Well, hello there. You know, I was so excited to post this yesterday, since it was Monday, and you all were in no way expecting any sort of character backstory since we had wrapped up Season 2 with Aria. The stars had aligned in a perfect way, with a video featuring myself and Adam Isgreen had been shown during the Halo World Championships talking about Arbiter over the weekend. Monday was to feature Arbiter’s colors & accessories, and we had a space for a backstory. What a perfect opportunity to dive more in to the Arbiter!
Then the site went down…
We’re back, though, and with us we brought a good friend, GrimBrotherOne (Jeff), from the team over at 343 Industries to talk with us about Arbiter in a backstory(ish) fashion. We’re going to let him take the floor and run with it. Ready? Here we go.
Greetings, you fabulous fighting folk. It’s been an honor for us at 343 Industries to share a small piece of our beloved universe with the Killer Instinct franchise, and I am personally honored to be able to spend a few moments with the KI community itself here today. A few weeks ago in our weekly Canon Fodder series on HaloWaypoint.com, we unveiled a hefty helping of brand new information regarding the Arbiter character launching within Season 3 of Killer Instinct on Xbox One. As a long-time fan of the KI franchise myself, I can usually be found loitering around your very own Ultra-Combo.com at the beginning of each week eager to partake in the delicious lore morsels dropped by Rukari, Adam, Noble and team, that dive deeper into the characters in the Killer Instinct universe. As someone who normally finds myself on the other side of the fence when it comes to the Halo fiction, I absolutely appreciate the tender loving care applied to each backstory. With that in mind, your fearless leaders asked if I’d like to stop by and offer some insight into this new species that’s arrived at the doorstep of your hallowed arena.
The Sangheili – or Elites as they are known by humans – are a proud, noble race of saurian bipeds hailing from their homeworld of Sanghelios. For centuries the Sangheili were the military backbone of the Covenant, a theocratic alien alliance driven by the desire to reclaim the wonders and technologies left behind by the Forerunners. Central among these sacred relics was an array of ringworld weapons collectively known as Halo, objects that Covenant leadership promised would usher the faithful into godhood through a divine sublimation they called the “Great Journey.”
Eventually, the Covenant empire would be undone – in no small part thanks to the betrayal of the Sangheili at the hands of the empire’s scheming and power-hungry leadership, who were determined to let nothing and no one stand in the way of their path to perceived divinity. In the aftermath of the Covenant’s collapse, the Sangheili have fallen into civil war – its people unsure of which beliefs to uphold, and which heroes to exalt.
Throughout the ages, the title of Arbiter has meant many things; from powerful and legendary judge-kings that begat songs of gain and glory, to a terrible and painful honor placed upon fallen heroes fighting to reclaim dignity through death. In these uncertain times, Sangheili of countless affiliations, titles, and roles, all are fighting to find new purpose and recapture an ancient authority. What opportunities and challenges these new and unforeseen circumstances will bring remains to be seen. The only certainty will be the fierce and noble tenacity with which they rise to meet them, be they an arbiter or kaidon, a commander or killer.
If you’re interested in learning more about these multi-mandibled alien warriors, feel free to check out the Universe encyclopedia over at Halo Waypoint. Now normally, we know you guys typically talk about things like backstory and customization options in separate spaces. For the Arbiter character however, it’s a bit of a special case, as the accessory sets we’ve worked with Microsoft Studios and Iron Galaxy to make available are steeped in lore and significance within the Halo universe. While we went into a bit more Halo-specific detail in the aforementioned Canon Fodder feature, we wanted to revisit those sets for the Killer Instinct community and actually show them off in-game, as well as provide a high-level sense of context for what types of armor – or harness as we typically call it – you’ll be able to outfit your character in come March 29th. So let’s take a look.
For the Sangheili, the role of kaidon is analogous to a clan leader. In Killer Instinct, the default harness you’ll don mirrors that of Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam’s in Halo 5: Guardians. This harness embodies a classic Sangheili design that has adorned noble clan leaders and warrior-keep rulers for millennia. Additionally, players can unlock a stunning array of color combinations that might have been donned by Sangheili judge-kings long since passed.
Many Sangheili who served as officers under the Covenant’s reign became commanders of their own factions following the empire’s collapse, some of them forming independent alliances on far-flung frontiers. In Killer Instinct, you’ll be able to unlock the fiercely styled harness donned by Elite Commanders encountered in Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, allowing you to play as an ambitious warlord or key general in the Sanghelios civil war. Or perhaps you’ll outfit in resplendent gold, harkening back to days spent elevated within the Covenant’s rank structure.
The Ascetics were an ancient warrior order with deep ties to ancient Sangheili beliefs, and remained fervently – if quietly – devoted to their pre-Covenant faiths. While the Ascetic’s military forces had been formally dissolved following the formation of the Covenant over three millennia ago, Ascetic priests continued to secretly initiate worthy Sangheili warriors into their ranks, keeping the ideals of their martial order alive within the Covenant. In Killer Instinct, players can adorn themselves with the armor of the fabled Ascetic Guard for the first time since Halo 3, and in a beautiful selection of color options. Color 4 – a gorgeous and menacing onyx black – is absolutely my personal favorite.
The Storm harness is manufactured by the Lodam Armory on the continent of Kaepra on Sanghelios. It’s typically encountered being utilized by multi-role shock troopers, and while it began its life as a more specialized kit, the past decade of strife has seen it used far more ubiquitously. The Elite Storm harness is a premium accessory, and only unlocks with KI Gold or Killer Instinct Season 3 Ultra Edition purchase.
As Killer Instinct fans are already well aware, nearly all of the characters in the Xbox One fighting game have a “retro” aesthetic available. When it came time to land on which look would fill this role for the Killer Instinct Arbiter, the choice actually was “so easy.” For the retro, players will be able to recreate Thel’s classic look from Halo 2: Anniversary – a legendary harness adorned with a timeless style carried by powerful and revered Sangheili judge-kings for untold centuries.
Within the Covenant military regime, the sight of a Sangheili leader striding across the battlefield in a gleaming gold combat harness simultaneously stoked the fires of victory within the hearts of the surrounding forces, and struck fear within the hearts of their enemies. In Killer Instinct, you can take on the look and role of an Elite Supreme Commander – a title once held by Thel ‘Vadam before becoming Arbiter – and strike fear into the hearts, minds, and fight sticks of your own enemies.
Zealots are powerful Sangheili warriors that have represented both military and religious authority within the Covenant, and are often known for their relentlessness, cruelty, and fervent dedication to their faith. Over the centuries, a number of different Zealot chapters served with fierce distinction under the empire, though the role and legacy of Sangheili Zealots can be traced back millennia, long before the Covenant era. In Killer Instinct, you’ll gain the chance to don the ceremonial battle harness that was the armor of the ruthless and powerful Zealots encountered in Halo: Reach.
Sangheili Rangers are a class of highly skilled Fleet Security officers who regularly focus on extra-vehicular space combat. These specialized units are typically clad in armor that can not only protect them against the harsh extremes of space, but also provide them with enhanced mobility when fighting enemies in zero or low-gravity conditions. The particular Ranger harness variant available to players in Killer Instinct is the same that Xbox fans across the globe encountered in Halo: Reach. The Elite Ranger harness is a premium accessory, and only unlocks with KI Gold or Killer Instinct Season 3 Ultra Edition purchase.
Needless to say, it’s been an absolute joy for the team here at 343 Industries to work hand in hand with the folks at Microsoft Studios and Iron Galaxy to bring the look, essence, and fighting feel of the long-beloved Elites into the Killer Instinct universe. We can’t wait to jump online with you all to fight for glory, honor, and maybe a bit of franchise pride… Until then, y’all take care, all right? Nothing but love for ya.