Should The Banished Be the Way to Go for Halo?
With the conclusion of the Halo: Rise of Atriox miniseries this week, it almost feels like this story has been one big set-up for something big approaching. Almost as if 343i’s pushing to fill a void left by the destruction of the Covenant. If that void were to be filled by the Banished? I’m all for it because the events Halo: Rise of Atriox is exactly how you show what the Expanded Halo Universe has to offer. Heroes, villains, means nothing if there’s no substance to them and their actions. To that effect, I feel as though we could probably do better than the Prometheans right now, and that is what prompted this post.
There was a time that I was really into the idea of the Prometheans. The level of danger from this enemy, the deep connection to the past, and having an entity so imposing as the Didact was a good sell initially. after some time it was easy to become detached from these monsters that pretty much all do the same thing. The yelling, frantic behavior, the lack of personality. I could not see the investment in knowing that I would run into the same thing every time I turned the corner. Truthfully I think I had remembered looking forward to seeing Jul ‘Mdama at a point. Found him to be fun in Halo: Escalation, but he in the end wasn’t worth the hype when he died so fast facing real Spartans. True disappointment right there when there was opportunity for a real race to the mantle of the universe. Losing that third-party was a heavier loss than I think they are willing to admit.
When I started reading Halo: Rise of Atriox, it was the first time I could feel hope for 343i making up for that loss. Sure, Atriox is a character who currently only exists through the events of Halo: Wars, but that should never be something binding. Atriox carries the appeal of being something new himself. He is a Jiralhanae of all races who could come to power. It was about damn time that the Jiralhanae could see this kind of growth following the collapse of the Covenant. The Sangheili are cool, but we see enough of them currently. Some other group had to step up and start taking charge of their open future. Atriox is an impressive villain for the fact that it is hard to argue with his methods as a leader. He is forged from fire, and gained a sharp mind from it as well. The most dangerous evolution for anyone like him is to realize his purpose and learn from the past. I couldn’t help but feel captivated through every triumph of his by simply thinking steps ahead before he takes actions. That is someone you should fear in contrast to the many other forces that came and went. Anger doesn’t cloud his vision like the Didact, or visions of grandeur like Cortana, or duty like the Warden Eternal.
The Banished in general are a good threat to take advantage of because they come with the creative freedom to challenge what everyone stands for. There is a legitimate honor code to these guys that goes beyond selling your body to a false religion. They are a force that actually respects the strengths they individually have, and their lives enough to think before charging in. Not to mention they can throw themselves into a fight knowing their leader will be right there with them. Imagine a boss fight like that where the enemy was strong enough to be right there in the fray against you, rather than throwing a bunch of pawns at you till the end? From Atriox you can expect that kind of action since he has more than his own fair share of Spartan blood on his hands which is saying a lot.
Like I had said in my review of the last issue of Atriox’s story, I appreciate 343i, but of a number of mistakes they made with Halo, one of them undeniably was removing the majority of Covenant/Brute weapons. There was room for both those and the Promethean. Understandably the Promethean weapons, structures, and tech in general pushed the visual boundaries of the game, but that shouldn’t have been the main objective. If a world is to grow and expand, then you can’t so quickly forget the past. Meaning the things that worked, and the things that made an impact on the way we played. If you wanted to bring back a large enough portion of the Halo fan base, then just opening the doors to a bit of nostalgia doesn’t hurt either. I hope I am speaking for many when I say that it would be great to get the Chopper and Prowler back. The Brute Shot, Spiker, even their pistol in particular is something worth bringing back. Not to mention that are still numerous seen weapons from the Brutes that are disappointingly not at our disposal. That mace which Atriox himself champions? I would love something like that in my hand compared to the Gravity Hammer.
I even noticed a few things stand out that they tossed in the comics subtlety. Not sure if things just for the heck of it, but I liked the creativity as a certain mech would be awesome to see used in a game eventually alongside the Mantis. Much of the things we saw in these issues were a pleasant surprise when so much is distinguishing about the way the Jiralhanae dress and carry themselves. Removing themselves from the Covenant opened up to more creative freedoms with them. You could have an army of these beasts running at you and most of them would look distinguishing from the other if they weren’t wearing a full suit of armor. Why they would deny the races this room to find their identity again was a waste. Bringing the Banished to power is the smart move because Atriox isn’t trying to force anyone into uniform or to uphold any religious standards. He wants these soldiers to simply follow their hearts as they do what they do best. With organization of course.
Like Atriox said himself, “–The time of The Banished has just begun”. Should it stop with the comics, novels, or confined to Halo: Wars? Not at all. There are still bigger wheels turning in the Halo Universe, but that doesn’t mean the Banished or other enemies are simply waiting things out, or should. Get them in there and shake things up. This is war, is it not?