Note: The following contains spoilers. You have been warned.
The Halo franchise has become a pariah in recent years. Often praised for its excellent multiplayer but lambasted for its poor story, the Halo series is a franchise that you either love or hate. There is little middle ground that a fan can have to bridge the two sides, but one thing that you cannot deny is the impact Halo has made in the gaming world. Love it or hate it, it pioneered a lot of things now commonplace in gaming today.
But today were about to talk about one of the most controversial characters in the Halo universe. Introduced as a deuterogonist in the game Halo 2, the Arbiter was a plot twist that few expected; the players taking control of a member of the Covenant, the religiously zealous alien force at war with Earth. To say the least, the public’s reception on the Arbiter was terribly divided.
A lot of the ire for the character was the sudden change from Master Chief to the Arbiter in the gameplay, which angered a lot of people initially. Another factor was that it changed the perception of the primary antagonists, making the Covenant more sympathetic and the story a more complex tale other than good versus evil. Finally, the Arbiters’ storyline was said to distract players from Master Chief’s and the invasion of earth. To sum it up, reviewer Jarno Kokko succinctly wrote “people disliking the concept of playing on the other side in a game that is supposed to be the ‘Master Chief blows up some alien scum show’ was a plausible complaint.”
But the Arbiter represents more than a fresh perspective against an old enemy, he actually brings in thematic points of the value of truth in religion and redemption, a complete 180 of what Master Chief represents; inner fortitude and valor. Named Thel ‘Vadamee before becoming the Arbiter, he was the commander of the Covenant forces in Halo:Combat Evolved. After failing to defeat Master Chief and losing the Halo ring, a mega structure that doubles as a super weapon that would eradicate all life in the known galaxy. The Covenant, under their leaders the Prophets of Truth, Mercy, and Regret, are attempting to usher in the Great Journey by activating the Halo Rings. The prophets use their power to punish and condemn Thel ‘Vadamee, stripping him of his rank and branding him a heretic for his failures against humanity.