An audio file hidden in the Halo Infinite E3 trailer hints at Cortana's return

Remember the Halo Infinite trailer that appeared in June at E3, "Discover Hope?" (If not, that's it up above.) A guy stranded in deep space discovers the floating body of the big boy in green, pulls him into his ship, hits him with the interstellar defibrillator, and kapowie! He's back on his feet and ready for action. Which is a good thing, because there's trouble afoot.

In between the sizzle and the steak, there's a few seconds of sci-fi systems bootup guffola flashing across the screen—fairly standard stuff to remind you that you're seeing things from the perspective of some sort of machine/cyborg/guy with a really cool helmet. It's a little weird that the Mjolnir Powered Assault Armor System Generation 3, last modified in the year 2561, would still be rocking a startup sequence from the 1970s, but I suppose there's something to be said for sticking with tradition.

But at the tale end of that sequence, starting around 3:30, there's a flash of red blocks and lines, which at first glance doesn't appear to have any purpose beyond letting viewers know that the magic has happened. But a Twitterer who goes by the name of Xepyal apparently saw something more to it. They took images of each individual frame containing the red bars and stacked them on top of each other, then compressed the image into a more-or-less square shape. They ended up with a janky QR code, which with with a little smoothing translated into this.

What exactly is it? If I had to guess (and since I don't know much about Halo, I do), I'd say it's confirmation that Cortana, the ridealong AI from previous games in the series, is coming back. There's no explicit reference to the character in the E3 trailer but it ends with a pretty obvious implication that the character (or something similar) will return—and really, why would 343 leave it out? 

"I was reading [343 Industries narrative design director] Dan Chosich's tweets that there was more hidden stuff to be found so I was looking at the trailer and it was the thing that caught my attention the most, the red bars appearing in random spots fast in Chief's visor," Xepyal explained. "So I thought something might appear if all were there at the same time." The process of finding and decoding the QR code took about an hour and a half, they said.

Props to them for digging it out—it is a very cool find. Halo Infinite is expected to be out for the 2020 holiday season.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.