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The campaign menu in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Campaign is the single player aspect of the Halo games. In each game, the player participates in various episodes of the Halo storyline. The most recurrent character that players control is John-117, the Master Chief, although roughly half of the Halo games focus on other characters and stories. The events of the Halo campaigns focus on the confrontation between humanity and the Covenant, and also feature prominent interventions by other factions such as the Flood or the Forerunners.

Campaign levels usually consist of missions in which the player kills enemies while going through the level's areas and completing given objectives, where the story is established with cutscenes and in-game dialogues. Cooperative play is available in most but not all games, but the number of players can vary. Different difficulty options (Easy, Normal, Heroic, Legendary) and gameplay modifiers (skulls, scoring) also exist. The additional Spartan Ops mode in Halo 4 is loosely based on a campaign and continues the game's story.

Most Halo games are first-person shooters where the player controls a single character. The Halo Wars series are real-time strategy games, in which the player can take control of dozens of troops and units at a time. Halo: Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike are top-down isometric shooters.


Halo: Combat Evolved[edit]

"While the Covenant had us locked up in here, I overheard the guards talking about this ring world. They call it... Halo."
— Captain Jacob Keyes after being rescued by Master Chief Petty Officer John-117.[1]
Campaign promotional image for Halo: Combat Evolved.
Main articles: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

In Halo: Combat Evolved, the player takes control of the Master Chief. Co-op play allows a second player (also playing the Master Chief) to join in split-screen or system link. In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the second player can join via Xbox Live. There are ten levels, which can be played on four difficulties. Anniversary also adds Terminals, Skulls, and the possibility to switch between old and new graphics.

The campaign is set in September 2552, as the United Nations Space Command is embroiled in the twenty-eighth year of a genocidal war started by the alien collective known as the Covenant. The plot revolves around the crew of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, a ship that has escaped the catastrophic Battle of Reach, only to stumble upon Installation 04, a Halo ringworld in uncharted space. With the Covenant in pursuit, the Master Chief gathers the human survivors and engages the enemy on the surface of Halo while trying to uncover the ring's origin and true purpose. The Covenant consider Halo as a gateway to paradise, however, it is revealed that it is a superweapon capable of destroying every sentient lifeform in the galaxy if activated. After the battle degenerates into a four-way conflict with the outbreak of the Flood and the Forerunner constructs, the Master Chief detonates the engines of the Autumn in order to destroy Halo and closely escapes the ringworld's destruction with his AI companion Cortana.

Halo 2[edit]

Thel 'Vadamee: "I will continue my campaign against the humans!"
High Prophet of Truth: "No. You will not."
— Thel 'Vadamee's campaign in Halo 2 was focused against Heretics, the Flood, and eventually the Covenant.[2]
Campaign promotional art for Halo 2.
Main articles: Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary

In Halo 2, the player alternates between the Master Chief and the Arbiter. Co-op allows a second player to join the game in split-screen or system link (or via Xbox Live in Halo 2: Anniversary). Both players control the same character around whom the level focuses (ie: two Master Chiefs, or two Arbiters). There are fifteen levels (an introductory cutscene, a tutorial and thirteen full-fledged missions), playable on four different difficulties, and there are Skulls as gameplay modifiers. Halo 2: Anniversary adds Terminals and additional Skulls along with the possibility to switch between old and new graphics.

The campaign starts in October 2552. The Master Chief has returned to Earth after the destruction of Installation 04. Meanwhile, the Covenant commander who failed to protect Halo is branded a heretic. The Covenant finally discover and attack Earth, prompting the Chief to defend the city of Mombasa, Kenya. Meanwhile, the deposed Elite becomes Arbiter and is sent by the Hierarchs to quell a rebellion against the Covenant. On Earth, the UNSC In Amber Clad, with the Chief aboard, pursues the ship of the Prophet of Regret, only to arrive at a new Halo ring, Installation 05. The Chief sets out to kill the Covenant Prophet while the Arbiter is sent to retrieve the activation index to secure Halo's activation. Both end in the clutches of the Gravemind, the Flood's central intelligence, who tasks them to stop the ring's activation. The Covenant fall into a civil war as the Hierarchs order the Brutes to betray the Elites. The Arbiter manages to defeat Tartarus, Chieftain of the Jiralhanae, by forming an alliance with the humans. Meanwhile, the Master Chief is forced to abandon Cortana in the Covenant's holy city, High Charity, as it is being infested by the Flood, and chases after the last Covenant Hierarch, the Prophet of Truth, who departs to Earth.

Halo 3[edit]

Lord Hood: "What we should do Commander, is understand - clearly - that this is humanity's final stand - here - at Earth. We go, we risk everything; every last man, woman and child. If we stand our ground, we might just have a chance."
Thel 'Vadam: "No. If your construct is wrong, then the Flood has already won."
— Humanity and the Sangheili plan their operation against the Covenant and the Flood.[3]
The four characters playable in co-op in the Halo 3 campaign.
Main article: Halo 3

In Halo 3, the player controls the Master Chief. Co-op allows two players in split-screen, and up to four players in system link or Xbox Live. The second, third, and fourth players respectively control the Arbiter, N'tho 'Sraom and Usze 'Taham. It is one of only two Halo games in which the co-op mode has a canonical explanation. There are ten levels playable (an introductory cutscene and nine playable missions). The player can find Terminals and Skulls, and change the game's difficulty either with the four traditional difficulties or with the Skulls. It is also the first game to introduce campaign scoring. Another feature it added was the Rally Point system which allows the player to choose where in the mission they start from with most having two or three rally points (including the option of "mission start" which is labeled as Rally Point Alpha in the MCC version of Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST and Halo 4) at important areas of a mission, such as just after a cutscene or when the player would have moved to a new area of the map, such as the cutscene after defeating 343 Guilty Spark in Halo or the area after the broken bridge in Tsavo Highway, labeled as the broken path.

The plot starts in November 2552, as the Master Chief returns to Earth to stop the Prophet of Truth. After being retrieved by the UNSC, he is sent to the besieged city of Voi to destroy the Covenant's heavy defenses. The UNSC fleet then launches an attack on Truth's Forerunner ship, but he manages to activate the Portal and departs to Installation 00, the Ark, from where all the Halo rings can be activated. Minutes after, the Flood attacks Earth but is sterilized. The UNSC and the Elites join their forces and battle the last Covenant forces on the Ark, culminating in the assassination of the Prophet of Truth. The Flood also attack the Ark via the infested High Charity. The Chief retrieves Cortana and they set out to activate a newly built Halo ring, Installation 08, to destroy the local infestation. During the escape, the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn is cut in half by the Portal, with the forward section crashing on Earth with the Arbiter and the aft section being lost in space, with the Chief and Cortana aboard. The Spartan waits in cryosleep until the UNSC find and rescues them, and the Human-Covenant War is declared over.

Halo Wars[edit]

"Captain's report, February 4, 2531. Five years, five long years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back..."
— Captain James Cutter on the Harvest campaign.[4]
Campaign promotional art for Halo Wars.
Main article: Halo Wars
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Halo 3: ODST[edit]

"You know the music. Time to dance!"
— Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck to the rest of Alpha-Nine.[5]
Campaign promotional art for Halo 3: ODST.
Main article: Halo 3: ODST
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Halo: Reach[edit]

Carter-A259: "You want to know if we're losing?"
Kat-B320: "I know we're losing! I want to know if we've lost."
NOBLE Team Commander Carter-A259 and Lieutenant Commander Kat-B320 during the Siege of New Alexandria.[6]
Campaign promotional art for Halo: Reach.
Main article: Halo: Reach

In Halo: Reach, the player takes control of Spartan-B312, also known as Noble 6, who is a recent addition to NOBLE Team. Noble 6 is represented by the player's multiplayer Spartan. In co-op, other players are also represented by their multiplayer spartan. Halo: Reach supports online multiplayer as well as split-screen. The original Halo: Reach also supports Campaign matchmaking.[7]

The plot starts in 2552, just before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Spartan-B312, who recently arrived on the colony of Reach, meets up with NOBLE Team to investigate a disturbance at Visegrád Relay Outpost. However, they find the Covenant there. NOBLE Team, which included Carter, Kat, Jun, Emile, and Jorge, all of whom are Spartan-IIIs, except for Jorge. They fight against the Covenant invasion in various places, and eventually Noble 6 and Jorge make their way inside a Covenant cruiser. Jorge sacrifices his life to destroy the cruiser, throwing Noble 6 down to Reach. However, it is in vain, because the largest Covenant fleet the UNSC has ever seen arrives. NOBLE Team regroups in New Alexandria, but a Covenant ship fires its glassing beam. As the city begins to get glassed, Kat is killed by a Needle rifle. The remaining members make their way to Sword Base and meet with Dr. Catherine Halsey, the creator of the Spartan-IIs. She gives an AI known as Cortana to Noble-6 and tells him to get it to the Pillar of Autumn. Jun takes Halsey and somehow they make their way off of Reach. Noble-6, Emile, and Carter make their way towards the Pillar of Autumn, but they encounter a Scarab. Carter crashes his Pelican into the Scarab to destroy it, sacrificing himself. Emile and Noble 6 make their way to the Pillar of Autumn, and give Cortana to Captain Keyes. However, they have to fight off Covenant Phantoms and destroy a cruiser with a MAC Cannon. Emile dies fighting off Elites. The Pillar of Autumn leaves Reach, and Noble 6 fights until his last breath.

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Halo 4[edit]

"Time was your ally, human, but now it has abandoned you. The Forerunners... have returned."
— The Ur-Didact thanks John-117 for releasing him from his cryptum.[7]
Concept art of John-117 and Cortana in the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn.
Campaign promotional art for Halo 4.
Main article: Halo 4
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Halo: Spartan Assault[edit]

"Greeting, Spartan. I'm Roland, UNSC Infinity's AI. We're going to study the historical battles in hopes of increasing your tactical skills for the future. As a bonus, it's a pretty fun game you can play in your spare time. So let's get to it."
Roland explaining the TACSIM to a Spartan-IV.[8]
Sarah Palmer in one of the cinematics of Halo: Spartan Assault.
Main article: Halo: Spartan Assault
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Halo: Spartan Strike[edit]

"Our combat simulation is up and running, so let's see how you do playing through this operation as a lone Spartan. Good luck!"
— Roland prepares a TACSIM for a Spartan-IV.[9]
Campaign promotional art for Halo: Spartan Strike.
Main article: Halo: Spartan Strike
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Halo 5: Guardians[edit]

Jameson Locke: "Cortana's our concern now, sir."
John-117: "Like hell she is."
— Spartan Jameson Locke attempts to arrest an AWOL John-117.[10]
Campaign promotional art for Halo 5: Guardians.
Main article: Halo 5: Guardians
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Halo Wars 2[edit]

"Atriox and his Banished raided Covenant resources, cutting a swath across the galaxy; growing in strength with each attack. Gathering killers and mercenaries to his side. The Covenant had two targets in those years. Humanity and Atriox. They almost got us. But Atriox? They never came close."
Isabel explaining the Banished to Captain James Cutter.[11]
Campaign promotional art for Halo Wars 2
Main article: Halo Wars 2

In Halo Wars 2, player controls Captain James Cutter. Co-op allows up to two players in Xbox Live link. Player two also controls Captain Cutter as the leader of an original campaign. The original campaign consists of 12 Missions with Captain Cutter as the leader while Extra campaign contains in total 7 missions, two missions from OPERATION: SPEARBREAKER with Major Vaughan as Leader and five missions from Awakening the Nightmare with Voridus and Pavium as Leader and can be played on four difficulties. The player can find Phoenix Logs by traveling around the map on missions and unlocking skulls by completing specific optional or bonus objectives.

The plot starts at the end of March 2559 or 28 years after events on Etran Harborage, as Serina awakens the entire crew of Spirit of Fire before making a final dispensation. Much to Captain Cutter and Professor Anders surprise, the ship was drawn into Installation 00 through slipspace travel which their own slipspace drive was used as a makeshift bomb on Etran Harborage. Red Team was dispatched to scout the Ark after receiving the UNSC distress signal but only to encounter Atriox, Leader of the Banished after retrieving the AI Isabel with Douglas-042 suffers a heavy wound. Through investigation on the Ark, Anders discovers a foundry that will allow her to deploy a new Halo ring in order to raise a distress beacon where the closest original site is Reach but Cutter cannot approve that plan until Enduring Conviction, Banished's flagship is destroyed. Jerome-092 and Isabel were dispatched and managed to destroy the ship while Anders activate the ring for final preparations. UNSC and Banished contested their ground on new Installation where UNSC was finally able to besiege Banished and Anders wipe them out using gravity anchors. Anders however was taken along with Installation 09 away from the Ark while UNSC and Banished continue to contest their ground on the Ark.

Halo: Fireteam Raven[edit]

"You heard it, Fireteam Raven! Gear up!"
— Major Antonio Silva to Fireteam Raven during the Battle of Installation 04.[12]
Promotional art for Halo: Fireteam Raven.
Main article: Halo: Fireteam Raven
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Halo Infinite[edit]

"Look around, Cortana. Your empire. Over! Your great plan? Ended at the hands of those who made you."
— Atriox berates a captured Cortana during the Battle for Zeta Halo.[13]
Artwork of John-117 carrying a wounded Marine.
Campaign promotional art for Halo Infinite: the sixth mainline Halo game.
Main article: Halo Infinite

In Halo Infinite, the player character is once again the Master Chief. The campaign is different from previous entries in the series, as it takes on an open-world style. There are 16 main missions in Halo Infinite. However, 10 of them take place outside the open world. There are also many side missions the player can undertake, including capturing Forward Operating Bases, rescuing Marine squads, and assaulting Banished outposts. In co-op, other players are also the Master Chief. Players cannot get a certain distance away from each other, as they will die. Split-screen is not supported.

The plot starts in the year 2560. The UNSC Infinity has been destroyed by Atriox's Banished forces above Zeta Halo. The Master Chief battles Atriox onboard the Infinity, but is defeated and cast into space above the ring. He floats in space for 6 months before being found by The Pilot. The Master Chief's suit is reactivated and he boards the warship Gbraakon and destroys it. He makes his way down to the ring to retrieve The Weapon, whose purpose is to imitate and lock down Cortana. The Master Chief and the Weapon defeat various Banished forces, before learning of a species called The Endless after meeting The Harbinger. The Harbinger tells him she wants to start the Reformation so she can find and free her people, who were imprisoned because they can survive the activation of the Halo Array. The Master Chief eventually makes his way to the Command Spire and ends the Reformation. The Master Chief goes to the House of Reckoning and defeats Escharum, who was the current leader of the Banished on the ring. Master Chief frees the Pilot, who had been captured while Chief made his way through the Command Spire. The Master Chief then goes to the Silent Auditorium to stop The Harbinger. After a fierce battle, the Master Chief defeats The Harbinger. She tells an unknown entity that they have what they need to finish her work. The auditorium collapses and the Master Chief is teleported to a mysterious desert area, and continues to fight against the Banished.

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  • All games except Halo: CE also have a unique, unofficial difficulty known to fans: Mythic, which is Legendary with all Skulls activated. In Halo: Reach, weekly challenges even feature completing levels on this difficulty. This is also known as LASO (Legendary, all skulls on).
  • In Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo 4 and Halo: Spartan Assault, the endings of the five games end with a huge Forerunner structure getting destroyed or very damaged.
  • Every Halo game released from 2001-2009, as well as Halo 4, starts and ends with the player in space.
    • In Halo: Combat Evolved, the game starts with Master Chief on the Pillar of Autumn and ends with him in a Longsword.
    • Halo 2 starts with him on Cairo Station and ends with him on the Forerunner Dreadnought.
    • Halo 3 starts off with him crashing towards Earth and ends with him stranded inside the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn.
    • Halo Wars starts with Captain Cutter on the UNSC Spirit of Fire talking about the war on Harvest and ends with the freezing of Professor Anders.
    • Halo 3: ODST starts with the Rookie on the UNSC Say My Name and ends with him on an ONI orbital facility.
    • Halo 4 starts with the Master Chief inside the Forward Unto Dawn and ends inside the UNSC Infinity.
    • Halo Wars 2, Halo: Fireteam Raven, and Halo Infinite all start in space, but do not end there.
  • AI cannot perform needle supercombines, except in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians