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Who Is Halo Infinite's Main Villain? Escharum Explained

After the surprise release of the "Halo: Infinite" multiplayer beta, fans still had to wait until the game's projected December 8 release before they could experience the campaign. Many who have followed the series since the beginning have been eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the Master Chief's story. "Halo" might seem like a pretty straightforward shooter at a glance, but the game is actually a lot more complicated than most people think. The "Halo" timeline is long, spanning decades and integrating a whole galaxy of lore about the Spartans and the various alien enemies they have to fight. There are 14 different games, and while some are better than others, each of them grows the story and fleshes out the universe.


Reports have already been coming out about the amount of time it reportedly takes players to beat "Halo: Infinite." It fluctuates widely based on how much time players spend exploring its semi-open world and completing the various optional tasks that are available, but the campaign ultimately ends the same way. The Master Chief must face off against the story's main villain– War Chief Escharum.

The Covenant and the Banished

There are a lot of different kinds of aliens that the Spartans have to fight in the "Halo" series. The primary antagonistic force in most of the franchise is the Covenant Empire, a coalition of religiously bound sentient aliens who were originally united in their worship of the alien race known as the Forerunners — who created the Halo rings the series is named for. The Covenant was ultimately disbanded after the Battle of the Citadel at the end of "Halo 3," but several splinter factions appeared after the war which still had hostile intentions toward humanity.


One of these factions is a mercenary organization known as the Banished, which is primarily comprised of Jiralhane (AKA Brutes). They were the main antagonists of "Halo Wars 2." In that game, the Banished were led by a particularly enigmatic Jiralhane named Atriox who was rebelling against the Covenant. The Covenant had used his people as fodder in previous campaigns, but came into conflict with the human ship Spirit of Fire when they attempted to take control of a Forerunner arc. Escharum was Atriox's second in command in that game, but it seems that he's received a promotion since then, as he is now leading the Banished forces.

Escharum in Halo: Infinite

Fans got their first peek at Escharum as the villain of "Halo: Infinite" in a trailer for the game that was released last year. In the scene, he mentions something called "The Harbinger" which he claims shares the same goal as the Banished, commenting that they fight together "to honor the will of Atriox," implying that the old leader is dead and Escharum has taken his place in his ambitions to take control of Forerunner technology. This development confused many fans, since Atrius was still alive at the end of "Halo Wars 2." Newer clips of the game show that Escharum continues to use the memory of Atriox in order to inspire his followers with an almost fanatical reverence, making it clear that the change in leadership has not changed goals or ideals of the Banished. He states that "the Banished will never bow to anyone again. Not the Covenant. Not the Prophets. Not her," referencing what may be the Harbinger he spoke of earlier.


So why did 343 Studios choose to make Escharum the lead villain and not Atriox? It may be that the studio didn't want to depend on new fans coming to the game already being familiar with the lore established in "Halo Wars" while simultaneously giving older fans an enemy that calls back to previous titles. Atriox's goals and the Banished are familiar territories, while Escharum offers a new face without the baggage of history that Atriox would have carried.