Xbox’s flagship shooter is an intergalactic sci-fi saga with a narrative background that dates back to the old days. Billion for several years. Despite that extensive history, the actual Halo games largely take place within a single decade in the end and aftermath of the Human Covenant War.
The main storyline Halo games present a sequential storyline, although some side stories complicate the chronology of the series. With that in mind, we’ve created a brief summary of the Halo timeline as explored in the video game.
This list includes all of the main Halo games and most of the spin-offs, including the top-down shooter Halo Wars and Halo: Spartan strategy games. Halo Recruit Mixed Reality game, Halo: Fireteam Raven video game and marketing/mobile game Halo 4: King of the Hill Fueled By Mountain Dew not included.
Halo games in chronological order
Halo games in chronological order
As with most series, there are two possible ways to approach the Halo game: chronologically by release date or chronologically by narrative. The choice is yours and both paths can be outlined below, starting with narrative chronology.
Attention newcomers to the series, these brief plot summaries contain only slight damage such as broad plot points, settings, and character introductions.
1. Halo Wars (2531)
halo war is the earliest set game of the series, taking place 21 years before the start of Halo: Reach and Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo Wars is set during the early days of the Human Covenant War, a conflict started by the Alien Covenant in order to preserve the false foundations on which it built its religion. Halo Wars follows United Nations Space Command (UNSC) forces aboard the Spirit of Fire and the Red Team of Spartan-II super soldiers as they engage in war with the Covenant across the planets Harvest and Arcadia, as well as the installation of the Forerunner Shield 0459 (aka Trove).
Halo Wars is the first of two spinoffs about real-time strategy. The second installment, Halo Wars 2 (which continues on this list), is set between Halo 5 and Halo Infinite.
2. Halo: Reach (2552)
Halo: Reach Set 21 years later, during the summer months of 2552. Team Noble begins a war with the Covenant on the planet Reach, one of mankind’s most prosperous colonies. Team Noble, including the playable Noble Six, were outnumbered in their fight, but their efforts allowed the Pillar of Autumn and Cortana to escape the Reach, setting the stage for Halo : Combat Evolved.
3. Halo: Combat Evolved (2552)
The end of Reach leads directly into Halo: Combat Evolvedwith Pillars of Autumn entering Setup 04, one of the seven ring-shaped worlds (i.e. Halos) created by a highly intelligent ancient species known as the Elves.
The Pillar, carrying Cortana and John-117, aka Master Chief, is attacked by Covenant and forced to land in the ring. There, Chief battles the Covenant forces and inadvertently unleashes a flood, an ancient parasitic creature that feeds on living beings. Chief must find a way to stop the flood without destroying the human race.
Halo: Combat Evolved also introduces series staples such as the 343 Guilty Spark, the Forerunner Monitor tasked with monitoring Install 04; Jacob Keyes, a commanding officer in the UNSC Navy; and Avery Johnson, a highly trained UNSC marine.
4. Halo 2 (2552)
Set right after the end of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 tells two stories: the story of a Covenant Sangheili named Thel ‘Vadam (aka The Arbiter) and the story of the Master Chief’s continued battle against the Covenant and the Flood.
The story goes on for about a month, with Chief and Arbiter finally coming together to fight for a common goal. The campaign introduces another round of Halo (Installation 05) and brings us to the Earth version of the series, where there is a threat of a Covenant invasion. Halo 2’s ending gives us the Chief’s legendary line: “Sir, end this war.”
In addition to Arbiter, Halo 2 introduces the Covenant Hierarchs (Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret) and Miranda Keyes, a commander in the UNSC Navy and the son of the aforementioned Jacob Keyes and the unaccredited Dr. introduce. Catherine Halsey.
5. Halo 3: ODST (2552)
The events of Halo 3: ODST runs concurrently with those in Halo 2 – especially since it starts after the Halo 2 Metropolis mission. ODST is set in New Mombasa, a first and foremost battlefield in the Covenant’s invasion of Earth.
The less linear story revolves around a group of six highly trained Orbital Shock Troopers (ODSTs), with the player taking control of a character known as a Rookie. Rookie encounters the Covenant forces inside New Mombasa as he searches the city for his scattered comrades.
Among those teammates was Nathan Fillion’s Edward Buck, who returned in Halo 5: Guardians as a member of Fireteam Osiris.
6. Halo 3 (2552–2553)
The epilogue of the original Halo trilogy, Halo 3 follows Master Chief through the final months of the Human Covenant War. Chief and UNSC again attempt to prevent Covenant from firing the Halo Array, which will wipe out all sentient life within a 25,000 light-year radius. Meanwhile, The Flood descends to Earth, presenting a second existential threat to humanity.
Our heroes deal with the threat, and Master Chief leaves us with another unforgettable farewell as he steps into a cold chamber aboard the Forward Unto Dawn: “Wake me up when you need me.”
7. Halo: Spartan Assault (2554)
Halo: Spartan Assault is a side game set between Halo 3 and 4. It is one of two top-down shooters on this list along with its sequel, Halo: Spartan Strike. Spartan Assault features Spartan-IV soldiers Edward Davis and Sarah Palmer in a post-war skirmish against the Covenant faction led by warlord Sangheili Merg Vol. There aren’t many additions to the overall story, although Palmer also appears in Halo 4, 5, and Infinite.
8. Halo 4 (2557)
Halo 4 is an important game in both the ongoing story of the series and its development story: It begins Reclaimer Saga and began the life of the series under 343 Industries after the original developer Bungie splits from Microsoft.
Halo 4 begins four years after the end of Halo 3, when Cortana awakens Master Chief from hibernation to deal with the threat posed by the Covenant. Halo 4 puts more emphasis on the relationship between Chief and Cortana, as the latter deals with the early stages of aggression, a condition where the AI becomes dangerously unstable. Meanwhile, the duo face a new existential threat to humanity in the Return of the First Men led by a new villain, the Didact. Chief explores another Halo round, Install 03.
We also get first appearances from Cortana’s creator, Dr. Catherin Halsey, and an important Oracle called Librarian.
9. Halo: Spartan Strike (2557)
Halo: Spartan Strike begins concurrently with Halo 2 in 2552 before jumping to 2557. The narrative consequences of Spartan Strike on the ongoing Halo saga are minimal; The story follows a group of UNSC forces battling the Covenant while searching for a Forerunner artifact known as the Conduit.
10. Halo 5: Guardian (2558)
Considered the worst of the Halo campaigns, Halo 5 committed the cardinal sin of shifting focus away from the series’ beloved Master Chief in favor of Fireteam Osiris led by Jameson Locke, a Spartan-IV superhero tasked with locating the Chief and bringing him back to life. to the UNSC leadership.
The story cuts between Fireteam Osiris and the Blue Team, who, under the command of Master Chief, are on a mission of their own to track down a rogue, power-hungry Cortana.
11. Halo Wars 2 (2559)
Set between Halo 5 and Halo Infinite, Halo Wars 2 introduces Lord Brute Atriox, leader of Banished and the main antagonist in Halo Infinite.
Halo Wars 2 features the return of Red Team and the Spirit of Fire from the first Halo Wars. The party is awakened after 28 years of slumber and arrives at the Ark, where they meet Atriox and Banished. Despite the poor odds, the Red Team sees themselves as the shield between the Banished and the humans, and so they fight. Unresolved UNSC-Banished conflict continues in Halo Infinite.
12. Halo Infinite (2560)
The most recent game of the series by chronology and release date is Halo Infinite. It brings the focus back to Master Chief and introduces players to the series’ first open world on Zeta Halo (Installation 07).
Infinite brings The Banished from Halo Wars 2 into the main series while introducing another threat in the Endless, a race of ancient creatures until now held captive by the Forerunners. Endless is represented in the Infinite campaign by a new character named Harbinger.
Chief’s new allies include a UNSC pilot named Fernando Esparza and an AI clone of Cortana called Weapon. In addition to Atrioix and Harbinger, Infinite’s villain lineup includes the banished war chief Escharum and the killer Sangheili Spartan Jega.
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How to play Halo games by release date
- Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) *
- Halo 2 (2004) *
- Halo 3 (2007) *
- Halo Wars (2009)
- Halo 3: ODST (2009)
- Halo: Reach (2010)
- Halo 4 (2012) *
- Halo Spartan Assault (2013)
- Halo: Spartan Strike (2015)
- Halo 5: Guardians (2015) *
- Halo Wars 2 (2017)
- Halo Infinite (2020) *
* Mainstream Halo game