I’ll say it as bluntly as possible: Halo Infinite is easily one of my most anticipated games right now. I’ve bought and played every single video game in the series (yes, including Halo Wars and those iPad games), and will continue to do so because it’s a franchise I fell in love with all way back in its infancy in 2001. The series’ ability to channel a complex blend of science-fantasy, war, character building and mysticism is central to why I have gravitated towards it since Halo: Combat Evolved.
While 343 Industries gave their own touch on things with Halo 4 and 5 to different degrees, some fans would argue that Halo has lost its way a bit since 2012. Halo 4 had some controversial design decisions while Halo 5 cast Master Chief to the wayside for much of the game in favor of the new kids on the block: Team Osiris and its leader, Spartan Locke.
Okay, I’m starting to get off topic! This isn’t about Halo’s current reputation or popularity, but about Halo: Infinite.
Infinite is singing all the right tunes with me at the moment. From its debut reveal at E3 2018 to today, its refreshed art style, old school Halo music, emphasis on the Master Chief and nuggets of little details reminding you of its roots over a decade ago are painting a mighty tasty picture of what’s to come. That’s all looking great and I can’t wait to finally play it. However, this year’s trailer brought something else into the fold. An unnamed pilot took center stage for a bit and he was unassuming in stature. But that wasn’t what grabbed me…
…a brief 30 second recording of his little girl did.
In all my years of playing games, nothing’s come close to making me cry. Not that I can remember anyway. If there’s one way to make that happen today though, it’s with children.
Ever since becoming a father at the age of 25, my whole world flipped. I forgot what it was like to be a kid. To view the world through innocent eyes. To see every room as its own world. To let your imagination run free and inquire what every little thing does. After becoming a father, I understood what every parent told me before I had my firstborn: “there is nothing like it in the world”.
I have two kids now. One just graduated preschool and the other is about two and a half. There have been points in their lives that I would be away from home for a bit of time. A day or two, sometimes more. Other times, they would be away. If you’re not a parent, those moments of absence can be tougher than you think. You are your child’s safety net, their comfort zone, their parachute. They come to you for everything; when they cut their finger, when they get an ant bite, when they fall down, when they’re hungry, tired, or scared. They have no one but you.
So, when this trailer, from Halo of all places, paused for a short moment to focus on a little angel talking to her daddy, I have to admit, tears started welling up. It’s just a game, right? Right, but it hit my emotional core like no other game has.
The innocence and inflection in her voice was precisely the way my kids talk to me and I was instantly transported into that pilot’s shoes. Her soft-spoken voice, the imprecise pronunciation of her words and the sheer love emanating from her message is exactly the way my children talk to me: “I miss you daddy”.
I can only guess at how long he’s been away from his daughter in that trailer, but I immediately recalled those times when I was far from my kids and dying to touch their faces again. I cried. Not because of a digital character on a screen, but because it captured those moments so faithfully that I couldn’t help but think of my kids and how I feel in their absence. I could see the love in that pilot’s face and I felt for that man.
I recalled the moments my kids would sprint towards their daddy coming home, as if greeting a superhero for the first time. The times they’d hug me as hard as they could and tell me they love me. The times they jump and hold me whenever anything scared them. In those fleeting, breathless moments, time stops. Your whole existence feels vindicated and the world tells you something: “You know what, everything’s going to be okay”. All of those emotions darted across my mind in the span of 30 seconds.
I certainly wasn’t expecting to be moved to tears from a Halo trailer. Never in a million years. I don’t know who put together that trailer. I don’t know who’s performing the roles of those characters, but hats off to the team at 343 Industries and the hard work they’re doing. I saw so much character development in a couple of minutes with a character I don’t even know in the Halo universe.
I’m that much more excited to experience what’s in store next holiday.