Features Guide

Halo – Hunt the Truth – An Ongoing Analysis of the Viral Marketing Campaign

Written by James T. George



Since I first played Halo: Combat Evolved, I’ve been hooked on the Sci-Fi story it tells. I dug deep into the backstory as Microsoft and Bungie fleshed out their narrative, reading the books and keeping tabs on things like the Halo 2 Viral campaign, “I Love Bees.” Halo continued to grow into a universe that had complex concepts being thrown at the fans from many directions, and in the time between each subsequent game release, the Universe grows even more. As of this writing, 24 books, 8 comic adaptions, multiple live action movies and mini-series, and several viral marketing campaigns have all been used to expand on the story of the Halo Universe, often focusing on characters other than those found in the games.

From a backstory standpoint, Halo rivals other large fictional properties due to the diligence of those crafting the story for Microsoft. Bungie and 343 Industries made painstaking efforts to maintain continuity in their narrative (with some notable, but tolerable, exceptions). With Halo 5: Guardians launching this year 343 Industries, the current caretakers of the franchise, have not been shy about continuing to expand the backstory. Now that we are getting close to the release, they have started a marketing campaign called “Hunt the Truth.”

Each week, a new episode of an ongoing radio drama will be added to push forward a story about Benjamin Giraud, a photojournalist and investigative wartime reporter tasked with making a profile on series protagonist, the Master Chief. Between episodes, imagery and blog-like entries are being posted that furthers the story, which revolves around uncovering the truth behind the Chief, which is not as clear cut as it seems.

As each episode airs, I’ll be recapping it and all content that was posted since the previous week’s episode, and I’ll be doing my best to keep everyone filled in on some of the nuances of the backstory being worked into this narrative.

– Spoiler Warning –

In order to properly frame the details of the Hunt the Truth campaign, I will have to divulge details that have been established in all aspects of the Halo Universe that have been revealed up to this point. I will try my best to limit what I discuss to the content of currently released games, but some of the backstory revealed in some of the other expanded fiction may still need covered or explained.  If you don’t want the games, books, movies, and other side stories spoiled, I recommend you don’t scroll down any further. You have been warned.

Episode 0 – Primer

The first entry Benjamin Giraud posted was a simple introduction to his project, alongside some cryptic teases of what the story of The Master Chief may entail. With this ad campaign seemingly taking place between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5, he begins telling us about his life as a war journalist and how he first encountered the Master Chief, six years prior. He ran into the Spartan during the battle of New Mombassa, which was showcased in the Halo 2 single player campaign.

He reveals that he’s been given unprecedented access to the background of the Master Chief in order to put together a profile on the now famous hero. Initially he sounds very optimistic about the project’s scope, saying he always wanted to tell a story like this, but then quickly moves into a very cryptic summary of half-truths, lies, and omitted details about the Chief’s life.

Shortly after this episode was posted, 343’s Frank O’Conner made clear that Giraud was previously featured in the Halo Graphic Novel some years back. The story was titled “Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa”. Until this campaign, he was previously known only as “The Photographer.”


Benjamin Giraud, as he appeared in the Halo Graphic Novel


This zero episode is simply a teaser for later, being only a few minutes in length. Some keen listeners may recognize the voice talent behind Giraud: comedian Keegan-Michael Key. I found his acting to be very engaging, and I look forward to hearing more from him, and perhaps others as the series continues.

Just before releasing the zero episode, Microsoft dropped the trailer seen above, with a bullet being shot at the helmet of the Master Chief. On the Hunt the Truth Tumblr page, users can interact with the bullet as it travels, revealing a number of words imprinted on the casing:

  • Son
  • Abductee
  • Victim
  • Orphan
  • Recruit
  • Soldier
  • Warrior
  • Ally
  • Hero
  • Savior
  • Traitor

Some fans speculate these words will correspond to the subject matter of each episode, suggesting that there will be 11 episodes following this introduction.

Stay tuned for more coverage as each episode airs. We’ll be recapping the important information after each episode, and I’ll be happy to speculate a little bit too. For even deeper analysis, the Halo Subreddit has a fantastic recap that is promised to update with each episode. Hop over there and check out what other fans are theorizing will happen as this campaign continues.

For now, it appears that the story of Halo 5: Guardians is shaping up to turn the reputation of the Master Chief upside down. Branding him a traitor is about as drastic a step once can take for the Spartan, who has always been “Humanity’s Savior.” Stay tuned to LevelSave.com for more coverage of this campaign.


About the author

James T. George

Jim, a proud native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, enjoys a variety of things other than games, movies, music, sports, and technology, but usually falls prey to character limits when filling out

%d bloggers like this: