Humanity is at war with the alien alliance known as "The Covenant".
We are losing.
Halo 3: ODST is a Halo Gaiden Game released on September 22, 2009 as a stand-alone expansion of Halo 3. Chronologically, ODST is concurrent with Halo 2 - specifically, the game starts right at the end of Halo 2's "Metropolis" level. At the beginning of the game, the Covenant have begun invading Earth, and are already occupying the city of New Mombasa. You take on the role of a newly reassigned Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (known only as "The Rookie") who is trapped behind enemy lines after a botched drop and has to figure out what happened to the rest of his squad.
The gameplay is largely a throwback to Halo: Combat Evolved, with the return of the Health Meter, slowly-recharging "stamina" instead of shields, no Dual Wielding, and a pistol that's actually useful. Uniquely for the series, the campaign is organized around a relatively open-world Hub Level, where it is up to the player to figure out which route they should take to their next objective, which is usually a clue about what happened to the rest of the squad; each time a clue is discovered, you will play through a flashback mission where you take on the role of one of the Rookie's squadmates.
The game also included a second disc that was comprised of the Halo 3 multiplayer (no campaign) with all of the downloadable maps (including three that wouldn't be available otherwise for half a year after ODST's release). In addition, it featured a new multiplayer mode called "Firefight" where you battled endless waves of Covenant coming after you.
While the game gained good reviews (particularly for its more intimate plot and atmosphere compared to other Halo games), some players have criticized its relatively short campaign.
Because of the issues that polluted the online modes of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, 343 Industries promised that anyone who had played the game between its launch and December 18, 2014 would be eligible to download a full HD remaster of the Halo 3: ODST campaign at no charge. The remastered campaign was released on May 30, 2015note . For ineligible players, the campaign can be purchased as Downloadable Content for The Master Chief Collection at around six dollars. As of September 22, 2020, Halo 3: ODST has been made available on PC. Alongside the PC release came the return of the ODST version of Firefight.
Tropers! We are green, and very, very mean!
- 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.
- Anachronic Order: The game starts with the squad dropping from orbit and the Rookie getting separated from everyone else. As he chases after them, he finds bits of discarded equipment which trigger playable Flashbacks to his squadmates' adventures. It isn't until late in the game that everyone links back up.
- Apocalyptic Log: The audio files scattered about the game, when put together, form something akin to a Radio Drama that describes the fall of New Mombasa from the point of view of one of the civilians in the conflict zone. It was written and developed by the same studio that Bungie employed to create I Love Bees, and is something of a side story to a side story.
- Arbitrary Mission Restriction: The "Good Shepherd" achievement requires the player to complete the campaign without killing any Engineers, making things harder because Engineers give their teammates energy shields. Additionally, the "Vidmaster" challenge requires players to complete the final mission on Legendary difficulty without using any Warthogs or tanks, but to alleviate the challenge, the players are given Mongooses and near-infinite ammo rocket launchers.
- Artificial Brilliance: The cop in the sub levels that fights alongside you — and attempts to betray you, being a Dirty Cop — can Halo-jump out of the way of oncoming melee attacks.
- As the Good Book Says...: Dutch is known to throw this out on occasion. See "Religious Bruiser" for a few quotes.
- Badass Normal: All of the ODST characters in the game are distinctly less powerful than Master Chief or any Spartan, but they prove to be resourceful in their own right. Buck jumping on a Brute Chieftan's back and stabbing him in the neck repeatedly comes to mind.
- Benevolent A.I.: The New Mombasa Superintendent, aka "Vergil". It might be a damaged "dumb" AInote , but it's nothing but helpful to you. The audio logs reveal that it was also programmed to look after Sadie, its caretaker's daughter, which it does dutifully.
- Boom, Headshot!: There are two Achievements for shooting enemies in the head. One is called "Boom, Headshot".
- Bottle Episode: In addition to gameplay being heavily based on Halo 3 with a few new improvements/additions, the game's premise of searching for your squad means that several areas of the "Mombasa Streets" Hub Level can be recycled as standalone missions, just set at different times of the day.
- Canon Immigrant: The game is the first Halo FPS to have Covenant Engineers (or "Huragok" in the Covenant's own spoken language). Bungie had been trying to work them into the gameplay since Halo: Combat Evolved, but didn't manage to do so until ODST. The Engineers have always had a presence in the Halo Expanded Universe from the very first book onward, but it took the design team a while before they could figure out a way to incorporate what is essentially a non-combatant Covenant race into the combat-heavy First-Person Shooter series in a meaningful way.
- The Casanova: Romeo claims to be one, hence his moniker. Given his disposition, it seems like he might play to the All Girls Want Bad Boys appeal.
- Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the game, Romeo is given a sniper rifle and complains that it won't be of much use inside a Covenant ship. Not long after, Romeo uses it to snipe an Engineer that was "attacking" Buck.
- Continuity Nod: Just before the Covenant carrier jumps out of the city, you can see a little black speck approach its starboard side. That speck is the In Amber Clad.
- Critical Annoyance: If you take damage, your player character will grant you the pleasure of obnoxiously grunting and panting while their stamina regenerates. If their underlying health bar takes a hit, you'll be granted the further pleasure of a constant beeping sound until you find a health pack.
- Developers' Foresight: At the end of "Uplift Reserve", you are required to make a Ramp Jump, which leads directly into a cutscene. In the level itself you are generally expected to be driving a Warthog, but if you are instead driving a Ghost or Chopper, the cutscene will be modified to reflect that.
- Dirty Cop:
- The audio logs have Kinsler, New Mombasa's Police Commissioner. He tries to kill Sadie, arranges her father's death, and then hijacks a subway car to get away safely while hundreds of people are trying to get in as well. Luckily karma catches up with him in the end, and he's literally ripped to pieces when said hundreds of people storm the train.
- In the game itself, the officer in "Data Hive" is revealed to be this if you've collected 29 audio logs. In fact, the reason he's there to begin with is to confirm for Kinsler that Sadie's father is indeed dead.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In the audio logs, when Sadie and her police friend get to the NMPD building, they meet an ex-cop who, seeing as everyone is going to hell soon enough, has decided to send a few of his "old buddies" on their way himself.Marshal: Remember how many times I asked you not to use my half-and-half? And remember how many times you... didn't listen?
Jim: Wha- You did this?
Marshal: You should have stayed in the elevator, Jim... I wrote! -bang- My name! -bang- Right there on the carton! -bang-
Mike: Come on, Sadie, let's go...
Marshal: According to his department, I have issues with anger management!" -click- "If I were you... I'd stay right where you were.
- Downer Beginning: The Rookie wakes up in the middle of the occupation of New Mombasa by the Covenant.
- Dynamic Loading: The Halo engine has always had this in the "fixed path" variation, but this title plays with it a lot more in the New Mombasa streets that the Rookie explores. Downtown New Mombasa is divided up into several hexagonal blocks by walls (justified in-universe as being mandatory safety measures to minimize damage in case there is a serious accident on the space elevator) with doors closing off the joining streets to stall the Covenant. The Rookie can trigger a manual override of each door, opening it to let himself through. This is intended to slow the player down enough to let the next section of the city load into memory.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: You play as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper), the UNSC's premiere fighting force, second only to the Spartans.
- Escort Mission: Towards the end, you have to escort an Engineer defector to safety. It has enough health to not be a hassle (especially after it commanders an Olifant truck) and gives you shields if you stay nearby.
- Everything Is Online: The Superintendent is able to remotely control doors, signs, cars, and other systems all over New Mombasa to guide and assist the Rookie. Justified, as NM is a futuristic ultramodern metropolis, and running everything in it is the Super's job.
- Expy: Buck has been described by some reviewers as "Mal Reynolds as a Space Marine". They usually add that this is not necessarily a bad thing. He's even portrayed by the same actor!
- Extremely Short Timespan: The shortest Halo game in terms of its timeline. With the exception of a short epilogue set one month later, the whole game starts at 4 P.M. and ends at sunrise the next morning.
- Fake Static: In the audio logs, Sadie tries it on her father, only for him to point out it's a video feed.
- Falling Damage: Makes a return after Halo 2 and Halo 3 didn't feature it, befitting of the fact that you lack the same augmentations and equipment that the Chief had.
- Film Noir: A huge source of inspiration for the game, as stated by Bungie. The influence can be felt in the game in the way the Rookie interacts with the world by seeking out little clues to give him a picture of what happened when trying to locate his squad, the sense of wandering alone through a rainy city at night, and the lonely saxophone solos in the music.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The entire ODST squad counts, but specifically the Rookie, Buck, and Dare.
- Foregone Conclusion: Everyone who has played Halo 2 and Halo 3 already knows why the Covenant attacked New Mombasa and what they are looking for, but the cast is kept in the dark the entire game.
- Bungie got clever with this. First, watch the "Desperate Measures" video, paying close attention to the audio starting at around the 2:24 mark. Then, once that's done, go play the final campaign level, "Coastal Highway". And here you thought Buck's line in the video was just hyperbole, didn't you? Specifically, Buck notes that the Superintendent could "commander the city's garbage trucks if we need 'em". Guess what ends up happening?
- Buck is described in-game as being so good that he could be a Spartan. Come Halo 5: Guardians...
- Gentle Giant: Jonas from the audio logs. 6'10, 500 pounds, and is very soft-spoken, even when threatening someone:Angry Driver: You put your cleaver through the hood of my car!
Jonas: Oh, a thousand pardons. But it was either that, or smash your windshield, pull you out, and make you into kebabs.
Angry Driver: What?! No! No-no! Hey wait!
Jonas: Then please. Stop honking your horn. It frightens the children.
- Ghost City: New Mombasa is completely devoid of civilians following its evacuation, and enemy encounters are small and few and far between in the Rookie's segments.
- The Greatest Story Never Told: Compared to the plots of the Master Chief games.
- He Knows Too Much: If the Rookie catches the NMPD officer investigating Dr. Endesha's body, said officer will try to kill him.
- Heroic Mime: The Rookie, while making the occasional grunt when throwing a grenade, or crying out in pain when shot, never says a single word the entire game.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Implied with Jonas in the audio logs. He refuses to leave New Mombasa because he would take up too much room on any evacuating vehicle, and flatly insists his life isn't worth five others.
- Hostage Situation: Happens twice in the audio logs.
- How We Got Here: The beacons scattered around the Mombasa Streets level trigger flashback missions, showing how each object (Dare's helmet, Romeo's sniper rifle, etc.) ended up where you find them.
- Hub Level: "Mombasa Streets", which features the Rookie running around finding beacons that unlock other levels, depicted as flashbacks. Playing through one level unlocks the next one, but you can't go back and replay old levels. "Mombasa Streets" also has plenty of enemies, plus terminals which give backstory to New Mombasa.
- Humans Are Bastards/Humans Are Morons: The audio logs paint a rather unflattering picture of New Mombasa's citizenry, most of whom are depicted as various mixes of greedy, selfish, corrupt, and Too Dumb to Live.
- If Only You Knew: When the Rookie finally manages to find her, Captain Dare jokingly notes that unless he spent the entire invasion sleeping inside his pod, he must be one Hell of a badass to have survived so long without any backup. What she doesn't realize is that, while the Rookie is legitimately skilled, he really did spend the entire invasion knocked unconscious inside his drop pod, having only woken up just a short time prior.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Both Nathan Fillion's and Tricia Helfer's respective characters of Buck and Dare are modeled after their likenesses.
- It's Raining Men: As expected for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The player is treated to a first-person depiction of an ODST drop operation in the game's opening.
- Jerkass: Romeo is a mild example. Described by Joe Staten as "a bit of a dick", his profile states that he has had some discipline infractions that, in less desperate times, could have gotten him discharged. But given the state of the war, his skills are too valuable to simply let go.
- Justified Tutorial: This game's "looking around" tutorial takes the form of the Rookie having to activate the explosive bolts in his drop pod to escape it. After jumping out, he suffers Falling Damage (after two games of it not being an issue) and needs to grab a nearby Optican health pack, introducing the player to the game's Health Meter.
- Late to the Tragedy: The Rookie spends most of the game playing catch-up.
- Lawful Stupid: Justified that it's a "dumb" AI, but the Superintendent often has Skewed Priorities in response to happenings in the city and doesn't seem to get how dire the situation is, such as at the ONI Alpha Site when it refuses to unlock a terminal to allow the building's defenders to blow the bridge to the building and telling them to "respect public property" despite the fact that a mob of Covenant is storming across the bridge at that very moment.
- Living MacGuffin: It turns out that your squad's actual mission is to recover an Engineer who defected from the Covenant. Said Engineer also serves this role in the audio logs; Sadie comes to value it because it downloaded Virgil, the last thing left of her father's work, while Kinsler wants to capture it so he can be branded a war hero.
- Lonely Piano Piece: One of the common forms of music during the Rookie's segments, along with an occasional slow saxophone solo, to fit the game's contemplative pace and theme of isolation.
- Lower-Deck Episode: The game is a more personal story of a squad of elite redshirts deployed for a single mission that spans less than half a day of narrative time, in contrast to the series's usual stories of a Super Soldier who alter the course of the war, fights an Eldritch Abomination, and prevents genocide on a galactic scale.
- Mission Control: Played with by the Superintendent/Vergil. Its communication capabilities are incredibly limited, so it has to resort to manipulating electronic signs and playing pre-recorded audio phrases to guide the Rookie through the city. It will also highlight areas of interest on your map and try to get your attention if you're near an audio file.
- Multi-Mook Melee: Several moments in the campaign, most notably the rooftop battle at the end of "NMPD HQ". Additionally, Firefight revolves entirely around this trope.
- Mythology Gag: The overall look of New Mombasa from the street level more closely resembles the way it was presented in the 2003 E3 demo rather than how it looked in Halo 2 proper. The E3 demo featured more vibrant colors, sidewalks, parked cars, benches and street signage to make it feel more like a city center, whereas the game had a more uniform brown coloring and the roads looked more like highways, tunnels or industrial access (Bungie was upfront the reason was the game engine at the time was overclocking the hardware, so sacrifices were made).
- Being a puny human instead of a Spartan supersoldier, your melee attacks do noticeably less damage than in Halo 3 proper. Most noticeably, they are no longer a one-hit-kill against enemies like Grunts and Jackals.
- Because Brutes' energy shields now resist human projectile weapons, guns like the assault rifle are noticeably less effective.
- The assault rifle itself has been nerfed so that the game's signature SMG is more effective. Other than against vehicles, there is no situation in which the AR would be more useful than the SMG.
- Inverted with the pistol, referred to as the M6S. This version does more damage than the M6C pistol from Halo 2, fires quicker than the M6G pistol from Halo 3, and it even has a scope like the M6D pistol from Halo 1.
- Notice This: Invoked by the Superintendent. Being a "dumb" AI, its communication capabilities are limited, so it tries to direct the Rookie by fiddling with New Mombasa's infrastructure. Digital signs flashing "DETOUR" with an arrow, car alarms suddenly triggering, and traffic blockers behaving erratically are all ways it tries to steer you around.
- Oddball in the Series: Downplayed. It's not as oddball-y as the Halo Wars subseries, but it's the only FPS entry to put the player in a nonlinear Hub Level, its plot is far smaller in scope than the other games and the emphasis is on a Badass Normal Badass Crew with a Supporting Protagonist rather than a One-Man Army leading the charge.
- Once for Yes, Twice for No: Vergil can only communicate via pre-recorded audio city notices and traffic signs. For example, when attempting to ask marines to not blow up a bridge, it initially asks them to "Keep It Clean, Respect Public Property", but when faced with the eventuality that the Covenant would soon be accessing its datacenter, the AI releases the bridge controls and ironically responds "Bridge Toll Accepted, Have a Pleasant Trip".
- Opening Scroll: Notably the only Halo game to do this.
- Production Foreshadowing: Ever saw this poster◊ lying around the city? Well, That's No Moon!, that's The Traveller.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: "The Life" trailer featured only Hungarian dialog, with no subtitles.
- Recollection Sidequest: Played With. The game starts off with the Rookie roaming a semi-open world while looking for clues of what happened to his teammates in the six hours he was out cold, with each clue triggering a flashback sequence. The two unusual aspects are that the flashbacks are actually interactive, self-contained combat levels and that, somehow, the Rookie witnesses the flashbacks from his teammates' respective points of view (i.e. you play through other teammates' flashbacks).
- Religious Bruiser: Dutch.
Dutch: Uh, Lord? I didn't train to be a pilot. Tell me I don't have any more flying to do today.
- After doing a jump in a Warthog/Ghost/Chopper and crash-landing:
(Aerial drone crashes into a nearby statue)
Dutch: So, was that a yes or a no?
Dutch: Well, like the good book says, payback's a bitch.
Mickey: I don't think it actually says that, Dutch.
Dutch: I'm paraphrasin', ya heathen!
- Retcon: The game radically alters the look and layout of New Mombasa from the way it was shown in Halo 2. The space elevator is now on its own manmade island instead of in the city center, the buildings of downtown are more futuristic and imposing, and the massive suspension bridge that Master Chief crossed in Halo 2 is nowhere to be seen.
- Rule of Symbolism: Parts of the game are symbolic of Dante's The Divine Comedy. Two of the biggies:
- Vergil: Named after Dante's companion, it is the Rookie's guide for most of the game, and helps you figure out the story of what happened when you were knocked out in your pod.
- If you collect all of the Audio Files, you can see they are organized into "Circles" and refer to the sins from the Inferno. More details here.
- Then there's Dare. It's suspiciously like a Godspell reference, considering her role in the game.
- Scenery Gorn: Being a battlefield, nearly all of New Mombasa. During the nighttime stages where you play as the Rookie, the city, despite remaining semi-functional while in lockdown, is littered with all of the signs of the war that now rages there.
- Sergeant Rock: Buck is a near-textbook example of the archetype. He has served in the ODSTs for a long time with a proven success record. The game even says, "if he were any better, he'd be a Spartan." Buck and the rest of his squad (save the Rookie) eventually become Spartan-IVs after the war.
- Shoot the Medic First: Engineers give their allies overshields. The shields dissipate when the Engineer is killed, so it is in your best interest to aim for them first, making the rest a bit easier. There are achievements both for doing this and not doing it in the hub level.
- The game shares some themes with Pathways into Darkness and Marathon:
- You're a soldier who gets knocked out on his drop and wakes up hours later, presumed dead by your squad. You must discover what happened via interacting with inanimate objects and dead bodies to find out what happened to your squad. Your mission involves an extremely powerful being who is manipulating events above while dealing with hostile non-humans.
- In some buildings there are simplified Thoth logos on the walls.
- The Engineers are presented in this game the same way as the S'pht in Marathon.
- Vergil: It is your only companion (as the Rookie) for most of the game. It guides you and helps you figure out the story of what happened when you were asleep in your pod; this is very similar to the original Virgil from The Divine Comedy. Other references to The Divine Comedy also play a large part of the game. If you collect all of the Audio Files, you can see they are organized into "Circles" and refer to the sins from the Inferno.
- Dare seems to be a reference to the Biblical pebble.
- The entire "Drop Pod" concept comes from Starship Troopers.
- The game shares some themes with Pathways into Darkness and Marathon:
- Sliding Scale of Content Density vs. Width: The game takes a somewhat wider approach to its design compared to other games thanks to its non-linear hub and Story Breadcrumbs.
- Space Trucker: Mentioned in Dutch's background. He drove cargo trucks on Mars in order to put himself through college, where he majored in religion and philosophy.
- Split-Personality Merge: Vergil ends up being downloaded into an Engineer.
- Strictly Professional Relationship: Captain Dare was once in a relationship with Sergeant Buck, but broke it off because of her work with ONI. She intends to keep things professional when the two are put in the same unit again, but he's still openly angry at her, and she eventually starts letting her affection show through. They end up hooking back together by the end.
- Supporting Protagonist: The Rookie. His story comprises the Myth Arc of the game but he doesn't do much to help the mission until the end, being knocked out and all. It's more the story of the other ODSTs, especially Buck and Dare. However, if he views all of the Vidocs, he will be the one to make contact with Quick to Adjust instead of Dare.
- SWAT Team: One of these makes a brief appearance in "Sadie's Story".
- Three-Volley Flinch: In the trailer The Life, a funeral is held for a deceased Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. One of his relatives, Tarkov, flinches at the three-volley salute, but the next scene shows him enlisting for the ODSTs.
- Tone Shift: This game is intentionally tonally different than the other entries in the Halo series. Aside from the shorter length, it has a more focused narrative seen from several more points of view, along with a quieter, more contemplative pace. Large sections of the game are low-intensity affairs where the player can explore at will, with minimal exposition other than what they can piece together from the environment, which are in turn punctuated with linear sections of more intense action and direct story-telling.
- Too Dumb to Live: That old woman that Sadie encounters in the casino. In addition to trying to steal money from the machines in the middle of an invasion, she also tries to take on a pack of Brutes...with a shotgun. She's quickly smashed by a slot machine.
- Took a Level in Badass: Brutes are noticeably tougher in ODST than they were in Halo 3. This is mostly because their shields now take half damage from human projectile weapons, allowing them to soak noticeably more bullets before going down (the plasma rifle or noob combo still owns them, though).
- Underrated and Overleveled: If one stops to think about it, all the characters are this. The main Halo franchise focuses on a badass Super Soldier who was picked from the best of the best, trained from childhood, underwent expensive and dangerous procedures to enhance his physical and mental abilities, and given Powered Armor equipped with shield technology stolen from the enemy. The characters in this game are...well trained soldiers. They are implied to be incredibly skilled even when compared to the rest of the highly elite ODSTs, but they are not super soldiers. However, the game engine is the same as Halo 3, meaning the ODST soldiers are just as powerful as Master Chief. They lose the shields (but replace them with a stamina system that makes them nearly as durable), and they can't punch through tanks like the Chief, but that's about the only difference. In contrast, ODST NPCs in the other games are nothing to write home about.
- Heck, there's one area where the ODSTs even outperform Chief, at least until Halo 4. In 3, Chief is slowed considerably while wielding a dismounted turret, but in ODST, none of the playable characters suffer this speed reduction.
- Additionally, in Halo 2 and Halo 3, Jackal Snipers could kill the Master Chief in one shot on legendary, but in ODST, every playable character can take one shot from a sniper and survive, even on legendary.
- Unfriendly Fire: The reason no Elites can be seen in this game. The Brutes left behind after Regret's carrier jumped to Delta Halo turned on the Elites and slaughtered them, something Buck notices during one of his missions.
- Unique Enemy:
- If you've collected 29 audio logs, the NMPD officer in "Data Hive" becomes this, despite him having previously been your ally for much of the level.
- The Drone Leaders, which are golden and have energy shields.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment:
- The equipment pick-ups from Halo 3 are no-longer useable by the player in this game, though enemies can still deploy most of them themselves.note
- Wraiths in this game are also rigged to explode when the driver dies, making them impossible to hijack without exploits.
- Updated Re-release: Alongside the release of the PC version, The Master Chief Collection version of the game features an expanded Firefight mode, with more options for weapon loadouts and enemy compositions available. It also adds two new characters to play in Firefight: Bug-Splattered Buck and Injured Romeo (both based on specific moments during the campaign).
- Video Game Caring Potential: Players get an Achievement for not killing any of the Engineers, who are strictly defensive units.