Time is of the Essence

Beyond The Frontline

BTF #3 : Time is of the Essence

Beyond the Frontline is a regular feature where the staff here get up on the soapbox and put forward an idea or idea relating to Halo. Each BTF is a talking point designed to start a dialogue and unlike our regular word blasts and articles, the entries are short and sweet.
If you agree or disagree with any of the points raised we strongly encourage you to reply in the comments and be part of the conversation!

“Last time, you asked me, if it was my choice, would I do it? Having had considerable time to ponder your query, my answer has not changed. There is no choice. We must activate the ring.” – 343 Guilty Spark

When the above quote was first uttered by 343 Guilty Spark, most players took it as a sign of his mental instability. Rampancy in the face of eons spent alone with his thoughts. However, as time has gone on, people have come to accept the fact that Guilty Spark may not be quite as insane as we were initially led to believe and may, in fact, be the exact opposite. But this realization has only brought along with it more mystery, and a deepening of the question surround what Spark said to Chief in the control room to Installation 04.

Time travel isn’t a new concept to science fiction. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find any long-lasting science fiction series that doesn’t feel its presence in one way or another, and Halo is no different. Referred to more accurately as “time dilation” within the Halo continuity, we know that the Forerunners possessed technology capable of controlling this force (although in what capacity is still unknown), and that the Slipspace engines used by humanity were prone to strange anomalies such as ships arriving far after or far before they were set to arrive, or sometimes even arriving at a destination before they’d even departed their starting point (see First Strike: The Definitive Edition – “Addendum”).

One of the most major time travel plot points in Halo is during First Strike, where Dr. Halsey and the surviving Spartans from Reach make a brief slipspace jump while in the possession of a unique Forerunner crystal. Staying in slipspace for only a few minutes, they found themselves to have exited slipspace in the Eridanus system, a jump that was supposed to take days. When Dr. Halsey compared relative time stamps from various missions, she found that they had in fact exited slipspace at a point in time approximately three weeks before they first made the jump.

With the release of the Halo 4 concept art trailer, we were shown that one bit of concept art for Halo 4 was, indeed, parallel artwork for the cover of Halo: Primordium, of the Forerunner trilogy. Does this mean that Chief travels back to the time of the Forerunners, getting intertwined in the pre-history of the Halo universe?

I for one would love to see Halo never again delve into the realm of time travel, but at this point, with all of the elements in place for its utilization, I have a hard time seeing how the developers could avoid it. But that is one thing I would absolutely love to be wrong about. I would love for 343 Industries to absolutely blow my mind with how they handle this plot point.

So what do you think? Is time travel acceptable for future Halo installments? Do you have any ideas as to how 343i could avoid this sci-fi cliche while still answering the basic question surrounding Guilty Spark’s quote? If it absolutely had to be implemented, how would you like to see it done?


Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us what you think below in the comments. Feel free to check out other BTF entries here.


  1. October 9, 2011

    I fear a plot that’s driven by time travel would simply render the Halo series down to the common level of so many other sci fi adventures. Halo is not Back to the Future or The Terminator – as for the Chief going back in time to the Forerunner’s ‘hey day’ – that’s a paradox I don’t want to even have to think about! JJ

    • Jake
      October 10, 2011


    • October 11, 2011

      I agree. One thing HBO forum-goer Leviathan pointed out was that it may be best used exclusively in smaller aspects of the Halo expanded universe, as has been seen so far in First Strike. This way it doesn’t interfere with the primary aspects of the main plot lines, but can still open up the mind to further possibilities and make you wonder, which is what Halo and science fiction is all about, really.

  2. john
    November 22, 2011

    While I agree, time travel is over used, one must take into account that the Forerunners chose us to succede them. Why would they do this? sure they could have seen potetial in us, but out of dozens of lifeforms in this galaxy alone why would the forerunners chose our primitive ancesters to be theirsuccesers? could it be that they knew something about future events? or did they meet a remarkable human from the future that pulled through against all odd?

  3. Diego rossello
    December 6, 2011

    I like the idea of seeing these events in a game, but not using time travel as an wxcuse to solve this matter. First its too been used too much and halo has proved us better. Second, they would be opening a big door. If time travel did exist, and it was some how in forerunner tech, why didnt they use it to turn things around with the flood? I know this is not fact, but things like with this 343 could mess up by putting it inside the franchise.

  4. Dwayne515
    January 12, 2012

    I hope John doesn’t go back in time, although maybe 343 Guilty Spark was referring to John and not just humans in general when he says ‘Could it be, after all these years?’ in The first terminal in Halo: CEA. I have faith in 343i though

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