So, you’ve finished the first season of “Halo” the series on Paramount+ and now there’s a Master Chief-shaped hole in your heart. What are you to do? Fortunately, the Halo franchise has 20 years’ worth of games, books, podcasts, and more ways for you to explore the universe and make the wait for Season 2 of the show feel a little shorter.
Before we get into some recommendations, a quick note: “Halo” the series takes place in what’s known as the Silver timeline, with a plot that draws from many of the core themes and characters from the games, extended fiction, and other media properties but is branches from the core canon in order to better conform to the very different needs of a television series, but also to ensure that the game timeline and events aren’t tangled in the ongoing needs of a show. So, as you explore the various games and novels that make up the core canon, you will absolutely recognize familiar characters and events, but sometimes presented in brand new ways, giving you a rich and expansive universe to discover with both familiar elements as well as significant surprises! And of course the same is true for fans of the game experiencing the show for the first time.
For most fans, the Halo franchise started in 2001 with Halo: Combat Evolved and the original Xbox console, although technically, the novel “Halo The Fall of Reach” preceded the game launch by a few weeks and introduced the Chief, the dark origin of the Spartan program and many of the characters and history that are very present in both the games and the TV timeline. But for the first part of this exercise, we’re starting with the game where it all began — and with some essential picks for gamers eager to experience the Master Chief’s story firsthand – all available with Xbox Game Pass on consoles and PC:
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection – The Master Chief’s iconic original journey can be experienced across a single integrated experience, featuring both the series’ epic campaigns and multiplayer suites. Whether you’re a long-time fan or meeting Spartan John-117 for the first time, The Master Chief Collection is the definitive Halo gaming experience and history lesson – with modernized, enhanced versions of Halo 1 and 2, as well as Halo 3, its epic expansion, Halo 3:ODST, Halo 4, and Halo Reach – a prequel set just before the events of the first game.
- Halo 5: Guardians – The Master Chief saga continues, with solo and up to 4-player cooperative experience that spans three worlds. A mysterious and unstoppable force threatens the galaxy. The Spartans of Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team must embark on a journey that will change the course of history and the future of mankind.
- Halo Infinite – Jump into the latest Halo campaign with Xbox Game Pass. When all hope seems lost and humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief will confront one of the most ruthless foes he’s ever faced across the surface of a new and dangerous Halo ring. Halo Infinite also features a free-to-play multiplayer suite available on Xbox consoles, Windows PC and Steam, where players take control over their own customizable Spartan across a variety of exciting game modes in a multiplayer offering that will continue to grow and evolve over time.
If you’re a fan of the written word, there have been over 30 Halo novels written to date. If you’re not sure where to start, we can recommend a few collections to get immersed in franchise lore.
- “The Fall of Reach,” “The Flood,” and “First Strike” – Dive into the original books of the Halo franchise, serving as a prelude to Halo: Combat Evolved and bridging the gap between it and the events of Halo 2. Whether you’ve played or not, these novels create a foundation for better understanding the stakes of the conflict between humanity and the Covenant and provide additional color and background on key characters and events.
- “Contact Harvest” – Explore the history of humanity’s first contact with the Covenant. What started this war? Why did the Covenant attack? What happened to the first human world to be visited by the dangerous alien alliance? Written by 343’s own Joseph Staten.
- Kilo Five Trilogy – If you’re looking for a more advanced dive into the Halo universe, this character-driven trilogy consisting of “Glasslands,” “The Thursday War,” and “Mortal Dicata” will spotlight the darker side of the UNSC, ONI, and how the Spartan program impacted the families who were left behind.
- “Silent Storm” and “Oblivion” – Interested in getting a glimpse into some of the Master Chief’s early career? “Silent Storm” and “Oblivion” are two fantastic novels by renowned author Troy Denning that take a look at some of the Chief’s harrowing exploits early in humanity’s war with the Covenant.
The Halo universe also includes both visual and audio storytelling, in the form of short films, TV and audio logs. These provide extra context to the universe and can tell a different story about the Master Chief and the Spartans complimentary to the stories of the games.
- “Halo Legends” – This collection of seven short films dives deeper into the Halo universe and was produced and directed by a number of distinguished anime studios including Bones, Toei Animation, and Bee Train.
- “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” – Released in 2012 as a five episode series, this was the first feature-length live-action Halo offering. The story links Cortana and the Master Chief with Captain Thomas Lasky and the UNSC Infinity.
- “Halo: Hunt the Truth” – Tying into the story of Halo 5: Guardians, this two-season investigative audio series follows journalist Benjamin Giraud – voiced by Keegan Michael Key – as he seeks to learn the story behind the Master Chief and his exploits.
- “Halo Infinite: Memory Agent” – This six-episode narrative podcast series follows a secret agent whose memory resets every seven hours as they attempt to deliver vital information to the Master Chief ahead of the events of Halo Infinite.
So you’ve played, read, watched and listened to all this and you’re still hungry for more? Whether you’ve recently graduated with a degree in Forerunner history, are looking to cosplay as your favorite Spartan or just need a refresher on your favorite character, check out these resources.
- “Halo Encyclopedia” (2022) – in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Halo franchise, 343 Industries partnered with Dark Horse for a definitive guide to the Halo universe encompassing two decades of storytelling. This epic tome features a massive collection of never-before-seen art from an array of incredible artists, and is penned by the internal lore team at 343 Industries.
- “Halo Mythos” – Experience the grand story of the Halo universe in one easy-to-access place, from the reign of the majestic Forerunners countless millennia ago, to humanity’s struggle against the alien forces of the Covenant and the Flood. Written by the expert team at 343 Industries, and illustrated with more than fifty stunning full-color paintings.
- Previously on Halo – A fan site developed by Halo superfan and current 343 Industries Community Writer Alex Wakeford, Previously on Halo is a Spartan’s guide to every game, book, comic and character across the vast Halo universe.
- 405th Infantry Division – A costume and prop community offering guides and resources and more for anyone looking to take their love of Halo to the next level
No matter if you just finished your first fight with the Master Chief or if you’ve been with us since 2001, the Halo community has something to offer for everyone. The Halo universe is filled with tales of hope, heroism, and humanity in whatever medium you choose, and we couldn’t be more excited to have you in the fight with us.