For as long as Halo has been around, completing the game on its toughest difficulty has rewarded players with an extended ending – usually offering a glimpse at the future of the series, or teasing Master Chief's real, human face.
Halo 5: Guardians too has a special ending for the conquerors of its Legendary difficulty, and it's one that is bound to please fans and also gives us a glimpse at the direction of the inevitable Halo 6.
Obviously major spoilers for the Legendary ending and Halo 5 on the whole follow. Seriously, turn back now if you are yet to play the game.
Throughout Halo 5: Guardians I wondered whether we might see the return of the eponymous Halo rings. The story ends with Cortana set up as the villain, hoping to use the enormous Guardians to keep peace and order in the galaxy and quash those who oppose her brand of peace.
The Guardians are huge Forerunner AI constructs designed to keep entire planets in check. The Halo rings (devices which when triggered wipe the galaxy of all life) are also Forerunner constructs, offering a natural way to reintroduce them.
The Legendary ending (below) does so, showing an intact Halo ring light up as Cortana (we believe it's Cortana anyway) hums in the background. The insinuation being that she is ready and willing to use the Halo rings to enforce her brand of peace. Humming is also a classic sign of villainy.
Why would Cortana rid the galaxy of life when she hopes to enforce peace? Because Guardians sets up the idea of a battle between organic life and AIs like Cortana. It's no stretch to believe that the detonation of a new Halo rings would kill only organic life and leave AIs to inhabit the galaxy.
Stuck in the middle will be Master Chief, a human augmented as a child and turned into a Spartan solider. He falls between the two camps, which may make him sympathetic to Cortana's strife, even if he ultimately saves humanity in the end (as he should!).
The return of a Halo as a setting will please fans and give the series an obvious marketing tool. The pieces laid out in Halo 4 and 5 also set 6 up nicely to be quite an epic adventure, it's just up to 343 Industries to deliver on the potential.