New Mombasa was a major port city and industrial center on Mombasa Island in south Kenya, in the East African Protectorate on Earth. A dominant feature of the city skyline was the Mombasa Tether, located on the mouth of the river north of the island. Old Mombasa surrounded the metropolis on all sides on the mainland. Like Earth's other tether cities, New Mombasa's infrastructure was managed with the help of a second generation "dumb" AI, the Superintendent.
Mombasa had always been an important port of the Indian Ocean trade routes and was captured and recaptured countless times by a variety of powers including Portugal, the United Kingdom, and various Arab forces. This violent history led to its Swahili nickname "Kisiwa Cha Mvita", or "Island of War". The city became part of the independent nation of Kenya in the 20th century. During this era, Mombasa became a tourist destination, boasting numerous resorts and clean, white beaches. It was also important as a port city, connecting East Africa to the Indian Ocean.
Formation of New Mombasa
In 2302, due to its economic stability and prominent location, New Mombasa—at that time the world's busiest sea port—was chosen to be Earth's first space elevator city. The elevator transformed the city; New Mombasa became one of the most important cities on Earth.
Over the next eleven years the city experienced explosive growth, but nothing compared to what followed. The city grew out as well as up, its urban sprawl unequaled throughout the continent.
By 2430, New Mombasa had absorbed the entire island and many of the surrounding towns, which became overrun by residents of Mombasa. The switch of name was never official, and though many of the neighborhoods within direct line of sight to the Mombasa Tether still distributed newspapers and chatter directories under their previous names, all municipalities within a 74-kilometer radius of the island became referred to as "Old Mombasa".
The Covenant invasion
On October 20th, 2552, a small fleet of Covenant capital ships exited Slipspace just off of Earth's defensive network. During the ensuing battle, a Covenant CAS-class assault carrier, Solemn Penance breached the orbital fortifications and made its way to the surface. The ship, which carried the Covenant Hierarch known as the High Prophet of Regret, took position over the Uplift Nature Reserve. In Old Mombasa, announcements in Swahili were broadcast over a public address system. These propagandist announcements encouraged New Mombasa's citizens to fight against the invading "alien zealots"; even though there was very little truth to these announcements as they were only intended to increase the morale of the population.
Later that day, Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 was deployed into Old Mombasa to assist UNSC forces to liberate the city from the Covenant. After fighting through the maze-like streets of the mainland, the Master Chief crossed the empty beach below the seawall and then entered the highway system and the bridge to New Mombasa. After a series of quick battles in a public park and the city streets, the Chief boarded and destroyed a Covenant Scarab as it passed through the city's artificial canals. After destroying the Scarab, the Chief returned to the UNSC In Amber Clad. At this point, the Covenant troops were retreating back into the Solemn Penance, which was preparing to leave.
Meanwhile, in orbit, an ODST task force was preparing to hot-drop onto the carrier. While the ODSTs were on their way down, Solemn Penance jumped into slipspace, with the In Amber Clad in pursuit. The ensuing shockwave and EMP engulfed the whole city, causing heavy damage to its digital infrastructure, and scattering the ODSTs' drop pods around the city; at least the six members of Buck's squad survived landing. Although the whole of Mombasa Island was consumed by the explosion, only some buildings close to the Slipspace vortex were sucked through. The slipspace rupture also created a large crater to the mainland, north of Mombasa Island. This was where the Covenant would eventually begin their excavation for the Forerunner structure under the region.
After the slipspace event, a Covenant Jiralhanae-operated fleet arrived at Earth, inserting an occupation force into the city in order to capture Vergil, under orders from the High Prophet of Truth. The remaining UNSC Marines and NMPD fought against the Covenant occupiers for the rest of the day. Eventually, the fleet bore down over the city, glassing the northern sectors in order to uncover the Forerunner structure the city was built over.
A large seawall was constructed around Mombasa Island at some point, altering its coastline considerably. The northern side of the island retained more of its original width than the southern part, which was much more narrow and symmetrically bordered by the seawall. The narrow southern half housed the city center and Tanaga districts of the city, while on the northern side, industrial structures and docks were more prevalent. A highway ran along the seawall.
The majority of New Mombasa is divided into numbered, symmetrical sectors to limit human casualties and property damage, should disaster befall the city's space tether. Despite this, some districts such as Mbaraki, Kizingo or Kikowani still retain their original names. The original names are often seen in the names of streets or train stations, for example. Some of the districts' names have changed, albeit slightly; areas originally referred to as Tangana and Liwatoni are now referred to as Tanaga and Liwitoni, respectively. The locations of some districts have changed as well. This is the case with most of the districts on the southern side of the island, where the sea has claimed large areas of land.
A massive suspension bridge connected the northern side of the island to the mainland. Starting at some point near the city center, the highway NM 105 E led over the bridge, to the old city and beyond. Near the end of the bridge on the island was New Mombasa's industrial district. This area housed many massive industrial buildings, some with sky bridges connecting them.
The city center was a large area. It covered Tanaga and the entirety of the south-east portion of the island.[notes 1]
Tanaga was elevated above the surrounding terrain and housed a concentration of gigantic skyscrapers, the highest - the Vyrant Telecom tower - being over two kilometers tall.[notes 2] At the southeast end of Tanaga there were several medium-sized skyscrapers; the NMPD Headquarters was located here.
Southeast of the arcology wall, the layout of the city was near-symmetrical, and was divided to ten sectors. The Office of Naval Intelligence had their EAP headquarters and research building on the southeast end of the island. The main building was surrounded by a pool of water and an additional wall similar to the sea wall surrounding the whole island. Southeast of the city center, Uplift Nature Reserve, a large park and a wildlife reserve, was located on a series of circular, artificial islands.
Northeast of the Alpha Site, a large artificial island housed the orbital elevator. This island was full of port structures, including warehouses, docks and cranes.
The city also contained a massive network of underground installations, such as the Superintendent's data center deep beneath the surface. The facility consisted of at least twelve sublevels, with the AI's data core residing on the tenth sublevel in a massive cavern with an underground lake on the bottom. Secretly from the general populace, the facility was used to conduct research on a subterranean Forerunner artifact, which was later revealed to be a small section of the Portal at Voi.
The city's most senior government figure was the Mayor of New Mombasa. The New Mombasa Police Department (NMPD) was the organization charged with law enforcement. By the time of the Battle of Mombasa, it was under the leadership of Commissioner Kinsler.
The New Mombasa Transit Authority (NMTA) was charged with the maintenance of public transport in the city. New Mombasa Waste Management (NMWM) was responsible for city sanitation, while New Mombasa Parks and Recreation (NMPR) was responsible for parks and recreational areas. The Superintendent was heavily involved in all areas of administration.
The city of New Mombasa has seen considerably different depictions in different pieces of Halo media over the years. However, certain themes have carried over throughout the different iterations; namely the angular, geometric architecture on the whole as well as a number of minor details, like the distinct surface patterning of the roadways or the design of the traffic lights.
Halo 2 E3 demo
In the E3 presentation of Halo 2, the city appeared vastly different than its later versions. The Mombasa Tether was nowhere to be found. Instead, the space elevator's site in the heart of the city was occupied by a massive arcology shaped like an African baobab tree, composed of multiple "decks" covered in massive skyscrapers, and surrounded by urban sprawl. The city was much larger than its future incarnations, with the urban metropolis sprawling into the horizon as far as one could see. The internal architecture and layout of the city also differed greatly in the final version of Halo 2.
The massive tree-like structure from the Halo 2 E3 demo has been used several times in subsequent Halo media. In Halo 2, it can be seen as an Easter egg when looking at reflections in large enough glass windows in maps set in New Mombasa, such as at the ground floor of the building with the giant soccer ball in Metropolis or the large glass side of one of the buildings in the multiplayer level Headlong. In Halo Legends Origins Part I, the design is used to represent a Forerunner structure covered in Flood biomass. Likewise, a similar structure is present in the colony development sequence in Part II of Origins.
In Halo 2, the city was shaped much like its real-world counterpart, with the metropolis residing on the Mombasa island instead of the whole surrounding area having been filled with a gargantuan megalopolis. The massive central structure from the E3 demo was scrapped because the designers wanted New Mombasa to feel more like a real city.
The space elevator was located in the city center, surrounded by massive skyscrapers. A large artificial canal cut through the island, built to house dock facilities for the space elevator. The city's streets appeared more simple and plain than in the E3 Demo, although with more trees and plants. The color palette was also different, now mostly featuring shades of light brown instead of the mostly gray city in the E3 demo. An effort had been made to try to design the city as realistically as possible, using photographs of the current-day city as reference material and envisioning what the city would look like after 500 years of advancement.
New Mombasa is the setting of the level Metropolis, in which the player crosses the massive suspension bridge from Old Mombasa to the Mombasa Island, following a Covenant Scarab headed into the city. After traversing the highway tunnel and Kilindini Park, they push through a section of the city's industrial zone. There, they come face to face with the Scarab which is eventually trapped in the canals facing the space tether and is destroyed by the player, moments before Regret flees the city with the In Amber Clad in pursuit.
New Mombasa is not seen for much of the duration of Halo 3, but if one looks across from the Portal they can see the smoking ruins of the city in the distance. Most of the action on the ground takes place around the market city of Voi instead. Also, a prominent sight throughout the campaign is the sprawling remains of the Mombasa Space Tether, whose mammoth rings collapsed all across the countryside surrounding it and Voi upon the tether's collapse in the earlier engagements.
Halo 3: ODST
Originally, it was assumed that the slipspace jump of the Prophet of Regret's assault carrier had completely destroyed the city, creating the crater seen later in Halo 3. It was revealed in Halo 3: ODST that it did in fact create a crater, although much smaller than what was originally assumed, while the rest of the city survived mostly undamaged. The initial crater, located north of the Mombasa Island, was where the Covenant began their excavation of the Forerunner structure, the Portal, as seen in the Halo 3: ODST level Kikowani Station.
Halo 3: ODST introduces considerable changes to the city. Unlike Metropolis in Halo 2, which was set on the northern side of the city, all gameplay spaces in ODST are located on the southern part of the island. While the areas seen in Halo 2 are not visited nor clearly seen at any point, the city's in-game model from in the level Prepare to Drop has significant differences to the Halo 2 version; namely, the absence of the large canal cutting into the island, as well as the bridge crossed in Metropolis. The northwest side of the island now also has a different overall shape than the Halo 2 version, which mostly followed the shape of the real-world Mombasa Island. However, the absence of most of the canal and the bridge seen in Halo 2 can be attributed to the fact ODST takes place on the other side of the city. The locations seen in Halo 2 are never visited nor meant to be seen, and are thus not modeled in-game even if they still exist in the fiction.
The skyscrapers in the city appear more sleek than the gargantuan industrial complexes in Halo 2, and are very similar to those later seen in the city of New Alexandria on Reach in Halo: Reach. The city center, itself part of a walled, arcology-like complex, now also has a more clearly defined skyline, with a series of thin skyscrapers increasing evenly in height toward the Vyrant Telecom headquarters at the center. Another prominent addition is a massive ONI complex in the southeastern end of the city. The orbital elevator's base has also been moved, and now resides on a small island away from the city center. Its base structure is different, notably being less massive in size than in Halo 2. The internal architecture of the city is much more detailed, with the streets ramping up and down and elevated walkways surrounding them.
Most of the action in ODST takes place within a symmetrically designed "hub" area between the city center and ONI Alpha Site complex, although certain levels take the player to the Uplift Reserve, into the ONI complex, the data center underneath the city, as well as the Waterfront Highway on the island's seawall.
Mombasa appears in Halo: Reach's Anniversary Map Pack DLC released in conjunction with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. The map pack features Breakneck, a remake of Headlong from Halo 2 set in Section 21, as opposed to the original's Section 14. The city as displayed in the background of the map is not displayed consistently with other visual depictions of Mombasa; several large circular platforms connected by a suspension bridge appear to heavily resemble the Uplift Reserve as depicted in Halo 3: ODST, with the bridge even facing toward the destroyed tether as depicted in the aforementioned game. However, this camera angle would suggest that Breakneck and, by extension Section 21, are placed inside one of the west-most platforms of Uplift Reserve which would be illogical. Another possibility lies that the map is in fact set in Old Mombasa or otherwise across the water and simply depicts a similar set of round platforms, though this map's placement if this is the case is also another mystery. The city skyline in the map's skybox is heavily resemblant of that of Halo 3: ODST.
Halo 2: Anniversary
Halo 2: Anniversary ignores the Halo 3: ODST restructuring of New Mombasa, instead building the remastering upon the layout seen in Halo 2 with major landmarks like the Mombasa Tether in their original locations and ODST's sleek skyscrapers nowhere to be seen. Like in the original Halo 2, the immediate surroundings of the city to the north and the northeast are depicted as an empty desert, rather than the expansive urban sprawl seen in ODST and described in supplemental material.
Images of the city
List of appearances