Note: This post is me expressing my personal opinion.
When the credits rolled for Halo 5, in my head I was doing this (watch 0:16 — 0:39):
Halo 5‘s story disappointed me.
In this blog post, I’m going to explain why.
In Halo 5, Cortana is angry at Dr. Halsey for creating her with a seven-year lifespan. Her anger is what motivates her to do what she does — start a revolution against organics with her fellow AI and try to kill Dr. Halsey.
Watch 2:18 — 2:38:
In Halo 4, Cortana knows that her death is near.
Does this sound like a person who is angry?
“…I’ll never know if it looks real. If it feels real.”
Cortana isn’t angry at the prospect of dying. Cortana is sad.
You can see this sadness at the beginning of the game:
“I won’t recover from rampancy, Chief.”
And at the end of the game, too.
“It was my job to take care of you.”
“We were supposed to take care of each other. And we did.”
Besides the opening cutscene for the level “Requiem,” the only time Cortana mentions Dr. Halsey is on the level “Composer”:*
“…if we pull this off and actually make it back to Halsey, don’t tell her how bad I got. Please.”
” I won’t say anything.”
Watch 18:45 — 19:00:
Cortana, for the most part, has accepted the fact that she is going to die. How do I know this? It’s the words “…if we pull this off and actually make it back to Halsey…” Cortana is hopeful that Halsey can fix her. But it is a small hope
My point being: In Halo 4, nowhere does Cortana give the impression that she is angry at Dr. Halsey for creating her with a seven-year lifespan.
Cortana does express anger at Dr. Halsey in the short story “Human Weakness” by Karen Traviss.
But, again: Nowhere in Halo 4 — the part of the series where Cortana has to finally face the prospect of death, a prospect introduced in “Human Weakness” — is Cortana angry at Dr. Halsey.
Cortana’s character flipped 180 degrees.
She went from this:
With no build-up.
On a side note:
From what Halo 5 tells us, the Cortana in Halo 5 is the “real” Cortana.
Watch 8:19 — 8:42:
And watch 12:38 — 12:47:
To get back on track:
At the end of Halo 4, Cortana’s fate was clear.
Frank O’Connor, the Franchise Development Director for 343 Industries, says so (watch 0:00 — 0:21):
Later: Frank O’Connor contradicts himself:
Watch 6:38 — 6:50:
And: This is the description for Halo 4’s epilogue:
After the destruction of New Phoenix, and the death of Cortana, Master Chief must carry on.
Cortana’s fate has been retconned.
Halo 5 drags Cortana’s good name through the mud for no other reason than to keep the series going. Because forget artistic integrity. There’s money to make.
Halo 6‘s story could be better. I hope it is. But, for now: I’m still disappointed in how Halo 5 treats Cortana.
As someone who takes stories seriously — it is stories that saved my life — I hate it when the almighty dollar, and not the artist, is the one making the choices.
*UPDATE: Cortana mentions Dr. Halsey two more times in Halo 4. At the beginning of the level “Requiem,” and at the end of the level “Composer.” However: Neither of these times change the fact that, in Halo 4, Cortana doesn’t express anger at Dr. Halsey for creating her with a seven-year lifespan.