written by J.C. Lau (@drjclau)
A couple Thursdays ago, about 100 women from the videogame industry gathered to watch a sneak preview of the first two episodes of Halo: Nightfall, a five-part digital series on the Halo Channel (available on Xbox One and Windows 8.1), which launched with The Master Chief Collection last week.
Halo: Nightfall is the product of 343 Industry’s first time working with Hollywood. Ridley Scott is listed as an executive producer, and according to Kiki Wolfkill, Executive Producer at 343 Industries, “it was an amazing experience to bring that creative voice to the universe.”
In the last decade, the Halo franchise has expanded rapidly from just being a series of games to a canon encompassing comic books, short films, and even anime. The motivation for expanding the Halo universe in this way is to integrate new ways of storytelling, Wolfkill explains. “It was really about making a way for people to come into the universe and move between experiences in a very seamless way. Nightfall is a component of that.”
So, what can we expect from Halo: Nightfall? Similar to the Halo franchise’s first foray into the world of film, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, Nightfall is a live-action sci-fi story set in 26th Century. The story takes place in the period between Halo 4 and the forthcoming Halo 5: Guardians, and begins set on Sedra, an Earthlike planet.
Episode One sets up the background for the story: after an attack which selectively kills humans, troops from the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Sedran Colonial Guard discover that there’s an element on a piece of the Halo that the Master Chief destroyed in the first Halo game that is responsible, and seeks to prevent it from being used again to wipe out the human race.
Even though the first episode was mostly setting up the story, there were plenty of opportunities for action, and plenty of familiar weapons and references make an appearance early on—there’s an energy sword, for example in one of the first scenes.
In what follows—and without giving too much away—there are giant machine guns, lekgolo worms (the worms that make up Hunters), and a military rivalry between the ONI and the Sedran troops. The Nightfall name refers to the fact that the troops’ mission has to take place at night on the piece of the Halo, since the temperatures during the day are too high, so if their mission exceeds their 16-hour timeline, they’ll slowly roast to death.
Nightfall also introduces Agent Jameson Locke (played by Mike Colter), a character that will have a playable role in Guardians. Other key characters include Private Talitha Macer (Christina Chong), a bright Sedran soldier who was the first to explain the origins of the human-killing element, and Colonel Randall Aiken (Steven Waddington), the leader of the Sedran Guard, who, as it turns out, used to be a Spartan.
I also saw a brief preview for Episode Three, and things literally heat up on the Halo for the soldiers as the fragment makes its rotation. There seem to be more firefights as more (and different types of) enemies appear, and you’re really left wondering how these puny humans will make their way out of this jam. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the story develops.
Halo: Nightfall is releasing weekly for five weeks on the Halo Channel. Episodes air Tuesday.
Hailing from Australia, JC Lau is Seattle-based video game journalist. She is open to playing most things, but has a soft spot for indie gaming. She is a regular contributor to Short Game Review, guest-blogs for GeekGirlCon, and has been published in various academic journals in her former career as a college professor. She also blogs about geekery and gender at Mouse Smash. Her non-gaming interests include political philosophy, food science and roller derby.