Twenty Years of Halo: The Cortana Letters & The Fall of Reach

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Our long journey to explore the Halo series begins well before the first game even came out as Bungie was building its universe and teasing their fans long before they even knew what the game was going to be!  The seemingly haphazard nature of the production of Halo: Combat Evolved which went through name changes and story changes all the way down to switching the genre at something approaching the last minute can certainly be reflected in these two early works which are interesting time capsules of that period of the development, but beyond their places as being the earlies entries on the timeline, do they hold up as genuinely interesting pieces of media in their own right?  Let’s find out!!

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The Cortana Letters – 1999

Having read these letters, I’m starting to remember why I didn’t bother diving deep into this stuff back when I was playing it!  As far as I can tell, the Cortana letters are the first things Halo related that was released to the public; in this case being eight cryptic e-mails sent from someone at Bungie claiming to be Cortana that were sent to a Marathon fan page; Marathon, in case you were wondering, being a game series that Bungie had worked on in the nineties that may or may not connect to Halo in some tangential way.  I guess I’ll learn more about any implicit or explicit connections the further I get into the lore of this, but needless to say that these letters are not the ideal way to START your Halo journey if you wish to experience the series from the beginning.  They are intentionally vague and full of cryptic language, and their status as canonical is dubious at best; especially since Halo was still in the conceptual stages in 1999 and was MASSIVELY overhauled when Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 2000.

Follow the white rabbit!  Save the cheerleader, save the world!  WHO ARE THE PATRIOTS!?
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