A Complete Guide to the Halo Timeline

August 10, 2020

The Halo franchise is one of Microsoft’s biggest gaming properties. The sci-fi shooter series effectively kickstarted the success of the Xbox back in 2001 and has only grown in popularity. With the release of Halo Infinite just a few months away, players might be wondering where the sequel fits in. After all, Halo: CE released almost two decades ago. Since then, there have been numerous games, TV shows, novels, and comics released.

With so much media, the Halo timeline has become somewhat convoluted in recent times. The story stretches across dozens of years and involves a wide array of characters, events, and locations.

So, just where does Master Chief’s latest adventure fit in with the rest of the franchise? Here is a complete guide to the Halo timeline.

The Forerunners are an ancient alien race that pre-date humanity

Although they don’t actually appear in any early Halo games, the Forerunners play a big part in the story. They are an ancient alien race that pre-date most sentient life in the galaxy. Highly advanced, they were responsible for building the mysterious structures like the Halo rings and the Ark. They would later enter a war with an earlier form of humanity and the Flood. These events set in motion the creation of the Halo Array that would wipe out all life in the galaxy. The Covenant and humans then went on to discover Forerunner technology thousands of years later.

The Covenant is formed between the Elites and Prophets

Following the destruction of sentient life, several different races evolved over millennia. Two of the most advanced were the San’Shyuum (Prophets) and the Sangheili (Elites). At war for dozens of years, they eventually made peace and formed the Covenant. This new alliance soon began to force others to join. Grunts, Brutes, Hunters, and Engineers are all threatened with extinction unless they became part of the alliance. 

Humanity becomes spacefaring and begins colonizing planets

Near the year 2100, humanity advanced to a level where they are now spacefaring. They quickly begun to colonize planets in the solar system and expanded rapidly. After years of civil unrest, governments formed the United Nations Space Command. 200 years later, a faster-than-light drive was developed. This gave humans the chance to explore new planets further from Earth. The UNSC settled on planets like Reach as well as in locations that became known as the Outer Colonies.

First contact with the Covenant

In the year 2525, humans first made contact with the alien alliance known as the Covenant. The encounter between the two groups did not go well. The UNSC lost Harvest and a massive conflict broke out between humans and the Covenant. Suffering from huge losses, UNSC bosses begun to use SPARTAN-II supersoldiers, such as Master Chief, to score rare victories. The 2009 RTS Halo Wars takes place in 2531 but the war continued to go badly for humans. 

The year 2552 marks the start of the mainline games

Although the war does not go well, humanity manages to keep most of their most important inner worlds safe. That all changes in 2552 when the Covenant discovered and invaded Reach, as portrayed in the 2010 title Halo: Reach. The Pillar of Autumn is one of the only ships that managed to escape the onslaught. Jumping to a random location to avoid detection, it carried Master Chief, Cortana, and Captain Keyes to the Halo ring. This is the starting point for the first game Halo: CE (2001).

The original trilogy introduces the Flood

After crash landing on the first Halo ring, Master Chief and Cortana discover the Flood. This parasitic life form remained dormant for thousands of years but soldiers accidentally release it. Although the pair eventually destroyed the structure, the Flood continued to spread across the galaxy. The events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 see the continuation of the war between the Covenant and humanity. 

However, they also both fight against the Flood. The Covenant split when the Elites realize they have been betrayed, joining with the humans. Eventually, they managed to defeat the Prophets and destroy the ark. Master Chief and his A.I. companion float through space.

The war is officially ended and Forerunners are rediscovered

The year 2553 sees an end to the Covenant-Human war. Although some factions of the alliance continued to fight against the UNSC, the hostilities mostly stop. Four years later, the ship carrying Master Chief and Cortana crashed on the planet Requiem. This starts the events of Halo 4 (2012), with the UNSC discovering a surviving group of Forerunners. These declare war on humanity but the Didact is defeated in a dramatic battle. Meanwhile, 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians sees Master Chief confronting a rampant Cortana. The A.I. attempted to awaken the Forerunner’s Guardian constructs to forecfully bring about peace.

Halo: Infinite picks up the story but it is unclear what happened in between games

Microsoft has confirmed that Halo: Infinite is a direct sequel to Halo: 5 Guardians. In-game details seen in trailers suggest it takes place some 18 months after the events of its predecessor. However, it is unclear exactly what has taken place after the cliffhanger in Halo 5. What players do know is that 343 have set the game on a new Halo ring. Master Chief will also battle against a militant splinter group of the Covenant called the Banished.

RELATED: Everything We Already Know About Halo Infinite

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