Is 'Halo' season 2 actually ... good? It's got 94% on Rotten Tomatoes

Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief in Halo
(Image credit: Paramount)

When it comes to video game adaptations, we've seen some particularly great ones over the past couple of years — "The Last of Us" and "Castlevania" come to mind. But Paramount's "Halo", which brings the saga of Master Chief and the alien Covenant to the small screen, only loosely adapts what we've seen in the video games for a brand new "Silver Timeline." Which is why the first season got a chilly reception from viewers and critics alike. 

Put simply, it wasn't very good — at least, to most viewers, including die-hard fans, who could really only muster a "meh" about the live-action series. The first season, which spanned nine episodes, debuted last March to a lukewarm 70% on Rotten Tomatoes from from 71 reviewers. Audiences were even less forgiving, awarding it a less-than-stellar 52% score based on over 2,500 ratings. 

But it seems the tides are turning toward a more favorable second season, with the new serving of "Halo" scoring a surprising 94% Rotten Tomatoes score this time from 16 critics thus far, only two episodes in. Has the series turned around? Is it engrossing viewers and keeping a tight storyline that delights both fans of the series and newcomers now? 

Here's what you need to know before you set off on an intergalactic adventure and grapple with the Covenant in "Halo". 

What is 'Halo' season 2 about?

Set in the 26th century, "Halo" follows a genetically-engineered supersoldier codenamed "Spartan-117", or Master Chief (Pablo Schreiber) as he and the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) work to end the conflict between humanity and the Covenant, an alliance of three alien races seeking a special artifact that will ultimately give them access to a powerful, sacred ring — the titular Halo. 

Picking up from the "Halo" season 1 finale, this outing finds Master Chief continuing his beleaguered battle with the Covenant after suffering a nearly fatal blow that caused AI construct Cortana (Christina Bennington) to fuse with him and save his life. However, he's got more to face than just the Covenant ahead of him: the storied Fall of Reach, one of the most important events in the "Halo" continuity. 

Reach, in this series and other "Halo" storylines, is the most important USNC stronghold. If it happens to fall (and it certainly does in other "Halo" media), then that means the Covenant are essentially free to take on their mission and encroach on humanity. The Battle of Reach results in some pretty intense complications, and as such makes for an interesting setup for another round of episodes. 

What the critics are saying 

Critics from a variety of outlets have shared their thoughts on "Halo" season 2 so far, and the response has been mostly positive. By all accounts, it seems the new set of episodes is a hit. 

IGN's Hayden Mears clarified that the show is still "too stuffy" and "severe" to be called fun, but noted that "the action, paranoia, and performances elevate this sophomore effort in genuinely thrilling ways." 

On the other end of the spectrum as the lone dissenter thus far, Slashfilm's Jeremy Mathai offered that the "Halo" streaming version of Master Chief "should get a mercy killing". 

The Verge's Ash Parrish found that the showrunners "finally understand" that they don't need to remain too closely mired to "Halo" to "tell a good 'Halo' story" – though it's "worthwhile" to have some game knowledge. 

Total Film's Bradley Russell proclaimed: "For those who are giving 'Halo' a second chance, there’s a lot to like here."

Those who have watched the first few episodes of the show seem to agree that Paramount is definitely doing something right this time around. 

Has 'Halo' been renewed for season 3?

Nick Zano leaps in Obliterated

(Image credit: Netflix)

The second season of "Halo" only just kicked off on Feb. 8. A third season is very likely to happen, however. Paramount has invested a lot of money in this series, and it'll likely be going in a much different direction than its game, novel, and comic counterparts. The second season ended up being renewed ahead of the first season's premiere based on the overwhelming fan response to the fact that there even was a "Halo" series on its way.

That hasn't happened here, however, and Paramount is likely waiting to see what the response is like before moving forward with another season order. There has been no official word on what to expect next, so right now fans will have to wait and see if they're going to get additional episodes of the sci-fi series. 

Should there be a "Halo" season 3, the renewal will likely come after the end of season 2. The best thing to do for fans is to watch the episodes and prove that there's a demand — and wait to see if one ends up materializing. 

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Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.