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.

Getting to Know the Atrium

At the end of the elevator ride, the Chief finally beholds the Composer up close.  The initial awe of its presentation gives way to an understanding of how immense the object truly is when he is able to walk directly up to its base.

Gameplay Video

ONI soldiers, geared up for battle, patrol the area or man turret emplacements in preparation for the arrival of the Covenant.  They know that it's only a matter of time before the Composer's location is revealed and the Didact sends his minions after it.

A few try out the "Mantis" exoskeleton suits—an updated version of a cargo model converted for combat use and the ancestor of a certain Prototype for any lore-nerds out there.

Though the situation is dire, the Master Chief can't help but investigate the mysterious Forerunner terrain until a massive explosion occurs outside—the Covenant are attacking the escaping evacuation vessels.  The only hope of getting anyone off the station is to get the automated defense turrets back online!


I won't say too much about this space just yet, because this trip is about discovering its mysteries and watching the ONI soldiers prepare to defend their station.

Part of the power of Halo comes from its optimistic humanism—though the Master Chief does often have to save the day all by himself, there are moments like these where humanity's solidarity, military pride, and individual bravery are seen as elements to be celebrated.

One of the arguments currently being made by the "Reclaimer Saga," in fact, is that the Master Chief's repeated successes stem precisely from his role as an "optimal" specimen of humanity.  Though the efforts which created him may have been less than virtuous, he is a paragon of selflessness, protecting his kind at all costs, and never gives up hope in finding a solution to an impossible situation.


As this "first trip through the Atrium" (and its sister experience at the end of the level) was being developed, I pushed for including the Mantis mech suits here, driven by ONI soliders.

There were initially skeptics (it was unknown at the time whether AI would be able to control the mechs in a properly-convincing manner and without crushing the Chief if he got too close), but I think the experience of walking past one of these for the first time—being dwarfed by it and itching to get into the cockpit—spoke for itself once I was able to implement it.

The version seen in the final game has some smart alterations from my initial pitch, but the core is the same, and it really brings convicing life to the idea that these soldiers are ready enough to defend the Composer that it justifies the Chief leaving it behind to head down to the airlocks to continue pushing back the invasion.

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