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Halo Infinite ending explained — what just happened?

halo infinite cover art with master chief on zeta halo
(Image credit: Microsoft/343)

Halo Infinite is a Halo game unlike any other, but it still offers a classic Halo campaign, in a style that fans know and love. No matter how long it takes you to get there, that campaign will come to an end. Unfortunately, the ending to one of the best Xbox Series X games raises more questions than it manages to answer.

That might be a little confusing for some people, especially those of you who aren’t familiar with Halo’s expanded universe of books and comics. So we’re going to step in and explain both what happened in Halo Infinite’s ending, and what that will likely mean going forward.

What happened at the end of Halo Infinite? 

halo infinite screenshot with master chief and brohammer

(Image credit: Microsoft/343)

Halo Infinite’s main quest ends with Master Chief storming the Silent Auditorium, learning Cortana’s final fate and killing The Harbinger. However, before the Harbinger goes down, she locates and begins freeing a mysterious group known as "The Endless."

Chief and The Weapon then find themselves transported to the other side of the ring, and apparently, three days into the future. Echo 219, whose real name is Fernando, retrieves the duo, and the group gets to work on taking control of Zeta Halo away from the rest of The Banished forces. Roll credits.

But wait, there’s more:

Halo Infinite has a post-credits scene 

Halo infinite war chief escherum

(Image credit: Microsoft/343)

The credits aren’t the end of Halo Infinite’s story. After they finish rolling, players see a brand-new cutscene. This scene portrays a mysterious figure, later revealed to be Banished leader Atriox, activating a podium tied to a number of Forerunner Cylixes.

What is a Cylix? We see them throughout the game, and they appear to be a way of containing life. This might be a way to preserve genetic information, which is the Halo Rings’ secondary purpose. However, it could also be a method of imprisonment, as suggested by the open Cylix featuring The Harbinger’s silhouettes inside Camp Tremonius.

So Atriox — who is not as dead as The Banished believed — appears to be freeing these life forms. Unfortunately, we don’t know why he would do this, or why he let the Banished believe he was dead for six months.

The fate of Cortana 

Cortana in halo 5 guardians cutscene

(Image credit: Microsoft/343)

Halo Infinite left Cortana’s fate almost a complete mystery throughout the entire campaign. We knew that she’d been isolated and deleted by The Weapon, but it wasn’t clear how that happened. This is especially true, since Atriox had tossed Master Chief out into space before players ever reached Zeta Halo’s surface.

As it turns out, Atriox was the one who deployed the weapon, in retaliation for Cortana destroying the Brute homeworld of Dosaic. Cortana’s goal was to force Atriox into submission, but her plan backfired spectacularly.

The fate of The Created, Cortana’s coalition of rogue AIs that took over the galaxy at the end of Halo 5, is still a complete mystery. However, it's clear that Cortana was the being with actual control over the Forerunner weaponry that kept the galaxy in submission. In fact, you can even see a crashed Guardian on the surface of Zeta Halo, suggesting that they all deactivated after Cortana’s death.

Cortana did eventually repent at the end of her life, using her final few milliseconds to damage Zeta Halo and prevent The Weapon from being deleted. 

Cortana's actions prevented the Banished from firing Zeta Halo, and delayed The Harbinger in her attempts to locate and free The Endless. Thanks to Cortana's sacrifice, The Weapon is able to take her place as the “new Cortana." Halo Infinite even implies that The Weapon adopted her predecessor’s name.

Who are The Endless? 

Halo Infinite screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The Endless are Halo Infinite's big, unanswered question. Halo Infinite references The Endless countless times throughout its main quest, but they never appear. Even the final cutscene only alludes to them, with Atriox seemingly freeing The Endless from imprisonment in Forerunner Cylixes.

It’s easy to assume that The Harbinger is one of the Endless, since she belongs to a species we’ve never seen before. However, the silhouette on each Endless Cylix is noticeably different, and unlike any known alien race from the Halo franchise.

Our biggest clues about The Endless come after beating the game on Legendary difficulty. The cutscene is the same.  However, it features a voiceover from Zeta Halo’s monitor Despondent Pyre, and a character called The Grand Edict. 

This voiceover dates from 97,368 BCE. That’s after the firing of the Halo Array at the end of the Human/Forerunner war, which supposedly happened around 97,455 BCE. The Grand Edict also confirms that The Endless weren’t destroyed when the Halos fired, and those weapons are able to target and destroy the nervous systems of all living things.

So what the heck are The Endless, if they can survive galaxy-wide devastation? My guess is that they are some form of AI or machine race. Not only would a race of AIs be immune to Halo’s blast; it would explain the bizarre silhouettes on the Endless Cylixes. 

To add further credence to this idea, the Grand Edict mentions that the Forerunners had deployed Offensive Bias against The Endless. Offensive Bias is a Forerunner AI that exists to combat Mendicant Bias, the powerful AI that turned on the Forerunners after the Flood corrupted it. Who better to fight a race of machines than an AI specifically built for that purpose?

Hopefully, we don’t have to wait long to find out. We already know that there’s a multi-year plan for Halo Infinite, which is likely to include DLC. Microsoft also trademarked "Halo: The Endless" within the past few days, further suggesting we won’t be waiting until Halo 7 rolls around to get some resolution to this story. 

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.