Somehow, 2020 is almost over. I could’ve sworn it was July just last week, but here we are…
It’s been a long and difficult year, one that has kept us all at arms length and also brought us closer together in unconventional ways. To close out 2020, I thought it would be nice to end on a positive note as we look to the release of Halo Infinite next year.
1. That they’re continuing my favourite franchise in the first place
Firstly, of course, the mere fact that Halo is still around over ten years after Bungie said farewell is something I’m very happy about.
When I (and many others) finished Halo 3, my mind was not at rest, for questions lingered on. We asked, and 343 answered. A passionate group of people came together from across the industry to tell those stories, expand that universe further, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.
2. Story focus
As many of you probably already know about me, story has always been what I gravitate towards most in Halo.
When 343 inherited the mantle of this franchise, they made a deliberate effort to ensure that the storytelling and overall connectivity of the universe was as cohesive as possible. A core frustration prior to this was this sense that the games and other media were two completely separate universes – a tension that 343 sought to resolve.
Halo is arguably the definitive case study for a game series that successfully crafted a franchise through transmedia. Books, comics, live action shorts and films, audio dramas,reference guides, graphic novels – many have attempted these things but not succeeded in the long-term.
This is something that 343 is continuing to push to new heights and the baseline of quality across all these releases is genuinely second-to-none.
4. The Forerunner Saga
Greg and Chloe Bear opened enough doors with just these three books to open up possibilities for the next hundred years of Halo stories. That’s genuinely not an exaggeration.
This trilogy is not only the magnum opus of the Halo series in my mind, but also just really excellent science fiction literature that is filled with fascinatingly weird ideas. Bear’s Homeric prose is something I really engage with, and for every answer given there are a dozen more questions posed.
For a more thorough exploration of this story and what it does to propel the Halo universe, check out this article: Why the Librarian is Halo’s Greatest Antagonist
5. Forward Unto Dawn
Halo is well known for having some of the best live action trailers (and marketing campaigns in general), going back to Neill Blomkamp’s Landfall.
An ambitious leap for Halo 4 was the production of a live action web-series that felt like watching an actual Halo television show or film. Tuning into these episodes over the five weeks they aired leading up to the release of Halo 4 makes up some of my fondest memories as a fan. This was 343’s equivalent to The Fall of Reach, launching the next phase of the franchise, and I still go back to rewatch it to this day.
6. Halo Waypoint app
Remember the old Waypoint app on Xbox 360? It was an online portal for all things Halo – stat and achievement tracking, in-game and avatar rewards, service record milestones, video content (this is where they aired Halo: Legends and the Evolutions adaptations), Terminals, machinima, screenshots, and so much more…
This unified interface for all Halo content brought tremendous value to every fan on the seventh generation of consoles, sometimes I do miss it terribly!
7. Halo Fest
Following the announcements of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4 at E3, August saw the rather momentous community event at PAX Prime dubbed Halo Fest.
Both 343 and Bungie hosted a number of panels which gave us insight into everything from the formative years of the franchise, to sneak previews at Halo 4. It was a really great celebration of the tenth anniversary of the series and you could keep up with it live across the three days it ran for.
In 2014, a second Halo Fest was hosted to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Halo 2. This event gave us a deeper look at Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo: Nightfall, the Halo 5 beta, and played host to a tournament.
I’ve yet to make it out to a proper community event, and it looks like we won’t be seeing any of those any time soon. But one day. One day…
8. Outpost Discovery
On a similar note, Outpost Discovery was a meta community experience in the summer of 2019 (which seems like millennia ago now). Travelling across Orlando, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim, this was a momentous undertaking which featured a museum full of icons from the series, as well as to-scale models of Warthogs, Elites, Flood, and more.
Add in a history walkthrough of the series presented as an in-universe experience, VR, Covenant escape rooms, a huge variety of panels – this was an unforgettable event for Halo fans.
9. Steve Downes and Jen Taylor recording together
Despite being the main characters for the original trilogy, Steve Downes and Jen Taylor did not actually meet until Halo Fest in 2011 – ten whole years since they first recorded for these characters.
Since then, it’s been absolutely wonderful to see their friendship with various skits they’ve done together, as well as anecdotes from their recording sessions.
For Halo 4, they actually recorded their lines together, which massively enhanced their respective performances.
10. Halo 4
I know, how shockingly unexpected coming from me that this one sits with Halo 1 and Halo 2 as my favourite game in the series! My love for this game was the inception of this blog and so many of the incredible opportunities that have come my way since.
You’ll find a bunch of articles about Halo 4 on this blog, but one I tend to think of as definitive (and that’s partly because it’s approved by the Chief himself!) is this: Halo 4 – Crafting a masterpiece of character
The Prometheans had their conceptual origins in Peter Jackson’s cancelled Halo: Chronicles and made their proper debut in Halo 4.
I think they’re tremendously underrated foes with a truly fascinating history – both in the lore and behind the scenes. For more detail on their origins and how they were designed and developed, check out ‘From Peter Jackson to Halo Infinite – A Rumination on the Prometheans‘
12. Halo 5 Forge
I don’t think this one needs a word of explanation.
Forge started as a tool intended to enable players to move stuff around on maps. The community’s creativity turned it from a map editor to a map maker, and Halo 5 delivered its best version yet. What people have done with this is mad!
13. Halo 5 multiplayer
It’s the second-best multiplayer in the series (Halo 3 on PC definitely still reigns supreme), don’t @ me…
I really love PvPvE modes in games, and Halo has always seemed like something that was just made for this kind of thing. With an abundance of maps and modes around the Warzone experience, it’s what I still find myself coming back to whenever I play Halo 5.
15. Spartan Ops
In many ways, Spartan Ops (or Halo: Infinity, as the episodes insist on calling it!) was remarkably prescient. Live service delivery of fifty additional campaign missions and about an hour of extra cinematic content in the weeks and months after launch – all of which was included with the disc.
This was a remarkably ambitious mode, one which certainly has its issues but cannot be faulted for boldly looking to evolve the delivery of storytelling in Halo. Indeed, it seems like Halo Infinite, as a live service game in a console gaming market that has adopted this model, will be something of a result of the lessons learned from this particular feature.
16. The Master Chief Collection
What an incredible turnaround this had!
It certainly didn’t launch in an ideal state where the multiplayer was concerned, but even then if you (like me) were primarily interested in the campaigns you definitely got your money’s worth. Now 343 has added ODST and Reach to the collection, along with an abundance of new additions and options that have forged this into the most complete love letter to a series of games… probably ever?
17. PC improvements
I honestly can’t go back to playing Halo 3 on console after finally experiencing it with that glorious FOV slider which completely changes how the game feels to play.
The MCC team has delivered some truly incredible improvements to the overall experience. New customisation options across all of the games, implementing the Terminals as in-game videos rather than sending you to the Halo Channel app, introducing challenges, all the additional settings, crossplay between PC and console – it’s an ever-growing list!
18. Neil Davidge and Kazuma Jinnouchi
Halo 4 still has my favourite soundtrack of the series.
It’s risky and experimental, bringing a whole new sound to a story that demanded a shift in approach. No cheap hammering of nostalgia for an easy win, it’s very deliberate about how it uses legacy tracks by giving them emotional context – like the reprise of Never Forget, which becomes a rueful lament for Cortana in the closing scene and credits of the game.
For a more expansive analysis on the music of Halo 4, check out Neil Davidge & Kazuma Jinnouchi – The Unsung Heroes of Halo 4 (Neil actually read this piece and I got to meet him in London last year!)
There’s also an excellent hour-long documentary detailing the soundtrack’s production which I recommend watching.
In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, and Halo 4, we were blessed by the collaborative efforts of 343 with The Sequence Group to bring the Terminals (previously text-based and woefully inaccessible in Halo 3) to life as beautifully stylised animated cinematics.
As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best things to happen to Halo.
20. Halo: Evolutions
The first book from 343 Industries was 2009’s Halo: Evolutions, an anthology novel containing just under twenty stories and poems. Some of those stories were also adapted into motion comics.
This book’s stories really showcase 343’s dive into interrogating the Halo universe – it explores the themes of this franchise, nails down a lot of ideas and concepts that would come to be built on (and still are being built upon) in the future. A thoroughly recommended read!
21. Halo: Legends
In a similar vein, the anime Halo: Legends is another prototypical, experimental phase of 343’s early storytelling. While it’s always had its fans, it’s definitely something that people have come to look back on with greater fondness.
The foreshadowing going on in some of these stories is really quite something (‘Prototype’ is quite literally a prototype for the story Halo 4 would go on to tell, and ‘Origins’ contains a number of obscure visual allusions to future events – like Cortana’s desire to touch the Chief, fulfilled at the end of Halo 4), and the visual style of each episode remains one of its best features. Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio 4°C, and Toei Animation did an incredible job developing these.
One of my favourites in this collection is The Duel, which I’ve written more about here.
22. Jameson Locke
23. Fireteam Osiris
The list of things I’ll defend in Halo 5’s campaign isn’t particularly extensive, but Fireteam Osiris is very much one of them.
I generally don’t much care for Halo stories with larger, team-based casts. From the bland, superfluous archetypes of Reach, to the “Let’s just get the dudes from Firefly to basically be those characters in Halo” approach of ODST, to… everything about Fireteam Majestic, I don’t personally find it to be compelling track record compared to the more laser-focused stories on a smaller cast of characters.
Osiris broke that mold for me with more better crafted characters with greater substance to them than witty one-liners and dour, sterile military-speak.
If I’m the only one out there dying on this hill, so be it!
Something that sci-fi loves to (over)do is privilege Earth as a central point of tension. Look at Mass Effect 3, for instance. This is a story about the fall of galactic civilisation, the Reapers have no mercy for the technologically advanced races of the Milky Way… but the tagline for the game is ‘TAKE EARTH BACK,’ with fall of humanity’s homeworld getting the most emphasis in the story.
One-third of Halo 5’s campaign is dedicated to this kind of story, but for Sanghelios – home of the Elites, who we’re helping to liberate their planet from the Covenant’s final stand so the Arbiter can secure a new future for his people.
Those five missions aren’t just the high point of Halo 5’s campaign, but they’re some of the finest missions in the entire series.
Many would agree that comics have been a bit of a hit-or-miss thing for Halo, but in recent years we’ve had some really great stories told. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Scott Jobe, Product Development Manager at 343, who is incredibly passionate about this arm of the franchise and has helped the team deliver some absolute bangers!
Rise of Atriox, Collateral Damage, and Lone Wolf are the most recent entries, but I would also recommend some of 343’s earlier endeavours – Blood Line and Helljumpers.
26. Frank O’Connor, please write more literature!
Frank has written some of my favourite stories in the series. From his involvement in the Iris ARG and Halo 3’s Terminals, to Soma the Painter, Wages of Sin, and Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian in Halo: Evolutions, to Saint’s Testimony, every time he contributes to the prose of the series you can expect to get something brilliant. It’s been five years since his last short story – please write more, Frank!
27. Halo: Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike (yes, really)
Look, the production value of these mobile games for their time is incredible. The top-down shooting gameplay is fun, the sounds and visuals are authentically Halo, the cinematics by Sequence (who also do the Terminals) are gorgeous, their narrative framing is engaging – you’re in for a genuinely good time with these games.
28. Halo: Nightfall
Yeah, I love Halo: Nightfall.
It’s a really well-crafted story that introduces Jameson Locke by answering the question of how he emerges from one of the closest analogs to Hell in this setting not just as a survivor, but as a good man. And yeah, you can absolutely bet I’ve got a 25,000+ word long analysis on that…
29. Cutting room floor
As fans, something we love to learn about is all the stuff that – for one reason or another – didn’t make the cut. Halo has got plenty of that!
Something cool that 343’s been doing over the years is finding new ways to bring some of these things into the canon. Remember the Sharquoi, which got that one off-handed mention in Conversations From The Universe in Halo 2’s limited edition booklet – based on the Drinol from Bungie’s Marathon games? They made their debut canonical appearance in Tobias Buckell’s 2017 novel Halo: Envoy.
Most recently, the fabled GRD armour from Halo: Reach has been announced to be coming to the Master Chief Collection in Season 5.
30. Halo Wars 2
Eight years, eight long years… that’s how long it took to get a sequel to Halo Wars. And it was absolutely worth the wait!
After Halo 5, I was at a pretty low level of enthusiasm. Halo Wars 2 brought me right back in, establishing some of the best ideas in the series. Looking back at it now, the impact Halo Wars 2 has had in quietly transforming this universe, opening doors for the future, cannot be understated.
At the heart of Halo Wars 2, of course, is Atriox. He emerged as the answer to the question of what an intelligent, tactically-minded Brute would look like, and he’s easily up there as one of the best antagonists of the series.
32. The Banished
The Banished as a whole are one of the single best concepts to come out of the last twenty years of this franchise, as far as I’m concerned. 343 has clearly realised the gold they struck upon for the future after their excellent reception in Halo Wars 2.
33. Cortana’s arc in Halo 4
As has oft been remarked, the story of Halo that we see unfold in the mainline games is often thought of more as Cortana’s story than the Chief’s. So when she was absent from the majority of Halo 3, then stuffed in the back of the Dawn with nothing to do but think herself to death barely a mission after being rescued from the Gravemind, I felt that the dissatisfaction of that point alone justified a Halo 4 to properly deal with her character.
And that’s exactly what we got from Halo 4. It’s the most beautifully and tragically honest Halo story, with Cortana’s rampancy having been inspired by creative director Josh Holmes’s own experience of his mother’s dementia during the course of this game’s development.
She loses control. She gets overwhelmed, she forgets things, she lashes out – even at the Chief. At the same time, she’s still jovial and sarcastic, dropping her usual quips, but it’s clear that she is struggling. And, in the end, she won.
While fighting against her condition, she takes down the Didact, saves her best friend, and bows out of the narrative on her own terms.
I’m prepared to be proven wrong, but I don’t think Halo is ever going to top this.
34. Partner studios
Blur Studios, Creative Assembly, Certain Affinity, The Sequence Group, ONE, MoreFrames, Saber Interactive, Skybox Labs, Axis Animation, Spartan Games, Showtime, Raw Thrills, Play Mechanix, Mega Bloks, Vanguard Games…
Delivering transmedia Halo stories and experiences (as well as other areas of development) is something that has involved a number of partnerships with other studios throughout various industries, and each one has enriched this franchise with their own unique talent, experience, and perspectives.
35. Canon Fodder
Shoutout to Jeff Easterling (GrimBrother One) for this series of blog entries which dive into aspects of the lore, storytelling, and upcoming narrative-focused releases.
What began as a weekly conversation-starter on the Waypoint forums became a regular and unique feature of 343’s community offering. At the time of writing, there are 109 issues – check them out here!
I also interviewed Jeff a little while back, giving insight into how he got into Halo, his journey into the industry, and various story-specific questions.
36. Halo 5 squad commands
Tim Longo was the Creative Director on Halo 5, perhaps best known previously for his work on 2005’s Star Wars: Republic Commando.
The squad commands of that game were a neat new feature in Halo 5, and one that solved an age-old issue in the series. Letting the friendly AI drive you around is often a death sentence, but you can use the squad commands to direct your Warthog’s driver while you’re on the turret and it works!
37. Vehicle seat switching
On a similar note, remember how you had to get out of the driver’s seat and go to the back of the Warthog if you wanted to get on the turret?
No more. Halo 5 lets you just tap the A button and you can switch seats in about two seconds, a long overdue streamlining feature that I am forever grateful for!
38. Spartan Abilities
Personally, I was never fond of Armour Abilities. While their replacement has also been somewhat divisive, Spartan Abilities offer some of the best advanced mobility gameplay this generation.
Transitioning from a sprint to a slide, then jumping and thrusting forward to get maximum forward momentum feels so wonderfully fluid – and everybody having the same abilities adds an element of mastery to that aspect of the core gameplay.
You’ll no doubt have watched the likes of Shyway turn this into its own art form…
39. The return of equipment in Infinite
That said, Equipment returning in Halo Infinite is exactly what I’d hoped for.
My go-to scenario here is contrasting the jetpack versus portable gravity lift. If you’ve got a jetpack, you can just fly up to the high ground and that’s that. No real thought or coordination required, off you go – you’re there!
With the grav lift, you have to think about where you put it and how it affects your team. You’re giving yourself and your team a brief window to attack the high ground, but with the risk of funnelling them all into one place. It feels like there’s a lot more thought that goes into how you can make the most of limited-use equipment rather than rechargeable abilities.
40. Motion capture
As technology for games has gotten more sophisticated, we’ve seen motion capture performances become the norm in the industry.
Reach, Halo 4, Halo 5, Halo 2 Anniversary, and Halo Wars 2 have all made extensive use of mo-cap, and the cast and crew bringing these stories to life are incredible.
While you hear Steve Downes and Jen Taylor in Halo 4, the physical performance of the Chief and Cortana was done by Bruce Thomas and Mackenzie Mason. When you watch the Halo 2 Anniversary cinematics, you’re seeing the likes of Damion Poitier and Courtney Munch perform some of the most challenging acting work imaginable, adding new layers to characters’ performances while remaining entirely in-sync with their established dialogue.
Here’s a brief glimpse at what that process looks like…
41. Kelly Gay
When I think of my top three authors for Halo, I think of Greg Bear, Eric Nylund, and Kelly Gay.
Kelly made her debut in Halo literature in 2016, which saw the release of ‘Into the Fire,’ a short story in the Halo: Fractures anthology novel, and Halo: Smoke and Shadow, a novella which follows Rion Forge searching for her father – John Forge, who died in the original Halo Wars.
This was followed up in 2019 with Halo: Renegades, which tied together so many interwoven threads from the last decade of fiction around Guilty Spark, giving the character some closure on his journey, and a new beginning. Kelly’s next novel will continue Spark and Rion’s story in March 2021 with Halo: Point of Light.
Kelly’s prose is brimming with detail and imagination, it speaks to much the same sensibilities I have that the Forerunner Saga fulfilled, and the stories she tells are everything a hardcore lore fan loves to see. She’s been one of the brightest sparks in recent years for Halo’s story.
Incidentally, I had the pleasure of speaking with Kelly last year for the release of Halo: Renegades. Check out that interview here.
42. Halo Mythos
One of the best things about Halo is that there’s so damn much of it. At the same time, one of the most intimidating things about Halo is that there’s… so damn much of it.
Novels, anthologies, comics, live action films, graphic novels, reference books, anime… it can be hard for newcomers to get a complete picture of the overall universe, but that’s where Halo Mythos steps in.
This reference guide is a comprehensive guide to the entire story of the Halo universe, from the time of the Precursors up to the Banished’s arrival at the Ark that kicks off Halo Wars 2. It’s filled with over fifty uniquely commissioned art pieces depicting events from the breadth of fiction out there.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the expanded universe before the plunge, this is definitely a good thing to have!
43. Halo: Warfleet
Similar to Mythos, Warfleet is a reference book which details the scale, design, technology, and other details of the space ships and stations in the Halo universe. It features thoroughly detailed cross-section illustrations by Hans Jenssen and John Mullaney, renowned for similar work they’ve done for the likes of Star Wars and Firefly.
44. Setting Halo Infinite on Installation 07
Halo Infinite is seeking to recapture that feeling of mystery and discovery from the original game as part of this ‘spiritual reboot’ for the series, evoking those broad emotions by bringing those ideas from 2001 to life in 2021.
They could have chosen a Halo that we’ve never seen before and know nothing about (Installation 01, 02, 06); they could have returned us to a ring that was established in a previous game (Installation 05 in Halo 2, Installation 03 in Halo 4, or Installation 09 in Halo Wars 2)… But they didn’t.
They chose this Installation 07: the ring with the most loaded backstory, with a wellspring of established lore, detailed in perhaps the most esoteric novel of the entire series.
The unique history of this ring means that the wellspring from which there is to draw from for stories both old and new is, well… infinite.
For a more thorough exploration of that history: Why Installation 07 is the perfect setting for Halo Infinite
45. Broken Circle
One of my absolute favourite Halo books is Broken Circle by John Shirley, which is split into two time periods – the founding years of the Covenant several thousand years ago, and the onset of the Great Schism that occurs in Halo 2.
Like Cryptum before it, this felt like a revelation in how it opened up a whole new area of the Halo universe that was previously only glimpsed in references. Following the story of Ussa ‘Xellus as he tries to find a home for his people away from the growing reach of the still-new Covenant, pursued by the very likeable and noble Prophet of Inner Conviction (who is also sent on his own mission to Janjur Qom, the homeworld of his people), was thoroughly compelling.
It’s also basically the only Halo book to have a ‘happy’ ending, and it’s one that moved me to tears.
46. Bonnie Ross
Bonnie is a veteran of the industry and has worked on some of the biggest Microsoft gaming properties since 1994. She’s been recognised for her efforts as a leader in promoting diversity efforts for young girls and underrepresented minorities getting into STEM, and co-founded Microsoft’s Women in Gaming community back in 1997.
It’s because of Bonnie that 343 Industries exists and the Halo franchise continues. Like many of us, she saw that there was more to this universe – more stories to tell, more potential for the franchise to expand as a creative transmedia platform.
The industry is all the better for having leaders like this forging pathways for others to succeed.
47. Art direction
A contentious one, to be sure, but one I stand by in a good number of areas – particularly the Forerunner architecture seen in Halo 4. Much of what we see on Requiem is built on the same design principles as its predecessors, but it is now active rather than inert. Advancements with the engine allowed for environments and objects to be more dynamic, bringing these spaces to life in ways hitherto unseen.
48. Sangheili vehicles
The visual design of the Phantom, Banshee, Spirit, and Ghost in Halo 5 are easily the best in the series.
Their visual evolution to reflect aquatic and aerial predators on Sanghelios is an aesthetic with tremendous depth that makes them more than just ‘a vehicle’ – it gives them a unique sense of character.
49. Warzone Firefight
While ODST still has what I consider to be the best Firefight in the series, Warzone Firefight in Halo 5 is still the mode I find myself constantly drawn to play whenever I’m online.
50. The Didact
“So fades the great harvest of my betrayal…”
Billed as a personal nemesis for the Chief, beautifully explored through the Forerunner Saga and Terminals, brought to life by the acting talent that takes the form of Keith Szarabajka… I sure hope we’ll see him back in the near future.
Isabel is the AI character introduced in Halo Wars 2, portrayed by Erica Soto who gives a truly excellent performance of an individual who is coping with loss, survivor’s guilt, and a drive for revenge.
The latter is particularly interesting, as we’re so typically used to the villains of Halo pursuing revenge. Halo Wars 2 inverts that typical structure. Isabel is paired with Jerome-092, which brings with it a sense of exuberant energy that feels unique to the series, while building on that core relationship at its heart – that of the symbiotic pairing of a Spartan and AI, of man and machine.
52. Atriox/Cutter ads
If there’s one area that this series never misses, it’s the advertising. Halo Wars 2 opted for some lighthearted skits titled ‘War of Wits’ with Gideon Emery as Captain Cutter and a full animatronic Atriox – a delightful bit of levity that still gets a laugh from me whenever I see them.
53. Hunt the Truth
Speaking of great advertising, it would be remiss of me not to bring up Hunt the Truth.
Regardless of how Halo 5 itself turned out relative to this marketing campaign, the build-up period around all this media remains of of the best times to have been a Halo fan. Following the weekly releases of the audio drama, the live action trailers, the Hunt the Signal ARG, and everything else brought the community together in such a unique way.
54. Cross-promotion with other games
Halo has been no stranger to turning up in other franchises over the years. Nicole-458 was a playable Spartan character in 2005’s Dead or Alive 4, Fable II had Hal’s sword and armour (based on the Master Chief), and numerous other games include references and pay homage to Halo in some form or another.
In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence in cross-promotional initiatives. Killer Instinct introduced an Arbiter as a playable character, Gears 5 brought in Kat and Emile, and we’ve just recently seen the Chief himself show up in Fortnite.
These collaborations must be great fun for the team to work on, I love seeing Halo pop up in unexpected places so I’m here for more of that!
55. Employee spotlights
The people behind the product and their journeys into game development, their role at the studio, their contributions to the industry, and more are routinely exhibited on 343’s official website in extensive employee spotlights.
Listening to and learning from other peoples’ experiences is always incredibly valuable, so these are definitely worth a read!
56. The Sprint
Insight and transparency on development is generally quite rare, but both stewards of Halo have really stood out over the years for the deeper dives we get into how the sausage is made.
From 2014 to 2015, 343 released three seasons of The Sprint, a series that documented the production and development of various aspects of Halo 5 – the multiplayer beta, the music, certain maps and modes, the campaign, and so on.
57. Continuing the tradition of ViDocs
ViDocs were one of my favourite things that Bungie did to give us those behind the scenes glimpses at different aspects of Halo’s development. This peek behind the curtain was absolutely formative for my desire to work in the gaming industry (now two years fulfilled!)
This is a tradition that 343 has held to with each of their releases, I can’t wait to see what they’ve got to show on this front for Halo Infinite.
Linda is undeniably one of the coolest Spartans. There’s that one time in First Strike where she hung upside down in the middle of a Covenant ship, holding her sniper rifle in one hand, and shot seven Banshee pilots out of their vehicles by landing perfect shots in a particular spot on their armour…
Suffice it to say, it’s no wonder she had to be stuck in cryo during Halo 1 because the game would’ve probably been over within three missions if she was the protagonist.
343 recently gave Linda her own comic series, titled Lone Wolf. Written by Anne Toole, with art by Kieren McKewon, JL Straw, Dan Jackson, and Christian Ward, it’s a great four-issue story that delves into where she’s at following the events of Halo 3.
59. In loving memory: Jens Hauch
In March this year, Jens Hauch unexpectedly passed away. He is survived by his wife Oesa and their two children, who have had to endure this terrible year without their husband and father.
Our dear friend and teammate, Jens Hauch, passed away unexpectedly and suddenly on 3/29/20 at the age of 46. He was a man who cared deeply for those he loved, especially his wife Oesa and their two children, Olivia and Finn. Jens was a much-loved member of our 343 Industries family, and we will deeply miss his warm and generous spirit… and his radiant smile.
At 343, Jens worked as an environment art tech lead and his passing was understandably devastating. A fundraiser to support the family in this awful time was set up by Oesa and Rob Semsey, 343’s Chief of Staff.
It’s still open, and if you are able you can donate here.
60. In loving memory: Lori Tritel
On a similar note, Lori Tritel (who portrayed the Librarian in Halo 4) sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2017.
Lori was perfectly cast as the Librarian, she brought that character to life exactly as I had imagined her from the Forerunner Saga and managed to capture her essence with such minimal screen time.
61. Pets of 343
Due to the working from home measures brought about by COVID-19, the workforce for 343 Industries expanded considerably with the addition of a whole manner of furry, feathered, and scaly co-workers.
If you want an instant smile on your face, go check out the Pets of 343.
Speaking of which, let’s give a particular shout out to the star of Halo Infinite.
No, not Master Chief – it’s Gyoza the pug!
63. Sound design videos
Gyoza rose to stardom through 343’s sound design videos, which showcase what just be one of the best jobs in the world – blowing stuff up in various creative ways and recording the sound it makes.
64. Scarab skull
Ever since skulls were introduced as gameplay modifiers in Halo 2, people have been coming up with their own ideas for what further additions could be made.
Somebody decided to answer the question “What if every weapon was the Scarab Gun?” for Halo 2 Anniversary, and that person has my eternal gratitude for enabling me to complete Halo 2 on Legendary.
65. The Joe Staten Grunt
Joe Staten has most recently returned to Halo as Creative Director on Halo Infinite, taking over from Chris Lee who held that position for the last few years. It’s great to have him back in this capacity, bringing the next movement of the odyssey to the finish line.
But Joe also appeared in Halo 5. In the weapons-down mission Alliance, there’s an Elite and Grunt sat together on a cliff edge staring out at the horizon. This Grunt has about fifteen minutes of dialogue poking fun at different aspects of the series and is voiced by none other than Joe Staten.
66. Halo 2 Anniversary
To make the bold statement that this was the best remaster of the last generation would be an undeniable fact.
67. The Gravemind in Halo 2 Anniversary
This one scarcely needs justification! The true horror of this ancient creature is sickeningly realised in Halo 2 Anniversary – the Audrey 2 comparisons are no more!
68. Blur cutscenes
As if I need to even provide any background here. Blur is bloody incredible!
69. Framing devices
One of the most common motifs in 343’s storytelling is their proclivity for a good framing device.
The recap of events in the ‘Origins’ two-parter of Halo: Legends is framed through Cortana in the ‘present,’ adrift on the Dawn as she sifts through the wealth of information she’s gathered. Forward Unto Dawn is a PTSD-induced flashback from Thomas Lasky’s perspective to when he met the Chief. Mythos is a story told by a UNSC AI named Curator who is stranded on the Ark prior to the arrival of the Banished…
There are numerous examples, pretty much all of which I find really enhance 343’s storytelling by giving it these additional layers. It’s tied to their mission statement of ensuring the stories they tell matter, that there’s a broader connectivity to the universe.
70. Phoenix logs
While Halo Wars 2 doesn’t have Terminals or audio logs, what it does have are ‘Phoenix Logs.’
These form a collection of text-based codex entries which provide background information on every unit in the game, the characters and factions, aspects of the setting, and also tell a variety of short stories that take place on the Ark.
ONI’s growing awareness of Atriox and the Banished, an Honour Guard’s perspective on serving under a warrior like Atriox, a Sangheili translator for the Banished’s Huragok, 000 Tragic Solitude’s observations of the galaxy – it’s all excellent stuff that’s worth collecting!
71. Campaign DLC
For both Halo 4 and Halo Wars 2, 343 continued to support those games with story DLC.
Spartan Ops, Operation: SPEARBREAKER, and Awakening the Nightmare sustained their respective games with new story content, which I’m excited to see more of over the coming years with Halo Infinite.
72. Halo: Shadow of Intent
Oh hey, another shoutout to Joe Staten!
2015 was a ridiculous year for Halo content. Five books, two seasons of the Hunt the Truth audio drama, a dozen issues of Halo: Escalation, ODST getting added to the MCC, the release of Halo 5, and more…
In December, we concluded the year with a novella from Joe titled Halo: Shadow of Intent. It follows Rtas ‘Vadum (Spec-Ops Commander and Shipmaster from the original trilogy) following the events of Halo 3 and it’s easily one of the top ten books of the entire series.
73. Veta Lopis and the Ferrets
There was a time, back in the late ’00s, where the Spartan-IIIs were my favourite aspect of the Halo universe. Unfortunately, they seemed to be largely forgotten about, until Troy Denning gave us Halo: Last Light and Retribution.
The story that unfolds between Veta Lopis and the Gamma Company Spartans of Team Saber (now known as the ‘Ferret Team’) is one of the highlights of the post-war era. I really hope we’ll see Troy return to this in his inevitable next book!
74. Long-term pay-offs
343 has demonstrated that they’re more than adept at seeding an idea somewhat innocuously in a piece of media, then subtly paying it off later on.
At the end of the second episode of ‘Origins’ in Halo: Legends, we see Cortana seemingly step off her holographic plinth and imagine herself clearing the condensation on the Chief’s cryo pod.
In the ‘Human Weakness’ short story of Halo: Evolutions, the Gravemind taunts Cortana for her limitations – how she’s unable to even touch the person she cares about most.
In her final scene in Halo 4, we see this little arc fulfilled as she places a hand on the Chief before saying goodbye and sending him home.
75. The Mantis
We already play as a big green boy, and somebody decided that what we really needed was for there to be a bigger, greener boy for us to pilot.
And y’know what? They were right.
76. The Grunt choir
There’s a track in Halo 5 called Covenant Prayers, its lyrics are in the actual Sangheili language and roughly translate to an exultation of the Guardians – bidding them to stay dormant.
During the mission Battle of Sunaion, right before you head to the undercity, you’ll find an auditorium with a hologram of a Guardian and a choir of Grunts singing this on a loop (until you lower the shield wall protecting them). There’s even a conductor!
77. Giving meaning and context to old things
All those glyphs you see in Halo 1 as you explore Installation 04? A Twitter conversation with Paul Russel from Bungie a few years ago revealed that none of them actually meant anything at the time.
Well, these things have been given specific context over the last decade. One particular example is what’s known as the Eld, the symbol that represents the Mantle of Responsibility, which was plastered all over Forerunner installations.
78. The Broadsword run
Halo: Reach introduced space combat during the mission Long Night of Solace. It’s a great section that does something brand new for the series and has this gorgeously ethereal tone, but I feel it’s somewhat limited by how slowly that section progresses and how every encounter is effectively the same. It’s quite overtly prototypical.
In the final mission of Halo 4, you pilot a Broadsword fighter through the trenches of the Didact’s ship. This section also isn’t without its issues (there are some invisible bits of geometry you’ll suffer some very confusing deaths from), but the scale of its ambition is immense.
There are so many dynamic environment pieces which showcases just how much 343 has managed to do with the engine. The linear nature of this section is offset by having multiple routes that you’re able to go – do you risk barrelling straight down the middle while taking flak from turrets, going underneath the area where you’re safer but the space is much tighter, and so on… every time I replay it, it feels like a section that you can master, finding the most ideal route and seeing if you can beat your previous time.
I hope we see more of this kind of novelty in the future!
79. Sarah Palmer love poem
When you enter the Arbiter’s camp in the mission Alliance in Halo 5, you’ll find that one of the audio logs contains a rather unexpected bit of poetry from a Sangheili admirer of Spartan Sarah Palmer…
“Erase previous recording, begin new recording.
I saw you standing at your ship, with armored hand on armored hip.
Both my hearts began to pound, so lovely was what I found.
I love your brightly shining armor, human named Commander Palmer.
I wish that we–
What are you doing here, Grunt? What are you laughing at? I will tear off your arms!”
80. Sexy San’Shyuum
Everybody say thank you to Greg Bear for sexy San’Shyuum. We all needed this.
send pics pls 343
81. The motif in announcement trailers where they obscure the Chief
When Halo 4 was first announced at E3 2011, the trailer began with what looked like the darkness of space, which then resolved into becoming a nervous system in the process of reawakening, which then revealed itself to be the Master Chief.
Two years later at E3 2013, Halo on Xbox One was teased with a trailer that depicted a large cloaked figure making its way through a desert and awakening an ancient construct.
And the announcement engine trailer for Halo Infinite doesn’t reveal the Chief until the very end, the camera pulling back over an immense distance to reveal him holding his helmet.
Whoever decided that this would be a motif for these announcement trailers, leaving subtle clues leading up to the big reveal, has honestly struck gold every time.
82. Poncho Chief!
Poncho Chief is the best Chief. Forever relegated to concept art and that one announcement teaser in 2013 (and a truly excellent action figure), we pray that we shall see him again someday…
83. Writing the book others learn from
Something that I find uniquely compelling about 343 Industries is that they’re effectively a one-of-a-kind studio in terms of what they were tasked with.
Plenty of franchises have changed hands in the past, but the difference is scale. Halo is an iconic system-selling brand for Microsoft. There was no ‘how to’ manual for what they had to do when they first started out, and it’s only in recent years that we’ve seen other studios follow in these footsteps.
The success of The Coalition, who made Gears of War 4, Gears 5, and most recently Gears Tactics (with Splash Damage) is due in no small part to the pathways forged by 343. Chuck Osieja, Creative Director at The Coalition, has said as much.
Successes and mistakes are something to be learned from, and the result for The Coalition has been – in my mind, at least – the best damn games in the Gears series.
84. Thomas Lasky
A good man, a great captain, and very much a guy you’d want to have your back. Thom Green, Ty Olsson, and Darren O’Hare brought this character to life wonderfully and I just want to see more of him.
One can never have enough screentime for Tom Lasky!
85. Something for everyone
With such a vast breadth of Halo content out there now, the majority of which has come from the last decade, no matter what your desired flavour of the Halo universe is there’s absolutely something out there for you.
86. Community team
Huge shoutout to the likes of Snickerdoodle, Ske7ch, Unyshek, Andy Salisbury, Jessica Shea, Bravo, Jay Frechette, and everybody who is or has been involved in leading the community management side of things.
CMs have one of the most difficult jobs in the industry. As a fanbase, I think we’re really lucky to have some of the best in that field working on Halo.
She flips the bird to Sentinels and listens to Queen before deployment on missions. We stan.
(Hope she gets her own comic series soon, like Linda!)
88. Gideon Emery as Cutter
“I will be the best, most charismatic version of this character, and this is how…”
89. Quality ASSets in Halo 4
For all people talk about ‘art style’ and ‘phenotypes,’ nobody talks about the actual important things.
Y’know, like the very curved Unggoy booty cheeks in Halo 4…
90. Holly Tanaka
She gets two of the best issues of Halo: Escalation, which make up the ‘The Glass Horizon’ arc. She brings a unique perspective in how she grew up on the Outer Colonies and had to live on a glassed planet, and her subtle arc of coming out of her shell in Halo 5 as she’s made to feel like part of the team is one I find genuinely poignant.
Holly Tanaka is at the top of the list for ‘most unfairly maligned character,’ with what feels like a largely disingenuous effort to misunderstand and misrepresent her character. This is something I only really started to see happen after HaloFollower decided she was somehow worse than the likes of Vaz Beloi and the Warden Eternal…
91. Halo: New Blood – killing the Rookie
Matt Forbeck’s 2015 novella Halo: New Blood tells a really excellent story about what happens to Alpha-Nine following the events of Halo 3: ODST, framed as a sort of memoir by Buck (and Forbeck captures Nathan Fillion’s voice perfectly). The pivot point of what drives the characters’ motivations in this book is the death of the Rookie.
Ol’ Buttercup gets an unceremonious round in the head, which ultimately causes the ODST squad to disband as they deal with the ugly feelings of guilt and grief in different ways. Thematically, this brings us right back to the We Are ODST live action trailer, witnessing a funeral for those who sign up to jump first feet into hell.
This was not a frivolous offing, it’s a bold and well-considered storytelling decision that is given every ounce of weight there is to draw from a non-character that existed purely as a vessel for the player.
More on this in ‘Halo: New Blood – Why 343 was right to kill the Rookie‘
92. What we’ve heard of Halo Infinite’s music so far
Gareth Coker, Curtis Schweitzer, and Joel Cotelitz are the three composers working on Halo Infinite, each of whom has previewed one of their tracks and has set a fire in our hearts for how damn good the music sounds!
I have every expectation that I’ll be playing this soundtrack on a loop when it releases as well.
It took exactly one scene for the entire Halo community to fall in love with Nicolas Roye’s character ‘The Pilot’ in Halo Infinite.
I think Halo stories are at their best with a very small cast of primary characters (at present, we only know of four total characters who will appear in the game), and having the Chief and the Pilot take centre-stage in the next game is one that closely echoes Halo 4’s approach with the Chief and Cortana.
I’m super excited to see how the Pilot brings out more of the Chief’s humanity, giving him a complete stranger and reluctant, vulnerable accomplice to interact with.
94. Chief’s Halo 4 armour
My personal favourite incarnation of the Master Chief’s look. It’s so wonderfully expressive, full of little details, and every aspect of the visuals and audio comes together to deliver that immersive feeling of being one-part tank, one-part jet fighter.
95. Chief’s Halo Infinite armour
This design pulls from all across the franchise to create what is quite undoubtedly the definitive iconic iteration of the Master Chief.
Crawlers are quite unambiguously one of the best additions to Halo’s roster of enemies.
Their design combines the satisfaction headshotting Grunts with the mobility and swarm mentality of the Drones, minus the historic frustration of the latter.
Having the ability to skitter up walls and cling to ceilings to pick at you with bug bites effectively subverts the issues Jackal Snipers had where you’d step out of cover and suddenly your shields are gone – or you’re just dead.
They’re well characterised. You instantly know exactly what this enemy is when you look at them, which is a key aspect of the Halo lexicon. Where the Knights and Watchers are more contentious, I think the Crawlers are by far Halo’s most engaging, best designed Forerunner enemy.
Introducing a new bad guy to go up against can be tough, especially when you’ve got the likes of “I am a monument to all your sins,” and “So fades the great harvest of my betrayal” to go up against as some of the rawest villain dialogue ever.
They clearly took a very different approach to Escharum, who literally could not be more excited to have you in his house smashing the place up. Where other antagonists have talked down to us, Escharum wants you at your best for the fight to come – a true test of legends. This definitely set a fire in my heart!
98. That time I got the Blind skull added to Halo 1
Unfortunately, there is no Theatre mode for Halo 1 and 2, which means that players have to use the blind skull to take screenshots in the campaign.
Halo 1 Anniversary, however, did not have the blind skull among its collection of new and classic skulls.
Back in May 2018, I raised this as a requested feature for the MCC, and come September it was actually implemented into the game! Jeff Easterling has allowed me to claim at least 7% of the credit for this, so this shall remain one of my greatest contributions to one of my favourite games of all time!
99. Halo Wars
343 Industries was in its infancy when the original Halo Wars was being made. I’m quite certain that you could probably count the number of employees there on one hand, but nonetheless their impact on helping Ensemble Studios craft the story of the original Halo Wars cannot be understated.
It’s a great game, one that played no small part in consolidating Blur Studios’s place in the industry, and the story goes to some really interesting places. I never thought we’d see a Shield World in the games when I read Ghosts of Onyx in 2006; I didn’t expect we’d see more Arbiters and the return of the Prophet of Regret, nor the battle for Harvest…
100. That time Jeff VanderMeer and Tessa Kum wrote for Halo
Y’know Annihilation? The Southern Reach trilogy?
Those were written by Jeff VanderMeer, who co-wrote one of the most beloved Flood-related Halo stories with Tessa Kum for Halo: Evolutions – ‘The Mona Lisa.’
101. Creative leeway to partners
There’s always going to be some degree of necessity for creative licence with partner products, and something I particularly love is how they’ve managed to implement even that into the lore.
Mega Bloks is a good example, where they designed some unique vehicles – the Kestrel, Siege Bike, Quad Walker… these are framed as being part of an ONI research and development project called REAP-X (Reverse Engineering and Prototyping–Xenotechnology).
Indeed, the Kestrel VTOL (originally prototyped for Halo 2) even made an in-game debut in Halo: Spartan Strike, and it’s a super fun vehicle to use!
Haggar is a criminally cancelled Halo Mega-Bloks game.
Haggar looked absolutely amazing, the LEGO Star Wars equivalent for the Halo franchise.
You struck gold here, 343. Bring back Haggar!
103. Usze ‘Taham and Ntho ‘Sraom
Remember the co-op Elites for the third and fourth players in Halo 3? Well, they were conceived at the time as characters with a few sentences detailing their background and personality, but nothing beyond that.
Usze ‘Taham and Ntho ‘Sraom were brought back in Halo: Hunters in the Dark and were the undisputed highlight of that novel.
Shoutout to Fred, made all the more delightful as a character by Troy Denning throughout his novel contributions to the series (whether he’s got a concussion or being ridden like a sled down a hill in the middle of a firefight), as well as Travis Willingham who portrays the character exactly as I imagined him from the books.
105. New weapons
The SAW, Railgun, Sticky Detonator, Scattershot, Lightrifle, Plasma Caster, all the REQ variants we see of existing weapons in Halo 5… these were all great additions to the sandbox.
106. ‘I Know You’
Halo is no stranger to using licensed music. From the hallowed halls of High Charity blaring ‘Breaking Benjamin’ (wonder if Sully ever plays that over Midnight Facility’s speakers), to Muse’s ‘Knights of Cydonia’ being used for the Halo 5 launch trailer – it’s something of a hit-or-miss thing for a lot of people.
A unanimously agreeable hit arrived with the E3 2016 trailer for Halo Wars 2, depicting Captain Cutter and Atriox escalating their strategic wits against each other in what feels like a modern take on the Believe diorama.
The White Buffalo’s song ‘I Know You’ is one of the most memorable and beloved aspects of this trailer, but four-and-a-half years later it sadly still hasn’t had an official release.
107. Halo museum
On the ground floor of 343’s office building, there’s a really awesome Halo museum full of merchandise, props, and other goodies that have been accumulated over the last two decades. I’ve had the privilege of seeing it first-hand – I can only imagine what coming to work every day with that just next door to you must be like!
108. The entire cast of Hunt the Truth
Look, they got Keegan Michael-Key in Halo, and he was playing a character who showed up in Moebius’s short story in the Halo Graphic Novel which released in 2004.
They got Janina Gavankar, they got Cobie Smoulders, Phil LaMarr, Tara Strong, Kumail Nanjiani, Peter Serafinowicz as Black Box…
They got Mark Hamill to play Dasc Gevadim – literally one of the most obscure characters from a short story in Halo: Evolutions (‘Stomping on the Heels of a Fuss’) that released six years prior.
What a time this was!
109. Adjunct stories in novel rereleases
Back in 2010, 343 rereleased the first three Halo novels (The Fall of Reach, The Flood, and First Strike) with some additional short stories at the end known as ‘adjuncts.’
One notable example is how Chris Schlerf (lead writer on Halo 4) seeded the character of Thomas Lasky two years before his debut, referencing him in the adjunct story ‘Petra.’ Petra Janecek would go on to appear in the Halo: Escalation comic series alongside Lasky (in issues also penned by Schlerf), and was voiced by Cobie Smulders in Hunt the Truth.
This is just one of those instances that demonstrates the capacity of 343’s storytelling when these things are planned out in advance.
This mission is perfect.
There’s a lot to say about this mission that’s already been said. It’s got brilliant and subversive story beats, great encounter design, that mix of the familiar and new with the backdrop of a Halo ring, and a strong flow that leads builds up to a monumental defeat. So let me pick out a detail that some of you might’ve missed…
Composer begins with a tragic inversion of the opening of The Maw from Halo 1. Where the Chief crashed a Banshee into the side of the Autumn as a joke to Cortana as she tells him to “Pull up!”, we see the dialogue of that scene echoed in Halo 4 but with the Chief imploring Cortana to pull up as she is in the middle of a rampant episode and crashes the Lich into the side of the station.
111. Community Spotlight
The Halo community has some incredibly talented creators who have their work shown off in the regular Community Spotlight feature on Waypoint. It’s a great way to celebrate and bring awareness to that talent.
112. Halo Infinite Spartan armour
What was shown off in the latest news update on Halo Infinite was jaw-dropping. The Spartans in this game are clearly built upon the design language we’ve seen in artwork by Isaac Hannaford, which we saw in the customisation options for Halo: Reach. These are some of the best-looking Spartans yet!
113. Grunt Goblin
To fight the Demons, the Unggoy became the Demons!
(Fun fact: the Unggoy built these things in the image of what they imagined the Forerunners looked like.)
114. Husky Raid
Husky Raid is a variant of Capture The Flag that has random weapons and purpose-built maps. Introduced in Halo 4, it has come to have its own dedicated playlist in Halo 5 as it takes full advantage of all the weapon variants. It’s just another way the Forge and customs community has impacted this series.
115. Underrated multiplayer modes in Halo 4
Halo 4 introduced some of my favourite modes in the series.
Dominion is a 6v6 mode where you have to capture and fortify bases, building automated turrets for defence and getting supply drops of weapons and vehicles.
Regicide is an FFA mode in which the person at the top of the leaderboard is ‘king,’ a bounty builds on them over time and you get bonus points for killing the king. The longer you’re king, the more perks you get (overshield at 20 seconds, damage boost at 1 minute), and the tug of war between players is incredibly compelling.
Extraction is a 5v5 objective mode which has your team extract slipspace crates around the map. You have to plant a beacon at each site and defend it as the enemy team tries to convert these sites so they score the point.
Ricochet was introduced in the Champions Bundle DLC for Halo 4. It’s basically Oddball where the mechanic of throwing and passing the ball is a core focus, you have to throw or run the ball into the enemy’s goal to score – it’s some of the best fun I’ve had with Halo multiplayer over the last two decades!
116. Additional multiplayer announcers in Halo 5
Jeff Steitzer has been known as the iconic multiplayer announcement voice in Halo since the very beginning, I love that it’s been almost twenty years and he’s still doing it!
But something that Halo 5 added is the Voices of War pack, which allows you to change the multiplayer voice in Arena and Warzone to Buck, Exuberant Witness, or a Grunt known as Yabda the Merciless. Every one of them is a delight.
117. The Master Chief himself, Steve Downes, wonderful ambassador for the franchise
Last, but certainly not least, we have Steve Downes – the voice of the Master Chief himself.
Steve is not only an incredibly talented voice actor, but he is a truly wonderful ambassador for the Halo franchise. Just as the Chief represents the best of humanity, so too does his actor show no end of kindness, good humour, and support to the fans in this community.
And remember, Spartans: trans rights are human rights.
And there you have it, 117 things I love about 343’s Halo.
Some of you may disagree with any number of these, which is totally fine – these are my personal favourite things after all and your own may be completely different.
And y’know what? It’s been an awful year. Peoples’ friends and family across the world have been dying from COVID, Black people have been suffering unimaginable racist violence, transphobia has become ever more open in rearing its ugly head, the rich are making themselves richer, workers’ lives are being put at risk – this cavalcade of dire circumstances has no end in sight.
As noted in the list above, 343 lost one of their own this year. The team has had to shift to working from home in order to deliver a game with system-selling pressure on its shoulders, and you don’t have to look too far to find the negativity out there.
It’s nice just to celebrate and take stock in what you enjoy, spread a little more positivity where you can, and let people know you appreciate them.
Until 2021, stay safe and happy holidays, Spartans!