Anyone that has spent a decent amount of time with the Halo games will understand that it’s a series built on a sets of core pillars and principles. The strongest of those is not the mysterious Master Chief, it’s not the fantastical enemies or the futuristic arsenal, it’s the universe itself.
Over the course of numerous games, novels, short movies and comic books it’s the Halo universe that has captivated the audience and held its attention. By combining eye-catching alien architecture with recognisable natural beauty, the worlds of Halo manage to feel both spectacular and real. The result is a level of engagement so rarely seen from this medium.
To celebrate the impending ten year anniversary of the series, Titan Books are publishing Halo: The Art of Building Worlds – a book consisting of nearly 200 pages worth of concept art taken from a wide range of Halo products. All of the images you see on this page have been taken from The Art of Building Worlds.
The above image is taken from the concept art library of Halo 3, it shows the series’ primary protagonist, the Master Chief, falling to Earth through the fiery haze of its atmosphere. Master Chief has often been criticised for lacking anything approaching a personality, but perhaps that’s exactly what makes him so popular – players able to project their own version of the hero into the game.
Like Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of the hero in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, Master Chief rarely speaks or shows emotion. Perhaps it’s his refusal to open his mouth that brings the world of Halo into sharper focus. By not letting the main character get in the way, the games’ creators can concentrate on providing a fully fledged world for the player explore.
One of Halo’s most famous enemy types, the Elite have been seen in various designs over the years – however, as above it’s those weilding the plasma sword that you really need to worry about, though. Elites are the strong arm of the Covenant military machine, deployed when an up-close-and-personal touch is required.
The Pelican is the shuttle craft of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC). Used to transport everything from troops and ammo to emergency supplies and small vehicles, the Pelican acts as the donkey of the military machine – the unsung hero without which the system would break down.
Other UNSC vehicles include the Warthog, the Mongoose, the Hornet and the Scorpion. Yes, they’re all named after animals.
Warthogs and Pelicans mid-battle
The Warthog is arguably the quintessential Halo vehicle – seen in every game from the multiplayer maps of Halo 3 to the opening sequence of Halo Wars. Like Halo’s other vehicles, the Warthog is perfectly representative of the over-the-top, almost playful, nature of the series’ take on armour and machines. It’s also one of the rare items that is remembered as lovingly by players for its role in multiplayer modes as it is its role in single player.
Burning ONI base on planet Reach
As much as Halo’s artists enjoy building worlds, they also enjoy destorying them. The above image from Halo: Reach depicts a Covenant force destorying the planet of ‘Reach’, in the foreground a trio of Banshees circle a burning Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) base.
The moody shades of red and orange stand in stark contrast to the palette that defines earlier moments of Halo: Reach. Green forests, snow capped mountains and Earth-esque wildlife combine to make Reach one of Halo’s most memorable locations.
Look out for more Halo articles in the run up to its 10th anniversary on 15 November, 2011.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.