March 23, 2023

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My favourite planet: The quiet awe of Installation 04, AKA the original Halo

This week, while a lot of you will be (re)exploring the galaxy of the original Mass Effect trilogy, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of our own favourite video game planets. First up, Oli remembers the glory of Halo. Halo’s a planet right? It isn’t? Oh well, nobody said this stuff was simple – just ask Pluto.

Halo, the series, owes a lot more than just its name to its original setting. The name is a pretty good start, though, with its evocation of holy reverence, of refracted glory, of encircled perfection. It is the name the religious zealots of the Covenant have bestowed upon a mysterious celestial body: a ringworld orbiting a gas giant, and an artificial paradise harbouring a dark purpose. Its creators, a long-lost race known as the Forerunners, called it, rather prosaically, Installation 04.

Whichever angle you approach it from, the Halo inspires awe. Lore first: the Halo is both ancient, a hundred thousand years old, and futuristic, created by a society far more advanced than either the humans or aliens of the game’s nearish future. Over the course of Halo: Combat Evolved, you discover that it is both a research station and a terrifying weapon. The Forerunners created an array of such Halos that, when triggered together, would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, to prevent it being overrun by the parasitic Flood. It’s terrifying!

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