Level: Composer

Level: Composer

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Experience the Level

The left column features videos and descriptions of the major events for each section.

Development and Analysis

The right column focuses on the planning, decisions, and iterations for the section.

This side also includes analysis of the section's successes and failures.

Hunters in the Lab

As he approaches one of the station's research labs, the Master Chief is warned that "Hunters" (an especially intimidating and challenging type of foe who always appear in pairs) have broken into the lab.  The scientist offers a piece of equipment that may come in handy—a thruster pack that will give the Chief extra manuverability.

Gameplay Video

The Chief makes short work of the brutish Hunters and secures the lab, potentially saving several human lives in the process.  Before continuing on to rendezvous with Dr. Tillson, he can take a moment here to examine some curious objects excavated from the Halo ring in orbit...


This sequence went through a lot of revisions.

As the "sandbox" items for the game (weapons, equipment, and vehicles) were getting finalized, the Campaign Team worked with the Sandbox Team and the Narrative Team to ensure each one found a proper home at one or more spots in the campaign missions and that the first use of an equipment item got proper narrative grounding in the larger fiction.

Slated to be introduced in this mission were the Thruster equipment and the Sticky Detonator pistol.  The pistol was easy—its fiction was that of a "demolitions" device used in excavating Forerunner artifacts from the Halo ring.  (Forerunner objects are notorious for their indestructability.)

The Thruster was more of a challenge:  we wanted to give it as much "time in the sun" as possible, but its usage is better for open spaces or long stretches of hallway than cramped, twisty corridoors.  We tried introducing it before the Horseshoe fight (which has some open-ish areas), but the high chance of accidentally Thruster-ing off a cliff to death made that a non-starter.

The Hunter fight, although still too cramped to use the Thruster to its full effect, makes a lot of sense for a place to introduce it, since the main tactic for dealing with these enemies is "avoid the crushing swings of their arms and get behind them where you can hit them in their weak spot."

Similarly, the Sticky Detonator is effective against them—faster-moving than a grenade, and its explosive nature can pop off armor pieces to reveal other weak points for the player to exploit.

Composer Reveal

Dr. Tillson meets the Chief in the station's main elevator and sets it on a downward path to show him the Composer.


At the implication that he needs to keep the Composer away from the Didact, she becomes confused.  The Chief's understanding, it seems, is missing a key element—when he was shown the Composer in a previous level, it was displayed in a hand-sized holographic form.  In fact, the Composer is a massive Forerunner construct so well-integrated into its environment that the scientists had to have the Infinty (humanity's largest ship) cut away a portion of the surrounding rock in order to tow it up to the station.

Still, the mission needs to be completed, and if the Composer can't be moved or hidden, it'll have to be destroyed.  The Chief tells Dr. Tillson to ready some of the tactical nukes the station has stored away and has her give the order to evacuate the station so it can be blown up without any loss of human life.


This idea of a space station divided unto upper and lower areas, separated by a central elevator (surrounded by glass) is a cool conceit, but loses a bit of its power because we missed out on any opportunities for the player to see the station from the outside.  Without that context, that "I understand how the different spaces fit together" moment, I hope players aren't too quick to ask whether the station's interior construction makes any sense.

In a way, it actually does.  The "hub" of the level is the atrium—the room which houses the Composer and a chunk of its local enviroment taken from the Halo. That room is essentially a tin can wedged between two sections of station: the upper (docking bays and science labs) and the lower (maintenance spaces and cargo airlocks).

Presumably the station's builders had installed this cool "elevator looking out onto space" between the two before the atrium had to be constructed around it to house the massive Composer and its surroundings.  You wouldn't construct a room like that without knowing for sure how big of a chunk of rock it would need to contain...

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