We’ve been waiting for it ever since Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn was announced, and it’s finally here. Academic training for the future officers and elite soldiers of the United Nations Space Command is all well and good, but nothing compares to a live-action Spartan soldier.

If you’ve yet to watch Part 1 or Part 2, we’d recommend doing so now. A majority of Thomas Lasky’s character has been established outside the clear enemies and instinctual thinking that the battlefield brings – the values that will prepare him for his task in Halo 4 just as much as fighting alongside the Master Chief. Well, almost as much.

The third entry in the web series once again opens with a troubling sign of Cortana’s programming being corrupted – the first symptoms of rampancy. The concept of her ‘thinking herself to death’ will be playing a central role to the events of Halo 4, and challenging the Chief in ways he may not be used to. We may not know exactly how that will manifest in terms of gameplay, but this episode’s opening may be a chilling sign of what’s to come. And further proof that the horrors suffered by John-117 won’t all come at the hands of the enemy.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Fred 104

Fans will appreciate the reaction of Lasky and his entire squad to the first image of a Spartan-II in full Mjolnir armor – a giant ‘thing’ encased in a green suit and helmet. It’s worth noting the Spartan seen in the ‘Classified’ ONI footage is Frederic-104, the go-to team leader next to the Chief. It’s a small easter egg, but is worthy of some nerd applause (ourselves included).

Experienced Halo players may have had years to grow accustomed to the size and appearance of the Chief, but in the game’s fiction, the Spartans are often viewed by ODSTs and ground troops every bit as alien as the Covenant themselves. And as looming as the Energy-Sword-wielding Elite seen in this episode is, eyewitnesses don’t look to be any less dumbfounded come the Chief’s inevitable arrival.

Now that the Covenant have revealed themselves and engaged in an all-out assault, fans will, once again, be left impatiently waiting for Part 4. The Chief arriving on scene, more exchanges of gunfire between Covenant and ODSTs, and the recruits of Hastati Squad suiting up and entering the fray. If Forward Unto Dawn had simply started with action and been nothing but (as some will say they’d prefer) then Lasky’s survival, Dimah’s betrayal, and the ever-increasing possibility of seeing Sully wind up in the Office of Naval Intelligence wouldn’t carry anywhere near as much weight.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Covenant Elite

In our interview with the series’ Executive Producers Josh Feldman and Lydia Antonini, the commitment exhibited by 343 Industries and Microsoft promises big things for the future. We’re already thinking ahead to how Forward Unto Dawn might usher in a full-blown movie, and if the shots of ODSTs dropping from orbit or Covenant Cruisers materializing out of the night sky don’t convince the powers that be, nothing will.

Part 3 offers just the first taste of the special effects that director Stewart Hendler has promised would please fans, but next Friday’s episode looks to be the fight that fans have been dying for. This is going to be a long week.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be released via Halo Waypoint and Machinima every Friday, leading up to the launch of Halo 4 on November 6, 2012.

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