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Halo TV show puts characters over combat

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I’ve been watching the Halo TV show on Paramount+ and it’s clear that the show is weaving a tale that is more about the story, character, and backstory that we don’t always get in the franchise’s combat games.

In that way, it’s a slow burn. Master Chief took off his helmet to show us that he’s a real person with genuine emotions that you can’t easily see when he’s wearing his helmet. I’m sure this take is a controversial one for gamers who prefer to see a lot of fighting. But this show is what happens when you take away the game controller.

The first season is airing weekly and the next episode debuting Thursday is Episode 4: Homecoming. In that show, the Master Chief takes Halsey and Cortana back into his past, looking for answers about his memories. The privateer Soren and rebel/refugee Kwan continue in their search to help save the planet Madrigal. There are threads with another Spartan and Miranda as well. Check out the video preview embedded in the story.

Halo stars Pablo Schreiber as the Master Chief, and he is doing a good job conveying the brooding moments of Spartan-117, while Natascha McElhone is portraying Dr. Halsey, the brilliant and conflicted creator of the Spartan super soldiers. These characters all have their differences against the backdrop of humanity’s war with the Covenant.

The Master Chief takes off his helmet to show a human side.

And I like it. I believe we’ll get a payoff later on, either in the form of a revelation about the Master Chief’s origins — or some combat scenes with lots of explosions that will make gamers happy. Each episode has drilled down on a different character, and we’re seeing interesting tension between Halsey and the brass, between the chief and Cortana, and of course between the Covenant and the USNC.

It’s been almost a decade since work began on the Halo TV series, and it took Steven Spielberg to make it happen as an exclusive on Paramount+.

There was some heavy fighting in the first episode as humans began running into The Covenant for the first time, and it was all pretty one-sided until the Master Chief showed up. But it was pretty authentic. When Master Chief took a few hits, he had to wait for his shield to regenerate.

Outside of battle, he shows emotion and is disturbed by memories that are resurfacing and messing with his rigid combat training and instinct for following orders. This conflict is one reason why in the first episode he refuses an order to execute the girl Kwan for being a rebel.

While it took a long time to get to the screen, this Halo feels overdue, like the other video game treatments we’re seeing Hollywood do like the Uncharted movie. And now the audience is bigger than ever, with 82 million copies of Halo games sold to date and more than $6 billion in lifetime total sales revenue.

So far, so good. But yeah, I’m a gamer too. I want to see some awesome combat scenes as the season hits its climax. I want to see us actually get to the Halo ring. The show has already been renewed for Season 2, so it’s good to know we won’t be left hanging.

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