This discussion of the influence of the Arbiter contains spoilers for the Halo series under Bungie and 343 Industries.
When Halo 2 launched in 2004, it introduced a shock twist. Half of the campaign would be spent in the familiar shoes of Master Chief, Halo: Combat Evolved’s dour super-soldier protagonist. The other half would be played as an Elite, a member of the zealous, religious alien Covenant and one of Chief’s main antagonists. Specifically, you would play as the Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam, a special agent deployed to root out anti-Covenant heresy.
It was a bold move that split the fan base and critics. At the time, I was very much on the critical side. After three years of hype and the infamous E3 2003 demo, I just wanted to get to Earth and shoot aliens. Instead, only three levels into the game (two, if you count the fact that the first mission takes place in orbit), I was whisked away and thrust into the shoes of said aliens in an on-the-nose attempt to humanize them.
With the exception of a time-limited cloaking device, the Arbiter played identically to Master Chief. He used a recharging shield, moved at the same speed, wielded the same weapons, drove the same vehicles, and dealt the same damage. Worse still, he got the poorer share of the campaign’s levels. Not all were as bad as Sacred Icon, which I frequently see in fans’ and critics’ “worst Halo levels” lists, but few measured up to Chief’s half of the campaign.
The unmet expectations and gameplay frustrations made it easy to overlook the things that Halo 2 did right with the Arbiter. Now, looking back through the lens of Halo: Master Chief Collection and without the hype, they are easier to see.
Thel ‘Vadam is the only character in the Halo games with a proper character arc. He first appears as a military general in charge of Alpha Halo, a ringworld artifact built by the mysterious Forerunner civilization millennia earlier that holds deep religious significance for the Covenant. After it is destroyed by Master Chief at the end of Combat Evolved, Thel ‘Vadam is stripped of his rank, accused of heresy, and eventually anointed as the Arbiter on the understanding that it is a near-suicidal assignment.
That assignment brings him in contact with uncomfortable truths that trigger a personal crisis of faith. He finds out that the Covenant religion and government are built on a fanatical interpretation of an ancient Forerunner protocol designed to wipe out all life in the galaxy. By the end of Halo 3, the Arbiter is an ally of Master Chief, a moderating influence on the scattered Covenant, and one of the main peace-brokers at the end of the Human-Covenant War.
It is a classic three-act arc: Character encounters crisis, crisis escalates, crisis is resolved and in the process the character is changed. Virtually no other character in the series has received the same depth of narrative. Take Master Chief and Cortana, the series’s two main characters, as examples.
Master Chief is advertised on the Combat Evolved box as “bred for combat, built for war… master of any weapon, pilot of any vehicle… and fear(s) no enemy.” He has none of the Arbiter’s initial zealous faith, later uncertainty, or final synthesis of the two extremes. As the Gravemind, the giant parasite the Halo installations were built to contain, puts it in a Halo 2 cutscene: “(Chief) is machine and nerve and has its mind concluded. (The Arbiter) is but flesh and faith and is the more deluded.” With the possible exception of 343 Industries’ Halo games (more on that shortly), things happen around Chief and he responds to them, but they do not happen to him.
Meanwhile, Cortana, Master Chief’s companion AI, is a welcome contrast to Chief: a witty and sarcastic motormouth. But ultimately she is cut from the same narrative cloth — things happen around her, not to her. There is a hint at some character development throughout Halo 3 when it is suggested that Cortana might be corrupted by the Gravemind. However, ultimately this plot device is abandoned; towards the end of Halo 3, Master Chief retrieves Cortana from the Gravemind, and she simply shrugs off her trauma and carries on.
To 343 Industries’ credit, it tried to address these issues when it took over the franchise from Bungie. Chief wakes up at the start of Halo 4 to find Cortana afflicted with rampancy, a serious deteriorative condition for AIs. In Halo 5 he goes AWOL to help her, only to discover that her interaction with a Forerunner system has turned her into a megalomaniac.
But while it might recall Cortana’s off-hand remark in Halo 2 – “If I were a megalomaniac, and I’m not” – after three campaigns of stoically brushing off pain, the attempt to give Chief and Cortana more depth feels awkward. Chief oscillates wildly between nonchalance and concern and ends up with more dialogue lines than he has ever been comfortable with: around 35 lines of dialogue in the whole of Halo 3, but nearly twice that number in just the first two levels of Halo 4. Meanwhile, Cortana’s transformation between Halo 4 and Halo 5 feels instantaneous: She is gravely ill, likely dead, at the end of Halo 4, but she reappears with a new look and tyrannical ambitions in Halo 5. It feels like a far cry from the Arbiter’s slow confrontation with the truth and his reconciliation to it.
The Arbiter is also the main gateway into Halo’s Covenant lore: the Great Schism, the history of the Arbiters and their function, the renegade Swords of Sanghelios faction, and so on. It has been argued extensively over the years that this lore introduced a number of controversial themes into the franchise. Even if that is the case, there are also obvious parallels with fascinating and less current history, such as the Great Schism and the Inquisition in Christianity.
Overall then, the Arbiter presented a dilemma for Bungie, and later for 343 Industries. On one hand, they could keep the Arbiter as a series protagonist and risk upsetting the fans and critics who came away from Halo 2 disappointed with him. On the other hand, they could discard him and lose the game’s best potential for a well-developed narrative.
Bungie opted for a compromise. In Halo 3, the Arbiter is playable as a second player co-op partner only. Otherwise, he is an AI-controlled companion for Master Chief, there to deliver the third act for the story laid down in Halo 2 but kept carefully out of the player’s hands.
It was a move that largely paid off in the short term: Halo 3 is still widely considered the strongest game in the franchise. However, it also established some frustrating limitations for the series.
Most significantly, it amounted to a tacit acknowledgment that Halo games should focus on Master Chief or someone based on his template. For example, Halo 3: ODST told the story of a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs), a ragtag band of armored and helmeted human soldiers that are billed in the game’s opening text crawl as “the best of the best.” If that sounds familiar, it should come as no surprise that the gameplay works much like it does in Master Chief’s shoes. There is even an achievement for copying his moves.
The contrast between the Arbiter and Master Chief also helped to catapult the latter to near-deific status. By the end of Halo 3, Master Chief has manually dropped bombs onto spaceships, fallen from skies, and single-handedly disabled giant tanks with nary a dry-humored remark. It is a god-like bar that is all the more evident when juxtaposed with the Arbiter’s disillusionment and fall from grace. It has made Chief difficult to humanize, a problem that 343 Industries is still grappling with.
Ultimately, abandoning the Arbiter has forced Bungie and 343 Industries away from the themes and historical parallels offered by the Covenant lore. Hopefully, Halo 5’s minor role for the Arbiter and Halo: Infinite’s apparent focus on the Banished Covenant are an indication that 343 Industries is willing to bring some of these themes back. Without them, the Halo franchise risks devolving into just another science fiction blockbuster structured around an elder race trope.
All told then, more than 15 years after his introduction, the Arbiter continues to hold an uneasy but influential place in the Halo franchise. When he was introduced, he expanded the series’s scope with grand narrative ambition but some frustrating gameplay choices. When he was mothballed, that ambition seemed to leave with him. It put in place a narrative formula for future games to follow, which, more than a decade later, Halo is still struggling to break away from.
This article is about the Sangheili title. For other articles including "Arbiter", see Arbiter (disambiguation).
- "The Taming of the Hunters, the Grunt Rebellion. Were it not for the Arbiters, the Covenant would have broken long ago!"
- — The High Prophet of Mercy
Arbiter is a title of the highest possible honor bestowed upon a Sangheili. Formerly appointed only by the Hierarchs of the Covenant during a time of need, the title is currently held by Thel 'Vadam who leads the Swords of Sanghelios after the Covenant's dissolution.
The title was originally the greatest religious, military, and political rank of the Sangheili. After they joined the Covenant, however, the role was downplayed in importance somewhat, with the Sangheili High Councilors ranking higher in political matters. This would eventually change again: approximately 400 years before the Human-Covenant war, an Arbiter declared he did not believe in the Great Journey and was stripped of his rank and killed. Thus the title became a brand of shame. Arbiters were sent on highly perilous and suicidal missions by the Hierarchs. On these missions, the Arbiter was expected to die and to become another great martyr of the Covenant on their path to the Great Journey. This was seen as a way to regain, in part, their honor. Depending on the nature of his assignment an Arbiter would have either acted alone as a singular combatant, with support by Covenant military forces, or they were tasked to lead large numbers of Covenant troops.
Notable Arbiters have been appointed by the Prophets during incidents such as the Taming of the Lekgolo, the Unggoy Rebellion, the Human-Covenant War, and most recently, the threat of the heretics led by Sesa 'Refumee.
Origins and early history
- "They ruled their world with pride, and vigilance, surviving the perils of both land and sea. These were the Arbiters of old; part king, part judge. Warrior-rulers unlike any of which would follow."
- — A San'Shyuum scribe
The title of Arbiter dates back long before the Covenant, and long before the Sangheili became a space-faring race, originating on Sanghelios. The Arbiters of old were immensely powerful and skilled warriors who ruled over all Sangheili clans, described as "part king, part judge". Centuries before the Sangheili became space-faring, a tyrannical Arbiter took control of the entire continent of Qivro. However, the Arbiter was eventually overthrown by a coalition of kaidons known as the Swords of Sanghelios. The Arbiters continued to lead their species even after the Sangheili had colonized dozens of other worlds.
When the San'Shyuum arrived in their Forerunner Dreadnought in 938 BCE on the Sangheili frontier colony of Ulgethon, an Arbiter initiated the War of Beginnings by decapitating a delegation of San'Shyuum and returning their heads to the Dreadnought for the other San'Shyuum Reformists to find. As the war began, this Arbiter led the Sangheili against the San'Shyuum during the war that lasted many decades. After the Writ of Union was ratified and the war had ended, the Hierarchs of the newly formed Covenant realized the importance of the title of Arbiter.
- Sesa 'Refumee: "An Arbiter was once the pinnacle of our people. Leader of the clans, and master of the battlefield. But then, an Arbiter committed heresy. And an example was made of him."
- 343 Guilty Spark: "Heresy?"
- Sesa 'Refumee: "He challenged the word of the Prophets. Challenged...and lost. So the title of Arbiter became a badge of shame for our most spectacularly failed warriors."
- — Sesa 'Refumee and 343 Guilty Spark converse about the history of the Arbiter
The establishment of the Covenant led to the Sangheili losing most of their traditions and history. However, the title of Arbiter was maintained as a position of power for the Sangheili. The appellation of Arbiter was bestowed upon the commander-in-chief of the Covenant military, and was regarded as a great privilege among the Sangheili race. Arbiter was a noble title only given to a Sangheili that was considered worthy of bringing justice and peace to the Covenant—some considered it a "badge of greatness". The Arbiter's authority would not be questioned by any other individual in the Covenant. Most notably, the Arbiter of the Covenant would serve as the "Will of the Hierarchs". At some point the year before or in 784 BCE, during an Age of Conversion, the Covenant's war with the Lekgolo species had proved itself to be significantly more difficult than anticipated. An Arbiter was tasked with traveling to the moon of Rantu to learn about the Lekgolo's strengths and weaknesses, and upon learning that the Lekgolo could combine into the powerful Mgalekgolo forms, he proposed the species' incorporation into the Covenant to the Hierarchs. The Hierarchs reluctantly agreed with the Arbiter, and the Lekgolo joined the empire.
However, approximately four hundred years prior to the destruction of Installation 04, the contemporary Arbiter, Fal 'Chavamee, refused to accept the Covenant religion and was branded a heretic by the Hierarchs. The resulting chain of events, which led to the deaths of both 'Chavamee and a high-ranking kinsman named Haka, led to the Prophets changing the role of the Arbiter significantly. The title was thereafter given to disgraced Sangheili in order for them to regain their honor by way of suicidal missions of great importance to the Covenant as a whole. In part, the change was additionally made by the Hierarchs to secure their own power over the Sangheili; in many cases, brilliant Sangheili who asked too many questions or were otherwise seen as a threat to the Prophets were branded heretics and then appointed Arbiter to silence them and to keep the Sangheili without a strong leader of their own. During the Unggoy Rebellion of 2462, an Arbiter was appointed to put down the insurrection. The Arbiter commanded a fleet and partially glassed the Unggoy homeworld of Balaho, forcing the species to surrender and rejoin the Covenant.
After the outbreak of the Human-Covenant War, the Prophet of Regret made Ripa 'Moramee an Arbiter charged with the destruction of humanity. Acting as the Arbiter, 'Moramee led Covenant forces during the Harvest campaign, the Battle for Arcadia and the Battle of the Etran Harborage. The latter battle happened when the Prophet of Regret sought to unlock a fleet of ForerunnerSojourner-class dreadnoughts in order to win the war far more quickly. 'Moramee kidnapped Professor Ellen Anders from Arcadia at the end of the battle there to act as a Reclaimer to unlock the ships for the Covenant. 'Moramee's ship was followed to the Etran Harborage by the Phoenix-class support shipUNSC Spirit of Fire where the human vessel worked to rescue Anders and foil the Covenant plot. Near the end of the Battle of the Etran Harborage, Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee was killed by SergeantJohn Forge with his own energy sword. The planet and its fleet of Forerunner ships were subsequently destroyed by the Spirit of Fire and her forces, foiling the Covenant plot. Ripa 'Moramee would be the second-to-last Arbiter appointed by the Hierarchs.
In 2552, after the destruction of Installation 04 by John-117, Supreme CommanderThel 'Vadamee was branded a heretic for his failure to protect the Halo installation. Rather than be executed, he was declared an Arbiter by the Hierarchs. 'Vadamee was tasked with eliminating heretic leader Sesa 'Refumee, and was later charged with retrieving the activation index of Installation 05. However, after recovering the index, the Arbiter was betrayed by Tartarus, Chieftain of the Jiralhanae, who had been ordered to lead an armed coup against the Sangheili by the High Prophet of Truth. However, 'Vadamee survived Tartarus' assassination attempt and proceeded to lead the Sangheili against the Covenant in the Great Schism. Rescued by the Gravemind, 'Vadamee learned the truth of the Halos and the Great Journey from the Flood leader with the help of John-117, the human warrior who had disgraced 'Vadamee by destroying Installation 04. Due to a combination of desperation and disillusion with his former beliefs, the Arbiter allied with the UNSC. Together, the Sangheili and the humans were able to defeat the Covenant at Installation 00, with 'Vadam executing Truth, the last Hierarch of the Covenant, himself. During this final battle, 'Vadam fought side-by-side with John-117, the two former mortal enemies creating a formidable force.
- "After the breaking of the Covenant, the Sangheili hero known as Thel 'Vadam returned home, bearing the title and armor of the Arbiter-once considered a mark of shame, now worn as a badge of honor."
- — The Curator
After the Human-Covenant War ended, the Arbiter ratified the Treaty of 2552 with the Unified Earth Government to declare peace between the Sangheili and humanity. The Arbiter established the Swords of Sanghelios and attempted to unify the Sangheili species, although he did not receive universal approval among the Sangheili. Some believed that Vadam's very existence was heretical as he did not sacrifice himself in battle as was traditional of Arbiters in the Covenant. As such, many devout believers regarded Thel a "false Arbiter". In 2553, Thel 'Vadam traveled to each state of Sanghelios to make his case for permanent peace with humanity. During his visit to Mdama, he announced that he no longer felt he was an Arbiter, but simply a kaidon. Despite this, Thel 'Vadam continues to hold the title of Arbiter as of October 2558.
Function and duties
- "The tasks you must undertake as the Arbiter are perilous, suicidal. You will die, as each Arbiter has before you."
- — The High Prophet of Mercy, to Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee
Originally, the function of Arbiter was to serve as the ruler of the Sangheili species. When the Covenant was established, the title of Arbiter was one of the few pieces of Sangheili culture that was left unmolested by the San'Shyuum. The Arbiter continued to serve as the commander-in-chief of the Covenant military and served as the guardian of the Great Journey. After the function of Arbiter was altered approximately four hundred years prior to 2552, the Arbiter followed the direct orders of the Hierarchs. Every Arbiter was chosen during a time of great conflict. Arbiters were charged with carrying out extremely dangerous missions that were meant to redeem themselves from past sins and heresies through death. Although the Arbiters were aware that their title was a death sentence, they would gladly carry out the Hierarchs' missions and anticipated a glorious death to regain lost honor. To most members of the Covenant, especially the Unggoy, the Arbiter was seen as a savior in times of dire need; their Sangheili peers consider them the living embodiment of the "Will of the Prophets". Their corpses—or presumably memorials in some cases—were housed in identical caskets in the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. In the center of this room was a floating pod that contained the armor of the Arbiter when one was not currently appointed. This armor, while highly decorative, is fully functional as battle armor.
Though considered a commanding role of high esteem, the Arbiter was condemned to a life of suicidal missions to regain his honor. This includes the current Arbiter, Thel 'Vadam, who was branded a heretic for his failure to protect one of the sacred Halo rings from the so-called "Demon", SPARTAN-IIJohn-117. Although the Arbiter is a singular warrior, he has the authority to give orders to other Covenant soldiers; this command can be likened to that of a UNSCfour-star general. Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee once activated his energy swords in the presence of a Hierarch, something that was normally seen as an act of aggression against the Prophet and was punishable by death. His status as Arbiter is likely the only reason the nearby Sangheili Honor Guardsmen did not kill him on the spot.
While the honor of the title was restored after the dissolution of the Covenant, the function and role of the contemporary Arbiter are quite dissimilar from those of the judge-kings of ancient times.
Appointment and succession
- 343 Guilty Spark: "Looking back at the record of the Arbiters you've discussed, was it not surprising to anyone that those chosen to become Arbiter were more than simple warriors?"
- Sesa 'Refumee: "How so?"
- 343 Guilty Spark: "Each of them had significant political influence among your people. In some cases, that influence was already being used to question the decisions of your Hierarchs. In fact, that very questioning often gave rise to the charges of heresy that so neatly removed the challenger from the Hierarchs' concern."
- — 343 Guilty Spark and Sesa 'Refumee converse about the appointment of the Arbiter
When an Arbiter was chosen within the Covenant, he was usually a highly skilled Sangheili warrior who, through either chance or misdeed, had severely disgraced himself in his line of duty. The rank of the Sangheili prior to becoming Arbiter presumably had no effect on the chance of becoming Arbiter, though higher-ranked Sangheili had better chances due to their more extensive experience and superior skill. The rank of Arbiter was considered a very prized reward, especially as it allowed the individual to die honorably rather than be shamefully executed. While there were many known cases of the mantle of the Arbiter being used to snuff out potential challengers to the Hierarchs' power over the Sangheili, in other cases such as that of Ripa 'Moramee, brutish individuals with a high propensity for violence were chosen instead.
There were lines of succession for the title of Arbiter. For example, Ripa 'Moramee was the Seventeenth Arbiter in the Line of Immaculate Succession. Arbiters were only selected during a time of great conflict, such as during the Human-Covenant War or the Unggoy Rebellion. They were appointed only by the Hierarchs of the Covenant.
Each Arbiter receives a unique set of armor that is built according to an age-old design from before the Covenant. The very nature of the Arbiter means that they are sent on dangerous, often suicidal missions, where recovery of the corpse and the armor it wears may be impossible. The armor of the Arbiter is kept in the Mausoleum of the Arbiter until it is bestowed upon a new holder of the title. It is composed of a silvery-bronze colored metal with ornate engravings and metal work, indicating the Arbiter's ceremonial nature. However, it is fully functional as a combat suit, incorporating a heads-up display, an energy shielding system, and active camouflage. The armor incorporates a form-fitting bodysuit and blue restraining straps. Contrary to the claims of the Hierarchs, the Arbiters' armor is generally, if not always, replaced between wearers, as it is often irreparably damaged when an Arbiter is killed. This was the case with Ripa 'Moramee, whose body was pushed several kilometers off the Apex Site and was subsequently destroyed by a supernova.
The technology used in the armor is similar to the standard Sangheili combat harness, though it is of an older design and considered "not state-of-the-art". While modern Covenant active camouflage has a virtually unlimited duration, the Arbiter's camouflage lasts only for a few seconds, though still enough to give him a tactical advantage.
The armor may be subject to some small amount of customization. Ripa 'Moramee was taller than most Sangheili, at over 8'1'', while Thel 'Vadam stands at 7'10''. Furthermore, when first donning the armor, 'Vadam lacked mandible guards or a shoulder-mounted light that he possessed after the Great Schism, where his active camouflage was also significantly upgraded. In addition, when the Arbiter was sent on missions requiring specialized armor, such as during the Taming of the Lekgolo where an Arbiter required a vacuum suit to breathe on Rantu, they would be given a variant that was more suitable for the occasion.
As of 2558, Arbiter Thel 'Vadam dons a ceremonial battledress that he believes serves as tribute to traditional armor style previously worn by the Arbiters, while also serving as a symbol of transition that represents his new-found role as a leader of his people and of a united Sanghelios.
This is a list of all known Arbiters in chronological order:
- In Halo 3, the Arbiter's armor is different from its appearance in Halo 2. The Arbiter's mandibles in Halo 2 are unprotected, while in Halo 3, the armor covers the mandibles. Similarly, the Arbiter has a flashlight on his left shoulder, but it only works when playing with other players or a guest.
- The Arbiter was originally meant to be called the "Dervish". The name was changed because it might create an unintended parallel between the game and the real-life conflict between the Western World and the Middle East.
- In the Spanish language versions of Halo 2 and Halo 3, the Arbiter is called "Inquisidor". This is because the cognate "árbitro" means "referee", and the title would thus be lost in translation.
- Before Halo 2 was released, the Elite bipeds in Multiplayer had the armor of an Arbiter, but their armor was changed to the regular Elite armor.
- In Halo 2, the Arbiter's right side shoulder armor contains a mini sculpt of the Legendary Difficulty Skull. This can be seen in cutscenes and in co-op.
- An arbiter is someone who settles negotiations and disputes between parties. Decisions made by an arbiter are legally binding and endorsing.
- An Arbiter appears in the Xbox One videogame Killer Instinct as a playable character. While marketed primarily as the Arbiter, the character is envisioned as a canonically flexible amalgamation of several Arbiters rather than any particular individual and can be clad in various Sangheili armor sets.
- Arbiter appeared in Konami's Super Bomberman R as one of the three exclusive characters in the Xbox One version. He is known as Arbiter Bomber, a Covenant bomberman from Planet Halo. He is an attack typed bomber and his special ability is Meditate.
The armor of the Arbiter in Halo 2.
Thel 'Vadamee accepts the title of Arbiter.
'Vadamee at audience with the Hierarchs.
An early concept of 'Moramee's armor for Halo Wars.
A later, more traditional concept of Ripa 'Moramee's armor.
Fal 'Chavamee, the last Arbiter to bear the title as a badge of honor, in Halo Legends: The Duel.
An Arbiter leading his people in Halo 2: Anniversary's terminals.
An Arbiter raises his blade as a crowd cheers.
The Unggoy surrender to the triumphant Arbiter, before allowing them entry into Sangheili units.
Two Arbiters (based on Thel 'Vadam's Halo 5: Guardians and Halo 2: Anniversary appearances, respectively) dueling in Killer Instinct.
List of appearances
- ^ abcdefghijkHalo 2, campaign level The Arbiter
- ^ abcdeHalo Waypoint: Arbiter Thel 'Vadam
- ^ abHalo 2, campaign level, The Great Journey
- ^ abcdHalo Encyclopedia (2009 edition), page 138
- ^ abcdeHalo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 6
- ^Halo Waypoint: Swords of Sanghelios
- ^ abcHalo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 7
- ^ abHalo: Evolutions – Volume II, "Wages of Sin", pages 294-295
- ^ abHalo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 8
- ^ abHalo: Contact Harvest, pages 269-270
- ^ abcHalo Legends, The Duel
- ^ abcdHalo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 11
- ^Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal 10
- ^Halo Wars, campaign level, Anders' Signal
- ^ abcdHalo Wars, campaign level, Escape
- ^Halo 5: Guardians, Krith's Left Hand: "Reclaimed from the notorious Kig-Yar Pirate King's personal vaults by the previous Arbiter, Ripa 'Moramee. Advanced Beam Rifle that fires a burst of energy with each pull of the trigger." - REQ description
- ^Halo 2, campaign level, The Oracle
- ^Halo 2, campaign level, Quarantine Zone
- ^Halo 2, campaign level Gravemind
- ^Halo 3, campaign level The Covenant
- ^Halo Mythos, page 142
- ^Halo: Glasslands, pages 58-61
- ^Halo: Escalation, Issue #1
- ^Halo 5: Guardians
- ^Halo Channel: Who is the Arbiter? - Part 1
- ^ abHalo Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Halo Universe, page 139
- ^Halo 2, campaign level The Heretic
- ^Halo Wars, instruction manual
- ^Halo Wars, campaign level Scarab
- ^Twitter - GrimBrotherOne
- ^ abHalo Wars: Genesis
- ^Halo 3
- ^halo.bungie.org: Re: Okay (Frank O'Connor: This is quite late into the Covenant as a society, with most of the client species either absorbed or in the process of absorption...)
- ^Halo Wars
- ^Google Video: Halo 2 Bonus DVD : Multiplayer Featurette
- ^Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder- Fighting Words
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Wiki Guide
Follow your fellow Covenant through a couple of doors. When they stop and activate their active camouflage, do the same, and rush into the room. There's one walking heretic Elite, along with two sleeping Grunts. You can run in and use melee attacks to kill all silently.
Proceed through the next halls, using your active camou to take out the closest enemies. When push comes to shove, don't be afraid of an all-out battle. There are plenty of pillars and other objects to use as cover as you make your way down the hall. Eventually, you'll drop to a lower level and continue your route through the heretic stronghold.
After clearing out even more heretic Covenant, step into the elevator of the lower level and take it down even further. You'll head down into a huge room covered in heretics—use the Carbine or Plasma Rifle to clear 'em out, and then drop down to the lower level. The switch to open the hatch doors can be found on either side of the huge cargo doors at the end of the room.
Open the doors to let in a Covenant ship. As the ship enters the hangar, more Sentinels swarm in, along with heretics behind them. Help the Covenant clear out the room, using your active camou whenever you can sneak up behind someone. When the room is void of heretics, follow your allies through the door on the lower level (opposite the huge hatch doors).
Go down the ramps, ready with your weapons to clear out a number of heretics. If you use your camou to get behind them stealthily, you can knock 'em out without them knowing. The downward ramps lead to another room swarming with heretics—again, use stealth when possible and brute force when necessary to clear the area. When the room is empty, head through the next doorway to enter more narrow halls.
As you make your way through these halls, use your stealth to walk into a new area and melee-kill any nearby heretic Elites. The Grunts can be dealt with easily using your guns, so save them for last. Before making your way around the next corner, stop to recharge your active camouflage, and repeat the process until you reach the bottom and find a doorway.
Open up the door, but don't rush in just yet. There are a number of heretics on the other side, including Elites and Sentinels. Use the doorway as cover and step out just enough to snipe at your enemies. The hall leads left from out the door, though you can reach an upper level of the hall by turning right as soon as you go through the doorway. Jump onto the purple ammo box and then onto the upper level to get a better position as you clear the hall.
Head through the next couple of doorways, clearing out the heretics as you see them, until you run into a room with Banshees visible on the other side of a glass door. As the Banshees take off, heretics flood into the room from the right. Quickly run up to the upper level on the left and take cover as you snipe down the heretics. Use your active camou again to take down the Elites, and watch for the Sentinels that follow.
Step outside and hop into a Banshee. Immediately, a Covenant ship comes to your aid—follow the ship, and shoot down the other Banshees that swarm around you. The Banshees will respawn where you picked up the first, so fly back whenever yours is on its last legs to grab a new one. There are also more Banshees on the top of one of the buildings where heretic Grunts are firing at you.
Eventually you'll have to land your Banshee on a platform below. Use the Banshee's guns to clear out the heretics, though their strong fire may force you to jump out and take them on face to face (to avoid their guns, perform loop-the-loops and barrel rolls by holding down the jump button and tapping different directions). When the platform is clear, a cutscene will play out, marking the level's end.
Halo: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Arbiter
The Halo franchise has been changing the gaming market for the past two decades ever since the first game was released in 2001. These days, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Halo: Infinite, despite recent claims that the game is being made under tough crunch conditions.
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The Arbiter first appeared in Halo 2 becoming an instant fan-favourite. As a strong, honour-bound warrior, the Arbiter pairs well with the series' protagonist: Master Chief. A few details hidden in the franchise's books and flavour text provide the Arbiter with a more fleshed-out back story.
10 The Only One Of His Kind With The Mark Of Shame
Sangheili (the Arbiter's race) are a loyal, militaristic people; s a result, they seldom ever receive the Mark of Shame. That's the name of the brand that the Arbiter receives during Halo 2. It's a Covenant symbol given to those who were once a part of the Covenant but either disgraced themselves or turned away from the religion.
Usually, after receiving this mark, the being is executed, but the Arbiter managed to escape that fate. The Arbiter is the only Sangheili that fans know of to be branded with the Mark of Shame.
9 His Name (And Lack Thereof)
The Arbiter that most fans are familiar with is usually just referred to as "the Arbiter." That's just his title, though; the Arbiter's real name is Thel 'Vadam. It isn't used in Halo 2 because of his species' emphasis on honour.
As someone with the Mark of Shame, the Arbiter is considered not to have enough honour to merit a name. His name is only returned to him after the outbreak of the Great Schism (otherwise known as the Covenant Civil War).
8 The Arbiter's Original Title
When the game was in development, the character's title/rank wasn't called "The Arbiter" but "The Dervish". That title refers to members of a Muslim mystic group or tariqa or Ṣūfī fraternity. Islamic dervishes believe that experiences in the world, not book learning, will lead them to God. This lines up with how the Arbiter character operates in the Halo franchise.
It was changed due to the complicated cultural conversation in the United States about Islam at the time. Halo: Combat Evolved released only a month after the 9/11 tragedy and Halo 2 came out shortly after, in 2004. The developers did so in order to avoid any unnecessary parallels.
7 He's Always Been Interested In Humans
For the players, who had only known the Covenant as their enemy, it was a shock to find one who was curious about humans and open-minded enough to listen to them. For the Arbiter, on the other hand, it wasn't out of character at all.
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Even before he allied with human forces, the Arbiter expressed an interest in humans - specifically, their weapons. He is shown in Halo canon to be extensively informed about Covenant weapons and vehicles, which might suggest that it's a personal hobby of his.
6 The Arbiter's Armour Has The Legendary Skull
Players with a careful eye will be able to spy a special detail on the Arbiter's armour during Halo 2: the skull symbol associated with "Legendary" difficulty in Halo games. Fans will need to pay close attention in the cutscenes (or using two-player mode) to catch it, though.
It's less obvious in the original game due to poor graphics and the way it sinks into the armour. But it's easily seen in the updated Halo 2: Anniversary. Everyone is left wondering what came first: the chicken or the egg?
5 The First Of His Family
The Arbiter's family, the Vadam, are like most other Sangheili citizens - living under harsh conditions with a militaristic sense of honour. However, no known member of the Vadam family managed to rank higher than a Shipmaster.
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In the Covenant military, a Shipmaster is a title given to someone who is in charge of any single ship (usually a Sangheili). The Arbiter was the first in his family to exceed this rank when he became the Supreme Commander of a fleet of starships called "the Fleet of Particular Justice", prior to the events in Halo 2.
4 The Arbiter's UNSC Equivalent
The title of "Arbiter" carries a lot of cultural and religious weight among the Sangheili. Stories were told of how the Arbiter can lead all of the clans and dominate any enemy on the battlefield. As a result, there's no one-for-one comparison between the Arbiter and a UNSC rank since the UNSC is not a religious organization.
However, the instruction manual that comes with Halo Wars indicates that the Arbiter is approximately equivalent to a Four-Star UNSC General within the Covenant hierarchy (based on human speculation).
3 His Voice Actor
Keith David is the stunning, show-stopping voice actor behind the Arbiter. He's voiced the character in every game he's appeared in so far and even recently teased on social media that he might be involved in Halo: Infinite.
Gamers would recognize his voice from playing David Anderson in the Mass Effect trilogy, Spawn in Mortal Kombat 11, Nick Fury in Marvel Heroes, and Julius Little in Saints Row. He also starred in shows and movies that most folks are familiar with including Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog and Frank in They Live.
2 The Arbiter's Guest Appearance On Killer Instinct
The Arbiter made an appearance as a playable character in Killer Instinct, a few years back. Killer Instinct is a series of fighting games made by Rare (and now Microsoft Studios) where players face off against one another or NPCs in one-to-one combat, a la Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter.
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Even if you knew this little tidbit, you may not have realized that this Arbiter isn't the one fans are familiar with in the Halo franchise: since "The Arbiter" is just a title, it's explained that the character who appears in Killer Instinct is actually an amalgamation of every Sangheili who's had the role.
1 The "Prophets' Bane"
Like many other Sangheili, the Arbiter fights with a trusty energy sword. However, most energy swords that gamers are familiar with are a light blue colour, while the Arbiter's personal blade is orange and gold.
It was an ancient Sangheili weapon that had been locked away until the Arbiter found it. Once, it had been known as the "End of Night." However, after the Arbiter killed the Prophet of Truth using it, the sword took on the name "Prophets' Bane."
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Read NextAbout The Author
Gabrielle "Belle" Huston is a writer and long-time gamer based in Ottawa, Canada. Reach her on Twitter (@TheYavril) or by email ([email protected]). She's played video games for at least as long as she could write, and vice versa, which has led her to work for sites like The Gamer and the International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club. As a current undergraduate student of journalism, she's seldom away from her computer. Belle uses what little free time she has to play Guild Wars 2 with her partner, work toward that 5-star rating in Animal Crossing, and wonder when the new Dragon Age instalment is coming out.
Arbiter halo 2
This article is about the level in Halo 2. For other articles named "Arbiter", see Arbiter (disambiguation).
The Arbiter is the sixth campaign level of Halo 2, where the ArbiterThel 'Vadamee is introduced as a playable character for the first time. You must assassinate the Heretic Leader on a Forerunnergas mine in Threshold's atmosphere.
The mission involves neutralizing Heretic forces. Along the way, the player will have to open a hangar door for reinforcements, fight, for the first time in Halo 2, Sentinels, and fly a Heretic Banshee to escort a friendly Phantom that is looking for where the Heretic Leader escaped to.
This is also the first time in Halo 2 you are able to use the Covenant Carbine, the Sentinel Beam, and the Fuel Rod Gun. It is also the first time members of the Covenant aid you. Your allies are Special Operations Elites and Special Operations Grunts, meaning that you start off with rather powerful friendly units.
A blurry camera shot focused on the floor, before clearing and focusing on the back of Tartarus. The shot then changes to show Tartarus walking down a hallway in High Charity, two Jiralhanae behind him, carrying Thel 'Vadamee on their shoulders. They are walking through a prison.
Scene opens on a pair of imprisoned Kig-Yar sticking their heads out of their jail cell, snarling. Camera shifts to the right to show Tartarus walking down the corridor, flanked by two Jiralhanae carrying 'Vadamee on their shoulders.
- Jiralhanae 1: "How much further must we heft this baggage? Any cell will do."
- Jiralhanae 2: "Why not toss him in with this lot?"
The Jiralhanae pass a cell containing three hungry Kig-Yar, which hiss and growl as they reach out through the bars at the Jiralhanae passing by.
- Jiralhanae 2: "They could use the meat."
- Jiralhanae 1: "Them? What about us? My belly aches - and his flesh is seared, just the way I like it."
- Tartarus: "Quiet! You two whimper like Grunts fresh off the teat. He's not meant for the jails. The Hierarchs have something special in mind."
The Jiralhanae and their cargo move out onto a platform overlooking the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. They ride a gravity lift down to the walkway leading up to it and pass dozens of Sangheili Honor Guardsmen standing at attention, energy staves ready. They enter the Mausoleum, where the High Prophets of Truth and Mercy await. The three Jiralhanae bow, forcing 'Vadamee to do the same.
- Tartarus: "Noble Prophets of Truth and Mercy. I have brought the incompetent."
Close-up on the Prophet of Truth's lower jaw.
- Prophet of Truth: "You may leave, Tartarus."
Tartarus looks up, surprised.
- Tartarus: "But...I thought—"
- Prophet of Truth: "And take your Brutes with you."
Tartarus hesitates, and then bows again.
- Tartarus: "Release the prisoner."
The Jiralhanae drop 'Vadamee to his knees and rise, leaving the room. The Sangheili touches the Mark of Shame on his chest.
- Prophet of Truth: "The Council decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city. But ultimately, the terms of your execution are up to me."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "I am already dead."
- Prophet of Truth: "Indeed. Do you know where we are?"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "The Mausoleum of the Arbiter."
- Prophet of Truth: "Quite so. Here rests the vanguard of the Great Journey. Every Arbiter, from first to last. Each one created and consumed in times of extraordinary crisis."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "Even on my knees, I do not belong in their presence."
- Prophet of Truth: "Halo's destruction was your error, and you rightly bear the blame. But the Council was... overzealous. We know you are no heretic. This is the true face of heresy, one who would subvert our faith and incite rebellion against the High Council."
Truth presses a button on his chair and a miniature hologram of a Sangheili in abnormal equipment appears.
- Sesa 'Refumee (Hologram): "Our Prophets are false! Open your eyes, my brothers! They would use the faith of our forefathers to bring ruin to us all! The Great Journey is a-"
Truth cuts off the hologram.
- Prophet of Mercy: "Their slander offends all who walk the Path!"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What use am I? I can no longer command ships, lead troops into battle-"
- Prophet of Truth: "Not as you are, no. But become the Arbiter...and you shall be set loose against this heresy with our blessing."
A large pod floats into the center of the room, opening to reveal a suit of ancient armor surrounded by white light. 'Vadamee stares at this for a moment, before turning back to Truth.
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What of the Council?"
- Prophet of Mercy: "The tasks you must undertake as the Arbiter are perilous, suicidal. You will die, as each Arbiter has before you. The Council will have their corpse."
Thel 'Vadamee rises and walks toward the armor. He pauses before it, and looks to the pods containing the bodies of the Arbiters who fell before him. He reaches up and takes the helmet of the Arbiter, and places it upon his head. He turns to the Hierarchs.
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What would you have your Arbiter do?"
The scene changes to show the outside of High Charity, the fleet surrounding it. Three Phantoms fly past the camera and swoop past the ruins of Installation 04, a large piece of it still intact and with landscape and clouds still visible. As it flies, the voice of Special Operations CommanderRtas 'Vadumee can be heard.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "When we joined the Covenant, we took an oath!"
- Special Operations Sangheili: "According to our station! All without exception!"
The scene cuts to the inside of the center Phantom, where Special Operations Sangheili, along with the new Arbiter, line the walls, with a line of Special Operations Unggoy in the center. The white-armored SangheiliSpecial Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadumee, walks among them.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons...we swore to uphold the Covenant!"
- Special Operations Sangheili: "Even to our dying breath!"
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "Those who would break this oath are Heretics, worthy of neither pity, nor mercy! Even now they use our lords' creations to broadcast their lies!"
A Sangheili holds up a Particle Beam Rifle to his chest, and an Unggoy fumbles with the methane tank of the Unggoy in front of him. Some air is released, and the second Unggoy mutters angrily at the first (turning around in the Anniversary version).
- Special Operations Sangheili: "We shall grind them into dust!"
Note: the Hidden Subtitle appears here. It is "Scrape them as excrement from our boots!"
'Vadumee turns his head to face the camera, revealing he is missing the mandibles on the left side of his head.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "And continue our march to glorious salvation!"
The Phantoms enter Threshold's atmosphere and come upon a large Forerunner platform.
Scene fades back to inside lead Phantom. The Spec Ops Commander approaches 'Vadamee. They stare each other down.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "This armor suits you. But it cannot hide that mark."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "Nothing ever will."
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "You are the Arbiter, the will of the Prophets. But these are my Elites. Their lives matter to me. Yours does not."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "That makes two of us."
- Rtas 'Vadumee: (respectful) "Hmmm...."
The Phantoms fly over the Forerunner platform and descend toward another structure dangling below it on a long cable, a Gas Mine. An intense storm swirls below the structure.
- Phantom Pilot: "Leader, there is no doubt: the storm will strike the facility!"
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "We'll be long gone before it arrives."
The Phantoms fly lower, near the top of one of several towers sticking out from the center of the main structure. One deposits a group of Unggoy and a Sangheili, followed by a second one that drops two Sangheili and 'Vadamee.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "Warriors, prepare for combat!"
'Vadamee ignites his energy sword and looks at it, before following his fellow Sangheili in the Anniversary version.
A Whisper in the Storm
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "We are the arm of the Prophets, Arbiter, and you are the blade. Be silent and swift, and we shall quell this heresy without incident."
- SpecOps Elite: "First lance in position."
As Thel approaches the doors where the rest of the team is waiting to enter
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "The storm has masked our approach, and it should have their local Battle-net in disarray. We have the element of surprise... for now."
Thel enters the airlock beyond, with a team of Special Operations Unggoy and Sangheili.
- Special Operations Sangheili: "Engage active camouflage! Reveal yourselves only after the Arbiter has joined battle with the enemy!"
The Unggoy and Sangheili fade into their surroundings as their active camouflage is engaged.
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "You may wish to do the same, Arbiter, but take heed: your armor's system is not as...new as ours. Your camouflage will not last forever."
The team enters the next room under cloak, where Heretic Unggoy are asleep and two Heretic Sangheili patrol. If the player waits without being seen for a moment, the two Heretic Sangheili in this room will talk to one another.
- Heretic Sangheili 1: "Any word on our missing brothers?"
- Heretic Sangheili 2: "Still nothing, and given what sleeps here, I fear they are lost."
- Heretic Sangheili 1: "Surely the Oracle will protect us..."
- Heretic Sangheili 2: "Perhaps. But his Sentinels are too few. Better we protect ourselves!"
The Arbiter and his team launch their attack, annihilating all the Heretics in the immediate area. Behind a wall are a few energy belts carrying Gas containers into a pit. The team eliminates the patrol in the area, then follows the energy belts to the lower levels.
If the player stalls:
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "There should be a ship hangar bay directly below you. Find a way down."
The team continues on and enters an elevator. They descend into a hangar containing a Kai-pattern Seraph and a new enemy appears: the familiar Sentinels. Most of them are patrolling the area, but one can be seen carrying a gas container under it and another firing a green beam at the Seraph, apparently fixing it.
- Special Operations Sangheili: "Sentinels, the holy warriors of the Sacred Rings. Why have they sided with these Heretics?"
- Heretic Sangheili 3: (upon seeing the SpecOps team) "Sentinels, defend us!"
During the battle in the hangar:
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "Arbiter, clear the hangar and open this door, so I may drop the second lance!"
'Vadamee opens the door.
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "Hold position, I am making my approach."
A friendly Phantom enters the Hangar Bay and deploys additional troops.
As more Heretics appear from below:
- Special Operations Sangheili: "More Heretics! In the passage below us!"
After the Hangar is secure:
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "Keep heading down. Find the leader of these Heretics."
'Vadamee descends through the facility, fighting more Heretic Sangheili, Unggoy and Sentinels.
After clearing another room:
- Special Operations Sangheili: "Shall we keep moving, Arbiter? The Heretic Leader cowers below!"
Eventually, 'Vadamee enters a room featuring a window looking out onto a landing pad with three Heretic Banshees. The Heretic Leader, Sesa 'Refumee appears.
- Sesa 'Refumee: "Deal with him, my brothers! I will defend the Oracle."
He hops into a Heretic Banshee and flies off.
- Heretic Sangheili 4: "Its truth must not be silenced!"
The Arbiter and the Spec Ops team defeat the Heretics and Sentinels sent to stop them.
- Special Operations Sangheili: "Onward, Arbiter! We will secure this section of the station."
To The Hunt
The Arbiter goes outside and takes one of the remaining Banshees.
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "The Heretics are mobilizing their air forces, Arbiter. Get after their leader, but watch your back. I'm sending one of our Phantoms to support you."
After the first wave of Banshees is eliminated.
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "The Heretics have weapons emplacements all over the facility, Arbiter. We'll take them out, one by one, until we find the Heretic Leader."
The Arbiter follows the allied Phantom in his Banshee. As they search for the Heretic Leader, they encounter multiple Heretic Banshees, as well as hostile Shade turrets and Heretic Unggoy armed with fuel rod guns.
If you take too long to head for the final emplacement:
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "No sign of the Heretic Leader or his Banshee. We must keep searching!"
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "That was the last of them - but there are more ahead."
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "These Heretics are dead! Onward!"
'Vadamee nears the final emplacement.
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "We've tracked the Heretic Leader to this part of the station. Clear that landing zone and get inside."
The Arbiter clears the platform and arrives at the door. Fades to white.
- Main article: Glitches
- At the beginning of the level, there will be an Elite punching buttons to open a door. If you push him away, he will continue to punch buttons in mid air, and when he is done, the door will still open.
- The two Elites that drop out of the phantom with you at the beginning of the level will follow you down to the first door, but will not follow further. They will remain at the door. If you attempt to push them into the room, the second door will not open until they leave the room.
- When you get to the hangar part go to the ledges on the sides of the rooms jump to get on them and when you move around you could hear the sounds of the doors opening. Jump down quick enough and you can get into the rooms where the enemies spawn in.
- When you open the hangar for the Phantom, you could get on top of it but you will be pulled back into the level because it won't let you leave the boundaries.
- The Heretic leader glitch can be performed on this level.
- It is possible to make a Grunt invincible if he survives your first encounter with the Heretics, he can accompany you all the way to Heretic Leader's Banshee, push him over the edge onto a small ledge area, and he will be invincible, you can even test him against other enemies by skyjacking a lured Banshee to the ledge area, and kicking him out, resulting in the Grunt fighting the Heretic Elite. Note: If he is given a weaker weapon, and fires at the Heretic, the Heretic's shield will recharge quickly, resulting in a possibly endless battle.
- If you get your allies to turn against you at the beginning of this level, the Elites will try to kill you, but the Grunts will just stand there waiting for the door to open, even though they are shown as enemies.
- When you are in the Banshee you can hop out onto the Phantom. This is recommended for near the end where you can kill the Heretic Grunts from afar, or destroy Banshees if you have a Fuel Rod Gun. This is not highly recommended however as it is easy to get shot down or simply just fall off the vehicle.
- If you kill the Elite that opens the door before he gets a chance to finish, the door will open much faster.
- Going down the lift to the hangar with the Seraph fighter, you can throw plasma grenades and they will bounce without exploding. However, the grenades do explode when the elevator reaches the ground or if they stick to you or an ally.
- At the beginning of the level, when the Elite is pressing the buttons to open the door, when looking closely at his finger, you can see that it is just slightly moving around the control panel.
- At the beginning of the level, if you kill your allies before the elevator descends, no enemies will appear until you reach the elevator.
- Once you get on a Banshee fly to the right and you will see a small "bridge”, get out of the banshee and look around and you will see a red door that absorbs all shots fired at it (best done with a Fuel Rod Gun and other explosives). It will also appear in the Oracle but when approached close-up the texture will appear.
- Oddly enough,when the Phantom drops off reinforcements in the hangar, there is a possibility/glitch where it won't drop any or maybe one.
- Main article: Easter Eggs
- The Grunt Birthday Party Skull can be found on this level.
- If you manage to skyjack a Banshee or blow another Banshee up, you will notice the Heretic Elite has a Plasma Rifle equipped, instead of the Covenant Carbine. This could just be a weapon change for the pilot, maybe because he needed a lighter weapon to fly in the Banshee so it doesn't make it too uncomfortable for him. However, there's an equal chance it's an Easter egg, since not many players would pay attention to the actual dead body.
- The soundtrack of the game, "Follow" by Incubus, can be heard on this level although without any vocals, shortly after the player is able to get in a Banshee. It was replaced by Follow In Flight in Halo 2: Anniversary.
- The map Colossus is also located at the gas mine area, where the storm could be seen.
- When the SpecOps Grunt says, "Shh! Me hunting He-wa-tic.", he's making a reference to the famous Looney Tunes quote, "Shh! Be vewy vewy quiet! I'm hunting wabbits!".
- During the starting cutscene if you have subtitles enabled, there is a deleted line of dialogue that is never spoken, but wasn't removed from the subtitles. The line reads: "Scrape them as excrement from our boots".
- During the Banshee part, you can get out of your Banshee and land on the Phantom. This is hard to balance on, and is recommended to use at the end of the part as there is a high possibility to fall off.
- During the Banshee fight, it is possible to exit your Banshee and immediately board an enemy Heretic Banshee. This however, is quite a difficult tactic. When you do, the Elite inside will have a Plasma Rifle.
- Should the player watch the Phantoms that drop off the troops at the beginning of the level when they go out of view zoom in with your binoculars they will fall and spin out of control and hit the lower part of the level.
- Many of the Grunt dialogue in this level is some of the most strange and humorous, Including If we stand here any longer, we be on date! and Hard to tell, but me no female. It's the first official time you can hear them clearly, and can listen to the strange things they say, because up until now, Grunts have been against you.
- This level has more Fuel Rod Guns than any other level in the Halo trilogy.
- If you search around the station, you can find the bridge that leads from the labs to the central part of the station, which is the same that you use in the next level.
- This is the first level of the Halo series that you can play as the Arbiter and use the Sentinel Beam and the Covenant Carbine.
- This is the first level that includes Heretics.
- The music that plays near the end of the level when the Heretic Leader escapes (before you take off in the Banshee) was not included on the OST. It somewhat resembles the last part of Sacred Icon Suite.
- When moving down the elevator, the Elite you are farthest from is the one that will point out the Sentinels.
- The large windows in the last room of the level are actually shut outside and you can't see through them even though that from the inside you can see. Also, on the outside of the window your reticule will still change color between the normal color to green and red between friendlies and enemies even though you can't see through the windows.
- At the part with the Banshee, you can skip the long air battle with the Heretics and go directly to the area where the level ends.
- At the Banshee part, more Banshees can be seen on platforms with Heretics on them. If your Banshee is destroyed (by you or the Grunts), then another one spawns when you turn around. This will be infinite. This is probably so that if the player makes it there with the Banshee destroyed, then he/she won't get stuck.
- If you hide in the hangar and watch the Sentinels, you will see one firing a greenish beam at the Seraph, like the beams of the Constructor Sentinels on the Sacred Icon level. This indicates the Seraph is undergoing repairs.
- Originally, this level was supposed to take place on Threshold's moon, Basis.
- Joseph Staten revealed on the Halo 3 Legendary Edition bonus disk that originally the Heretics including the Heretic Leader were all going to be Hunters.
- The level's working title was "The Alpha Gas Giant".
- Bungie environment artist David Dunn experimented on having an ambient lifeform known as the space jellyfish float in Threshold's atmosphere. However, this concept was eventually abandoned.
Early concept art of the Threshold gas mine.
Concept art of the Threshold gas mine.
Preview of the level in Halo 2 menu.
Kig-Yar convicts in High Charity.
Tartarus, his Jiralhanae and Honor Guards outside the Mausoleum of the Arbiter.
The Mausoleum of the Arbiter in High Charity.
Truth and Mercy in the Mausoleum of the Arbiter.
Thel 'Vadamee takes on title of Arbiter.
A section of the destroyed Installation 04.
Rtas 'Vadumee speaking to Thel 'Vadamee.
Covenant SpecOps forces are deployed on the gas mine.
Halo 2: Anniversary
Tartarus, his Jiralhanae and Honor Guards outside the Mausoleum of the Arbiter.
Thel 'Vadamee kneeling before the case holding the Arbiter armor.
Thel 'Vadam accepts his appointment to Arbiter by the Prophets.
Covenant SpecOps soldiers and Rtas 'Vadumee onboard one of the Phantoms.
Covenant forces battling in the hangar bay of the gas mine.
Fictional character in the Halo video game series
In the Halo science fiction universe, an Arbiter is a ceremonial, religious, and political rank bestowed upon Covenant Elites. In the 2004 video game Halo 2, the rank is given to a disgraced commander named Thel 'Vadamee as a way to atone for his failures. Although the Arbiter is intended to die serving the Covenant leadership, the High Prophets, he survives his missions and the Prophets' subsequent betrayal of his kind. When he learns that the Prophets' plans would doom all sentient life in the galaxy, the Arbiter allies with the Covenant's enemies (humans) and stops the ringworld Halo from being activated. The Arbiter is a playable character in Halo 2 and its 2007 sequel Halo 3; a different Arbiter appears in the 2009 real-time strategy game Halo Wars, which takes place 20 years before the events of the main trilogy.
The appearance of the Arbiter in Halo 2 and the change in perspective from the main human protagonist Master Chief to a former enemy was a plot twist Halo developer Bungie kept highly secret. The character's name was changed from "Dervish" after concerns that the name reinforced a perceived United States-versus-Islam allegory in the game's plot. Actor Keith David lends his voice to the character in Halo 2, 3, and 5, while David Sobolov voices the Arbiter of Halo Wars.
The Arbiter has appeared in four series of action figures and other collectibles and marketing in addition to appearances in the games. Bungie intended the sudden point of view switch to a member of the Covenant as a plot twist that no one would have seen coming, but the character in particular and the humanization of the Covenant in general was not evenly received by critics and fans. Computer and Video Games derided the Arbiter's missions as "crap bits" in Halo 2. Conversely, IGN lamented the loss of the Arbiter's story in Halo 3 and missed the added dimension the character provided to the story.
The concept of the Arbiter came from early story discussions for Halo 2. Bungie designer Jaime Griesemer and story director Joseph Staten discussed playing from the perspective of an alien soldier to see the other side of the war between the human United Nations Space Command and alien Covenant. "What if you were the guy whose butt was on the line for protecting the most valuable religious object in the entire world, and you blew it?" said Staten. "That seems like a pretty interesting story, and one we should tell."Halo developer Bungie's former content manager Frank O'Connor said that the inclusion of the Arbiter as a playable character in Halo 2 was supposed to be a "secret on the scale of a Shyamalan plot twist" and that Bungie kept the public uninformed until the game's release; O'Connor never included it in the weekly development updates posted at Bungie's website, and insisted story details about the Arbiter's past would remain mysterious. Staten said that the purpose of introducing the Arbiter was "to offer another, compelling point of view on a war where telling friend from foe wasn't always clear-cut. We knew we had a trilogy on our hands, so we were looking past the shock of playing as the enemy [to the events of Halo 3]". While there were those in Bungie who were against the Arbiter as a player character, Staten chalked its inclusion in the game to a combination of wearing down his opponents and the gameplay sandbox opportunities that came from having Covenant allies.
The Arbiter changed very little during development, as the overall appearance of the alien Covenant Elites (Sangheili) had been designed and developed for the previous game, 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved. The only substantial difference between the Arbiter and other Elites is special ceremonial armor, which appeared in early concept sketches and appeared as part of the character's final design. During Halo 2's early developmental stages the character's name was "Dervish", a name from the Sufi sect of Islam. Bungie picked the name because of its evocation of an otherworldly holy warrior. Out of context, Microsoft Game Studios' "geocultural review" consultants found nothing wrong with the name. However, as Tom Edwards, a consultant who worked with Microsoft during the review noted, "within the game's context this Islamic-related name of 'Dervish' set up a potentially problematic allegory related to Halo 2's plot—the [United States]-like forces (Master Chief/Sarge) versus Islam (the religious Covenant, which already had a 'Prophet of Truth' which is one title for Muhammad)". In the geopolitical reality after the September 11 attacks, sensitivity to the name remained high, and the character's name was changed. The switch came so late that the game's voice lines had to be re-recorded, and some game manuals were printed with the wrong name.
For Halo 5, the Arbiter's armor was redesigned, explained in-universe as a tribute to previous Arbiters and as a symbol of transition for the Elites. 343 Industries designed the armor to look "medieval" and antiquated, and incorporated brass and leather accents instead of something more futuristic.
The Arbiter in the main video games is voiced by American actor Keith David. David noted that he enjoys voicing complicated characters who have a past. To make an impact with voice acting, he said, is difficult—"it's either good acting or it's bad acting". David is not a frequent video game player, but stated in 2008 that he had become more known for his work as the Arbiter than for his other roles.
Presented in Halo 2, the rank of "Arbiter" is bestowed upon a Covenant Elite by the Covenant leadership—the High Prophets—during a time of crisis. Although it was originally a rank of great honor, it later became a rank assigned to disgraced or shamed Elites that nevertheless possessed great martial skill, both as a means to have them serve the Covenant, and as a convenient means of disposal after their assigned suicidal missions. The Arbiter in the main Halo games is named Thel 'Vadamee; previously a commander in the Covenant fleet, he is stripped of his rank for failing to stop the human soldier Master Chief from destroying the Forerunner ringworld Halo; the Covenant revere the Forerunners as gods and believe the rings are the key to the salvation central to their religion. 'Vadamee is spared execution by the High Prophets and becomes the newest Arbiter. His first mission is to silence a renegade Elite who has been preaching that the Prophets have lied to the Covenant. The Arbiter is then sent to the newly-discovered Delta Halo to retrieve the "Sacred Icon" necessary to activate the ring. Though he retrieves the Icon, the Arbiter is betrayed by the Chieftain of the Brutes, Tartarus; Tartarus reveals that the Prophets have ordered the replacement of the Elites in the Covenant power structure. Though the Arbiter is believed dead, he and Master Chief are rescued by the parasitic Flood intelligence Gravemind. Gravemind reveals that the activation Halos are weapons of destruction, not salvation, and sends the Arbiter to stop Tartarus from activating the ring as the Covenant falls into civil war. In the process, the Arbiter and his Elites forge an alliance with the humans Miranda Keyes and Avery Johnson, and together they kill Tartarus and stop the activation of Delta Halo, triggering a failsafe; the remaining Halo installations are put on standby from remote activation from a Forerunner installation known as the Ark.
While the Arbiter remains a playable character in Halo 3 during cooperative gameplay (the second player in a game lobby controls him), the game's story never switches to the point of view of the Arbiter, as in Halo 2. For much of Halo 3, the Arbiter assists human forces in their fight against hostile Covenant forces alongside Master Chief. They follow Covenant forces through a portal to the Ark, where the Arbiter kills the final surviving High Prophet, ending the Covenant. The Master Chief decides to activate the Halo under construction at the Ark to destroy the local Flood while sparing the galaxy at large. During the escape, the ship Arbiter and Master Chief are on is split in two; the Arbiter crashes safely to Earth while Master Chief is presumed lost. After attending a ceremony honoring the dead, the Arbiter and the rest of the Elites return to their homeworld. A series of novels set after the war, the Kilo-Five trilogy, detail the Arbiter's efforts in the civil war that breaks out among the Sangheili.
The Arbiter reappears in Halo 5: Guardians, where his forces, the Swords of Sangheilios, remain locked in combat with a faction of Covenant remnants led by the Sangheili warlord Jul 'Mdama. Spartan-IV fireteam Osiris, a group of human supersoldiers, travels to Sanghelios and rescues the Arbiter from attack, later making plans for an assault on Jul's final Covenant stronghold of Sunaion. The Arbiter's forces and the humans fight together to defeat Jul's Covenant. After the human artificial intelligence Cortana begins subjugating the galaxy, Fireteam Osiris and Blue Team return to Sangheilios where the Arbiter and the Master Chief are reunited. In the novel Halo: Bad Blood, it's mentioned that the Master Chief and the Arbiter spend the night catching up before the UNSC forces depart the next morning to connect with the UNSC Infinity.
Taking place 20 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, Ensemble Studio's Halo Wars (2009) features a different Arbiter from the character seen in the trilogy. Lead designer David Pottinger described Ensemble's Arbiter as a "mean guy. He's Darth Vader times ten." The characterization stemmed from a desire to make the Covenant more basically "evil" in order to provide a good guy-bad guy conflict. Parts of the Arbiter's backstory before the game's events are explained in a tie-in graphic novel, Halo Wars: Genesis. The Elite, Ripa 'Moramee, was given the rank after he fought and lost a campaign against his own clan. The Arbiter acts as the primary enemy of the game, charged with the destruction of humanity by the Prophet of Regret. He is ultimately killed by the marine John Forge in a climactic battle at a Forerunner installation.
An Arbiter is available as a playable character in Killer Instinct: Season Three, voiced by Ray Chase. He uses several weapons from the Halo series in combat, and fights in the Arena of Judgment, a stage set in the midst of a battle on Sanghelios. According to franchise development director Frank O'Connor, this character is an "amalgam" of historical characters. The character also appears in several Halo novels, including The Cole Protocol, which details some of his career before the events of Combat Evolved.
Following the release of Halo 2, Joyride Studios released an Arbiter action figure. This particular model was reviewed by Armchair Empire's Aaron Simmer as a "great translation of the source material into plastic". Simmer described the figure's dimensions were in proportion with other figures released by the studio, and praised the level of detail in the armor and weapons, but found fault with the neck articulation and design. Other aspects mentioned were its compatibility with the Master Chief's action figure and its durability. Several models of the Arbiter are featured in the Halo ActionClix collectible game, produced as promotional material prior to the release of Halo 3.McFarlane Toys was given the task of developing a Halo 3 line of action figures, and a sculpt of the Arbiter was released in the second series of figures after the game's release in July 2008. A large-scale, non-articulated Arbiter figure was produced by McFarlane as part of the "Legendary Collection".
The reception of the Arbiter as a playable character in Halo 2 was mixed; O'Connor described the Arbiter as the most controversial character Bungie had ever created. The character was described as a "brilliant stroke of a game design" because it provided an unexpected story line but also offered the player new options by allowing stealth gameplay. Several publications enjoyed the added dimension to the Covenant by having the Arbiter as a playable character;The Artifice questioned why Master Chief was considered the standout character of the series, when only the Arbiter had a satisfying arc to his story, and whose active participation made the ending of the game richer.
Alternatively, publications like GameSpot thought that while the Arbiter and Covenant side added "newfound complexity to the story", it distracted the player from Earth's fate; a panel of Halo 2 reviewers argued that though the decision to humanize the Covenant by the introduction of the Arbiter was welcome, the execution in-game was lacking. The missions where the player controls the Arbiter were described as "anything but easy" and occasionally "boring", due to the lack of human weapons to balance the gameplay. A review performed by Computer and Video Games described the time that the player controls the character as "[those] crap bits when you play as an alien Arbiter" and listed this as one of Halo 2's flaws. Reviewer Jarno Kokko said that while he did not personally dislike playing as the character, the idea of "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. Among some fans, the character was reviled. Looking back at the game's release ten years later, Den of Geek described players as having a "love-hate relationship" with the character, and that the furor over the twist was only overshadowed because of the controversy of the game's cliffhanger ending.
The reception of the Arbiter's elimination as a main playable character in Halo 3 was similarly mixed. Hilary Goldstein of IGN decided the change took away the "intriguing side-story of the Arbiter and his Elites", in the process reducing the character's role to that of "a dude with a weird mandible and a cool sword". Likewise, Steve West of Cinemablend.com stated that the one important event in the game for the Arbiter would be lost on anyone for whom Halo 3 was their first game in the series. Goldstein took issue with the poor artificial intelligence (AI) of allies in the game, and singled out the Arbiter in particular; "The Arbiter makes me question why the Elites were ever feared in the original Halo," and describing the character as useless.The New York Times' Charles Herold found that in comparison to Halo 2, where the character played a central role, the Arbiter in Halo 3 was "extraneous". On the opposite end of the spectrum were reviewers like G4tv, who argued that the Arbiter was more likeable, not to mention more useful, as an AI sidekick instead of the main player. In a list of the top alien characters in video games, MSNBC placed the Arbiter at the number two ranking.
Halo Wars's cinematics and voice acting were widely lauded, although one reviewer wrote that the characters were stereotypical and unlikeable. Dakota Grabowski of PlanetXbox360 considered the Arbiter the most confusing character in the game's story. Conversely, GamePro listed the Arbiter as one of the best things about the game, saying that while it was a different character than the Arbiter seen in Halo 2 and Halo 3, he was "like an alien Jack Bauer amped up on drugs".
Despite the resistance to the character, Bungie staff defended the character's introduction. "I'd much rather experiment and do something surprising, and not have everybody appreciate it, than just turn the crank and do another alien war movie with a space marine," said Halo 2 design lead Jaime Griesemer. Community lead Brian Jarrard attributed some of the fan backlash to a discord between the game's marketing and the actual gameplay. "I think, even more so than playing as the Arbiter, the thing that people were disappointed with and angry about is that they were promised this experience, through the marketing, of being really backs against the wall, Earth's under siege, we're going to do all we can to save our home planet... In reality, the game only had two missions that actually did that." Referring to Halo 2's cliffhanger ending, Griesemer said, "I think if we'd been able to finish that last couple of missions and get you properly back on Earth, a lot of the reaction would have been placated."
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I'm not a saint, Zita. Besides, God is not only conscience, but also love. I also believe in love. - said the girl and kissed me. A minute later, she was already proving to me how much she loved me.