been reduced to radioactive goop for being anywhere near such a powerful radiation source, especially with their helmets off.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Even on the official records, Noble Six's full name, date of birth, place of birth, and gender are redacted.
  • Fictional Document: Halsey's journal, shipped with the Limited and Legendary Editions of the game. Full of juicy tidbits about the Spartans and Halsey herself, including the fact that Miranda is her and Capt. Keyes' love child.
  • Fission Mailed: Noble Six's last objective is to survive. They don't, and can't.
  • Five-Man Band: Noble Team:
  • Five-Token Band: Noble Team, whose members all appear to have different ethnic backgrounds. It's justified given how diverse UNSC colonies are.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: In a small-scale sense, the ending is bittersweet because you successfully got the Package to the Pillar of Autumn, and cleared an escape route for it to leave Reach. That Package, in turn, led to the discovery of Halo, the Covenant Civil War, and humanity's ultimate survival when the war ended with the Battle of the Ark.
  • Foregone Conclusion: "From the beginning, you know the end..."
    • An Invoked Trope, as the point of the game is pretty much to experience first-hand the tragedy that was previously only alluded to.
    • In Lone Wolf, it's you against the entire Covenant. There's no backup and no rescue. Your end is all but inevitable.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Kat when getting hit by enemy fire will sometimes remark that her shields failed for a moment.
    • When Noble Six shows up to meet the rest of the team for the first time at the beginning of the game, Jun is sitting alone in a hornet outside, apart from everybody else, as Noble Six enters the building. Guess who the team’s Sole Survivor ends up being.
  • Framing Device: One of the documents that come with the Limited/Legendary Edition states that the game itself is an in-universe interactive record.
  • From Bad to Worse: First the missing patrol turns out not to have been captured by rebels, but killed by Covenant troops. Then you find a mysterious structure that is some kind of teleportation and cloaking device, so you disable the shields and a UNSC frigate is sent in to destroy it. While debris is still coming down, the frigate is shot to pieces by a colossal supercarrier that was just decloaked right above it. One level later the carrier is successfully destroyed, but not even ten seconds after that a massive Covenant fleet arrives that starts to completely wipe out all life on the planet...
  • Future Copter: This game introduces the Falcon as the UNSC Army's primary squad transport and fire-support aircraft. Compared to the Hornet of the prior game, the Falcon is a bit more grounded in using conventional blades to achieve lift, but it still features tilt-rotors and other trappings common to fictional futuristic helicopters.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Noble Team (except yourself obviously) is invulnerable in gameplay. Unfortunately for them, cutscenes exist.
    • Two minor NPCs, Sergeant Major Duvall and Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, are also invincible.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Several things, notably Emile, who in promotional background material is portrayed as a particularly bold Spartan (bordering on berserker level aggression) who specializes in close combat assaults. In gameplay, his AI is much timider, almost never purposely closing to the effective range of his shotgun and even falling back without firing a shot whenever he does move into that range.
    • The team's dossiers explicitly state that each member of Noble has a preferred weapon, but with the sole exception of Jorge, everyone at some point or another chooses to utilize a different weapon, with Carter and Kat being particular offenders, as supplementary materials state they prefer the DMR and Pistol respectively, only to break out standard assault rifles for about half the missions they appear in. In the case of Kat though, it's possibly intended to be an Anti-Frustration Features for when she's the only Spartan accompanying you so she can put down some decent fire.
    • Jun is stated to be a talented marksman with his sniper rifle, capable of racking up one-shot kills in quick succession. In gameplay, you're lucky if he actually hits anything, and the shot rarely kills in a single hit.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The Covenant are given no further development than "unstoppable alien armada"; the Field Marshal is the only actual character among them, and even then he has no lines and just seconds of screentime. Arguably a case of Tropes Are Tools as it makes the Covenant seem all the more alien, frightening, and incomprehensible, especially for characters who aren't as badass or Born Lucky as Master Chief.
  • Gentle Giant: Jorge, the huge SPARTAN-II member of the team, is also the nicest and most amicable member of the group, especially towards civilians. Played with in that he's still a killing machine.
    • Stands also as a commentary on the differences between Spartan-IIs and IIIs. While Jorge is clearly regarded as the most dangerous and toughest soldier in Noble, he is also the most clearly emotionally stable and shows the most humanity. The Spartan-IIIs are all a little off, especially Emile, for whom it's stated that he doesn't actually care as much for Reach's survival as he does for killing Covenant.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    Catherine-B320: All we need is a green light from Holland.
    Carter-A259: Good luck with that.
    Catherine-B320: You're the one asking him.
    Carter-A259: Oh, there's no way in hell he's gonna go for this.
    Jorge-052: Still can't believe Holland said yes to this.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The event that required the Gilligan Cut example, which was the appearance of a Covenant Supercarrier. Disposing of it required a ship's Slipspace Drive, which is stated by Carter to be the "single most expensive piece of equipment made by man". Of course, much worse happened immediately after...
  • Good News, Bad News: Played with at the end of "Long Night of Solace". Your Pelican is completely broken and now the only way you can get off the corvette en route to the titular supercarrier is to literally jump out? That's the good news. The bad news? The bomb's timer is fried and someone is going to have to stay behind to activate it manually.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: All Noble Team members who remove their helmets are shown to have at least one significant scar, evidence that they have had a long career in combat.
  • Goomba Stomp: Performing an aerial Assassination on an Elite will sometimes result in this. It doesn't look like much until you remember that a fully-armoured Spartan weighs about 1,000 pounds. This is essentially dropping a shipping container on someone's head.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We never explicitly see the killing blow on Noble Six.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Justified. Reach was originally settled by Hungarians, with the majority of the inhabitants in the first area we visit being of Magyar descent, explaining why Hungarian is the local lingua franca there.
  • Gravity Screw: There are three multiplayer maps that show the Heavy Zone/Light Zone dynamic: "Zealot" has a low gravity zone above the map, "Anchor 9" has one along one side, and "Condemned" has one in the middle. There is also a section of the campaign mission "Long Night of Solace" where you fight through a Covenant Corvette in the same low gravity environment.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Implied by Halsey at the end. While not as anonymous as the Rookie's role in Halo 3: ODST, Halsey laments that Six never got to see the battle won and that her/his role is overshadowed in the grand scheme of history. Their story will remain a relative footnote in the Fall of Reach, and thus Halsey vows to never forget their efforts. That said, the Limited/Legendary edition materials indicate that Noble as a whole did eventually achieve posthumous renown, to the point where they eventually got an entire public memorial dedicated to them in one of Reach's rebuilt cities (with the Legendary Edition Noble Team sculpture stated to be a miniature replica of said memorial). Additionally, several MJOLNIR variations in Halo 5: Guardians are stated to have been created and named in honor of Noble Team.
  • Green Hill Zone: In effect, of all places. "Winter Contingency" allows you to get used to the controls and fight several of the common enemy types, with a "boss fight" consisting of a few Zealots at the end. The area before the Visegrad Relay is even full of lush vegetation.
  • Grenade Launcher: A new human weapon introduced in this game. It is a single-shot weapon with two firing modes: tapping the trigger will fire a grenade on a fuse of roughly two seconds; holding the trigger allows you to control when the grenade detonates. Doing the latter also emits an electromagnetic pulse that deactivates shields or vehicles.
  • Ground Punch: Anyone using the Armor Lock ability enters this pose, becoming temporarily invincible and potentially deadly to any vehicles trying to ram them.
  • Guide Dang It!: There are a ton of easter eggs hidden in the game, but most are nearly impossible to find without looking them up. The drivable Pelican and Phantom on "New Alexandria" are especially tough. Of course, none are necessary to finish the game.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • While the player can no longer do this like in previous Halo games, some Elites can.
    • During the final cutscene, Noble Six uses this for a moment when holding off Elites in their Last Stand with a pistol and an Assault Rifle.
  • Gunship Rescue: Sometimes you are the one doing the rescuing, other times you're the one being rescued. And it's subverted just as often. In the "Invasion" gametype, if you manage to hold off the enemy from getting your Data Core, the game ends with your faction arriving with air vehicles and killing the enemy team.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • According to Bungie, Reach's Legendary difficulty is harder than any other Halo game.note  And of course, you could always turn on all the "Gold" skulls and go for the semiofficial "Mythic" difficulty.
    • Officially, there's also LASO (Legendary All Skulls On), which includes you having to use the Blind skull (no HUD or weapon displayed onscreen). Bungie felt so bad about this one that when they started including the mode in online challenges, they edited the requirements to exclude Blind.
  • Hartman Hips: It may just be the armor, but it's still noticeable for female Spartan soldiers.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The team is called Noble team for a reason.
    • Jorge. He thought he was saving the planet. He didn't.
    • Carter. Crashes his Pelican into a Scarab to allow you to get to the Pillar of Autumn.
    • Subverted with Emile. Initially, he's manning the MAC gun and is going to stay behind to cover Six's escape. If not for the backstab from the Zealot, he'd be the one going out in a Blaze of Glory instead of...
    • Noble Six, who stays behind on Reach to fire the MAC gun and cover the Pillar of Autumn's retreat. Of course, you play this all out...
    • It was heavily implied for Jun (i.e., to get Dr. Halsey to safety) in the dialogue during his last appearance, but it's ultimately averted due to Bungie's Word of God that he lives, which was further confirmed by his appearance in Halo: Initiation, which takes several months after Reach.invoked
  • Hope Spot:
    • Even though you know what's going to happen, the destruction of the Long Night of Solace seems like a major victory for the UNSC that at least slows the Covenant invasion down considerably. But a mere thirty seconds after the initial victory, Reach's automated orbital sensors begin announcing an endless stream of alerts about new enemy ships jumping out of slipspace:
      *Slipspace rupture detected.* *Slipspace rupture detected.* *Slipspace rupture detected.* *Slipspace rupture detected.* *Slipspace rupture detected.*
    • Inverted and then subverted in the opening cutscene of "The Pillar of Autumn" - the closing cutscene for "The Package" had Carter, Six and Emile taking off in a Pelican, while Dot tells them about the veritable army of Covenant forces standing between them and the Pillar of Autumn that the three will need to get through to deliver the Cortana fragment. The next cutscene then opens with the Pelican under fire from Covenant forces while Dot tells Carter to seek immediate medical attention, to which he does not respond. The cutscene then focuses on Six working his way up to the cockpit of the Pelican while Emile engages the tailing Covenant forces. Dot asks Carter to respond twice more, to which he still doesn't, and then his helmet is shown falling from his side in the cockpit - the typical initial reaction would be that Carter was Killed Offscreen. He is then revealed to be alive, however, as the inversion, but with the caveat that he's most likely mortally wounded and doesn't plan on making it to the Autumn, and he subsequently orders Six and Emile to get off the Pelican and deliver the fragment on foot. He's able to put his final minutes to good use, however, when he uses the damaged Pelican to destroy a Scarab that's standing between the last two members of Noble Team and the Autumn, at the cost of his own life.
    • At the Playable Epilogue after the credits roll, when Noble Six is standing alone in the shipbreaking yard as the Covenant move to consolidate their hold on the area. Six seems calmly observant, as though considering what to do. The chapter title reads "There'll be another time..." and the player is assigned a new objective: "Survive" (with the detail text "Spartans never die..."). One might be forgiven for thinking that maybe, just maybe, Noble Six will make it out of this. They do not.
  • Immediate Sequel: "Immediate Prequel" rather. The last cutscene of "The Pillar of Autumn" (before the "Lone Wolf" bonus level) depicts the titular ship going to the planet Threshold and Installation 04, exactly like the first cutscene of Halo: Combat Evolved with the same dialogue from Captain Keyes and Cortana.
  • Implied Death Threat: When Carter orders Jun to escort Halsey to CASTLE Base, he implies that Jun should kill her rather than allow her capture by the Covenant.
  • I Work Alone: Noble Six's rep. They're even referred to as the former Trope name "Lone Wolf".
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Assassinations with the Energy Sword, which happens many times throughout the campaign too.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: Downplayed: in two levels the player starts out with less health than usual because of crash-landings in the previous cutscene. On the final level it overlaps with Interface Screw; the player character's visor becomes cracked, preventing the player from seeing how much ammo they have left.
  • Insufferable Genius: Halsey is presented like this initially (and she is known to be like this in the Expanded Universe). But her journal sheds light on her verbal altercation with Carter in the game. She was under the impression that the Spartans she personally trained (the Spartan-IIs, which include Jorge and Master Chief) were the only Spartans in the UNSC. It wasn't until after Noble Team's first mission that she discovered the existence of Spartan-IIIs, which means she was actively deceived by her peers for years. By her second interaction with Noble Team, they appeared to have earned her respect.
  • Interface Screw: In the post-credits level, when you take damage, cracks appear in your visor/HUD. The first time this happens, it also takes away your ammo counter, which makes the fight even more difficult.
  • Interface Spoiler: Some of the achievement names are fairly subtle spoilers to the fact Noble Six dies at the end of the game. The most egregious one is "Send Me Out...with a Bang," which were Sgt. Johnson's last words from Halo 3.
  • Interservice Rivalry:
    • There's a bit of tension shown between the UNSC Army and ONI; at one point, Dr. Halsey threatens to imprison Kat for accessing Sorvad's files, and Carter replies that she'd be joining her, as WINTER CONTINGENCY is in full effect and civilian interference with Spartan deployment is also highly illegal. Eventually, ONI reassumes command of Noble Team so they can escort the Cortana fragment to the Pillar of Autumn.
    • The bitter rivalry between the Elites and the Brutes is implicitly present in the second half. While the two species are still technically allied here, they never fight side by side even when involved in the same firefight, as the Elites will only arrive after all the Brutes have been killed, with the implication being that the Elite commanders in charge of the invasion are using the Brutes to soften up the opposition before sending their own people in. This is perhaps best seen in "The Package" during the Covenant's assault on Halsey's laboratory, as the Elites and Brutes will attack in separate waves despite the stakes involved.
    • Background material indicates that the UNSC Army and UNSC Navy butt heads on how to approach Emile's tendency to take trophies from the enemy. The Navy states that Navy regulations require all captured Covenant equipment be destroyed or turned over to the scientists, and the Army states that as it's a Navy regulation, Emile isn't required to oblige, since he's attached to the Army.
      • Supplementary material set after Jorge sacrifices himself has Navy personnel grumbling that if the Army hadn't gone through with their own plan, the Navy could've put their own plan to send the entire Spartan-II battalion to hijack the Long Night Of Solace and find the Covenant homeworld into action.
  • Irony:
    • At one point in the level "Long Night of Solace", when you're making your way to the launch facility, the AA guns are shooting at the dozens of Seraphs buzzing overhead. The AA guns' purpose is to protect the building from airborne damage. Well, the guns hit a Seraph, and it goes spinning down out of control in flames... crashing into the facility at high speed. Oops.
    • A huge bit of irony is called up when the individual deaths of Noble Team are scrutinized:
      • Carter, the leader of Noble Team, dies by crashing a Pelican into a Scarab; essentially the leader went down with the ship.
      • Kat, the tactician of the group, dies from a single Needle Rifle shot through the brain. This is also due in part because she was not paying attention as a Covenant Phantom flew overhead. It's also implied that the cruiser came to the area because of the radio transmission Carter just sent - the transmitter she repaired. And if dialogue during gameplay of her shields acting up is to be believed, it would mean the single needle killed her because the most tech-savy member of the group had faulty equipment.
      • Jorge, the heavy weapons expert, dies in a giant explosion. In addition, he is the one who loved Reach the mostnote , and yet he dies off-planet.
      • Emile, the CQB expert, died from being stabbed in the chest.
      • Jun, the stealthy one, lives.
      • Noble Six was told in the very first level that they were to stop acting as a "lone wolf" and be part of a team. They die alone.
  • Is That a Threat?: When Halsey threatens Kat with the brig for attempting to access Sorvad's data module, Carter responds thus:
    Carter: Maybe you'd like to join her.
    Halsey: ...I'm sorry?
    Carter: We're currently under emergency planetary directive, "WINTER CONTINGENCY". I'm sure you're familiar with the punishment for civilian interference with a Spartan deployment.
    Halsey: Are you threatening me, Commander?
    Carter: Just making a reading suggestion, ma'am.
  • It Has Been an Honor: At the end of the game, right before a mortally-wounded Carter is about to drop off Six and Emile, we get this brief exchange:
    Emile: It's been an honor, sir.
    Carter: Likewise.
  • Jet Pack: One of the Armor Abilities. Both the ODST Bullfrogs and the Elite Rangers have these too.
  • Justified Tutorial: This game is the first Halo FPS that does not feature a "looking around" configuration tutorial at the start of the game. You still get a chance to practice aiming in the intro to the first level, where you are encouraged to look at a pair of locations from the passenger seat of a Falcon.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Kat.
  • Kill Sat: The Covenant and UNSC both have these, though the Covenant's version is far more destructive and widespread.
  • Lampshade Hanging: If you use Emile's voice for Firefight, it seems like he's perfectly aware that he was built up to be the team badass in the game. I.E. his quote: "And you thought you were the badass."
  • The Last Dance: The post-credits mission shows Noble Six remaining on Reach and battling an endless horde of Covenant.
    Objective: Survive.
    Description: Spartans never die.
  • Last Stand: This is how Noble Six goes out. According to Word of God, their resistance against the Covenant lasted for hours, and even drew the attention of Wraiths and Phantoms, before Six finally died. Considering the fact that the level has the bodies of various Spartans and Marines scattered around it, we may be seeing the very tail end of that entire group's last stand.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: This game changed how the colours of Covenant armour were represented, which in conjunction with the new armour shapes among different species and the muted colour palette overall making them look considerably different overall. The most drastic change was seen in the Elite Zealots, previously gold-armoured, becoming maroon, possibly due to the Zealots in the campaign largely being small units intended as artefact collectors. The new Generals took on the gold colour, a change that would remain in Halo 4 with the Warriors and Zealots in that game.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In The Master Chief Collection, the description of the AKIS helmet alludes to the fact that it was Dummied Out of the original game.
    The AKIS helmet and associated components were highly classified, leading some operatives to question its very existence.
  • Lethal Joke Item:
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Thom-A293, the previous Noble Six, died prior to the game. The Player Character is there to replace him, and Carter and Kat both feel personally responsible for his death. While this trailer shows that the explosive (actually a nuclear weapon) he threw into the Covenant ship was going to go off in two minutes (and you can see him try to run away after he throws it), the official profiles on the main website have their commanding officer consider his death a blatant example of this trope.
  • Leitmotif: While many of the game's themes evoke Halo, the soundtrack mostly avoids direct call-outs to any past themes, given that the game is not a galaxy-spanning Space Opera like the rest of the series, but a more narrow Military Science Fiction shooter. However, there are a few exceptions:
    • A few snippets of the classic Halo theme can be heard during the large battle at the start of one level.
    • When Cortana is introduced, her 'Rescue' theme from Halo 3 is played.
    • During the last cutscene, the same music from Halo: CE's opening is heard, as the ending is a shot-for-shot match to the start of the first game.
  • Level Grinding: Playing Gruntpocolypse on the Score Attack gametype (single-player Firefight) was noticed as the most efficient method of credit farming. Assuming you can finish the round in the allotted time, it is almost a guaranteed 2,000 cR for about 10 minutes' worth of playing.
    • Also averted in a sense: the amount of credits you get scales upwards the higher your rank becomes—while you get around 60 cR max for custom games as a Captain, you get 165 when you're a Colonel.
  • Level in Reverse: "The Package" borders between this and Remixed Level for "ONI: Sword Base". The geometry is altered, yes, but you also start in different locations on each level.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Elites in general, particularly the high-ranked ones.
    • The highest-ranked Skirmishers have as much health as Brutes and move around faster than Drones. Thankfully, it still only takes one headshot to kill them.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "There'll Be Another Time..."
  • Luck-Based Mission: On higher difficulties, the final bit firing the MAC gun has a good chance of being impossible to complete on your first attempt. And if the Mythic Skull is on, the CCS-class battlecruiser you have to shoot down will gain double health as well, needing TWO MAC shots to take down. Even Tyrant, the legendary Mythic speedrunner, admitted this portion of the level on Mythic difficulty is virtually entirely based on luck.
    • And you better finish off that squad of Elite Zealots before you move on, or you will get screwed by the autosave, getting caught between trying to shoot down incoming enemy ships and Elites shooting you in the back.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Drones now explode when headshotted, and Engineers will erupt into a blue goo when killed, leaving some armor plating behind.
  • Male Gaze: The camera angles in cutscenes take particular care to focus on Noble Six and Kat's behinds, made all the better when playing as Female!Six. Lampshaded in the Legendary Edition Commentary:
    Marcus Lehto: Another patented butt shot.
    Marty O'Donnell: You see, this is why I think it's more fun to play as the female.
  • Manly Tears: Evoked by Bungie's love letter to Halo fans before the credits roll.
  • Mauve Shirt: You can recruit allied soldiers into your squad, and now their names appear right next to your radar.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Halsey's journal notes that one Spartan candidate, Caleb-095, managed to avoid capture and thus was never recruited as a Spartan. Some of Halsey's colleagues claimed this was due to a kind of precognition he acquired after a farming accident. It should be noted, however, that Halsey herself is quick to dismiss this as pseudo-scientific crap.
  • Meaningful Background Event: If you look off into the distance on some maps, you can see battles going on.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Kat is very curious. Guess what happens to her?
    • As stated above, Noble Six is NOBLE Team's Sixth Ranger.
  • Mooks, but no Bosses: Par for the course for the Halo series (with the exceptions of 2 and 5). There is a final fight with the Elite Field Marshal and his personal bodyguards, but he's not significantly different from a regular Elite General other than having slightly stronger shields and a really good weapon.
  • Mordor: Reach itself begins to look like this towards the end thanks to the glassing. It becomes a barren wasteland, dark with no sunlight at all, with storms going on all the time. To be precise, it kicks in around New Alexandria, the seventh level in the game.
  • Multi-Mook Melee: Firefight can be this if you so choose. The campaign ends like this.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Focus Rifle's beam is very similar to the one Locusts fire due to its range and sound effect. It also closely resembles the beam fired by Forerunner Sentinels, which makes sense when you remember that Covenant technology is largely reverse-engineered from that of the Forerunners.
    • Emile bears more than a passing resemblance to The Meta. It's not just his EVA helmet, but also the color of his armor and his use of brown CQB shoulder pauldrons. He's also not quite as sane as the other members of Noble Team, and prefers close-range/physical combat over anything. It's gotten to the point where fans have decided that Emile's helmet would be what the Meta would wear if he were rendered in the Reach engine.
    • Bungie once again loves playing with numbers, especially the number 7. The game begins in 2552 (2+5 = 7, 2+5 = 7, or 7/7, Bungie Day) and ends on July 7 - 7/7 (again, Bungie Day) - 2589; the year is 2+5 (7)-8-9.
    • Names of recruitable soldiers include not only members of the game's development staff, but, in at least one instance, creators of Red vs. Blue ("PVT G. Sorola" at about 1:00).
    • Watch the Grunt Assassinations. They are identical to the ones used by Cal and Dutch in Halo Legends during The Babysitter. Also, take three guesses about what happens in the level "The Package". You rescue Halsey from the Covenant, just like Halo Legends short of the same name.
    • Red vs. Blue fans thought that the damaged helmet in the opening was one to Tex's helmet from Revelation. However, when Rooster Teeth first saw Reach's opening cutscene, the company actually changed the series' title card because they thought Noble Six's damaged helmet would become a plot point in Reach (just like Tex's helmet did in Revelation) and wanted to avoid being too similar to Bungie's magnum opus.
  • Neck Snap: A few of the Assassination animations.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: The Covenant just love doing this to you, with perhaps the most brutal being when Jorge sacrifices himself to take out the supercarrier... and less than one minute later, a massive fleet of Covenant reinforcements arrive.
  • Nerf:
    • Allied human soldiers are noticeably less durable than they were in Halo 2 and Halo 3. However, ODSTs are actually noticeably tougher than normal soldiers this time around, and can take about as much damage as human soldiers in Halo 3 could (in other words, roughly on par with a shielded Minor Elite).
    • Spec Ops Elites aren't as durable or aggressive as they were in Halo 1 and Halo 2note , though they're all equipped with permanent cloaking devices now. Overall they're much more like Stealth Elites, with the Ultras having taken over their former role as the Elite Mooks of the Elites.
    • Elite Ultras are a lot less durable than they were in Halo 2, only having about 150% shields and 125% health (compared to 100% of each for Elite Minors) rather than the 300% shields and 300% health they had in Halo 2. However, they're also a lot faster and more agile than they were in Halo 2, tend to appear in greater numbers and carry explosive weaponry. Overall they're much more like Elite Mooks than the Boss in Mook Clothing they were in Halo 2.
    • Brute Chieftains go from being a Boss in Mook Clothing in Halo 3, to essentially being Elite Zealots with a Gravity Hammer here. Brutes in general have been toned down heavily, going back to their Halo 2 status of being bullet sponges that are vulnerable to headshots and needle supercombines, and even then have less health than they did there.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Of the "hiding spoilers" kind. One trailer features part of the ending cutscene for "New Alexandria". To hide Kat's death, Carter is carrying an assault rifle instead of her corpse.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: As per tradition, the Hunters. Their armor is invulnerable to nearly any attack (you can see the more visible ammunition like Needlers and Spikers completely bounce off). They only have a few orange colored weak points in the neck, torso and back where you can deal damage. The armor on their back will break off if you do enough damage, but they still have a large amount of health. They can take several rockets and several Plasma Grenades to the face, or upwards of six Needle Rifle supercombines before they go down.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • A MONUMENT TO ALL YOUR SINS. You thought Legendary was horrible in Co-Op? Try beating it alone.
    • Additionally, the unofficial Mythic difficulty, which is legendary with all skulls on.
  • No Fair Cheating: Everyone that deliberately performed the "Challenge Credit exploit" had their cR and unlocks completely reset. Bungie also set up a system to automate this and perform such resets (and possibly further bans) automatically.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Occasionally said word for word by NPCs if the player character dies in gameplay.
  • No-Sell: The Elites, especially Generals and Zealots, absolutely love this on the highest difficulties. Spartan Laser to the face? Nope. Three headshots with a Sniper Rifle? Try again. Shotgun blast to the head? So what?
    • Of course, whacking them in the back of the head will make them die quickly, as will stabbing them in the face with a combat knife.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • The base game contains many multiplayer maps that are remakes of or heavily inspired by maps from Halo 2: "Asylum", "Pinnacle" and "Reflection" are remakes of "Sanctuary", "Ascension" and "Ivory Tower" respectively, while "Hemorrhage" is a composite of "Blood Gulch" from Combat Evolved and "Coagulation" from 2. There is also "The Cage", which is based on the original layout concept sketches for what would eventually become 2's "Lockout".
    • The map pack released to coincide with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary features five maps remade from Combat Evolved: "Battle Canyon" ("Battle Creek"), "High Noon" ("Hang 'Em High"), "Penance" ("Damnation"), "Ridgeline" ("Timberland") and "Solitary" ("Prisoner"). The same pack also includes one remake of a map from 2, "Breakneck" ("Headlong").
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The hidden Data Pads reveal that many of the events of the Halo universe were caused indirectly by a group of AIs who have been secretly guiding the course of humanity's progress as a species.
  • One Bullet Clips: This trope is in effect, as per usual. Notably, when using some of the game's weapons (like the sniper rifle), the player will actually be punished for reloading from an empty clip with a longer reload animation.
  • One-Steve Limit: Both major female characters in the game are called Catherine. This isn't overly confusing because Catherine Halsey usually goes by her surname and Catherine B320 goes by "Kat", but still.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: To a certain extent, the entire game (along with Halo 3: ODST) is a genre swerve. The "traditional" Halo experience has you playing as a One-Man Army Cyborg Super-Soldier surrounded by Red Shirt allies; you kick ass while they cheer you on. In Reach, you're finally in the company of equals because your allies are Spartans (in ODST, it's because you are a Red Shirt too, though an elite one).
  • Palette Swap: Averted. Previous titles (excluding the Brutes in Halo 3) had different ranks of the same Covenant species distinguished almost solely by the color of their uniforms. Now, every different rank and role, even within the same Covenant species, has a custom uniform in addition to a unique color.
  • Playable Epilogue: Although the only point to it is to see how long you can last against the endless waves of Covenant forces.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: As usual for the series, given the absence of gore beyond blood splatters. Parodied with the Grunt Birthday Party skull, which, when active, makes headshots on the weakest enemy species cause their heads to explode... into confetti, accompanied by the sound of a cheer from Viva Piñata.
    • You can purchase an armor effect for 100,000 Credits that makes you explode into confetti with cheers when you get killed in multiplayer. Beware, as this could make you a more attractive target, and give away your nearby teammates' positions.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: It doesn't matter what gender you make Noble Six. The Master Chief Collection goes a step further and removes gender selection in favor of letting you choose your Spartan's body type and voice separately.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: For the Covenant who lost 2/3 of their massive fleet trying to attack and occupy Reach. And they didn't even manage to get the Forerunner tech there.
  • Ramming Always Works: Problem: Noble Six and Emile are pinned down from advancing by a Scarab. Other Problem: Carter, who is half-dead from injuries, is piloting a Pelican that's falling apart. Solution: Carter rams the Pelican into the Scarab, taking the walker down at the cost of his own life.
  • Rank Inflation: In each of Reach's three playable modes (Campaign, Firefight, and online multiplayer), you can earn "Commendations" for continually doing particular feats, such as murdering leader-class enemies, performing Assassinations, or just driving an ally while he mows down the opposition. Each mode has its own Commendations, all of which can be upgraded to a max of five ranks (Iron to Onyx) and serve no purpose other than to award you some bonus Credits and the right to brag.
  • Real Is Brown:
    • Poked fun at in Forge; the "next-gen" effect lights everything through a distinctly brown filter.
    • In the campaign, in keeping with the game's tone, Reach has a very bleak and washed-out feel compared to previous Halo games. The color pallete has a hazey look to it, even in space. That said, the game is still much more colorful than most uses of this trope.
  • Recurring Boss: The closest that Noble Team has to an actual nemesis (as opposed to just the Covenant as a whole) is an Elite Field Marshal who shows up a total of three times in the game:
    • He leads the attack on the communications outpost at the start of the game and is encountered during a cutscene near the end of the first mission.
    • At the end of "New Alexandria", he kills Kat by shooting her in the head with a Needle Rifle, from the door of a Phantom no less.
    • He appears once more on the last mission, where he leads a team of Zealots that overpower and kill Emile. The player then has a final confrontation with him, where you finally gun him down.
  • Red Shirt Army: In a slight change of pace, the Red Shirts this time are literal Army Troopers, instead of Marines like in the previous games. You do get to fight alongside actual Marines in the final level, though (they're the ones in dark armor wearing full-face helmets with depolarized visors).
  • Remember the Alamo: "Remember where it all began. Remember Reach."
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated:
    • Dr. Halsey says this to the Spartans when Carter says the casualty reports had listed her as K.I.A.
    • Deliberately invoked by UNSC propaganda: Spartans are never reported dead. They are only listed as missing in action. Because you'll never know for sure...
  • Retcon:
    • The entire game is essentially a rewrite of the latter part of Halo: The Fall of Reach, which had portrayed the Covenant attack as a complete and utter surprise (no advance attack force as depicted in-game), made no mention of the Forerunner excavation , and had the Autumn already on its way out of the star system with a complete Cortana well on board when the battle began.
    • Certain aspects of Covenant tech got revamped as well. Among the most radical changes are the ones to the design of the Elite Zealot armor (now a vibrant maroon instead of gold) and the layout of the Banshee (the characteristic engine pods have been removed or "hidden from view", to avoid the Fridge Logic of how the craft could fly with the pods shot off). Most of these have since been justified as being aesthetic choices specific to the Covenant forces attacking Reach (in fact, Word of God is that the Covenant deliberately eschew standardization).invoked
  • The Reveal: Sword Base is sitting on top of a Forerunner structure, and the Covenant want it real bad.
  • Rocketless Reentry: The protagonist makes a fall from orbit (with the aid of a re-entry pack) after their escape ship has its thrusters too damaged for flight.
    Jorge: Well, I've got good news and bad news. [...] The only way off this slag heap is gravity.
    Six: And the good news?
    Jorge: That was the good news.
  • Rule of Drama: People have pointed out inconsistencies with Kat's death, although justifications have been pointed out as well.
  • Running Gag: Almost once every level, Noble Six gets knocked down (via enemy, explosion, atmospheric freefall...) in a cutscene (sometimes with a first-person perspective) and has to grab the nearest weapon available.
  • Sad Battle Music: Most apparent in the epilogue mission "Lone Wolf", but also at a few moments earlier, where the tide turns against Noble Team. In the case of "Lone Wolf", it's a Lonely Piano Piece that falls silent during the firefight, but picks up in a despairing and foreboding tone as Noble Six makes his true Last Stand.
  • Save This Person, Save the World: Cortana holds all the data the UNSC have on Reach's Forerunner artifacts; Reach will fall, but any chance for humanity to survive the Covenant War rests on Noble Team getting her to the Pillar of Autumn and off Reach.
  • Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: Reach, before and after. Early in the game, before the Covenant arrives in force, you get a lot of nice-looking scenery, with the Sabre launch scene in "Long Night of Solace" looking especially gorgeous. Afterwards (especially in "Exodus", "New Alexandria", "The Package", and "The Pillar of Autumn"), most of the scenery is in ruins, there are fires everywhere, and in "The Autumn" there's this really freaky looking black cloud on the left side of where you are, almost like the big cloud in "The Storm" in Halo 3. The epilogue shows that Reach returns to its natural beauty in the future, at least by July 7, 2589.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: During the glassing of New Alexandria, Kat exclaims that it produces a radiation flare of “40 million roentgens!” Even if that was reduced to a per-hour calculation, that would still be ridiculous. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster produced only twenty-thousand roentgen/hour at its peak, and that was the worst nuclear disaster ever, with fallout spreading over the vast majority of Europe. A radiation flare of that magnitude would have killed everyone on Reach more or less instantly.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Halsey's journal mentions Elias Carver, a sociologist who predicted insurrection in the Outer Colonies, thus prompting the UNSC to further military presence there. Whether this actually caused the insurrection is left ambiguous, but Carver believed it to the extent that he was Driven to Suicide.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Jorge's Heroic Sacrifice is turned into this. It is just as depressing as it sounds.
  • Serial Escalation: Forge World was originally five separate maps designed for Forge mode set in similar environments. During development, one concept artist combined them all into a single map several times the size of any normal map, all seamless, playable, and massively customizable.
    • Lampshaded at their Comic-Con panel, where it turns out that the team member building those 5 maps was building them in one file for simplicity's sake at the time, as they all used the same resources. When he was nearing the end, he just asked why they were bothering to break it up. The answer? They never even considered the possibility of making a map that big. And neither did the fans.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story: Two of the missions:
    • "Tip Of The Spear": Noble Team leads a UNSC assault against the Covenant forces, beating them back and lowering the shield around the pillar. A frigate comes in and blows it up, and then it is destroyed by a Covenant Supercarrier. The entire mission has been rendered moot, due to that thing's appearance.
    • "Long Night of Solace": Noble-Six and Jorge lead a Sabre battle against the Covenant and then hijack a Covenant corvette in order to use it to take down a supercarrier. Most of the soldiers with you die, and then Jorge sacrifices himself to destroy the supercarrier. And then another Covenant fleet shows up...
    • Hell the only reason the entire freaking game doesn't qualify is the fact you got Cortana off-world, and Reach itself becomes a pristine, green world again... 34 years after the events of Halo 3.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: Face it, they weren't going to call it Halo 0.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The live-action commercial "Deliver Hope" features the previous Noble Six (Thom-A293) using a jetpack to fly up to an enemy battlecruiser floating above a city in order to destroy it with a bomb with a visible, beeping digital timer counting down that he had picked up off the ground. Unlike Duke though, he doesn't make it out alive.
    • Noble Six is the third and second to last words in Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The poem fits the game's plot pretty well.
    • Reach wasn't the only planet with an apocalypse dated August 29...
    • In the armory, one of the emblems is the Star of Chaos.
    • 90% of the Achievements are Shout Outs to dialogue from the previous games. The other 10%...
    • One of the UNSC taunts towards the Covenant: "You are one, UGLY mother..."
    • Watch how the female Noble Six walks during her last stand. It is identical to a motion from the end of Firefly made by Zoey, gun pose and all. May have been unintentional, but given that Bungie are known fans of the show...
    • The frequent use of grainy security footage during cutscenes seems like a homage to Neill Blomkamp, the director whose Halo shorts and original feature-length films (District 9 actually evolved out of the failed attempt at a full-length Halo movie) both frequently uses this style.
    • Most of the Daily and Weekly Challenges are shoutouts. For instance, the one for killing a certain amount of people with an automatic weapon is I Have A Machine Gun. Another, for killing a certain amount of opponents, is Aggressive Negotiations.
    • The Office of Naval Intelligence, AKA ONI. Considering Bungie's habit of referencing previous titles, the odds of this being a coincidence are rather slim, though it may be both, as the US Navy maintains a Real Life Office of Naval Intelligence, established in 1882.
    • The achievement "I See You Favor a .45" is a reference to The Wire. In fact, Jamie Hector, who played the ruthless drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield in The Wire, voices Emile.
    • The achievement "That's A Knife" is a reference to of all things, "Crocodile" Dundee.
    • When fatally wounded, Elites will sometimes clearly yell "Blargh!" or "HONK!" Which, weirdly enough, isn't as narmy as you'd think.
    • One of the random voice sets used by the troopers in the game is provided by Greg Grunberg from Heroes. A few of his lines make reference to that show, including several jokes about mind reading.
    • A Living Dead gametype option is called Zombie Ghosts. It involves invisible zombies who are on fire and attack with golf clubs, so... fitting.
    • The Guta are just like deathclaws.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Possibly overlapping with Fridge Brilliance; in one mission, the player is thrown out of a Covenant ship by Jorge into space. They seemingly shake off the re-entry with only a mild sprain or two. One would think "Hey, the Master Chief dropped from in atmosphere with a Foreunner plate protecting him, hit soft porous dirt, only survived by blind luck, and was still messed up for a while! What gives?" Well, if one pays close attention to the cutscenes, you can spot an armored pack on Noble Six's back, just before they're flung from the ship, labelled 'Re-Entry Unit'.
    • Halsey's Journal manages to reference and tie together so much of the extended universe, from the inconsistencies between this game and The Fall of Reach, the Spartan-III program from Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, the Orion program, etc. It was written by Eric Nylund, who wrote The Fall of Reach and its two sequels, so he was basically desperately trying to find a way to keep his trilogy in continuity.
    • In the extended "Deliver Hope" trailer, sharp eyes can spot everyone from Noble Team in the video; besides Kat and Thom, there's:
      • 0:35: Jorge
      • 0:36: Emile (left of explosion)
      • 0:53: Jun (HUD)
      • 1:00: Carter (at bottom)
    • When the Pillar of Autumn takes off, look closely. Those booster rockets are just that - booster rockets. After they've expended their thrust, they fall off individually.
  • The Siege: With the entire planet of Reach placed under one by the Covenant.
  • Single-Use Shield: Grunt Ultras and Brutes wear helmets that protect them from headshots and need to be shot off before you can pop their heads. The ones worn by Grunt Ultras can be knocked off with one shot, while the Brute helmets take a couple shots to knock off.
  • Sniping Mission: "Nightfall", the third real mission (fourth in literal terms) of the game, is a sniping mission with Jun.
  • Sole Survivor: Jun is the only member of Noble Team to survive, though this wasn't officially confirmed until his appearance in Halo: Initiation, roughly three years (in real-life time) after Reach's release.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Inverted for the most part. The characters with the most development and screen-time, Jorge and Kat, bite the dust first; Emile and Carter avert Black Guy Dies First and Mentor Occupational Hazard respectively by making it all the way to the penultimate level before dying, when the above tropes are usually invoked at the end of act II at best. And Jun, the character with the least focus, is the Sole Survivor.
  • The Squad: Noble Team.
  • The Squadette: Kat and, potentially, Noble Six.
  • The Stinger: You fought bravely, Noble Six...
  • Stock Scream: Wilhelm variety.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Carter has a datapad on the vambrace of his armor. Players can unlock similar options for their characters, which reveal the datapads are detachable; the vembraces in question include docking ports for them so they can be stored in an easily accessible manner.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Kat: A good place to look might be... I don't know, the nearest nonexistent launch site in the nonexistent Sabre Program, dismissed by three administrations as preposterous rumor... And in which our newest member was certainly never a pilot.
    Emile: You're scary, you know that?
  • Take Up My Sword: The ending states this is what happened in spirit. Which means it's implied that Noble Six could have been one of the heroes of the original trilogy had they chosen to evacuate along with everyone else.
  • Team Dad: Jorge. Carter to a lesser extent.
  • Team Mom: Dr. Halsey to Jorge, and eventually the rest of Noble Team. Her initial hostility is understandable due to the Back Story, but eventually, she comes to care for her "adopted" Spartans, including and especially Noble Six.
  • The War Sequence: "The Pillar of Autumn", which features you in the middle of a giant UNSC vs. Covenant battle while you blast your way through to get to a shuttle for evacuation, and "The Package", which has a sequence at the end where you have to defend Halsey's lab against a bunch of Covenant infantry, tanks, and Banshees. Also, Firefight mode.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Six's reaction to getting stuck by a plasma grenade in Campaign or Firefight? "Aww..."
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • The A.I. and combat skills of the entire Covenant roster have been noticeably improved. Most notably, Elites are now much more agile and intelligent and play a lot like multiplayer opponents — some even use Armor Abilities like Hologram and Armor Lock. Higher ranking Grunts can now fire overcharge shots.
    • Hunters no longer have any easily exploitable weakness at all. You can't kill them with a single shot, even from a sniper rifle, as you could in Halo: Combat Evolved or Halo 2. They no longer die from a couple of grenade sticks as they did in Halo 3. Also, they can now use the shields on their arms to deliberately block attacks.
    • Unlike most NPC allies in the series, all of Noble Team are invincible during gameplay, since there is no real need to escort highly trained soldiers.
    • The Pistol has been restored to be comparable to its Halo: Combat Evolved glory. It does the same amount of damage as the DMR, and can fire almost as quickly as its shield-eating Halo 2 counterpart. Fortunately, these factors are balanced by a smaller clip and more reticle bloom relative to the DMR.
    • Likewise, the Plasma Pistol's power has been significantly increased, even more so than it originally was in Halo: Combat Evolved. Granted, its rate of fire still pales in comparison to the first game's incarnation, but it still does as much raw damage as the DMR or Pistol.
    • In ODST, the Spiker was completely useless because you couldn't dual wield it. Now, it has a bite. A LOT of bite.
    • The Sniper Rifle is actually an anti-materiel weapon now!note  Who woulda thunk? You can now take out a tank by shooting it in the treads/thrusters (or its driver by shooting off the cockpit canopy), and the gun can generally three-shot most light vehicles, including Banshees.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted; several members of Noble Team have undergone treatment for PTSD, though Kat refuses it. Jorge even recommends a full psychiatric workup for a civilian survivor of a brutal Covenant attack.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Jorge's dog tags.
  • Unplanned Manual Detonation: The Slipspace drive used to blow up the supercarrier.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Part of "Long Night of Solace" is a space flight simulator similar to Wing Commander.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: A bug with the elevators can cause you to get stuck in a tower in "New Alexandria".
  • Unique Enemy:
    • The Guta in "Nightfall". You fight two midway through the level, and they're never seen again.
    • There are only 7 Zealot-class Elites in the entire game, found in 3 different encounters.
    • There are two encounters, one each, of a Jackal and some Grunts utilizing Plasma Rifles instead of Plasma Pistols.
    • One of the final ground enemies you fight before boarding the Mass Driver at the end of "Keyes", is an Elite Field Marshal wielding a Fuel Rod Cannon. While this isn't a unique sight, about as common as one wielding an Energy Sword, this Field Marshal is the only Elite that is carrying both weapons at once, and the only enemy in the game at all that will swap between weapons, in this case when his shield is broken. It's implied this is the same Field Marshal that ambushed Noble Team twice before, personally killed Kat the second time, and has now caused Emile's death by sending his troops to take down the Mass Driver he was manning.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The Player Character's post-credits Last Stand against the Covenant.
    • Though with some help in co-op from a friend running around the level while you fight, you can technically go on forever.
  • Updated Re-release: Like the rest of the games featured in The Master Chief Collection, Reach gets a few additions to its multiplayer beyond the usual Remaster stuff. This includes the addition of Escalation Slayer (the Halo equivalent of Gun Game) and an expanded Forge mode labelled "Thorage", with new items and a bigger item budget. Further content would eventually be added in the successive seasonal updates:
    • Season 1 - Noble: Present alongside the Reach's release to both PC and Console versions of MCC, its season pass acts as a testbed for future passes, allowing the player to progress through Reach's unlockable content (Spartan/Elite armour customisation pieces and Firefight voices) using a reworked points system.
    • Season 5 - Anvil: While largely focussed on the addition of several Halo Online armour sets consistent with that game's Anvil Station namesake, a number of Reach armour pieces originally planned for the Anniversary Map Pack (the EXO/TSCS chest armour, the AKIS and Mariner helmets + attachments for both, most notable being the AKIS [GRD] featured in one of the map pack's promotional images) were also included, alongside 5 "[R]" robot arm variants of existing chests that didn't originally feature them.
    • Season 8 - Mythic. While the fracture armour sets featured in the Season Pass were largely designed for use in Halo 3, Reach didn't miss out as the helmets for these sets were also available for the player to unlock and use. The game's gender selection has also been expanded, divulging the gender selection options into "Body Type" (with the "Male" & "Female" options reworked into "Heavy armour" & "Light armour" respectively) and "Voice" (Male & Female).
      • To celebrate Halo's 20th anniversary, Reach received an Exchange-exclusive Utility customisation option, the Fronk's Formed Fish-branded "Hydration Container".
  • Useless Accessory: Armor customization lets you add extra armor, bandoliers, pouches, and other unusual things that are purely aesthetic and don't affect gameplay in the slightest.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • Killing civilians results in your character's instantaneous demise. Fortunately, civilians have a crazy amount of health and are completely immune to explosives to prevent this from happening by accident during the "Exodus" mission. Unless you accidentally land a headshot. Enemies can still kill them with pitiful ease, however, like Brute Captains and Chieftains armed with Gravity Hammers who can and will flatten them by the dozen if they are allowed to get too close.
    • However, this is completely averted with regard to your fellow troopers. In all the previous Halo games, you took significant extra damage when shot by a marine, which was implemented to make sure you lost if you decided to be a jerk and turn against them. This is no longer the case in Reach, allowing you to slaughter entire platoons of human forces if you choose to.
    • Betraying your allies in the presence of Noble Team will result in instant death when the latter suddenly become way more competent than usual and one-shot kill you.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: There are lots of armor options.
  • War Is Hell: Surprisingly, considering the subject matter, the game drives it home without getting Anvilicious about it.
  • We All Die Someday: During Jorge's Heroic Sacrifice.
    Noble Six: That's a one-way trip.
    Jorge: We all make it sooner or later.
  • We Have Reserves: The game gets some mileage out of showing just how many reserves the Covenant have. No matter how many soldiers you kill or ships you blow up, there are always more to replace them. This is best shown in Long Night of Solace, where the heroes basically destroy the Fleet of Valiant Prudence, only for the even bigger fleet of the Ministry of Resolution to jump in seconds later, nullifying their efforts. Then that's followed again by the even bigger combined force of the Fleet of Particular Justice, Fleet of Holy Respite, and Fleet of Righteous Vigilance.
  • We Win Because You Didn't: The Covenant never got their hands on the Forerunner artifact Halsey was studying, with the information Cortana translated making it to the Pillar Of Autumn.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Toward the end of the conflict, it becomes clear to even the protagonist that humanity is not simply losing the battle of Reach, but has already lost. Several sectors of the planet are already being glassed at that point, the weather is becoming more extreme due to the added energy, and the sea level is rising with the melting ice caps.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: You eventually take control of a Mass Driver cannon, which is the most powerful weapon any player can personally control in any Halo game.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The game leaves Jun's fate unresolved; his absence from the reprint of Halo: First Strike would imply he died defending CASTLE with Red Team, but both Word of God and 343 Industries-era media show that he actually survived Reach, going on to become one of the founders of the SPARTAN-IV Program.
    • Sara Sorvad, the young woman that you rescue at the end of the first mission, has a unique character model and gets just enough screen time that you suspect she could have a role later on in the plot. She's never seen again and is dismissed as "irrelevant" by Halsey in her only other mention. Word of God is that she was originally intended to have become Noble Team's science adviser.
    • Colonel Urban Holland, Noble Team's C.O., just drops off the face of the planet after ordering Noble Team to revisit and demolish Sword Base at the end of "New Alexandria". No one ever says anything even hinting toward his fate.
  • While Rome Burns: Club Errera in "New Alexandria", after you hit a hidden switch, has a Brute DJ playing "Never Surrender" from the Halo 2 OST, all while the city is under siege, with the Grunts dancing to it as well. As an additional Easter Egg, there's a switch on the roof that changes the song to a club remix of "Siege of Madrigal".
  • Worth It: An achievement in this game for getting a Double Kill from the grave is called "Totally Worth It".
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In the "New Alexandria" mission, there's a panicking trooper hiding in a corner (a homage to similar characters seen in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST). If you stop to listen to him, he goes on about how he's heard that if a Grunt bites you, you turn into a Grunt (the marines in Combat Evolved and 3 at least were referring to the Flood, who would turn you into one of them if they killed you).
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Noble Team simply can't catch a break.
  • You Are Number 6: You're primarily referred to as Noble Six, and the other members of Noble are often referred to by their team number as well.
  • Zerg Rush: Starting off slowly, the game soon features more and more Covenant arriving on Reach to the point where there is nothing any player can do to stop the onslaught. In more than one section all you can do is hold a position for a time and then run away.

Spartans never die...they're just waiting to respawn.


Video Example(s):


Noble Six

In Halo, guns are stored for later by literally sticking to the wielder's back, as seen here with Noble Six holstering a rifle. Though the official line per Word of God is that Spartan Armour is magnetic.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SticksToTheBack

Media sources: