I, for one, welcome our new ODSTs. Orbital Drop Shock Troopers are like the Spartans’ little brothers (and sisters), with attitude. To help usher in this new perspective of the Halo universe to the mainstream, both aspects of the community need to be addressed.

Halo 3: ODST(Focus: Gamers)

While the spotlight was focused on the Chief, ODSTs were relative play-things; fodder for the enemies that helped Master Chief do his thing. Now in Halo Wars, attention was shifted from the superhero ideal and towards the concept of teamwork and community reflected by gamers’ multiplayer mindsets. Not only were more Spartans playable and less individualized, ODSTs were given more significant attention as the most advanced form of ground soldier, next to Spartans themselves. This helped to take the spotlight off the Chief, and on other characters. The gamers would now associate better with the ODSTs, and so was born “We Are ODST“. How does that translate to non-gamers, and lovers of the story within this epic universe?

Halo: We Are ODST(Focus: Story)

Snippets of independent stories were created, produced as live action shorts and trailers. With a big-screen film adaptation of Halo having its own growing pains, numerous live action short films were produced (including “Landfall“, “Believe“, and “We Are ODST“), but none from the perspective of the Master Chief, or at most only indirectly referencing his plotline. Producer Neil Blomkamp (District 9) got involved, as did Peter Jackson and WETA Digital (Lord of the Rings), and more recently Rupert Sanders and T.A.G. re-visited the Halo live action short. These high quality productions connected viewers with the above average ground soldier and their style of conflict, and it helped continue to connect non-gamers with the greater narrative at hand (and also supports the idea that if done right, a Halo movie could work!).

This was the stepping stone for Halo 3: ODST. This iteration of the game franchise returns to the game mechanics of the FPS with a slightly touched up engine, but with a lot more attention to story-telling, reportedly inspired by the film-noir genre. The plot takes place in parallel to the Master Chief’s timeline, but from the perspective of a team of ODSTs, alone on Earth in New Mombasa.

While shifting attention away from the Master Chief (which forced players to role-play a fantastical super-human), the role of the ODST is invigorated with life, having them more closely reflect the gameplay styles and attitudes of the actual Halo multiplayer gaming community, and general gamer. The audience can now associate with the new star, new primary characters. At the same time, it combines the return to discovery and exploration of the unknown with fighting in the heat of battle; a unique, refreshing combination in the Halo universe. While the game gives the player the opportunity to play each of the ODSTs, the new lead character has a destiny of his own, effectively living the story of any striving gamer in the style of any hero – a rookie, who learns and fights, and is set to eventually overcome all obstacles and win the day. He’s a young, inexperienced ODST, left alone in New Mombasa, without a clue as to what happened to his teammates or why. A return to discovery.

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