As part of a campaign leading up to the release of the biggest console exclusive game this year, Microsoft is producing a series of live-action short films for Halo 4. Titled Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, the five episode series will screen on Halo Waypoint and Machinima in the week’s preceding Halo 4’s November 6th launch date.

Named after the UNSC Charon-class light frigate on which Master Chief and Cortana find themselves at the end of Halo 3 (and the beginning of Halo 4), Forward Unto Dawn nevertheless doesn’t focus exclusively on those characters. Instead, the web-series tells the story of how Master Chief inspired a young cadet whose journey to becoming commander of the UNSC Infinity ties into the events of Halo 4, while also examining the origins of the war between humans and The Covenant.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn represents Microsoft‘s “largest investment” in live-action film-making to date, according to a company representative. 343 Industries‘ Frank O’Connor says the web series grew, in part, out of fan demand.

“Every time we do a live-action commercial the audience says, ‘We want to see more so that we can explore the Halo universe a little bit more.’ Demand grew more and more out of the two little vignettes we’d previously produced.”

At the same time, O’Connor believes that Forward Unto Dawn will offer an easy inroad for players new to the Halo series.

“We needed a way to ensure there was a way for people to get onboard this universe without feeling intimidated.”

Each of the five episodes is slated to run roughly 15 minutes. At the series’ conclusion, Microsoft intends to package the entire collection together and make it available in a yet-to-be-determined form (though a release though Xbox Live seems practically certain). According to 343 Industries’ Matt McCloskey, Forward Unto Dawn is more than just an advertising campaign.

“We wanted to go way beyond that and transform this live-action exploration from advertising into a full standalone product that people will enjoy.”

Microsoft and 343 Industries plan to reveal Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’s cast and director at San Diego Comic-Con in July. The last creative talent announced as part of the Halo 4 team turned out to be Massive Attack’s Neil Davidge — here’s hoping that the Forward Unto Dawn participants turn out to be equally inspired choices.

For a different take on live-action Halo, be sure to check out the Halo: Faith fan film.

Who would you like to see direct Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn? Who should play the young UNSC cadet? Leave your picks  in the comments below.

Halo 4 releases November 6, 2012, exclusively for Xbox 360.

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Source: Variety