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Dawn loading screen from MCC


Halo 4

Map file name (?):





July 21, 2557


Onboard UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, orbiting Requiem


Find and eliminate boarders.

Par Time:

00:15:00 (Master Chief Collection-only)

Par Score:

25,000 (Master Chief Collection-only)


Halopedia has a walkthrough guide for this level; see Dawn/Walkthrough.

After four years adrift in space, Cortana awakens the Master Chief to investigate a disturbance on the Forward Unto Dawn.

Dawn is the second campaign level of Halo 4, and the first one with actual gameplay. After years of cryo-sleep, John-117 awakens to fight the resurgent Covenant in the wreckage of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn.[1]

Completing the level on any difficulty unlocks the "Dawn" achievement, worth 10 Gamerscore points, while accessing John's service record during the level grants the player "Digging up the Past", worth 20 Gamerscore points.

In Halo: The Master Chief Collection, "Dawn" and "Digging up the Past" , unlockable with the same criteria, are each now worth 10 Gamerscore points. "Piece of Cake" and "Gunslinger", each worth 10 Gamerscore points, require beating the level's 15 minute par time and 25,000 point par score, respectively.



The Forward Unto Dawn's remains.

A field of debris surrounds the rear half of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn.


The frigate comes into closer view, revealing the ship's nameplate. A giant shadow slowly looms over the ship. Inside the Dawn, mechanical parts drift aimlessly in zero gravity. An automated message loops through the speakers.

  • Cortana (PA): (looping) "Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is UNSC FFG-201 Forward Unto Dawn, requesting immediate evac. Survivors aboard. Prioritization code: Victor Zero Five dash Three dash Sierra Zero One One Seven."

The scene shifts through abandoned sections of the ship. Suddenly, an orange energy pulse moves through the ship, scrambling some of the still-active viewscreens. Inside the cryo chamber, a sphere of blue light hovers above a holographic projector. The sphere disappears in a flash of blue as the ship shakes again, replaced by the figure of Cortana.

Cortana gasps and looks around the room, then proceeds to stand up. She activates a holographic terminal, quickly browsing through a status report.










John-117, moments before his revival.




Cortana switches to a diagram of the ship. Several red rings circle the schematic, designating hull breaches.




Muffled explosions can be heard, signaling multiple decompression events - the ship is being boarded. Increasingly agitated, Cortana brings up the cryo chamber's control interface. A schematic of a modified Mark VI MJOLNIR armor is displayed, alongside life signs and cryo-tube diagrams. A single prompt appears on-screen.


Cortana hesitates, but proceeds to access the prompt.



Cortana awakening the Master Chief.



Cortana sighs, then turns to observe cryo-tube 16.

  • Cortana: "Wake up, Chief."

Air is pumped into the tube's interior as part of the thawing process.

  • Cortana: "I need you."

The frost covering the tube's glass surface melts away, revealing John-117 underneath. Cut to black.


The Chief slowly awakens inside the cryo-tube, groaning. He slams his gauntlets into the glass surface in confusion.

  • Cortana: "Chief! Easy. You've been out for a while."
  • John-117: "Where are we?"
  • Cortana: "We're still adrift on the Dawn."
  • John-117: "Why did you wake me?"
  • Cortana: "Hang on. Bringing your systems online now."

John's HUD appears on his visor.

  • Cortana: "I rewrote your suit's firmware while you were out."
  • John-117: "You've been busy."
  • Cortana: "Activating the ship's gravity generators."

The gravity system comes online. The drifting crates and debris in the room drop onto the floor.

  • System (PA): Partial system restoration. Initializing system diagnostics...
  • Cortana: "Chief, look up. You need to pull the manual release."

John looks up and pulls the cryo-tube's manual release lever. John quickly steps out as the tube opens, walking over to the holotank that Cortana is occupying.

  • John-117: "Ready to get back to work?"

Cortana crosses her arms.

  • Cortana: "I thought you'd never ask."
John-117 and Cortana prepare to leave the cryo bay.

John pulls Cortana out of the holo-tank and inserts her into his neural interface. John raises his MA5D assault rifle, readying for combat.

  • Cortana: "We've got intrusion alerts lighting up on multiple decks. Our best bet to figure out who's boarding us is the observation deck - four floors up."
  • John-117: "Could it be a rescue team?"

The ship shakes violently.

  • Cortana: "I wouldn't bet on it!"

Below the walkway leading out of the cryo chamber, a single computer terminal containing John-117's service record can be found. The terminal displays a picture of technicians assembling the Chief's MJOLNIR Mark V armor.

  • System: This is the service record for SPARTAN John-117. Would you like to continue?

Proceeding will prompt the terminal to narrate a concise summary of the Chief's involvement in the Human-Covenant War, starting from the Battle of Installation 04.

  • System: Frigate [sic] Pillar of Autumn discovers Forerunner Halo Installation 04, and deploys SPARTAN-117 to protect UNSC AI Cortana. Chief uncovers a plot to fire the weapon, and sacrifices the Autumn to destroy the Halo ring. Pursuing the Covenant flagship after an attack on Earth, SPARTAN-117 arrives at Halo Installation 05 to find the Covenant erupting into civil war. After preventing the Covenant from firing the ring, 117 followed them back to Earth in search of a Forerunner installation that can activate all the galaxy's Halos. The Covenant arrive at Earth, and open a portal to the Ark, an extragalactic Forerunner installation that can fire the Halo array. SPARTAN-117 unites a joint Sangheili/UNSC team to pursue the Covenant to the Ark, where he successfully destroys the Installation and prevents the rings from being used. When SPARTAN-117 attempts to escape from the Ark aboard the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn the slipspace portal that the ship is passing through collapses. Aboard the aft section of the Dawn, SPARTAN-117 is placed into cryo-sleep pending recovery by UNSC forces. AI Cortana to remain active as long as is technically feasible. End of service record.

The next room contains a holo-projector, displaying a schematic of the Dawn's stern half.

  • System (PA): (looping) Intrusion alert. Intrusion alert.

The Chief can activate a terminal in front of the hologram multiple times, gaining information on the ship's status.

  • System: Weapons systems - online. Gravity controls - online. Ship propulsion - offline. Bow hull integrity - compromised. Life support - online.

John-117 proceeds down several hallways. Cortana's pre-recorded distress call is still being looped on the ship's PA system.

  • John-117: "How long was I out?"
  • Cortana: "Four years, seven months, ten days."
  • John-117: "Somebody should have found us by now."
The Dawn's operations room.

John enters an operations room, filled with inactive computer screens. A central holographic unit displays the Dawn being pulled from its predicted drift course towards a planetoid, designated "43121124". The same orange energy pulse suddenly returns, violently shaking the hull and disrupting nearby electronics.

  • John-117: "What's that?"
  • Cortana: "Sensor scan, high intensity! Doesn't match any known patterns!"
  • John-117: "How close are we to the observation deck?"
  • Cortana: "It's directly above us."

John leaves the room, arriving at the elevator entrance.

  • Cortana: "The elevator doors look sealed tight."

John approaches the doors and pries them open with his bare hands.

  • Cortana: "Chief, be careful...!"

John successfully opens the elevator doors. The shaft ahead has been depressurized; a pack of crates behind John is sucked into the vacuum, knocking him onto the other side of the shaft. He grabs a nearby ledge, stopping his fall. The crates continue downwards into the seemingly-bottomless shaft.

  • Cortana: "Because some areas might have lost pressure!"
  • John-117: "Right."

John slowly climbs up the shaft.

  • Cortana: "Chief, watch out!"

Debris fall from above. The Chief quickly jumps to another ledge to the left, managing to avoid the falling fragments. (If the debris is not avoided, it hits Chief, drains his shields, and sends him back down to where he started that section of the climb.)

  • Cortana: "I didn't realize the ship had deteriorated so badly."
John-117 struggles with a Sangheili at the shaft opening.

John manages to climb to the entrance for the observation deck, avoiding more falling debris. A Sangheili Storm wielding an energy sword decloaks and immediately assaults the Chief. John blocks the Sangheili's sword strike. The Sangheili snarls at him, but John punches it in the face, dazing it. He then grabs the Sangheili by the mandibles and throws it into the elevator shaft. (If the player fails to press the melee button in time, then the Sangheili slashes at John, draining his shields, and shoves him down the shaft.)

John enters the observation deck. The windows are covered by the blast shields. A Sangheili is attempting to access the controls on an elevated central platform, while multiple Unggoy are patrolling either side of the deck below. They open fire as soon as the Master Chief is sighted. John takes them all out.

  • Cortana: "That's the last of them. Find the override for the blast shields so we can see what we're up against."

John heads for the controls and activates the override. The blast shields gradually rise.



The blast shields fully open, revealing a Zanar-pattern light cruiser fleet moving closer to the Dawn. Behind the fleet, a mysterious world ominously looms. A formation of Banshees rapidly scream past the observation deck's windows.

  • Cortana: "...Or we might have stumbled into an entire Covenant fleet."
  • John-117: "Maybe they haven't recognized us."

Two Phantoms, equipped with boarding arms, descend into view.

  • Cortana: "That's one possibility..."

The Phantoms split up, taking opposite sides of the Deck.

  • Cortana: "Landing craft, flanking us!"

The boarding arms breach the glass, depressurizing the Deck until force fields are deployed to seal the breach. Two Covenant lances exit the boarding arms and enter the Dawn.

The Chief kills Jul 'Mdama's Covenant boarders with a grenade.
  • System (PA): Warning - atmosphere breach. Activating emergency barricades.

The deck is locked down, forcing the Chief to engage the boarders in close-quarters.

  • Cortana: "The decompression put the room into lockdown! It'll take a few minutes to repressurize."

If the Chief takes too long eliminating Covenant forces:

  • Cortana: "I'm still reading some stragglers. Clear them out."

John eventually clears the deck. The lockdown is lifted.

If the Chief is next to the main window:

  • John-117: "Those ships could get us back to UNSC space."
  • Cortana: "'Could' is a generous word... especially since we've got a cruiser heading our way that will blow us out of the sky long before that."
  • John-117: "Are any of the ship-to-ship defenses online?"
  • Cortana: "No, but why should that stop us? Head for the elevators. The Hyperion missiles technically still have power, but we'll have to fire them manually from the outer deck."

If the Chief is not next to the main window:

  • John-117: "We need to get off this ship."
  • Cortana: "We've got bigger problems... We've got a cruiser on an intercept course! Head for the elevator banks."

John heads for the elevators.

If the Chief accessed the ship's systems:

  • John-117: "Didn't the ship's sensors say we still had weapons systems online?"
  • Cortana: "Yes, but since the ship was torn in half, we can't access the weapons stations. We'll have to fire them manually from the outer hull."

If the Chief did not access the ship's systems:

  • John-117: "Are any of the ship-to-ship defenses online?"
  • Cortana: "Only the Hyperion missiles, but we'll have to fire them manually from the outer hull."

John enters an elevator, which descends a few floors until it opens to another hallway. He fights through more Covenant forces, eventually reaching a stairway near a window.

  • Cortana: "That cruiser's shields are down! Assuming they don't raise them, that missile's going to be one heck of a surprise."

John continues on, encountering increasingly thick resistance, including several Suicide Unggoy.

John encounters yet more Covenant forces, including Kig-Yar.

  • John-117: "How far to the missile?"
  • Cortana: "We're just about there."

After fighting his way through more Covenant, including a Commander wielding a concussion rifle, John reaches an airlock.

  • Cortana: "The auxiliary launch station should be to your left out of the airlocks."

Purple fields of static suddenly appear on John's HUD.

  • Cortana (distorted): "You'll have to prime the launch for ignition!"
  • John-117: "Cortana?"
  • Cortana: "It's nothing. Just get to the launch station."

The airlock doors open, revealing the Dawn has moved much closer to the mysterious planetoid.

  • Cortana: "Uh, I'm sorry - did I miss orbiting a Forerunner planet at some point?"
  • John-117: "One thing at a time."

If the Chief stalls:

  • Cortana: "Chief, you need to find the missile controls."
Jul 'Mdama's Covenant fleet around the Dawn's wreckage.

John makes his way over to the launch station, encountering Sangheili, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy Rangers.

  • Cortana: "There's the launch station!"

The Chief proceeds to activate the console.



  • Cortana: "Launch initiated!"

The silo door on the far side opens, revealing the Hyperion missile underneath. The missile fails to fire, however; the door mechanism is stuck in place.

  • Cortana: "Great, the blast door's jammed! The missile won't fire until it's cleared. Get down there!"

Phantoms drop off more troops into the area, forcing John to take them out before he can launch the missile.

John finally reaches the missile.


John pushes, and then kicks the blast door to its proper position.

  • Cortana: "You did it - get back!"

The missile launches, hitting the approaching cruiser, which is charging up a ventral weapon (possibly an energy projector). The cruiser shatters into pieces and the debris drifts over the Dawn. Suddenly, a beam of orange light from the planet scans the Chief.

  • Cortana: "Chief?"
  • John-117: "The Covenant weren't the ones scanning us."

Massive segments of the planetoid surface begin to retract, revealing a blinding white-blue energy field beneath. Covenant cruisers nearby are sucked into the opening.

  • Cortana: "So, now can we worry about the giant metal planet?"


  • Cortana: "It's using a gravity well to pull us inside the surface!"

Everything not bolted down is pulled toward the planet.

  • Cortana: "We've gotta hurry. The second we cross the dome's event horizon, its atmosphere is going to tear us apart!"
  • John-117: "Where are the closest escape pods?"
  • Cortana: "Aft vehicle bay! I'm tagging the closest airlock, go!"

John makes it inside the airlock, which opens after being depressurized.

  • System (PA): Hull integrity at 30 percent.

John heads back into another hallway.

  • System (PA): Warning - system depressurization.

John proceeds down a hallway, but the floor collapses slightly before he can reach the end.

  • System (PA): Please immediately proceed to nearest life-station.

John heads into an intersection full of Unggoy. Most of the floor suddenly collapses, forcing John to go around the perimeter of the room.

  • System (PA): Hull integrity at 25 percent.
  • Cortana: "All but one of the grav generators just went dark!"
  • John-117: "Just keep me pointed at that vehicle bay."

John enters the vehicle bay; the panicking Unggoy inside are promptly crushed by falling debris.

  • System (PA): Emergency escape pods have been depleted in this area.

The ship continues to crumble around the Chief, who quickly exits the bay.

  • System (PA): Hull integrity at 15 percent.

A wounded Sangheili limps down the hallway and falls. He struggles to get back up again and expires shortly afterwards, his energy shields flicking off.

  • System (PA): Hull integrity at 10 percent. Warning - critical ship damage.
  • Cortana: "We're almost there!"
  • System (PA): Hull integrity at 5 percent. Personnel are advised to evacuate immediately.

The Chief charges ahead, rushing past more fleeing Unggoy. By this point, the hallways are continuously bursting into flames.

  • System (PA): Warning - catastrophic depressurization.

As John makes it to the escape pods, one of the doors is ripped from its hinges.


  • Cortana: "Chief!"

John tries to hold onto the door, but fails. He manages to grab hold of a railing. The chamber rapidly depressurizes as the walls are peeled away, revealing a Covenant cruiser ahead.

  • Cortana: "Hold on!"

The railing eventually gives way as well, and the Master Chief is sucked out of the ship and into the debris field. A hull section slams into John, draining his shields.

  • Cortana: "We're caught in the gravity well!"

A large segment of the Dawn smashes violently into a light cruiser, triggering secondary explosions that rip the Covenant warship apart. The body of an Unggoy falls past him and crashes into the burning cruiser.

  • John-117: "Can you track the escape pods?"
  • Cortana: "Negative - look out!"

John drifts through a gaping hole the impact left in the cruiser. Explosions continue throughout the crippled ship. A piece of debris suddenly hits the Chief at high speed. Cut to black.

Halo 4 logo.png

Level ends.



  • There is a 7 reference: John-117's cryo chamber is designated 16. 1 + 6 = 7. Furthermore, on Cooperative play, the second player will start from the cryo chamber designated 14. 14 ÷ 2 = 7.
  • This level is reminiscent of the level The Pillar of Autumn from Halo: Combat Evolved: both levels involve the Master Chief awakening from cryo-sleep, retrieving Cortana, and defending a ship from Covenant boarders before crash-landing on a Forerunner installation. It is also similar to the level Cairo Station from Halo 2, in which John repels boarders, fights on the eponymous station's outer hull, and destroys a Covenant ship with explosives.


  • The cutscene depicting John dislodging the missile from its silo is one of the few occurrences in which he is depicted being equipped with the weapon that the player is using at that moment in a level. In most cutscenes, John is depicted being equipped with scripted weapons regardless of what weapon the player has at the time. The only other notable time that John is seen equipped with the weapon chosen by the player is during Halo 2's cutscenes.
  • This level marks the first campaign level in the Halo series (apart from Halo Wars) that is not divided into distinctly titled sections. Even though there are rally points available in the campaign lobby, there are no names for the level's sections. There is a similar case in the Halo 2 campaign level Gravemind, where there is only one section in the entire level. It is also the first opening level in which no friendly units are present.
  • The Elite that John encounters at the elevator shaft is unaffected by the Thunderstorm skull.


  • It is possible to obtain an energy sword with unlimited charge.[2]
  • There is a glitch in when you are activating the magnetic clamps at the end of the level. If you are holding a Storm Rifle, it will appear as a Plasma Rifle on John's hip.

Easter eggs[edit]

The Halo 4 Limited Edition case in-game.
  • Several cases resembling that of the Halo 4 Limited Edition can be found floating in the ship's cryo chamber, observation deck, and airlocks.[3]


  • John-117's service record misidentifies the UNSC Pillar of Autumn as a frigate. It also incorrectly states that John prevented the firing of Installation 05, when it was in fact Miranda Keyes, with the help of Thel 'Vadam, who prevented the firing.
  • John's grapple with the Sangheili Storm is similar to a vignette from Halo: Reach. In the level Winter Contingency, SPARTAN-B312 punches a Sangheili Zealot while pinned to the ground, narrowly saving him/herself from being stabbed by an energy dagger. In both cases, the Elites' shields do not flare when punched.
  • The post-war UNSC emblem is used aboard the Forward Unto Dawn, despite the frigate having been out of contact with the UNSC since 2552. Curiously, the proper emblem is painted on the starboard wing during the establishing shot of the Dawn, though it is barely visible. The UNSC weapons aboard the Dawn are also the post-war models as opposed to the variants encountered in Halo 3; this is obviously a result of production considerations.
  • During the section in which John-117 is exposed in space, he shows no indication of being affected by zero gravity. Unlike in previous games, jump height is not affected.


Concept art[edit]



Preceded by
Halo 4 Campaign Missions
Succeeded by