So, the final stage of the epic story is the resolution. Here, the hero of the story no longer has an overpowering sense of discovery of the unknown – they know everything they need to know; where they belong, what they need to do, who the enemy is. The task is just fulfilling that difficult destiny. At this point, the window to the universe has greatly expanded, and much has been revealed – but the primary story arc is still a single thread that can’t (and shouldn’t) even touch the abundant wealth of alternate stories that could be told. The conclusion of this epic adventure may no longer feel like it will produce a conclusive “The End.”

Between the 2nd and 3rd Halo video games, the creators capitalized on the mysteries and unanswered questions in its universe. Instead of simply producing and releasing content in the Master Chief’s own story arc, they embraced alternative media. Besides novels and comics, they also re-visited the more personal, interactive level of viral content. Back before Halo was released in 2001, a mysterious viral prelude called the Cortana Letters leaked out to the community. Now once again, strange user accounts appeared in Bungie’s community forums, posting odd messages, as if Forerunner AIs were preparing fans for new data, new information, more game content.

In 2007, while the Master Chief was effectively immortalized in a live action promotional video campaign for Halo 3 called “Believe” depicting events taking place not long after the life of the Master Chief, stories of other Human / Covenant conflicts were also told through other media. Various origin stories were revealed and explored. Characters were developed to greater depth. Another ARG campaign called “Iris” was created by teasing at bits of information people wanted to know about the Forerunners. Iris ultimately had its own closure in the Halo 3 video game itself, with the discovery of Terminals hidden throughout its levels.

Halo 3 then culminated as expected with the Master Chief winning the day, but was still left with unresolved questions not directly related to his primary heroic adventure. His epic story was given closure, arguably, but the universe was kept alive by leaving people wanting additional questions answered: What next? Where are they now? What was that new thing? (complete Halo 3 on legendary difficulty to see this mystery, or just watch the spoiler)

Halo_HaloWarsNow, with the Halo universe still thriving after Master Chief’s story, the attention is shifting to other characters, other places, events only hinted at previously. But how do you connect the audience to central characters in the shadow of an untouchable superhero? You throw everything at them and change things up, offer something new. The real time strategy video game Halo Wars was produced, going back in time to tell a war story from the perspective of the military. With people’s minds now connecting with the more gritty, non-superhero roles within the greater story, there’s room for the epic franchise itself to evolve.

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