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The Ending Of Halo Infinite Explained

Since the release of its single-player campaign mode, "Halo Infinite" has become a hit among both dedicated fans of the series and casual gamers who may be experiencing the series' universe for the first time. The series' return to its roots is on full display through both the gameplay and its characters, and even the game's box art being an obvious nod to 2001's "Halo: Combat Evolved" (as noted by Forbes), the first-ever entry into the series and the genesis of one of gaming's biggest ever success stories.

Though extremely accessible to curious players looking for a good time, the magic of "Halo Infinite" is in its dedication to satisfying the science fiction property's longtime fanbase through callbacks, fan service, and plot resolutions that reverberate through the whole series. While some of it may be hard to follow, the resolution of "Halo Infinite" is found in its heartfelt examination of themes such as guilt and redemption.

Don't fret — gamers still get the signature alien-killing action and epic one-liners that fans have come to expect from any "Halo" game. But beneath that highly kinetic and action-packed surface lies a story that is worth breaking down and dissecting. 

Beware of massive spoilers for "Halo Infinite."

The importance of Zeta Halo

Installation 07, codenamed Zeta Halo, is the setting of "Halo Infinite." Unlike the other rings of the Halo Array seen in the series, Zeta Halo wasn't designed by the Covenant. Instead, it is the last of the original 12 rings built by the Forerunners, an ancient and advanced species in the "Halo" universe. 

Originally bigger than any of the rings that came after it, the damage Zeta Halo has received has cut it down to size; now it requires mass repair in order for it to be an effective weapon. In addition to being an ancient structure, its mystery and contained secrets are what make Zeta Halo so important to the game's story. 

Zeta Halo's occupation by the Banished is planned by the faction's leader, Atriox, in an attempt to gain a significant advantage in his quest for revenge against the humans. This advantage could be gained through the ring's unrivaled power and its containment of the Endless, an ancient species that were imprisoned by the Forerunners. This process is called the Reformation, and Master Chief must stop it if humanity is to have a chance against the Banished.

Who is the Pilot?

One of the first characters Master Chief meets in "Halo Infinite" is the Pilot of Echo-216. This mysterious UNSC pilot saves Master Chief  after his brutal defeat at the hands of Atriox. The Pilot's backstory is told through small details scattered throughout the game. Players are given so little at first that not even his name is revealed for the longest time. The only thing players are acutely aware of is that the Pilot is in a real rush to return home to his wife and child. 

The Pilot serves as a bit of an anchor for a majority of the game's runtime, often discouraging the Chief from embarking upon what most would consider impossible suicide missions. Despite his timid nature, the Pilot is resilient, having survived through a six-month period without much in the way of resources on the ship.

Eventually, the Pilot's name is revealed to be Fernando Esparza. It is also revealed that he isn't a UNSC pilot at all — he was just a volunteer contractor for the UNSC who fled the Infinity supercarrier after the Banished swept the ship and seemingly defeated Master Chief. Though Esparza and the Chief's relationship begins as one of necessity, the two eventually form a strong bond towards the end of the game, and it becomes clear that the two needed each other to continue the fight.

The Weapon's new lease on life

Master Chief discovers he is holding an AI chip when he's first rescued by Esparza. Upon inserting it into his helmet, it is read as a "Weapon Containment Device." Though no data is on the chip, Master Chief is alerted to an encrypted message of unknown origin emanating from Zeta Halo. Chief quickly retrieves the source of the signal: an AI known simply as The Weapon. 

The Weapon was originally tasked with posing as a security system on Zeta Halo, in order to serve as a sort of Trojan horse in the ring's system. Meant to delete the rogue AI Cortana, the Weapon was unable to do so when she discovered that Cortana had seemingly been deleted by an unknown source. The Weapon was also meant to be deleted after the task had been completed, but she was spared.

Like Cortana before her, the Weapon aids Master Chief in his mission on Zeta Halo, providing assistance by disabling security systems and generally contributing a spunky, charming disposition to contrast with the typically straight-laced Chief. However, her story takes an emotional turn when she discovers that she was not built as a replacement for Cortana — she is an exact copy of Cortana without any of her memories. In-game, she is explicitly described as "Cortana if she and [Master Chief] had never met." This sends Weapon into an existential spiral, fearing that she too could suffer from rampancy and go mad with power, just like her predecessor. Thankfully, the end of the story offers redemption for all involved.

Towards the end of the main story, Weapon discovers that it was Cortana herself that saved her from deletion. In a final message left for Master Chief, Cortana tells him that Weapon "has tons of potential" before fading away.

Guilt is a central theme in Halo Infinite

Throughout Master Chief's mission against the Banished on Zeta Halo, he is haunted by "whispers" from Cortana. He is constantly reminded of his former AI companion and often sees visions of her creation, giving the story greater weight and showing the player that though he is not expressing it, he longs for the past in which his best friend on the battlefield was still accompanying him. When asked by the Weapon why she was tasked with Cortana's deletion, Chief can't even bring himself to tell her, pained by thoughts of what he could've done differently to change her fate.

On Zeta Halo, Chef also encounters the bodies of several other Spartans who have fallen victim to the Banished, often placing his hand upon their armor to pay respect and saying goodbye. He even diverts his course entirely to save one who may still be alive. Unfortunately, he is too late, and Spartan Hudson Griffin passes away in his arms. Most of these Spartans were killed by Banished death-dealer Jega 'Rdomnai, whom Chief fights later, and it is heavily implied that this battle has become personal to Chief.

Upon the Weapon's discovery of Cortana's crimes, Master Chief blames himself. "I could've stopped it," Chief somberly tells her. "I could've reasoned with her." The Chief's mission is to ensure that The Weapon doesn't suffer the same fate as her predecessor, sparing her from deletion and telling her that they will save the universe together.

It's a stunning and emotional reminder that Chief's guilt is often the driving force in "Halo Infinite." Be it his defeat at the hands of Atriox or Cortana's heel turn, Master Chief is determined to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

What happened to the Banished?

The Banished are an alien mercenary group comprised of former members of the Covenant, who broke away from the coalition after becoming disillusioned with the Prophets using them as pawns. Led by the warmaster Atriox, the Banished's mission and end goal is to become a galactic superpower in their own right and to gain enough power to rule over the Orion Arm, the part of the galaxy that serves as the "Halo" series' primary setting.

By the end of Halo 5, the Banished have ravaged through the UNSC forces and pose the greatest threat to humanity. Their leader, Atriox, is initially believed to be have been killed by Cortana close to the beginning of "Halo Infinite," leaving the Banished's reigns to be held by Escharum, who begins a campaign of destruction with help from other Banished lieutenants and his right-hand man, Jega 'Rdomnai.

In "Halo Infinite," the Banished intend on firing the damaged Zeta Halo and using the Harbinger — an ancient entity they've released from a sarcophagus-like Cylix, to bring about the return of the ancient species known as the Endless. Not much is known about the Endless, other than the fact that they're extremely powerful and capable of bringing an end to all they encounter — which is why the Forerunners imprisoned them on Zeta Halo in the distant past.

Master Chief successfully stops the Banished and the Harbinger from carrying this out, killing many of the Banished's highest ranking officers and the Harbinger herself, leaving the faction in ruins by the end of "Halo Infinite."

The Endless still have not been ended

Though an unseen force throughout "Halo Infinite", the Endless' usefulness to the Banished makes them feel like an ominous threat. While much of the backstory surrounding the race formerly known as the Xalanyn is left relatively ambiguous, Master Chief learns through exposition that the Endless were imprisoned in Cylixes when the Forerunners deemed them to be too dangerous to exist unfettered. The Endless are even considered to be worse than the Flood, the terrifying parasitic life form that has threatened both humanity and the Covenant. 

Throughout the game, the Banished can be seen trying to excavate the Endless — dubbed by some as the Punished — from Zeta Halo's Conservatory. Their location, the Silent Auditorium, is eventually discovered after The Harbinger forcibly extracts data from Despondent Pyre, the robotic caretaker overlooking the imprisoned species.

In ancient times, the Forerunners attempted to wipe out the latter by firing the Halo Array, only to discover a century later that the Endless had survived the attack. Something that powerful would obviously be quite useful to the Banished's deadly plans. Though Master Chief and his team eventually stop the Banished and Harbinger from setting the Endless free, their looming threat still lingers following an after-credits scene.

Master Chief gets closure, but another threat looms

Much of the game concerns Master Chief's guilt concerning Cortana, and the last scenes of "Halo Infinite" go a long way towards granting the hero the closure he needed. 

Near the final boss battle of "Halo Infinite," the "whispers" of Cortana have become louder and more defined. They've become so clear, in fact, that they seem less like fragments of memory and more like direct messages being spoken through the Weapon. In them, Cortana expresses guilt for what she's done to Master Chief and the dire consequences the universe could potentially face for her actions. 

Cortana's final echo shows her last encounter with Atriox. When she asked if he regrets anything he's done to achieve his goals, Atriox remained steadfast. At this point, Cortana sacrificed herself, fracturing Zeta Halo and denying the Banished the ability to use the Endless, forcing the Harbinger to try to free them herself. Cortana also prevented the Weapon's deletion so she can aid Master Chief.

Master Chief battles with the Harbinger in a fight that perhaps ranks above all in the "Halo" series' history in terms of stakes. Chief defeats her, but that's not the end of it. The Harbinger apologizes to an unseen force, telling them that her job is done and saying, "You have what you need." The Harbinger ominously tells the Chief that his time is up and that the Endless will return, then dies. Despite this eerie moment, the galaxy has been saved — and Master Chief has finally learned that Cortana's final moments were used for good.

The Weapon becomes her own person

After the climactic battle with the Harbinger, Master Chief receives a final message from Cortana, in which she says that she couldn't have executed her plan alone, dedicating her final moments to ensuring that Chief and Weapon learn from her mistakes and exist as a team. With a few more kind words, Cornata fades away for one final time, and the Auditorium begins collapsing around them. A portal opens up, and Chief escapes through it with the Weapon.

Upon exiting the portal, three days have passed and they are reunited with Fernando, who entrusts the team with his real identity. At this point, the Weapon finally comes up with her own name, bringing her own struggle with her identity to a close. Fans have their own theories about what name the Weapon will choose, but that reveal will have to wait for another day. 

The three heroes continue on their way and the credits roll (which you can't see because there are tears running down your face).

The Legendary ending contains a stunning post-credits reveal

The normal ending to "Halo Infinite" is about as powerful as one could hope for: Master Chief has saved the universe again, this time with the aid of two amazing new pals in the Weapon and Fernando. The three set off to finish removing the Banished from Zeta Halo and they all live happily ever after, even with the threat of the Endless (and the Harbinger's mysterious contact) looming on the horizon. 

But if you play through the game on Legendary difficulty, you will discover that this is not the case. Not at all.

In a post-credits scene that is unlocked upon completion of Legendary mode, Atriox — thought to be dead to this point — is seen freeing the Endless from their Cylixes. It can be assumed that this is who the Harbinger was speaking to before she succumbed to death. With Atriox being alive to exact revenge upon Master Chief and humanity as a whole, the stakes for whatever game follows "Halo Infinite" just got that much bigger. Next time, the army that Master Chief faces may be truly unstoppable