How the ‘Halo’ TV Show Is Different From the Xbox Games

Adapting any video game is difficult, whether for a movie or a television series. The Paramount+ adaptation of Halo is no exception. It has Master Chief and the Spartans, Cortana, and The Covenant, but Halo must be a TV show first. The show’s creators have added some things to make it different from the Xbox games. 

In a scene from the 'Halo' TV show, Master Chief faces the camera in front of a fire
Pablo Schreiber | Adrienne Szabo/Paramount+

Executive producers Kiki Wolfkill and Steven Kane were on a Television Critics Association Zoom panel for the Halo TV show on Feb. 1. They discussed the differences between the Halo Xbox games and the streaming series. New episodes of Halo premiere Thursdays on Paramount+

The ‘Halo’ TV show on Paramount+ has to stand apart from Xbox

The first Halo game debuted with the launch of Xbox in 2001. Twenty-one years and more than 12 games later, the Halo story is vast in the gaming world. 

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“Adapting a beloved video game, with 20 years of history and story and character development, is a daunting task,” Wolfkill said. “But it’s also really gratifying. So, for us, we really looked at this as ‘How do we take the essence of the game experience and really express it in our own voice, the show’s unique voice?’

“And, so, with that, we set out to build a huge, epic sci-fi 26th-century world, with brutal aliens, with spartan super-soldiers, artificial intelligence, military politics, and ancient mystery.”

What the ‘Halo’ TV show adds to the Master Chief story

In the Xbox games, players control Master Chief. They know he’s a Spartan with limited memories of his life. With Pablo Schreiber playing Master Chief, the series can explore who he really is. It only took 265 script rewrites to get Halo right.

“At the same time, against that backdrop, to really try and tell some very personal stories and explore the humanity, or lack thereof, and the complexity of our characters,” Wolfkill said. “And in particular, the Master Chief, who is the very best of us, but also has had a lot taken away from him. So, I think really for us, with the season, with so much at stake, we really tried to explore how much of our humanity are we willing to sacrifice in order to save it?”

By introducing the new character Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), the Halo TV show confronts Master Chief with a new choice. This also exposes new sides of Dr. Halsey (Natascha McElhone) and the United Nations Space Command.

“It’s a great war story, love story,” Kane said. “It’s a story of intrigue and a story of characters who are just reaching for something, and they’re all yearning for something that’s just beyond their grasp. And the heroism comes in the trying, not so much succeeding.”

Xbox players can go on an Easter egg hunt

The Halo TV show is intended for mass audiences. You can follow along even if you’ve never picked up an Xbox controller. However, for those devoted players, Kane promised lots of Easter eggs, as well as some from the ancillary novels. 

What’s so great about that is you get rewarded at any level that you approach the game from.  If you’re a Halo deep lore fan, there are going to be Easter eggs there. There will be characters you may have only heard about in a book, in one of the 17 or so books that were written. Some characters don’t exist in the games at all, they’re only in the back story. Some are brand new. We worked very hard to collaborate with 343 in every department to, sort of, be able to reward the true Halo fan.

Steven Kane, Television Critics Association panel, 2/1/22

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