halo 3, covenant, units

Drones

Drones

Best considered a kind of airborne infantry, these flying insectile warriors occupy an unusual stratum in the Covenant hierarchy. Drones do not interact with other species except to trade and serve in a military capacity. Their ability to fight on the wing makes them an excellent strategic weapon against ground-based, largely bipedal opponents.

NOTE: This sounds more like an apology for how Drones have been implemented than anything else: they seem to operate entirely outside the troop hierarchy. They aren't affected by morale, don't cooperate with other units in groups. They're basically waves of enemies separate from other kinds of encounters, even when they occur in close proximity. At least they don't have snipers.

Grunts

Grunt Silhouette

The basic infantry unit of the Covenant, Grunts are dangerous in groups but present little threat individually. Tough, physically strong and capable with a wide range of Covenant hardware, they are a significant military force. However, their discipline is hierarchy reliant and based on the security that comes with strict leadership and strength of numbers. Leaderless, they present significantly less resistance.

NOTE: Again, not much new here. Grunts tend to retreat when their Elite commander is offed, but tend to regroup. Like the Jackal, the Grunt here is shown with a plasma pistol, but they've also been known to wield fuel rod guns and needlers.

Jackals

Jackal Silhouette

Excellent shots, the Jackals seem to be higher in Covenant status if not necessarily rank than the Grunts. They often will be found in defensive positions fighting from behind their distinctive energy sheilds. A well-used shield makes a Jackal a difficult target, but the notch they use to return fire provides a weak spot that can be exploited.

NOTE: It's already been mentioned by others that the Jackal silouhette at Halo3.com has a much thicker, more prominent beak than Jackals did in Halo 2, and more closely resembles one variation of Jackal seen in Halo 1. Whether this is indicative of another revision in the Jackal character design, or just an error when choosing assets for the site, is not generally known; at least one mistake was already discovered in the site material, when it described the pistol in Halo 3 as a zoomed M6D rather than the non-scoped M6G.

Additional information revealed from other sources, such as the Joyride site, that mentions Jackals as unique among the Covenant due to their mercenary nature, is not mentioned here.

Hunters

Hunter Silhouette

Hunters are incredibly dangerous foes, deployed more like equipment than soldiers. They are brought in by the Covenant for demolition or heavy defense, and always work in pairs. These massive creatures appear to be composed of multiple organisms that exist within the Hunter armor, creating a hive creature in bipedal form. Near-impenetrable armor and a devestating hand-held plasma weapon make Hunter pairs very problematic.

NOTE: Not much new here about Hunters. Gameplay-wise, these guys underwent a major overhaul between Halo 1 and Halo 2 that removed their extreme vulnerability to fire against the sensitive chinks in their armor. It seems reasonable to assume that graphically Bungie is pretty happy with their design at this point and that there won't be a major facelift-- nothing as radical, say, as the change in Jackals from Halo 1 to Halo 2.

Elites

Elite Silhouette

Formerly the ruling military class of the Covenant, the Elites are proud, storied fighters with a long and interesting history. Their recent split from the Covenant is based on differences in religious interpretation of the "Great Journey" but the schism runs deeper than that. The Elites have allied with their former Human foes in part because of a deep-seated resentment of the Prophet rule and in part because they actually understand the scale of the Flood problem.

NOTE: Within the context of Halo 3, we see the Arbiter come to a realization about the supposed "true nature" of the Great Journey, but he does not openly communicate this to other Elites. 343 Guilty Spark begins to tell the story at the end of the game. Combined with this text, it would appear that the bulk of the Elites now believe that either the Great Journey does not exist, or that it is not what the Prophets have said it is.

That there is a separate and deep-seated resentment of Prophet rule does support one of my own long-held theories, which is that the Prophets intentionally manipulated the Elites into believing they shared the same faith in order to win a respite in hostilities that they could not decisively win by force of arms. In that context, the overthrow of the Elites by others more firmly under the Prophets' control, in this case the Brutes, was not only inevitable but was likely planned from the very start.

The Arbiter

Arbiter Silhouette

This disgraced Covenant Commander was stripped of his rank and privilege and forced to don the ancient Armor of the Arbiter. Following this traditional Elite custom, a warrior is sent on a final suicide mission to claim great honor in death.

In the pursuit of this mission, the Arbiter discovered that the Covenant's Great Journey was a lie, and subsequently began a civil war that has shaken the foundations of the Covenant. The Arbiter's people, the Elites, have joined humanity's sturggle against the rest of the Covenant.

NOTE: No real clues here to whether the Arbiter will be playable or not in Halo 3. His inclusion as a playable character in Halo 2 was controversial, and Halo fans are broken into camps who would either like to see Arby return as a playable, or those who would rather spend as much quality time as possible with the Chief.

This would appear to be confirmation of a human-Elite alliance, only hinted at by the collaboration at the end of Halo 2 between Sgt. Johnson and Commander Keyes on one side and the Arbiter and the SpecOps Commander on the other. This explains the emphasis put on Brutes in Halo 3, as it seems Elites will no longer be among our targets.

Prophets

Prophet Silhouette

The religious and political leaders of the Covenant, Prophets are an elite class of bureaucrats. The theology that they apply to the Covenant species is based on the belief that firing the Halo array will herald, and indeed instigate a "Great Journey" which they appear to believe will result in some kind of sublimation event.

NOTE: The only Prophets that played significant parts in Halo 2 were the three hierarchs. Regret was killed by the Chief, but later reanimated as part of Gravemind. Mercy was infected by the Flood on High Charity and presumed dead or absorbed. Truth escaped, and he is mentioned by name. That Prophets are included in this section may mean that other Prophets, besides Truth, may somehow figure into Halo 3's plot or gameplay.

Prophet of Truth

The deluded, possibly insane leader of the entire Covenant civilization, this pontiff is leading his followers down a suicidal path.

The Prophet of Truth intends to activate the Halo array at any cost, and is happy to sacrifice his culture to do so. The Prophet fully believes that he can follow the Forerunners to their mysterious final destination and share their ancient and unlimited power. The Prophet also knows that the secret to this power may lie in the ancient sands of Earth.

NOTE: This text is interesting as it would appear to eliminate almost completely a fiercely debated topic; namely, whether Truth understands the true nature of the Halo installations or not. However, it is somewhat self-contradictory. Describing him as "deluded" seems to indicate he is not fully aware of all the consequences of Halo activation. That he is willing to do so at "any cost" would indicate that possibly he does, or perhaps that even knowing would not change his mind.

All in all, if Truth is merely insane it is a much less interesting outcome, and if the resolution of the conflict requires killing him, it will likely be much less satisfying. However, it is also possible that this text merely represents UNSC supposition, which is likely incomplete information.

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