When a group of Halo: Reach players discovered a Master Chief Easter egg back in 2010, they weren’t happy with just appreciating the statue from afar. All they could think of was: How can I get there? What would it take to stand atop this franchise monument, which resides in the background scenery well beyond the game’s playable area? They wouldn’t get the answer until a decade later, in 2020.
Lone Wolf is the final mission in Halo: Reach, and for “trick jumpers” who bend the game’s physics to launch themselves to and fro, it is a particularly notorious level.
“Since it’s the final mission of the game and the main character, Noble Six, is meant to die … you get no checkpoints, one life, no respawns and limited ammo,” Aaron Sekela of trick jumping group Termacious Trickocity, tells Polygon over email. The group is known for spending years trying to nail wild stunts, such as breaking into a Halo: Reach cutscene.
In this case, without the resources and affordances found on most levels in Halo: Reach, attempting an elaborate stunt to reach something beyond the confines of the map requires more pin-point precision. If you mess up, you have to start over. It also doesn’t help that the last level is, by design, more difficult than others in the game.
“The constant barrage of bullets, needles, and plasma coming from the endless waves of enemies made each setup that much more difficult,” Sekala says. Achieving the stunt would also require multiple players, which means that there would be that many more opportunities to screw things up.
At first, Termacious Trickocity couldn’t swing the challenge. They spent months in 2010 just trying to break out of the level using armor abilities, and while they managed to explore the wider map, it wasn’t enough to get to the statue. And so the Master Chief statue went down as an “impossible” challenge, a white whale for trick jumpers to aspire to.
Throughout the years, trick jumpers kept picking up the mantle, especially as they discovered new techniques to help them manipulate the game. It wasn’t until 2019 — 9 years later — that the group managed to make some incremental progress. At the time, the trick jumpers figured out how to land on The Lone Phantom, a ship that was also outside the bounds of the playable area — and therefore closer to their goal.
But they were still a far ways off. Reaching the ship only got them a third of the way through, though the group still held hope. Getting a little farther helped the cadre discover that the level was forgiving with its fall damage and kill timer, allowing the player to live even if they fell from a great height.
“This was a MASSIVE win for us when attempting the Statue launch,” Sekela recalls.
But as new techniques were developed, it was becoming clear that the jumpers would need to make some fine-tuned calculations to figure out how to pull it all off without checkpoints. Getting to Master Chief was going to require math to figure out exactly where to launch. These calculations required repeated jumping attempts that could take anywhere from 30 minutes to “several hours,” Sekela says.
Image: Bungie/Microsoft Studios via Termacious Trickosity
But on March 25 of this year, Termacious Trickocity finally pulled it off. Watching a successful attempt, you can see why it took so long. Players have to haul boxes with them, catch a ride on ships, gather resources like Armor Lock and grenades, pull items beyond the map, get to specific coordinates, and even die at specific points. Watching them them accomplish this feat in the footage above is awe-inspiring, especially since, at some points, it seems as if the players are floating in the heavens. All of this just to get to an Easter egg that was never meant to be seen up-close by anyone other than the developer, Bungie.
“Ten years is indeed a long time,” Sekela remarks.
But, he says, those milestones are “what kept me going.”
Now that the group has accomplished yet another trick jump that was once deemed impossible, they’re looking down the list of other mythical stunts.
“With the completion of this challenge, that leaves two more major challenges left in Halo: Reach,” Sekela says.
“I’m hopeful we can knock these down too,” he continues. “I only hope it’s just not another 10 years down the road.”
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