Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn trailer debuts at Comic-Con

The much-awaited trailer for Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, a live-action mini-series based on the popular Xbox video game franchise, debuted yesterday at Comic-Con.

The five episode web-series tells the story of how Master Chief inspired a young UNSC cadet, Thomas Lasky, who will eventually become a leader aboard the UNSC Infinity Spacecraft.

Officially airing on Machinima and Microsoft's Halo Waypoint beginning on October 5, 2012, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be released in weekly installments leading up to the launch of Halo 4 on November 6.

The web series “tells an exciting story of heroism and sacrifice on a scale never before seen in the Halo universe,” according to a press release, “taking fans back to the beginning of the human and Covenant war and leading into the events of Halo 4."

As you'll see in the trailer, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is set against the backdrop of the UNSC military academy where a group of cadets are training to be the next generation of soldiers in the ongoing war with hostile enemies in the outer colonial planets. As Lasky struggles with the burdens of leadership, threatening to leave the program, a terrifying alien race known as the Covenant arrives. With his world turned upside down, Lasky must decide what it "means to be a hero", with the influence of Master Chief.

The early portion of the trailer shows a good amount of drama and talking, not something you'd expect to see from such a high-action game. But Halo does always tell a compelling story.

Actor Tom Green, who plays Thomas Lasky, hopes "people don't turn away because there is this level of drama in it".

“The Halo games are known for not having a complex storyline with characters who have these relationships with other humans. We don’t get to see faces because they’re all covered with helmets," he told The Verge. "This is a bit different – it might be a bit confronting at first – but hopefully people will settle into it.”

Despite the high production quality of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, this is a major risk for Microsoft. Production on the mini-series reportedly cost around $5 to $10 million. It's a large investment for something many people view as viral marketing, despite Microsoft's claims that it is more than just a "purely promotional move". At the conclusion of the series, each episode, roughly 15 minutes in length, will be collected, along with 15 minutes of additional footage, into a 90-minute feature film.

“It’s really important to us that this is a stand-alone product that can make money on its own,” said Matt McCloskey, director of franchise business management for 343. Following its release, and the launch of Halo 4, Forward Unto Dawn will be available to rent or buy on DVD, Blu-ray, and in digital stores.

While I don't necessarily enjoy watching web series, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is definitely impressive. Whether or not it will generate its own revenue is one thing, but it definitely looks like an entertaining series, especially for fans of the Halo series. What do you think from the initial trailer?