Halo – Top 10 Covenant Vehicles

From the iconic Ghost to the elusive Shadow, we rank the Top 10 Covenant Vehicles in Halo here at Sacred Icon

The Covenant have a lot of vehicles, and each and every one is unique in its own way, which is one of the things that makes Halo so fun to play. Since Halo: Combat Evolved players have been thrilled at the prospect of stealing an alien hovercraft, and inevitably driving it off a cliff. After all, driving a tank is all well and good, but driving an alien tank is better. As such, welcome to the Top 10 Covenant Vehicles in Halo, starting with:

#10 – Shadow

A Covenant transport vehicle that only features in one level of Halo 2, the Shadow is the ‘Bus’ of the Covenant, used to transport squads of soldiers around. The Shadows that players face in the Halo 2 level Metropolis are adapted for transporting Ghosts, and opportunistic players will destroy the Shadow’s cargo before it can be used. However, Shadows do feature a massive heavy plasma cannon for defence, so the task is not easy. The Shadow very nearly didn’t appear on this list, primarily due to the fact that it isn’t actually driveable by players, however the plasma cannon can be manned if the vehicle’s crew is killed, and those who do so will find that it can fire at a comically fast rate when operated by a human, making it quite a destructive tool if the chance to use it ever arises.

#9 – Chopper

A Brute scout and rapid attack vehicle that is as menacing as it is unsafe, the Chopper was born from a desire of the developers to give the Brutes more of an identity as a race, and as this is their primary vehicle, it embodies everything that the Brutes are known for. The massive front wheel that doubles as a ram is unwieldy and offers no protection to the driver but is a devastating weapon, capable of destroying a Warthog. The Chopper is a fun vehicle to drive, but it is monstrous in its appearance and would probably be the most uncomfortable vehicle to use for transport on this entire list.

#8 – Spirit

The original Covenant dropship featured in Halo: Combat Evolved, the Spirit is immediately recognisable for its tuning-fork shaped design, and was the Covenant’s mainline dropship before the Phantom became prominent. It is undoubtedly fast, able to clear entire valleys in seconds, but its unwieldy design makes it a less than ideal form of transport. Since the player cannot drive this vehicle, we never get the chance to see how this ship performs, but Captain Keyes is able to use deftly fly this ship and even use the prongs as battering rams to squash a pair of Hunters, which gives us enough of an idea of the capabilities of this vessel. However, with with only one plasma turret for defence, the Spirit doesn’t stand a chance of beating the Phantom.

#7 – Wraith

The Covenant’s main tank, the Wraith comes in several variants, the most common being the standard plasma mortar version. This weapon might seem an odd choice for a main battle tank, as the Human equivalent, the Scorpion, is arguably more effective with its direct and to-the-point 90mm cannon. But the Wraith’s weapon is not to be underestimated, as many inattentive players who fail to heed its characteristic hollow wail will be taken by surprise as fiery blue death rains down from the sky. Driving this vehicle is fun too, although the tank is very slow. Some variants come with a secondary gunner position to fend off boarders, and the infamous Anti-Air Wraith is a completely different variety altogether, featuring double Fuel Rod Cannons. Through a glitch players can drive this Wraith in the campaign of Halo 3 several times, and it proves incredibly effective.

#6 – Spectre

The Covenant’s answer to the Warthog, the Spectre is a fast and nimble vehicle designed for rapid attack and scouting. Its design means that it can hold a driver, a main gunner and two passengers, one more than the Warthog can, meaning that if both riders are equipped with heavy weapons, the Spectre can pack quite a punch. Its E-brake and excellent hover systems mean that it is even capable of driving up walls, provided the angle isn’t too steep, which is a fun and unique feature. The only thing that really lets the Spectre down is its light armour, and the fact that it only ever appeared in one game.

Honourable Mention – Prowler

It is also worth mentioning the Prowler, the Brute answer to the Spectre that appears in Halo 3. This vehicle, like the Chopper, is designed to embody Brute design philosophy, so all the emphasis is on the front ram for maximum damage. Unlike the Spectre, the Prowler’s turret is at the front, meaning it does offer some protection for the driver from forward-facing attacks. However, the Prowler’s driver is dangerously exposed from all other angles, meaning the vehicle can be stranded with a well-placed sniper shot, leaving the exposed gunner as the next logical target.

#5 – Ghost

One of the Covenant’s most iconic vehicles, the Ghost is a common sight in Halo games, usually driven by an Elite but occasionally by Brutes, Grunts and the occasional opportunistic Marine. Fast and highly manoeuvrable, the Ghost is the perfect one-man scouting vehicle, and its broad front armour shields the driver from forward facing attacks. However, it is vulnerable to attacks from the side, and some models can be critically damaged by a single shot to the exposed turbine on the side. Regardless, the Ghost is a fun vehicle to drive that handles very well and features powerful armaments in its two front plasma cannons.

#4 – Banshee

Any veteran Halo player would recognise the tell-tale wail of the Banshee as it arcs down for an attack run, as this light air vehicle is the Covenant’s primary airborne attack craft and often escorts dropships or guards large Covenant targets from the air. Later Halo games feature vast aerial dogfights against Banshees, and Halo: Reach even introduced a space variant, meaning that wherever the Covenant is airborne, Banshees are likely involved. There have been many variants of the Banshee over the years, with some focusing on speed and manoeuvrability and some featuring heavy fuel rod bombs.

#3 – Revenant

This fast attack vehicle is the ultimate Covenant cruising machine. Essentially a Covenant sports car, the Revenant combines the speed and agility of the Ghost with the punch of a tank, featuring a ‘mini-Wraith’ medium plasma mortar that lacks the raw power of the Wraith’s heavier version but is more than capable of mopping up other light vehicles. The Revenant features room for a single passenger, half that of the Spectre, but the Revenant is arguably better armoured and gives the driver control of the main weapon.

#2 – Phantom

The Covenant’s primary dropship, the Phantom is an ideal flight machine that features multiple armaments of either plasma turrets or plasma cannons, is capable of flying in space, transports entire squads of soldiers into battle, and can either deploy its troops via gravity lift or, to save time, open the passenger compartment up and drop the troops directly onto the battlefield. The Phantom’s only weakness is the engine turbines, which can buckle under concentrated heavy weapons fire and in some games the dropships can be destroyed due to a chain reaction if enough damage is done to the propulsion systems. Sangheili Phantoms are even fitted with active camouflage, meaning they can go completely invisible at a moment’s notice.

#1 – Scarab

The ultimate ground assault vehicle, the Scarab is a behemoth four-legged walker that comes in several varieties, each more deadly than the last. The most common design is the one seen in Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, which sports a huge rear-mounted anti-air gun and a main beam cannon capable of ripping through vehicles. This model can be destroyed, however, if enough damage is done to the leg joints and the vehicle is boarded, as enough firepower directed at the power core will cause an overload. However, the version seen in Halo 2 towers above its weaker counterpart, is completely indestructible and sports two heavy plasma cannons and a main beam emitter capable of tearing through buildings. Not only that, but it features a more enclosed main control room and space for transporting dozens of soldiers, making it the perfect vehicle for almost any terrain.

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Halo – Top 10 Covenant Ship Classes

One of the most instantly recognisable aspects of Halo besides Master Chief and the Halos themselves is the Covenant. The bright and ornate weapons, the multicoloured armour of the alien soldiers and particularly the sleek curved metallic purple aesthetic of the ships and technology that define the Covenant have become closely tied to Halo’s identity. Covenant ships, in particular, have become iconic staples of the franchise, as both terrifying adversaries and, in recent games, powerful occasional allies. Welcome to the Top Ten Covenant Ship Classes, starting with:

#10 – CRS-class Light Cruiser

A small and compact version of the familiar Covenant cruiser design, the CRS-class light cruiser is a tiny cousin of the CCS-class battlecruiser, the mainline Covenant warship during the war against mankind. Despite this, humans didn’t see much of the CRS-class during the war, as it was primarily used for patrol and support duties within the borders of Covenant space. It was only following the Great Schism and the fall of the Covenant, when opportunistic Sangheili and Jiralhanae warlords began pillaging former Covenant space for assets, that the CRS-class began to see widespread use as a mainline warship. Jul ‘Mdama’s Covenant Remnant faction in particular made use of this kind of ship in its fleet, meaning it was primarily seen during the events of Halo 4.

#9 – Sangheili Man O’ War

This tiny post-Covenant warship was used extensively by Covenant Remnant factions following the fall of the Covenant as the design dates back centuries. Due to a shortage of mainline Covenant ships after years of infighting, various Sangheili factions began to manufacture their own ships from traditional designs updated with modern technology. The result is a compact light warship that makes full use of Sangheili mastery of warship design coupled with the power of the reverse-engineered Forerunner technology of the Covenant, and at present the full capabilities of this warship have not been fully explored. The Arbiter used a fleet of them as escort ships during the Battle of Sunaion on Sanghelios, suggesting that they run rings around traditional Covenant warships due to their nimble mobility.

#8 – SDV-class Heavy Corvette

A small ship used primarily for escort duties, the most famous SDV-class heavy corvette to Halo players is the Ardent Prayer, the ship that Jorge-052 and Noble Six hijack and use to destroy the Supercarrier Long Night of Solace during Halo: Reach. During that mission we get a detailed look at the inside of an SDV-class with key areas like the main hangar, the bridge and the communications room being explored in-depth by Noble Six. The SDV-class also proves that it is more than capable of taking on and destroying a Human Frigate, as the UNSC Savannah meets an unfortunate end during ship-to-ship combat with the Ardent Prayer after a fierce fight. SDV-class Corvettes saw more use as a mainline warship after the war, as Covenant Remnant factions began to grow desperate and push escort craft into a more mainline role following the Great Schism.

#7 – CPV-class Heavy Destroyer

This distinctive Covenant vessel was a medium-sized destroyer used for ship-to-ship combat and the arduous planet-glassing process that often following Covenant military victories. As such, they became a common target for UNSC firepower and thousands of these ships met their end during the war, though their heavy armour and deadly weapons meant that many went down with several kills to their name. Though they are not seen as commonly during the main Halo games, as infantry tended to see more of the carrier class ships like the CAS that were focused on troop deployment, the CPV-class Heavy Destroyer would have been a common sight for UNSC Navy personnel in space battles, and they were almost as feared as the CCS-class battlecruiser.

#6 – Sangheili Brigantine

An ancient, massive class of carrier used by the Sangheili during their early pre-Covenant years, the Brigantine design was re-purposed following the fall of the Covenant to serve as a replacement for the increasingly rare CAS-class Carrier. Ironically, the Bringantine is actually larger and more powerful than its Covenant-era predecessor, and as the Elites have built the new ships to modern specifications, including Covenant technology, the Brigantine is a powerful ship to contend with. Luckily for humanity, it would seem that most of these ships currently belong to the Swords of Sanghelios under the command of the Arbiter, although Cortana’s Created may be manufacturing more of these ships for their new Covenant Remnant allies.

#5 – Sangheili Carrack

This large capital ship was once a mainline of pre-Covenant Sangheili fleets, but fell out of use as a warship following the War of Beginnings and would later serve as merchant ships. In modern times, the Carrack design has been reclaimed by ex-Covenant warlords for their fleets, so it is seeing widespread use for the first time in centuries, albeit a version upgraded with modern technology. Unlike modern Covenant ships, older Sangheili ships tended to be single-purpose, but the Carrack is an example of a multi-purpose ship that serves as both a carrier and a cruiser. This is likely the main design of post-Covenant warship that players will encounter in Halo: Infinite, although depending on how much time has passed since the events of Halo 5, things may have changed.

#4 – Sangheili Blockade Runner

Of all the ancient Sangheili ship design that have been resurrected by post-Covenant Sangheili factions, the Blockade Runner is perhaps the one that most closely resembles the later Covenant-era warships, suggesting that this is the ship that would go on to most heavily inspire the shipwrights of the Covenant. The model of Sangheili Blockade Runner seen in the games is the Hekar Taa-pattern design, a versatile corvette with powerful armaments that is known for its fast and aerodynamic design. The Swords of Sanghelios made extensive use of this design of ship around the time of Halo 5: Guardians.

#3 – CSO-class Supercarrier

A behemoth of a Covenant carrier, the CSO-class is perhaps most famous for its role in the Fall of Reach, as the supercarrier Long Night of Solace was only destroyed at the cost of Jorge, several Sabres and a UNSC Frigate, and dozens more appeared through Slipspace immediately following this, signalling imminent doom for the forces on the planet below. Visually, this class of supercarrier resembles an up-scaled version of the more commonly seen CAS-class carriers, although it dwarfs the vast majority of other Covenant ships as this gigantic capital ship is capable of transporting entire occupation forces single-handed, meaning a fleet of them is more than capable of taking on an entire solar system of enemy defences. The only downside to the CSO-class is, perhaps, its unwieldiness – and the fact that it presents such a massive target means that it is vulnerable to sneak attacks like the one Noble team executed against the Long Night of Solace.

#2 – CAS-class Carrier

The most common type of carrier seen during the Human-Covenant war, the CAS-class carrier struck fear into the hearts of any Human for decades, as the sight of these ships in the sky usually signalled imminent death. The bulk of Covenant infantry were transported via CAS-class carriers, so they often presented a valuable target for the UNSC. Perhaps the most famous ship of this class is the Shadow of Intent, a carrier that was stolen from the Brutes by none other than Shipmaster Rtas ‘Vadum and used as his flagship for the waning days of the Human-Covenant war, transporting Human forces to the Ark and evacuating all Human and Elite forces once the battle was over. After the war, the CAS=class carrier was a sought-after asset, as so many had been destroyed during the Great Schism that they were now exceedingly rare.

#1 – CCS-class Battlecruiser

The mainline Covenant warship for much of its existence, the CCS-class battlecruiser was a formidable warship capable of taking on almost any UNSC ship single-handed and prevailing. These ships were designed to be multipurpose vessels for both space combat and planetary occupation, so they were fast, heavily armed and able to transport hundreds of ground troops. Though many were used during the Human-Covenant war to devastate Human fleets, they were a rare sight after the Covenant’s fall. During the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, two missions are primarily set in the belly of the CCS-class cruiser Truth and Reconciliation, presenting a unique opportunity to explore the interior of this iconic Covenant vessel. Overall, though it may not be as massive as the CSO-class or as sought-after as a CAS-class, the CCS-class battlecruiser is undoubtedly the go-to Covenant warship for its speed, versatility and powerful weapons. Sadly, it is likely that no more of these ships will be seen in future Halo games, as the Great Schism saw many destroyed. However, this ship will always be what fans immediately think of when people think of ‘Covenant Warships’.

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Transformers – Optimus Prime’s Top 5 Most Brutal Kills in the Movies

As leader of the Autobots, a faction that defines itself with the mantra that ‘freedom is the right of all sentient beings’, one would assume that Optimus Prime would have to be a particularly righteous in both his moral philosophy and his character. This is certainly true across all the incarnations of the iconic Autobot leader throughout the Transformers multiverse, even in universes in which Optimus is not the leader of the Autobots, such as in Transformers: Animated. The character is defined by his code of ethics and strict adherence to the moral philosophy that freedom is of paramount importance and that all living things should be protected. This also goes for the version of Optimus Prime seen in the Michael Bay movies, as even in a franchise that doesn’t always get it right when it comes to character development, the fundamentals of the character of Optimus Prime are there. However, this version of the character also has a tendency to get violent – really violent. So despite believing that freedom is the right of all sentient beings, he is perfectly happy to rip the head off a lumbering Decepticon or tear the spine out of a weaker foe if the need arises. So, in honour of this Optimus Prime’s apparent double-standards when it comes to preaching to his Autobots compared to slaughtering Decepticons, here are the Top 5 of Optimus Prime’s Most Brutal Kills. Bear in mind that the criteria for this list isn’t just how brutal the kill itself is – whether the brutality is justified will also play a part. So, to begin:

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#5 – Bonecrusher

The first entry on the list also happens to be the Autobot leader’s first on-screen kill in the movie franchise – the legendary decapitation of Bonecrusher following the highway brawl near the end of the first film. Bonecrusher transforms and uses his rollerskating wheel feet to rampage down the road, destroying cars and even a bus along the way. Clearly angered by the senseless loss of life, Optimus also transforms and, following a wrestling match spanning multiple levels of elevated highway and a punch in the face from Optimus that pops one of his eyes out of its socket, Bonecrusher is finally put down by Optimus’ blade. In an epic finishing move that let fans know immediately that this incarnation of Prime meant business, he stabs his blade into Bonecrusher’s neck, severing his spine, and then rips the Decepticon’s head clean off, tossing it to the floor. Though it is certainly a brutal kill, Bonecrusher’s death ranks fairly low on this list, as many will agree that the beserking Decepticon deserved it – the loss of life from his highway rampage makes up for almost half of the film’s human death count.

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#4 – Demolisher

Whilst Optimus was seemingly justified in killing Bonecrusher, some of the Autobot leader’s cinematic executions are more controversial. A good example of this is the death of Demolisher during the opening sequence of Revenge of the Fallen. Although the context is vague because we know so little about the history of the character, it appeared to many fans that Demolisher was essentially a Decepticon minding his own business – hiding in his alt-form in Shanghai, watching over smaller Decepticon Sideways and generally doing nothing in particular. That is, until the Autobots and their N.E.S.T. allies came along, drew him out of his hiding place, and then executed him and his weaker Audi-R8 charge. What makes this kill particularly insensitive is the fact that, after jumping on his head and causing serious damage to his wheels, Optimus essentially executes a critically injured and helpless opponent, in a similar manner to how Ratchet meets his fate at Lockdown’s hands in the opening of Age of Extinction. However, it has to be said that Demolisher was clearly as bloodthirsty as any Decepticon, since he went out of his way to cause as much destruction as possible during his attempted escape, even flinging helpless cars hundreds of feet into the air seemingly for the fun of it. Prime gets away with this one, but it does raise some interesting questions.

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#3 – Megatron

It might seem odd to include Megatron on this list, as many would assume that killing the Decepticon leader would be justified regardless of how brutal that actual execution itself happened to be. The conclusion to Dark of the Moon presents a very dubious moral decision on Optimus’ part, however, as after the destruction of Cybertron, Megatron offers a truce to the Autobot leader in exchange for deposing Sentinel and taking his rightful place as leader of the Decepticons, all after intervening in the nick of time to save Optimus’ life by attacking Sentinel Prime at the opportune moment. Optimus’ response to this heroic act and the proposed truce? Well, as any level-headed and forward-thinking leader would, Optimus takes the opportunity to bury his axe in Megatron’s face and tear out the Decepticon leader’s spine. This act genuinely took many fans by surprise, as one would think that after three films of constant warfare, Optimus would be sick of the senseless slaughter by now. But no, he seems to take great pleasure in brutally murdering his former brother, and he then goes on to make scrapmetal out of a defenceless Sentinel for good measure. Speaking of which…

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#2 – Sentinel Prime

After ripping off Optimus’ arm and attempting to murder him, some might say that Optimus’ execution of Sentinel at the conclusion of Dark of the Moon was justified. But considering Sentinel and Optimus’ long history, particularly in light of Sentinel’s genuine plea to Optimus before the end that the only reason why he betrayed the Autobot leader was to ensure the survival of their species, it would probably have made more sense for Optimus to spare Sentinel’s life, particularly considering what came next. If Sentinel were alive, he could have stood trial for his crimes against humanity and perhaps even taken the majority of the blame for the devastation of Chicago, rather than the general public simply turning their anger on all Transformers, especially given the fact that Optimus had ripped the spines out of every Decepticon commander who could have taken the fall instead. What is also particularly brutal about Sentinel’s death is the manner in which it is done – Sentinel’s pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears as Optimus brutally executes him using Megatron’s weapon, and despite firing at Sentinel’s exposed braincase with a fusion shotgun at point-blank range, Optimus fires a second time, just for good measure. Well, at least Ironhide was at last avenged.

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Honourable Mention – The Fallen

Whilst the Fallen can basically be blamed for the events of the entire Autobot-Decepticon war, and therefore all the deaths that have ever taken place in the Transformers series (even after his demise), the Fallen’s death at the end of Revenge of the Fallen is included here as an honourable mention simply because of how truly brutal this kill is. After making mincemeat of Megatron and relieving the Fallen of his staff, Optimus stabs him in the neck and, uttering the infamous quote “Give Me Your Face”, Prime quite literally rips off his face for no apparent reason other than that it looks cool. The horrified Fallen makes a desperate attempt to flee, but this proves to be a short-lived endeavour, as Optimus takes the opportunity to punch through the Fallen’s back, rip out his spark core, and crush it before his very eyes. A justified kill perhaps, but certainly a gruesome way to die regardless.

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#1 – Grindor

Taking the top spot is another of Optimus’ kills from Revenge of the Fallen – Grindor. This Blackout-lookalike is the unfortunate third Decepticon in the iconic three-versus-one battle in the forest, and he is grossly outmatched compared to Prime, even with Megatron and Starscream around. Grindor tries his best in the battle – he comes when Megatron calls, and plays his part in the coordinated attack on Optimus to draw out Sam, but he never really stood a chance. When Optimus goes ballistic on the trio, drawing out both blades, proclaiming his intention to ‘take them all on’ and apparently set on murdering them all, Grindor loses an arm before having a significant portion of his chest cut out, which understandably takes him out of the battle for a while to recover – and mere moments after extracting a stray energon blade from his leg, poor Grindor is taken by surprise as Optimus leaps onto the giant Decepticon’s back, stabbing him in the eye with a hook blade in the process, before stabbing his neck with the other hook blade and tearing the guy’s face apart. Judging by the blood-curdling metallic scream that Grindor lets out as this is happening, the process was far from painless.

So, having ranked Optimus’ most brutal kills in the Movies, have your views on the supposedly noble Autobot Commander changed? Do you think Prime’s actions were justified, or do you think Michael Bay’s obsession with hyper-violence is at total odds with the character? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, as well as your favourite kill from the Transformers movie series, and remember to leave a like if you want to see more Transformers content.

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Doctor Who – Top 5 Monsters That Should Make a Return in Series 12

Chris Chibnall definitely delivered on his promise of featuring no returning monsters in Series 11, which was perhaps not the wisest choice for the debut series of a new Doctor and new showrunner. Usually, when a new Doctor is introduced, their first series will retain many recurring elements from the show’s history, to reassure viewers that it is indeed the same show. This is usually done by having the new Doctor face off against classic villains such as the Daleks, and is part of the reason why fans will always yearn for the show’s recurring villains to make continuous comebacks – as the show evolves, the essential aspects of the show’s identity must evolve with it, and there is no reason why new showrunners can’t introduce their own recurring villains, such as the Ood, the Weeping Angels or the Stenza.

Having said that, Series 11 featured a distinct lack of classic villains, and although Resolution turned out to be quite a good Dalek story, it ‘s status as a New Years Special means that it was not included as part of the eleventh series. This makes Jodie Whittaker’s debut series seem quite odd and out of place compared to previous Doctor debut series – and as a result of the lack of truly great villains in the series to stand in for the lack of classic monsters, the Thirteenth Doctor’s character came across as somewhat flimsy and vague compared to recent Doctors like Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. Perhaps in response to feedback from fans, Chibnall seems to have lifted his ‘ban’ on including classic monsters in the series, as he has stated in several interviews recently that he intends to do more with the show’s iconic monsters – after all, there is no better way to define yourself as a showrunner than to present fans with your spin on the show diverse array of key elements – the Doctor themselves, the TARDIS, the Sonic Screwdriver, but also the classic monsters. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 5 Monsters That Should Make a Return in Series 11.

macra

#5 – The Macra

Though they may seem a strange choice for a returning monster, the Macra are actually quite a topical choice given the recent release of the animated version of The Macra Terror. This fantastic recreation of a lost classic using the original audio manages to capture the essence of the Second Doctor’s era and finally does the concept of the Macra justice, as their previous appearances in the original version of the episode and then in 2007’s Gridlock never managed to truly present the idea to its truest potential due to the sheer lack of budget. One of the things that Series 11 showed fans is that Doctor Who now has CGI to rival that of other modern sci-fi shows, and so now with Series 12 the writers might finally have a chance to write a new Macra story with the CGI budget to justify it.

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#4 – The Master

Audio producers Big Finish have been doing some very ambitious projects involving the Master recently – the first canon multi-Master story, The Two Masters, starring Geoffrey Beevers and Alex MacQueen, the War Master box sets starring Derek Jacobi, the introduction of the Master’s first incarnation played by James Dreyfus in the The First Doctor Adventures box sets, and more recently the return of Eric Roberts’ Movie incarnation and Michelle Gomez’ Missy, the latter getting her own audio series. With so many incarnations of the Master ‘active’ in fan’s minds at the moment, and with the Master also being a time-traveller like the Doctor, there is no reason why Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor couldn’t come up against one, or even several existing incarnations of the Master. Particularly good choices for Masters to go up against Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor on-screen include Geoffrey Beevers, who could be featured in heavy makeup or even as the voice of a CGI version of the rotting corpse Master, and Alex MacQueen, who has never had a TV appearance before but would be a fantastic choice to portray the charismatic yet sadistic killer to contrast Whittaker’s good natured Doctor.

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#3 – The Cybermen

Having been primarily responsible for the death of her previous incarnation, it would make sense that the Thirteenth Doctor would have a bone to pick with the Cybermen. Not only that, but her diverse cast of companions perhaps best portrays the Doctor’s love of individuality and diversity – something that the Cybermen seek to destroy. Given that so far we have only been given one insight into Chris Chibnall’s take on the Cybermen, and that was Torchwood’s Cyberwoman, it would be nice to see Chibnall’s take on the standard Cybermen in the main show. Whilst Cyberwoman did have some really creepy and unique concepts dealing with Cyber-conversion in it, the unfortunate error with the costume design trying to emphasise the show’s adult nature derailed the episode. Now that he runs Doctor Who, however, Chibnall now has a chance to portray a fresh new take on the iconic metal men.

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#2 – The Sontarans

Having been practically transformed into a comedic joke during Steven Moffat’s era through Strax, the Sontarans stand in a sort of limbo-state at the moment, as all of their appearances – even ones that were not down to Strax – have been for comedic effect since Series 7, and at the moment it remains unlikely that they will ever make a return that can scare or intimidate viewers anymore. Interestingly, there were rumours during the run-up to the release of Series 11 that it would feature an episode that delved into the origin story of the Sontarans, how a ‘clone race’ was actually created, and how their warrior ethos came to be. Although it turned it to be false, the story idea remains a good one – and certainly one that Chris Chibnall could harness given the popularity of the concept.

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Honourable Mention – The Dalek Fleet

Included here as an honourable mention are the Daleks, or rather their Fleet, who should not make an appearance in Series 12 per-say, except maybe have them hinted at as a recurring arc for foreshadowing, as it and, of course, the pepperpots themselves should definitely reappear in the next New Years Special. The Recon Dalek in Resolution was prevented from sending a full transmission to the Dalek Fleet, but given that it was using every single transmitter on Earth at once, it is more than likely that something got through to them, and having Daleks on New Year is definitely something that many fans would happily adopt as an annual tradition.

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#1 –  The Stenza

To give credit where it was certainly due, the Stenza were an interesting race introduced by Chris Chibnall, and as the only recurring enemy in the series, they are effectively Chibnall’s ‘poster’ villain at the moment. All the more reason for them to make a reappearance in Series 12, particularly considering the fact that we only saw an individual member of the race in the series and not, say, their homeworld. An episode called ‘Planet of the Stenza’ would certainly be an interesting concept, particularly as each warrior would have a unique appearance given the fact that each one hunts on a different planet – and so each one would have wholly unique teeth implanted into its face, presumably. How Chibnall manages the Stenza, his flagship race at present, will give us some excellent insight into how he will fare as showrunner in the future. Also, having the Thirteenth Doctor once again come face-to-face with the responsibilities of her prior actions at the hands of the Stenza might become a recurring opportunity to see some development in her character in Series 12, something that the show definitely needs at the moment. So, to sum up, the Stenza might not be the most accepted or appreciated aspect of Doctor Who at the moment, but they certainly have potential – so in a way, they are representative of Chibnall’s Who as a whole, which is all the more reason for them to make a return in Series 12.

UPDATE – Judoon in Series 12

As of May 2019, it has been confirmed that at least one returning villain will appear in Series 12 – the Judoon. Although they originally didn’t appear on this list, the Judoon are an interesting race that have been explored somewhat in spinoffs like The Sarah Jane Adventures and several Big Finish audios, and their ruthless and single-minded nature will certainly contrast with the Thirteenth Doctor’s personality. The on-set photos from Gloucester show some interesting tidbits about the Judoon, such as their new two-handed rifles and the interesting haircut of their commander.

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Transformers – Top 5 Movie Autobots that Disappeared

When watching Michael Bay’s Transformers films from start to finish, one might start to wonder – was there really any reason, other than merchandising, for the films to have supporting Autobot characters in them at all? As previously discussed in How to Fix Michael Bay’s Transformers Films – Part One: More Than Meets the CGI, the films don’t exactly care about any of their Autobot characters, except for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, and despite the wealth of characters that exist through multiple different incarnations of the franchise, the Michael Bay films never managed to present anything more than a cardboard-cutout Autobot cast. The filmmakers cared so little for the ragtag gang of ‘lesser’ Autobots that, throughout the five films in the Michael Bay Transformers chronology, there are many Autobots that simply disappear between films, never to be seen or heard from again. So, in honour of those Autobots that are MIA, let’s roll out the Top 5 Movie Autobots that Disappeared.

#5 – Jolt

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Jolt is arguably the least-known Autobot of the movie franchise, as he was a last-minute addition to Revenge of the Fallen and so gets very little screen-time. His most notable scene is when he uses his electric powers to fuse Jetfire’s warm corpse to Optimus Prime’s back so he can use the rusty afterburners to defeat the Fallen, but after this, he is never seen again. At the time Chevrolet were really pushing his alt-mode, the Chevloret Volt, so it is possible that his sudden last-minute inclusion into the script is something to do with them – after all, in what little screen time Jolt gets, he is often in vehicle mode. Unlike other one-shot Revenge of the Fallen Autobots like the Arcee sisters, Jolt is never seen being injured or killed in the film. The Transformers movie comics would do Jolt the justice of giving him a heroic death at the hands of Shockwave at some point before Dark of the Moon, but since this was not included as part of the movie itself, Jolt is still considered MIA as far as most of those that care are aware.

#4 – Skids and Mudflap

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen Skids and Mudflap

It would be hard not to mention the infamous twins having just referred to their debut film, particularly as they are a notable case when it comes to missing Autobots. Eagle-eyed fans have noticed that Skids and Mudflap do actually appear in the third Transformers film, albeit in a brief scene in which all the Autobots drive into their home base in their vehicle modes, but aside from that they are totally absent from Dark of the Moon with no explanation. Apparently the twins were set to appear in the film until as late in the film’s production as early shooting, they had received concept art and even toy models for an updated appearance for Dark of the Moon, but were clearly cut at the last minute. Once again, the vigilant folk that write and draw the Transformers movie comics included a death scene for them at the hands of Sentinel Prime in the third film adaptation, and quite a heroic one too. As for why they were cut from the movie in the first place, it might have something to do with their overwhelmingly negative reception as racist stereotypes in Revenge of the Fallen, but that lesson clearly didn’t sink in completely with Bay as racist cartoonish stereotypes would go on to become a staple of the franchise from the second film onwards.

#3 – Roadbuster

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One of the Wreckers introduced in Dark of the Moon, Roadbuster was the loudmouth Scottish Autobot who, along with his teammates Leadfoot and Topspin, crewed the Autobot’s only spacecraft, the Xantium. Following the strange time-jump between the third and fourth films that saw a radical shift in tone (and cast), many Autobots went missing and are presumed to be killed at the hands of the vicious Cemetary Wind – with emphasis on the word ‘presumed’. We see evidence that Humans were responsible for the death of Leadfoot via camera footage in Age of Extinction, and Topspin is seen to be alive in The Last Knight – but poor Roadbuster is never seen again. Some fans have pointed out that several of the KSI drones seen in the fourth film bear a resemblance to Roadbuster, implying that he may have been among the first victims of the Transformer Purge and his ‘Cybertronium’ was harvested to make Oreo robots, though this is unconfirmed. Although most movie fans assume that this Autobot’s road has long since been busted, his official status remains as Missing In Action.

#2 – Mirage

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Another prominent Autobot who disappeared after Dark of the Moon is Mirage, the blade-wielding red Ferrari who actually received a fair amount of screen time in the film, killing Hatchet during the highway chase and taking part in (and surviving) the final battle. However, following this, he is neither seen not heard from again. Like Roadbuster, several fans assume that he may have been an early casualty of Cemetary Wind’s purge of the Autobots and Decepticons on Earth following Dark of the Moon, as several of the KSI drones seem to feature his trademark blade weapons and sleek design – particularly Stinger. Interestingly, it was originally planned for Mirage to meet his maker near the climax of the third film, instead of poor Que, as it was originally scripted for Starscream to have somehow gained possession of his decapitated head. As Que took the literal bullet instead, and there are no other means to explain what happened to our Ferrari friend, Mirage’s fate remains unknown.

Honourable Mention – Trench

Autobot Trench from Transformers: The Last Knight

‘Trench’ is the name given to a Constructicon-turned-Autobot who appears in The Last Knight for about forty-five seconds before disappearing completely, never to be seen again. He is included here as an honourable mention as he doesn’t disappear between films, and the fact that he vanishes is not due to lazy writing – Trench was one of many Transformer characters introduced in the fifth film to make the world seem more populated by factionless or desperate Transformer refugees – a welcome change, even if it was too little too late. Trench, therefore, is likely a Decepticon who managed to survive the events of all the movies and eventually gave up on combat and joined the Autobot hideout crew in their junkyard. He is seen transforming to help Hound create a diversion to stop Megatron from discovering Cade, and so he more than likely met a final end in the fifth film. Nonetheless, as his fate was never shown, his status is still MIA.

Autobot Sideswipe from Transformers: Dark of the Moon

#1 – Sideswipe

Arguably the most prominent Autobot to simply ‘disappear’ without a trace between films, Sideswipe was a rare example of a well-liked fan favourite Autobot character that did not debut in the first film – of all the ‘disposable’ Autobots introduced later in the series, he gets by far the most screen-time. He is perhaps best known for his role in the opening sequence of Revenge of the Fallen, in which he chases and kills Sideways in a dramatic fashion only to do nothing for the rest of the film. In Dark of the Moon, he helps Ironhide kill the Dreads and survives the final battle, but is never seen again after that. Allegedly he was originally to be confirmed dead in Age of Extinction, either through Cemetary Wind’s strange Autobot hit-list playing cards or during the scene in which the Autobots mourn Leadfoot. Either way, he is still MIA, and of all the Autobots to slip off the radar during the production of the live-action film series, Sideswipe is perhaps the most unusual. After all, there is no clear reason why he was never killed on-screen or featured alive in a later film, as he was a popular character and was about as close as the series ever got to a suitable replacement for Jazz, so for him to simply vanish between films is particularly strange. On the other hand, if this list has proven anything, it’s that the movies use a revolving door technique for their Autobot casting, likely to maximise toy sales, because that is what Transformers is all about, apparently.

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Star Wars – Top 10 Jedi Council Members (Clone Wars Era)

In the waning days of the Galactic Republic, some extremely powerful Jedi took seats on the Jedi Council, particularly as the war began to take its toll on the Jedi Order. At the height of its power, the Jedi Council counted several of the most powerful force users to ever live among their number,  and even Darth Sidious himself would think twice about taking on the entire Council at once – hence the need for Order 66. However, there was also a distinct power hierarchy among the Council, and several members had specific duties that gave them particular importance among the Jedi. As such, this list will rank the Top 10 Jedi Council Members from the Clone Wars era.

10 – Anakin Skywalker

anakin.jpgAlthough possibly the most powerful Force user to sit on the Council, Anakin’s low rank on this list is due to how little time he actually served on the Council, and justified by the fact that he would inevitably betray them and play a key role in the destruction of the Jedi Order. However, Anakin’s raw power does make him a formidable Council Member in his own right, and although he was not granted the rank of Master, chances are had he not betrayed the Jedi he would have gone on to be one of the Council’s most powerful leading members.

9 – Yarael Poof

yaraelA prominent member of the Council before the Clone Wars, Yarael sacrificed his life to save Coruscant from a dangerous terrorist group just before the conflict started, but was still considered among the Council’s greatest members even afterwards. A master of the Affect Mind ability, Poof was known to occasionally use the force in ways that other Jedi would frown upon – such as influencing the minds of bullies to make them flee in terror from their harmless victims – but was overall a great addition to the Council and a far better choice than his successor, Coleman Trebor.

8 – Saesee Tiin

tiin.jpgA powerful Jedi who would often assist Mace Windu throughout the Clone Wars, Saesee Tiin was a renowned pilot who played a pivotal role in the Space Battle above Coruscant, during which he captured a Separatist capital ship with help from a battalion of EVA troopers. However, Saesee’s downfall came at the hands of Darth Sidious, and he became one of the first victims of the Great Jedi Purge when he was struck down by the Sith Lord during their duel.

7 – Kit Fisto

fisto.jpegAppointed to the Jedi Council during the Clone Wars, Kit Fisto was a renowned duellist and his amphibious nature made him an ideal choice for defending water-based worlds such as Mon Calamari. Often deployed on dangerous missions, Fisto was one of the few Jedi to survive and encounter with General Grievous, and his lightsaber was fitted with a second crystal to refine the blade to allow it to work underwater, making him one of the key Jedi in the Clone Wars. Like Saesee Tiin, Fisto would meet his death at the hands of Darth Sidious, but of the three Jedi Masters Mace Windu brought with him to fight Sidious, Fisto survived the longest in the duel, proving his skill in combat.

6 – Plo Koon

plo.jpgA Kel Dor from Dorin, Plo Koon was known to be among the most compassionate of the Jedi in the Order, and was responsible for the induction of Ashoka Tano into the ranks of the Jedi as well as saving the lives of many Clones during the War, believing them to be people with rights rather than expendable infantry. His key achievements during the Clone Wars include the discovery of the Separatist flagship the Malevolence and the retrieval of the long-lost Council Members Sifo-Dyas’ lightsaber.

5 – Ki-Adi Mundi

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A famous Cerean who was among the few Jedi allowed to take wives due to the rarity of his species, Ki-Adi Mundi was certainly one of the most powerful force users of the era and was a skilled duellist, able to hold his own against the most effective Jedi Hunter of the era, General Grievous. Although he supported the Cerean policy of isolationism, Mundi himself was happy to play a key role in Galactic affairs, provided that his people be left alone, and he would tragically die at the hands of his own Clone Troopers following the execution of Order 66.

4 – Shaak Ti

shaak-ti.jpegAmong the few Jedi to survive Order 66, Shaak Ti often played a defensive role during the Clone Wars, assigned to protect the vital cloning facilities on Kamino and then later reassigned to protect the Jedi Temple in the waning days of the war. Surviving several encounters with General Grievous as well as being among the few survivors of the catastrophic Battle of Hypori, Shaak Ti was clearly among the most powerful of the Jedi, and her activities on Felucia following the Rise of the Empire were pervasive enough to mobilise the force-sensitive natives of the planet against the Sith.

3 – Mace Windu

mace-windu_b35242e5.jpegServing as Grand Master of the Order for a time, Mace Windu was considered the most powerful Jedi by many, and used his unique lightsaber style as well as rare abilities that he could channel from the dark side to further the aims of the Light. Although Windu was certainly unique among the Jedi, he made no secret of this, even fashioning a purple lightsaber to distinguish himself from his comrades. Despite utilising several dark side abilities, Windu was seemingly immune to temptation, although his instinctive mistrust of Anakin would eventually lead to the Jedi’s undoing.

2 – Obi-Wan Kenobi

obi.jpgFamous for being the Master of not only Anakin but also Luke Skywalker, and a former pupil of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan was an ideal choice to sit on the Council following the onset of the Clone Wars as his skills as a diplomat were legendary, leading him to be given the nickname ‘the Negotiator’, a name he would later bestow upon his flagship in the War. During the Clone Wars, Kenobi proved a key asset to the Council and participated in many battles on planets as important as Geonosis, Naboo, Coruscant and Kamino, as well as being the only Jedi who was able to defeat his former pupil, Anakin Skywalker. One of the few Jedi to survive the Purge, Obi-Wan played a key role in inducting Luke Skywalker into the frail remains of the Jedi Order, thus ensuring that the Empire would one day be defeated.

1 – Yoda

yodaThe last of the Jedi Council to perish following the collapse of the Order, Yoda was among the Jedi’s oldest members and served as Grand Master of the Order for years before the Clone Wars. Wise and powerful, Yoda was skilled in almost every aspect of the Force, from meditation and premonition to lightsaber skills. He duelled many of the most powerful Sith during the Clone Wars, including Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress and even Darth Sidious himself, and was a key strategist during the conflict. Showing a particular interest in protecting the native wildlife of worlds caught up in the war, Yoda used his friendship with native peoples like the Wookiees to ensure that the limited numbers of Clones assigned to defend Kashyyyk were reinforced against Separatist attacks. Following the war, Yoda went into exile on Dagobah and continued the training of Luke Skywalker after the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Once he had passed on all the knowledge and training that he could to Luke, Yoda promptly died, becoming one with the force and, as the Jedi Council’s last surviving Member, effectively ending the institution. However, Yoda’s teachings proved instrumental in allowing Luke to turn Anakin Skywalker back to the light, destroy the Sith and save the Jedi.

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Doctor Who – Top 10 Big Finish Cyberman Stories

Big Finish has been producing the Doctor Who Main Range (formerly called the Monthly Range) since 1999 and is therefore fast approaching its 20th anniversary of creating Doctor Who audio dramas. Big Finish have not produced as many Cyberman audios as they have Dalek ones, but after 20 years of production, there is still a significant number of excellent Cyberman stories. This article ranks the best of the Big Finish Cyberman stories, starting with:

#10 – The Gathering

Gathering_(Doctor_Who)The Gathering has a strange place in the Cyberman story pantheon in that it doesn’t feature any actual Cybermen, but rather deals with the horrific aftermath of a Cyber incursion. This audio tells the kind of story that would be unlikely to appear in the TV series, and not only because it features some gruesome body horror, but the story also serves as Tegan’s return to the Fifth Doctor’s life after several years, and the focus on this aspect of the story, coupled with the lack of any actual Cybermen, is what puts this instalment at the bottom of the list. However, that is not to say it is a bad story, and it is an audio that Peter Davison fans should definitely check out.

#9 – Last of the Cybermen

dwmr199_last_of_the_cybermen_cover_large.jpgA homage to the Cyber-War plot from the early Cyberman stories, Last of the Cybermen depicts humankind’s final assault on Telos in an effort to wipe out the Cybermen for good. Featuring the Sixth Doctor alongside Second Doctor companions Jamie and Zoe, this audio has many twists and turns and has a terrifying depiction of the conversion process but is somewhat deflated by its pacing issues and underwhelming conclusion. Although it is fun to have Jamie and Zoe back fighting Cybermen, this was done far better in Legend of the Cybermen and as such this audio is further down the list than it would otherwise have been.

#8 – Human Resources

human resources.jpgThe final two-part story to the first series of Eighth Doctor Adventures, Human Resources Parts One and Two are an excellent conclusion to the strong first outing for the Eighth Doctor and new companion Lucie, played by Sheridan Smith. The story arc of the series is brought to a satisfying close and the Headhunter also makes an appearance, although the Cybermen themselves do not feature until quite a way through the story – which is good for tension, but means that there is not as much time for Cyber-action as is normally the case in 2-hour long audio plays.

#7 – Hour of the Cybermen

DWMR240_hourofthecybermen_alt_1417.jpgThe newest Cyberman story in the Main Range, Hour of the Cybermen is set on Earth and is a rare example of a Sixth Doctor UNIT story. The premise is simple – the Doctor arrives on Earth only to find that the UK has been afflicted with a terrible drought – but only the UK, not the rest of Europe (perhaps a veiled political message?) and eventually the Cybermen are revealed to be behind it. What makes this audio unique is the fact that it features the return of David Banks and Mark Hardy, who played the Cyber-Leader and Cyber-Lieutenant in Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis. Their iconic voices make this audio a real treat, and although Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic Cyberman voice, it is good to hear the old voices back again.

#6 – Sword of Orion

dwmr017_swordoforion_1417_cover_large.jpgSpeaking of Nicholas Briggs, Sword of Orion was the first story he wrote for the Eighth Doctor and the Cybermen in the Main Range, as well as being the first Cyberman story Big Finish produced. The format is simple but effective, which is particularly good considering the fact that this is Charley Pollard’s first ride in the TARDIS. The Cybermen also get some great action in this story, and their sinister nature is portrayed excellently in several scenes, particularly a gruesome encounter that the Doctor has with a Cyber-conversion plant that has stalled in mid-production = leaving the partly-converted victims to die horribly. Overall, this story is a strong instalment for the Cybermen, but doesn’t quite do enough new with them to warrant being in the top five.

#5 – The Reaping

The_Reaping_coverThe first Sixth Doctor to feature the Cybermen also features Peri, and deals heavily with her family and backstory meaning that those who are not fans of this particular companion may be immediately turned off this story. However, the concept itself is novel, with the idea of a highly futuristic Cyberman turning recently deceased humans into more Cybermen is similar to the concept for the New Series finale Death in Heaven, and that episode’s focus on the companion is also shared by this audio. Peri’s tragic story coupled with some really grisly Cyberman scenes makes this audio a must-listen for fans, particularly since it sets up several elements for both The Harvest and The Gathering.

#4 – Legend of the Cybermen

61lCIfV0rALAs previously mentioned, Legend of the Cybermen is a fantastic story involving the Sixth Doctor alongside Jamie and Zoe, and features the Cybermen invading the Land of Fiction from the Second Doctor story The Mind Robber. For those who haven’t seen that episode, it was essentially introduced as an excuse for the production team to use lots of historical and fantasy props for an episode, but ended up as a psychedelic journey through a crazy land featuring several fictional characters, and in this audio the Cybermen arrive there to convert them all. As the Cybermen work from an angle of total logic, this story depicts a sort of holy war for them, as they try to wipe the ‘scourge’ of fiction from the land.

#3 – The Harvest

dwmr058_theharvest_1417_cover_large.jpgThe first and arguably best of the loose ‘Cyberman Trilogy’ of The Harvest, The Reaping and The Gathering, this Seventh Doctor audio features the debut of Hex as well as the first encounter that the Seventh Doctor and Ace have had with the Cybermen since Silver Nemesis. The story focuses not only on Hex encountering the Doctor and Ace but also the side story of the Cyber-Leader transitioning into a human, something that is fascinating to listen to. With some great dialogue between the Doctor and the three main antagonists of the story, as well as the computer ‘System’, The Harvest is definitely one of the best Cyberman stories in the Big Finish back-catalogue.

#2 – The Silver Turk

20141022095558dwmr153_thesilverturk_1417_cover_largeThough the Eighth Doctor has a fair few Cyberman stories, this is his first and (so far) only encounter with the Mondasian Cybermen. The premise of having Mary Shelley in the TARDIS makes for a fascinating listen, particularly as she begins to feel sympathy for the Cybermen. Over the course of the story, several Mondasian Cybermen are used as marionettes and performers, and although they are somewhat sympathetic, they are also horrifying in their own right, and there are some really creative ideas that come together well in this story – but to give away any more would certainly venture in the territory of spoilers.

Honourable Mention – The Isos Network

dwea0204_theisosnetwork_1417_cover_large.jpgAlthough some fans will be put off by the more traditional ‘talking book’ style of the audio adventures of earlier Doctors, there are some genuine gems in amongst the catalogues of the first three Doctors. The Isos Network is an excellent bridge between the final two Second Doctor Cyberman episodes, and although there are some strange concepts included in this story, such as giant sentient slugs, the Cybermen are still fantastic in this story and the voices in particular are excellent.

#1 – Spare Parts

dwmr034v_spareparts_1417_cover_largeThe top spot, however, goes to Spare Parts, a story that serves as the origin story for the Mondasian Cybermen and has several links with the final First Doctor story, The Tenth Planet. Pitting the more human and fallible Fifth Doctor against the Genesis of the Cybermen was a fantastic move, as it sets up a dark and gritty tale that gives Genesis of the Daleks a run for its money, and that’s saying something. The gloomy world of Mondas with its desperate, hopeless inhabitants is countered by the down-to-Earth and optimistic Hartman family, and their tragic story helps drive the emotional weight of the story. The Cybermen themselves are at their best in this story, creepy and intimidating, and Nicholas Briggs does a fantastic impression of the original Mondasian Cybermen voices. Filling out its four parts nicely, this audio is a great jumping-on point for new listeners and is perhaps one of the greatest Big Finish audios of all time.

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Doctor Who – Top 10 Big Finish Dalek Stories

Big Finish has been producing the Doctor Who Main Range (formerly called the Monthly Range) since 1999 and is therefore fast approaching its 20th anniversary of creating Doctor Who audio dramas. In the 20 years that these audio plays have been in production, Big Finish has expanded their Doctor Who releases further than the Main Range to include many standalone series like the Eighth Doctor Adventures and the Dalek Empire series with a vast array of excellent Dalek stories to listen to. However, there are definitely some that stand out as truly spectacular stories and perhaps even some of the best examples of Doctor Who stories in any format, including the Classic and Modern TV series, and this article ranks the top ten, starting with:

#10 – We Are The Daleks

we are the daleks

Intended as a potential jumping-on point for would-be listeners who felt intimidated by the increasing number of story arcs and continuity related to the Big Finish Main Range, We Are The Daleks aims to tell a self-contained, somewhat familiar and yet entirely new Dalek story, and it achieves all three of these goals and more. Whilst the end result is hardly groundbreaking, and is certainly not as introspective or formula-inverting as some of Big Finish’s other Dalek stories, what fans got with We Are The Daleks was a classic Dalek romp that takes advantage of being set in the 1980s but with the hindsight of knowing what advancements in technology would bring in the 21st century, and the idea of combining Dalek technology with the basic human desire for video games was an ingenious one.

#9 – The Dalek Transaction

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Though it may seem an odd choice to include an audio from the UNIT: The New Series range considering the fact that it is a spinoff, The Dalek Transaction proves that great Dalek stories can be done in any form of Doctor Who media, not just the Doctor-focused ranges. Despite the wider lore surrounding UNIT: The New Series, Big Finish have made it very easy for fans to jump into the series with each box set, and although this audio can only be picked up as part of the UNIT: Encounters box set, you are almost immediately given everything that you need to know to understand the story and the characters. And as far as the story goes, although the idea of a critically damaged Dalek being held prisoner isn’t a new one, this story certainly takes a new and dynamic approach to the concept that pleased many a Dalek fan.

#8 – Blood of the Daleks

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The opening two-parter to the Eighth Doctor Adventures with Sheridan Smith playing new companion Lucie Miller, Blood of the Daleks aims to both introduce the audience to Lucie and the more brooding Eighth Doctor whilst also delivering a fantastic Dalek story. Unsurprisingly this episode has plenty of references to other Doctor Who stories, particularly Dalek stories, as this audio was designed as not only an introduction to new companion Lucie but also to the Eighth Doctor and the idea of Doctor Who audios as a medium, as this was the first episode in a series that Big Finish pushed as a jumping on point for new Doctor Who fans back when the New Series had only just started. As it stands, Blood of the Daleks is a great opener to the Eighth Doctor Adventures and is one of the best audios to use as a means of getting accustomed to the format, for those who have not listened to many before. The relationship between Eight and Lucie is composed perfectly, and there is a great dynamic between them that develops as the plot unfolds.

#7 – Masters of Earth

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This audio peaked the interest of many veteran Dalek fans on its announcement as it features the Sixth Doctor and Peri visiting Earth during the Dalek Occupation, as seen in the famous First Doctor episode The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The idea of the Doctor visiting eras in Dalek history from the Classic show is something that the New Series should definitely work on creating, as it gives some great marketing opportunities as well as setting up innumerable ideas for potential time-travel focused stories. Masters of Earth delivers on this, as whilst its twist is predictable, it does a great job of recreating the feel of Dalek-controlled Earth that fans saw in the 1960s. As this is an audio set later in Peri’s timeline, her character is much more manageable than she appeared in the show, and Peri arguably gets a proper encounter with the Daleks that Revelation of the Daleks tragically denied her.

#6 – Order of the Daleks

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A recent outing for the Sixth Doctor and his new companion Constance Clarke, this audio’s eye-catching cover is fitting considering how this audio stands out among many of its peers. Make no mistake, Big Finish is still just as fantastic as it always has been, but there has been a recent trend of Big Finish Dalek stories being less experimental than perhaps they once were. Enter Order of the Daleks which manages to not only utilise the concept of a Stained Glass Dalek for a great cover design but also as a great peg for an original and wholly unique Dalek story idea, that being: what would the Daleks do if they crashed on a primitive planet, and were forced to use primitive technology to repair themselves? The result is a great story that showcases how great Colin Baker is as the Doctor but also provides new companion Constance Clarke with an opportunity to make a mark on the Doctor Who timeline – and as audio-only companions go, Constance is every bit as great as classics like Charlie and Lucie. The conversations between the Dalek Commander and the Doctor in this story are brilliant and, without spoiling too much, there is some very good development of the Daleks psychology in this story that any Dalek fan should check out.

#5 – The Dalek Contact/The Final Phase

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The Fourth Doctor Adventures are a fantastic range of audios, particularly since they star one of the most popular Doctors in the history of the show, as well as fan-favourites like Leela, Romana and K-9. However, an interesting aspect of this series is that it manages to replicate one of the many odd quirks of the Fourth Doctor’s era, in that there is a disproportionally small number of Dalek stories considering the sheer number of stories that the Fourth Doctor has, both for TV and in his own audio series. The Fourth Doctor Adventures definitely benefits from this, as the few instances in which the Daleks do appear feel like special occasions and, as special occasions go, The Dalek Contact and The Final Phase are both great Dalek stories, making it especially exciting that it features the Fourth Doctor, Romana I and K-9. For fans of this era of the show, this two-parter is definitely one of the best Dalek stories.

#4 – Enemy of the Daleks

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When discussing types of Dalek stories, particularly with people who are fans of the Daleks specifically, often the stories that try a different ‘take’ on the Daleks are ranked as among the best, and with good reason. As the Daleks are so prolific among the various media formats of Doctor Who, with dozens of episodes and audios, and even a significant number of books, dedicated to them, and as a result after over fifty years of the Daleks it is often those few stories that attempt to somehow redefine or reinvent the Daleks that are considered the best. However, every once in a while a Dalek story comes along that, although playing straight to almost every single Dalek story trope that the show has ever seen, actually manages to be just so good regardless that it is automatically considered a classic. Enemy of the Daleks is definitely one of these, as what is (on the surface at least) a generic Dalek action romp also manages to deliver a surprisingly good story and present some characters with great emotional depth. When describing Enemy of the Daleks, the key phrase to bear in mind is ‘never judge a book by its cover’, although that hardly seems fair as this audio has perhaps one of the coolest covers of any Doctor Who product across all its many mediums.

#3 – The Apocalypse Element

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If it wasn’t good enough that the Sixth Doctor got to face the Daleks so early in his audio appearances, it just so happens that he got to star in what is undeniably the best of the early ‘Dalek Empire’ Main Range audios. For those not in the know, early in their career as Doctor Who audio play producers, Big Finish brought the Daleks to their main series with four totally separate yet also thematically linked Dalek stories – The Genocide Machine, The Apocalypse Element, The Mutant Phase and The Time of the Daleks, and this later went on to drive the plot of their standalone Dalek Empire spinoff series. Each main range story is good in their own right, particularly The Mutant Phase, but The Apocalypse Element is by far the greatest of the bunch. Not only does it feature Lalla Ward as Romana II, but it also delivers a cracking Dalek story that seems to present what has later become the ‘first act’ of the Last Great Time War.

#2 – The Juggernauts

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Something that might have become apparent to Dalek fans reading this list is the fact that, until this point, no Davros stories have appeared. There are several reasons for this – arguably the most important being that there is rarely a good Dalek story that also happens to be a good Davros story, usually one is sacrificed for the other. However, there are always exceptions to this rule, and The Juggernauts is probably the best example of this. Featuring the Sixth Doctor and Mel in the best story that they share, this audio approaches the Davros/Dalek dynamic in a very different light, and presents the idea of Davros, finally deciding that the Daleks have failed him, attempting to create something to counter the Daleks on a galactic scale – the ubiquitous ‘Juggernauts’. For those who are fans of the 1980s Davros stories, this audio is essentially everything that those stories were trying to be, had they not been held back by budget constraints.

Honorable Mention – The Dalek Occupation of Winter

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Although some fans will be put off by the more traditional ‘talking book’ style of the audio adventures of earlier Doctors, there are some genuine gems in amongst the catalogues of the first three Doctors. A recent example of one of these is the superb The Dalek Occupation of Winter, an audio that utilises the fact that this is one of the Doctor’s first encounters with the Daleks to great effect, and is definitely work picking up as an introduction to the different format for those who are not familiar with it.

#1 – Jubilee

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An audio made famous by the distinction of being adapted into the 2005 episode ‘Dalek’, the first appearance of the Daleks in the New Series, Jubilee has a lot more going on than what is presented in the episode it was later adapted into. ‘Dalek’ is arguably just an adaptation of one plot point from Jubilee, and listeners will quickly realise that there is a lot more to Jubilee than is to be expected of a Dalek story. One of this story’s greatest assets is the fact that it features the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn, a Doctor-companion pairing that has rarely been topped in any medium of the franchise. Considering Colin Baker’s rough time on the show and the generally negative reception that his Doctor gets as a result, it is fine poetry that his Doctor happens to be the one that has spearheaded the success of the Doctor Who audios through great characterisation, fantastic scripts and great new companions. However, the greatest thing about Jubilee (and the thing that makes it a great Dalek story) is the Dalek itself and the way it is presented. When listening to this audio all preconceived notions about the Daleks have to be thrown out of the window, as this story depicts a Dalek that demonstrates some definite growth as a character, and without spoiling too much, it is clear where the most emotive moments in ‘Dalek’ were derived from, as Jubilee presents an entirely different yet similarly emotive story that makes the audience feel conflicted feelings of pity for the most pitiless race in the universe.

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Star Wars – Top 5 Best Rebel Starfighters

The Rebel Alliance was able to scrounge together a ragtag fleet of starfighters that would later evolve into a diverse and highly adaptable fighting force that proved more than a match for the capital-ship focused Galactic Empire. Almost every Rebel starfighter is better or at the very least technically superior to its Imperial counterpart, and although the Empire mass-produced thousands of variants of the TIE class of starfighter, the numerically outnumbered but well put-together Rebel ships eventually prevailed. However, how do these ships rank against each other? There are several factors to take into account here, not least the fact that many Rebel ships are specialised to fulfil particular roles, as well as the speed, weaponry and defensive capability of each fighter. With that in mind, we begin with:

#5 – Z-95 Headhunter

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As snub fighters go, the Z-95 Headhunter was already considered outdated by the time of the Galactic Civil War, even by the Rebels who were renowned for making good use of otherwise outdated ships like the Y-Wing. However, facing a shortage of effective starfighters in its early years, the Rebellion did turn to Z-95s for fleet defence and occasionally as a mainline starfighter, but as the war went on and the Rebels became better equipped they would later mostly rely on the X-Wing as a mainline fighter. Nonetheless, the Z-95 is a good ship in its own right, and its light weaponry and shields coupled with its nimble manoeuvrability made it a favourite for force-sensitives in the New Republic, particularly Jedi.

#4 – Y-Wing

Y-wing.pngAs previously mentioned, the Y-Wing was considered an outdated bomber by the time of the Galactic Civil War, although it did see extensive use by the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars. The Y-Wing was perhaps best known as the bomber that was used by the Republic to take down the Malevolence, and its practicality led to leftover craft being taken up by the Rebel Alliance to use as a mainline bomber for much of its existence, with Y-Wings taking part in many of the most critical battles of the era, including the Battle of Yavin and the Battle of Endor. The Y-Wing was capable of carrying a heavy payload of ion and proton torpedoes, and some models even featured a manned turret position, but its role as a bomber means that it is not the most nimble of craft. By the end of the Galactic Civil War, many Rebel pilots preferred other ships over the ageing Y-Wings, and their use in later battles was largely due to necessity and the shortage of prototype replacement bombers like the B-Wing. Talking of which…

#3 – B-Wing

BwingThe B-Wing was designed to fill the niche of heavy bomber for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War, and became infamous in the Empire due to the fact that B-Wings proved to be capable of taking down Imperial Star Destroyers, and their effectiveness at that task led to many such Imperial craft meeting their demise at the Battle of Endor. Known to be fiendishly difficult to fly, the B-Wing was not common for Rebel fleets during the Galactic Civil War but when it did come into play later in the conflict it proved a valuable asset for the Rebellion that helped to solidify them as a very real threat to the Empire and not a simple ragtag band of dissidents as had previously been believed. Capable of carrying a sizeable amount of ordnance yet still retaining its agility, the B-Wing is definitely a formidable addition to the Rebel fleet.

#2 – A-Wing

A-WingHowever, as nimble goes, nothing beats an A-Wing. Known to be among the Rebel Alliance’s fastest fighters, the A-Wings filled the niche of interceptor and proved far more effective than its Imperial counterpart, the aptly named TIE Interceptor. Like the B-Wing, these fighters proved invaluable during the Battle of Endor and one was even instrumental in the destruction of the Darth Vader’s flagship, the Executor, as the pilot used the fighter’s wedge-shaped design to plow his damaged fighter into the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer, damaging enough key systems to send the ship plunging towards the Second Death Star. As far as durability goes, the A-Wing is lightly armoured and many models featured a shield generator, and its weapons are focused mainly on ship-to-ship dogfights between starfighters. Still, when coupled with other Rebel ship models, the A-Wing forms a crucial part of the Rebel fleet.

Honourable Mention – U-Wing

U-wing_SWB.pngBoth a starfighter and a gunship, the U-Wing is used primarily as a troop transport by the Alliance and proved pivotal in the ground portion of the Battle of Scarif. Though it is the slowest starfighter on this list, it does feature some heavy armaments including side-mounted weapons for in-atmosphere troop deployment and can hold a small but well-armed Rebel taskforce. Working best with other starfighters as escort in space, the U-Wing is usually sent straight to the ground to offload its troops and provide covering fire, a task which it excels in. However, the U-Wing is only an honourable mention as its use in space combat is limited, as space combat gunships were usually much larger fleet vessels.

#1 – X-Wing

RedFive_X-wing_SWB.pngRealistically, only one Rebel ship was going to take the top spot. The X-Wing was a critical addition to the Rebel Alliance’s starfighter force that became their go-to starfighter for most situations, from dogfights to fleet defence. The X-Wing is the favoured starfighter of prominent pilots like Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles and Poe Dameron and has seen use through the Galactic Civil War and well into the post-Galactic Civil War conflicts with minimal changes. Incorporating elements from successful Clone Wars era starfighters like the ARC-170, the X-Wing draws on the best elements previously seen designs and is perhaps best known for its role in the destruction of Imperial powerhouses like the First Death Star, the Second Death Star and Starkiller Base.

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Halo MCC – Top 10 ‘Additional Skulls’ That We Want To See Added to MCC

In the most recent update to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 industries did something unexpected, exciting and ridiculous – they added new skulls to Halo: Combat Evolved, supplementing the game with several skulls that expanded its already impressive array of skulls from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary that was released in 2011. Halo: CE now features several skulls that, until now, had only been present in Halo 2, like Anger and Ghost, and several more that are staples of the modern incarnations of Halo, such as Thunderstorm and Tough Luck. However, in the blog post accompanying this update, 343 industries suggested that not only will the other Halo titles in the MCC be receiving new Skulls in the future, but also that there will be brand new skulls added to the game that have never been seen before. Since then, fans have been speculating as to what these skulls might do, so here is a list of the Top 5 ‘Additional Skulls’ that fans want to see in Halo: MCC.

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#10 – Invincible Allies Skull

This one is fairly low on the list because, if it ever exists, it will more than likely be a 0x scoring skull, and rightly so – having invincible allies would make the game very easy, in a similar fashion to infinite ammo, but it cannot be denied that having invincible allies would also be hilarious and would open up opportunities for weird and wacky glitches as it would be possible to blast or whack allies into areas that they would usually not enter. This skull has been brought up several times in relation to Halo: CE, as Marine snipers would often teamkill their allies when firing a rapid sequence of shots at eye-level , if marines walked into their line of fire. This Skull might even open up entire new ways of playing levels – if your Marine allies could survive 343 Guilty Spark on Halo: CE, or your Grunt allies could survive Sacred Icon (the level this blog is named for) on Halo 2.

#9 – Halo 2 Grunt Birthday Party Skull

This one is slightly less likely, but many now forget that in the original Halo 2, the Grunt Birthday Party Skull had a totally different effect to what it became in later Halo games. Originally, activating the skull caused all headshots to turn into plasma grenade explosions, so any time a projectile heads a character’s head – even if they are dead – it creates a plasma explosion. This skull’s effect was likely altered as it did make the game easy, as you could wipe out entire squadrons of Grunts or Flood with a single headshot, but the skull was still fun to use and, like the Grunt Funeral Skull that has somewhat continued its legacy, it can sometimes create lethal deathtraps for the player. If the Grunt Birthday Party Skull in its original form did ever return to MCC, it would likely be implemented under the name ‘Grunt Birthday Party (Classic)’, or perhaps even be given a completely new name. Either way, that feature is sitting dormant in the code of Halo 2: Anniversary and it needs to be released.

#8 – Universal Bandana

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This isn’t an idea for an original or returning Skull, but it is one of the most commonly requested ideas on Halo forums when fans are asked what Skulls they want to see implemented into Halo: MCC, and it is easy to see why. The Bandana Skull allows for exploration and exploitation opportunities in Halo: CE and Halo 2, but is not a feature for Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST or Halo: 4. As far as the hints that 343 industries have dropped in their blog posts are concerned, Universal Bandana will be implemented into Halo: MCC in due course, as it is likely that each game will be updated in separate updates.

#7 – Angry (SPV3)

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Those who haven’t played the excellent SPV3 mod for Halo: CE on the PC will likely not be aware of the Angry Skull, but it is an excellent idea that was implemented to SPV3 but would likely work on any and all Halo games. The Angry Skull turns all previously allied AI against you from the start of the level, meaning you not only have no allies at any time but also have vastly more enemies, and some sections of levels that would usually be a breeze become vicious gauntlets. If this Skull was ever implemented to Halo: MCC, parts like the first section of Crow’s Nest on Halo 3, that features almost 50 Marines, will add to the challenge, particularly if playing on Legendary with other Skulls on. This Skull would likely score around 1.3x, as it would drastically increase the difficulty of many levels.

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#6 – Combat Evolved Vehicle Armour

This Skull would essentially make all vehicles invincible, like they were in Halo: Combat Evolved. As in Halo: CE, this would not apply to certain vehicles like Banshees, Ghosts, Wraiths and likely other enemy vehicles, but would exist to give UNSC vehicles more versatility, especially on Legendary difficulty. This Skull would be non-scoring, likely having a 1x score, although a 0x score is possible. In other Halo titles this Skull would affect the Warthog, Scorpion, Mongoose and Mantis, and perhaps in Halo 2 Arbiter levels it would affect certain Ghosts, Spectres and Wraiths depending on which vehicles are intended for the player in each mission.

#5 – Bottomless Clip

As this feature exists as an option for Halo: Reach and Halo 4 in Forge and other modes, Bottomless Clip would surely not be a difficult feature to program into the campaign. After all, Bandana already gives players infinite ammo, and whilst this Skull would surely have a 0x score, it would make levels like The Storm and Tsavo Highway on Halo 3 a blast (literally). There would be other, practical uses of Bottomless Clip too in several of the Halo campaigns for the purposes of map exploration, boundary breaking, exploits and other shenanigans that Skulls are commonly associated with.

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#4 – Bang Bang

This Skull was from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, but modders have since been able to access it and discover that the effect turns all weapon sounds into a voice recording of a man saying ‘Pew’. Whilst the idea is funny, the execution requires improvement, and if this Skull is to be added it should be on the condition that all weapons get their own individual voice clips that associate with that weapon, of people trying to imitate the weapon sounds of Halo, that would be pretty funny. Grenades would definitely just be someone going ‘Bang!’ though. Since the gameplay change is entirely aesthetic, this Skull would probably just have a 1x score.

#3 – Wuv Woo (Halo Wars)

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This Skull, which until now has only featured in Halo Wars, turns certain weapon projectiles into rainbow lasers with love hearts spewing from them, a sickening display which strikes fear into the hearts of all who see it. In Halo Wars, the Skull only works on Scarab beams, but for Halo: MCC, each type of weapon should have its own comical design – rainbows for Covenant weapons and confetti for UNSC weapons, perhaps? And in Halo 4 the Promethean weapons can fire multi-coloured blasts instead of their usual standard orange. Again, this Skull is aesthetic, so would likely score 1x.

#2 – Third Person

Based on a cut Skull for Halo 3: ODST, Halo: MCC should include a Skull that switches players to a third person perspective, like in Theater mode or when in a vehicle, at all times – meaning players will have to rely on the HUD more in a fashion similar to the original Star Wars: Battlefront. When combined with the Blind Skull, this Skull would open up great opportunities for making Machinimas, and would allow players to player the Halo games again in a whole new way.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Big Head Mode Skull (All enemies and allies have engorged craniums)
  • Halo 2 Black Eye Skull (Meleeing enemies gives you Overshields like in Halo 2)
  • Gamble Skull (You do more damage, but take more damage)
  • Reverse Assassins Skull (All allied NPCs are permanently cloaked)
  • Brawl Skull (Enemies favour charging melee attacks over ranged weapons)
  • Permanent Cloak (Halo CE/Halo 2) – The player is permanently cloaked
  • Overshields (Halo CE/Halo 2) – The player has recharging overshields

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#1 – VISR Skull

This simple but interesting idea for a Skull would essentially combine the ideas implemented into Halo 3: ODST and Halo: SPV3 by giving the player a night-vision mode instead of a flashlight for levels that are bathed in near-total darkness. Although this Skull would be fairly difficult to program, as it would require coding the VISR mode into all 4 mainline Halo games featured on the Master Chief Collection, but the end results would definitely be worth it. After all, the VISR mode was one of the best things about Halo 3: ODST, and bringing that over to the other Halo games would open up new styles of combat for each title, particularly in the Anniversary modes with their dynamic lighting.

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