The wait is over. Halo 4 may be weeks away, but for those hoping to grasp the entire series of events that have led Master Chief, Cortana, and the crew of the UNSC Infinity to the Forerunner world Requiem, it begins at dawn. The first episode of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is now live, so feast your eyes and ears on the first of five installments of Microsoft’s biggest investment into filmmaking to date. We’ve already explained how Forward Unto Dawn could get a Halo motion picture moving, but for now, this series looks to be more than enough.

The crew behind the production has explained their intentions as bringing in viewers who may have never even heard of Halo, and are just fans of compelling science fiction. If that sounds like you, then we’d more than recommend spending the next fifteen minutes getting acquainted with the students of Corbulo Academy.

Right off the bat, it’s worth acknowledging just how impressive the special effects and production values truly are. The gallery of Forward Unto Dawn preview vignettes showed that despite the web series being delivered free of charge by Machinima and Halo Waypoint, the quality would be more than worthy of bearing the Halo name. The first episode proves that theory, with the forest combat scenes benefiting from the addition of special effects (unfinished at the time the trailers were cut). Of course, anyone keeping track knows that gunplay and explosions aren’t the real battles that will set the events of Halo 4 in motion.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Part One

As Master Chief, there was never a need to obsess over the risks or drawbacks of specific plans. Generally, because every course of action was a suicide mission that the Chief would inevitably walk out of alive. But for Thomas Lasky (Tom Green) the right choices are not so clear. Being trained to follow orders is one thing, but as Lasky and his fellow squadmates are being groomed to lead forces, even the slightest political discomfort with the UNSC’s approach to insurrection has grave consequences for those who are not, as Lasky puts it, “true believers.”

The details provided on Lasky and the rest of Hastati Squad show that it isn’t skill, smarts, or character that the young cadet lacks, but conviction. Rather, he lacks the belief that the actions taken by the UNSC against the ‘Innies’ prior to the arrival of the Covenant was the best course. Putting his naive ideas of war and peace behind him, and finding the will to lead troops looks to be a major narrative strand for the series, helped in no small part by the arrival of Master Chief. As the walking, talking embodiment of military duty, we can’t take issue – a few minutes with him and we’d likely be enlisting.

But the opening of the episode features a full-grown Lasky, commander of the UNSC Infinity, reviewing the last transmissions of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. Players of Halo 3 know that ship to be the one carrying Master Chief and Cortana, implying that tracking the pair down is a personal mission for the Commander.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn First Episode

If that’s the case, then the experiences set to unfold over the course of the series will intertwine their careers more closely than one might assume. And for that matter, explain the significance of their first meeting as a genuine prelude to Halo 4‘s campaign.

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

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