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The Terminals fill the player in on the Halo backstory, as well as hint to future story in the case of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, much in the same way as they functioned in Marathon. The terminals are a continuation of the Iris alternate reality game used as viral marketing for Halo 3. They clarify a great deal of the Iris story line by naming the authors of different messages and by explaining the circumstances of the original firing of the Halo Array. The terminals follow the stories of The Librarian and Iso-Didact, Forerunner logs of the Flood attacks, and 032 Mendicant Bias's progression into rampancy.
Finding and accessing all seven of the Terminals in Halo 3 will unlock the Marathon Man achievement. The name "Marathon Man" is a reference to Bungie's earlier game, Marathon. This is evident because the achievement has a person's torso with the Marathon symbol as the head, and terminals were key parts of Marathon's gameplay.
Terminals can be accessed on any difficulty. You can get the Marathon Man achievement through a combination of different sessions, reading terminals out of order and on various difficulties. There are no requirements for doing them in one game, nor are you required to find them to finish your missions—and you don't need to finish the mission for a Terminal to count toward the achievement.
IMPORTANT: You must access all terminals as follows:
- In either Co-Op or single-player.
- It is necessary to read the text until the green arrow (facing left) turns red. On some terminals, you may have to wait until the screen flashes red and the screen appears to "scan horizontally." This does not occur for all terminals. If you have no red arrow (see below) then wait until the red flash / scanning occurs.
- Look in the bottom left hand corner, there is a green arrow, when it turns red you can exit the terminal. Note that normally you're able to advance each screen of the display by pressing the green A button. However, in some cases you need to wait. If the arrow is still green then wait until the terminal proceeds.
- For some players, you must access the seventh terminal last in order to unlock the achievement (if you have accessed them all and you still don't have the achievement, try that).
- If after accessing the terminals and you don't receive the achievement, try accessing all of the terminals on the same difficulty level (e.g. Easy, Normal, Heroic, or Legendary).
- In Co-op, all players must be near a terminal to access it.
Halo 3 Terminal Locations
- Main article: Halo 3 terminals
After fighting the Hunters, continue on your way until you enter a building in the cliff wall. You should now be in a corridor with two holographic displays on the right, and two doors on the left. Enter the semi-circular room and you will see the first of the seven Terminals.
Easily accessed at Rally Point Alpha.
Go outside to the desert area, commandeering transport. You must complete a significant section of this level until you obtain tanks after defeating the Anti-Air Wraiths, then return in the tanks to the main door to the structure.
When you go inside the structure to let the tanks across the light bridge, there will be a Terminal directly behind the controls for the bridge. You must activate the bridge before you can access this terminal.
There is a part in the level in which you walk down a long hallway with white walls, and turn to the left at the end to continue. In the next room there will be a Grunt wandering around, and many stacked up Plasma Batteries. As soon as you enter this room, go underneath the staircase / platform on which you are standing. Underneath there will be a door that conceals the terminal. To access this terminal, you may spawn at Rally Point Bravo, bringing you to the room with the sleeping Grunts, directly before the room with the Grunt and Plasma Batteries.
Fight your way past the Covenant beach defenses, then obtain the Warthog and fight onwards up the hill and eventually past the Wraith. Go inside the structure and fight past the various Covenant inside. The fourth Terminal is located near the first elevator control. Before you ride the elevator up, look at the opposite side of the elevator from which you came. You will see a dark ledge; jump on to it and you should see the terminal to your left.
After getting a Hornet, fly towards the second tower (the one that the Elites have already disabled). The Arbiter will remind you that Tower 2 is already clear, just to confirm you are at the right place. The Terminal is in the main hallway of the structure, with three dead elites, opposite from the only (locked) door. (And as a bonus, there is a skull on the outside of Tower 2 on the rise platform in the middle; just walk up and claim it for another achievement. Note that the skull won't be present if you start from Rally Point Alpha, or are playing on the Easy difficulty.)
Terminal 6 is placed identically to Terminal 4, only in the third tower and off to the right (versus the left in Terminal 4). Enter the tower, fighting your way past the Drone swarm and the pair of Hunters. The terminal is located near the elevator control; before you ride the elevator up, look at the opposite side of the elevator from which you came. You will see a dark ledge, jump on to it and you should see the terminal, which opens up to the left.
Terminal 8 is located in the basement room of the Tilt Skull's location, where the Gravity Hammer is found. (This terminal does not count towards the Marathon Man achievement (but it is needed for the No Stone Unturned achievement), but instead, plays a secret Cortana moment.
Terminal 7 is found at the beginning of the final level in Halo 3. To find it, head forward from the start of the level through the snow until you encounter the area with a few structural beams going from one wall into another. At this point (before you go past any beams) you will see a metal floor. Follow the floor to the right and up through a small gap in the ice, and follow this path along. You will find a beam heading through a crack in the ice. Follow this beam into a doorway. Cortana will ask you, “Where are you going?”. Turn left once inside and the Terminal should be in full view. Cortana will say, "Wait. What's that?" as a good hint. The terminal will be in front of what is presumably one of Installation 08's pulse generators. After that, Cortana will ask you: "How many of these have you found?" If the level is completed on Legendary, the terminal, once accessed on a different difficulty or another run-through, will show a communique from Mendicant Bias himself.
Halo: CEA Terminal Locations
- Main article: Halo: CEA terminals
Important: Terminals can only be seen with HD graphics. Pressing the 'Back' button to render the original Halo: Combat Evolved graphics will make them unavailable to access as the terminals had not been designed in the original game.
The Pillar of Autumn
This terminal is located on the bridge to the left. It is the console that has no crewman stationed at it and is blinking red. The terminal code translates to "343GS."
The Pillar of Autumn Terminal Location video here
This terminal is located in the tunnel after you've saved the first squad of marines. Go into the tunnel to the part where you have to jump. Before the jump at the ramp down, drive down and step out of your warthog. You'll see a light flashing, go to it and you see the terminal. This terminal code translates to "HALO4."
Halo Terminal Location video here
The Truth and Reconciliation
This terminal is located after you clear the bridge, look for a pink, flashing holographic console where the Elite Zealot once stood, it is the middle panel on the raised platform, hard to miss. You must be very close to the terminal for the message telling you to activate the terminal to appear. This terminal code translates to "SPARK."
The Truth and Reconciliation Terminal Location video here
The Silent Cartographer
The terminal is located outside, in the middle of the island on the large metal disk that moves in the level's final cutscene. This code translates to "FLOOD."
The Silent Cartographer Terminal Location video here
Assault on the Control Room
The terminal is at the base of the control room's shrine, at the bottom of the large fin that extends from under the ground. This code translates to "EARTH."
Assault on the Control Room Terminal Location video here
343 Guilty Spark
The terminal can be found by jumping off the last elevator as it starts to rise and landing above the door that the player entered from. This code translates to "DEMON."
343 Guilty Spark Terminal Location video here
The terminal is found on the third floor. As you exit the blast door, look for a yellow light across the gap where the lift sits, then make your way there by jumping over the supports that ring the gap. This code translates to "RINGS."
The Library Terminal Location video here
The terminal is on the ringed walkway the player starts on, opposite the control panel. Simply walk the round part of the walkway until you find it. This code translates to "ARRAY."
Two Betrayals Terminal Location video here
The terminal is under Captain Keyes, look for the red hologram. This code translates to "HUMAN."
Keyes Terminal Location video here
The terminal is the red screen in the upstairs of the "CRYO B" section of the ship. (The room that is similar to where the player started in the first). This code translates into "HAVEN."
The Maw Terminal Location video here
The terminal can only be found on Halo Waypoint. It is available by entering all terminals into Waypoint using the aforementioned means.
Shortly after 343 Industries announced Halo: CE Anniversary at E3 2011, they said that terminals will be making a full return into the game. Fans responded with much praise with this, but were curious to know what changes would be made to these terminals, and what they would mean. 343 was silent for a while, but eventually revealed that the terminals will NOT be simple text-on-a-screen, and will be animated "motion comics" that will hint at the story of Halo 4. At Gamescom in August, they revealed the first terminal in the campaign, centered around 343 Guilty Spark choosing to allow the humans,who were chosen by the Forerunners as 'Reclaimers', to land, rather than allow defence systems to destroy the Pillar of Autumn. On Halo Waypoint, each terminal can be entered as archive and earn you 7,000 cR (as well as a bonus 30,000 cR for entering them all). Once in Halo Waypoint, at the starting menu, press the X button. A series of colored lights will appear; press the corresponding colored buttons on your controller (Green=A, Blue=X, Yellow=Y, Red=B). After this a panel of Forerunner symbols will appear. Now, taking a step back, there are symbols at the end of each terminal video. Input these 5 at a time (as in, put in the symbols from one terminal and enter them, then start again with the next). After each terminal's code is entered, a screen will confirm you used the correct code by saying that a background has been unlocked and you can now view the terminal through Halo Waypoint. Each of these codes can be decoded into English where each symbol represents a letter of the alphabet or number. Once decoded they spell a five character word or abbreviation. There are still multiple other symbols and spaces on the forerunner keyboard that are not used in the decoding process, which could possibly be a hint at future terminal-type features in future games.
Halo 4 Locations
- Main article: Halo 4 terminals
There are a total of 7 terminals in the Halo 4 campaign. There is one terminal for each mission except for the first mission. A hint to locate these is to look off the main path but not too far off.
Halo 2: Anniversary
Terminals will appear in Halo 2: Anniversary, part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. A terminal can be seen briefly in this video at 11:30. This model is likely a placeholder, as it is the same one as from Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which is of Forerunner design (the terminal seen is abord the Cairo, a human space station). Like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary with Halo 4, these new terminals will foreshadow the events in Halo 5: Guardians.
- On the level The Ark, whenever you go to Terminal Three, you will find 343 Guilty Spark waiting for you in there. If you read the Terminal, it shows that 343 Guilty Spark has just logged in and talked to Mendicant Bias. You can actually hear him converse with the Terminal, if you are fast enough.
- In the Legendary transcript for Terminal Four, the Gravemind tells Mendicant Bias that "perhaps [the Forerunners] have found [some difficulty] of making that decision for themselves? Perhaps they chose to leave it [to an] impartial outsider; cast you as an arbiter during this time of great need?" This statement may have been retrieved by the Covenant Empire and may be the origin of the Covenant rank Arbiter - an Elite chosen during a time of great need to settle a dispute.
- There is another example of some possible borrowed language. In Terminal Five, on Heroic, Mendicant Bias tells the Forerunners that "Nature itself cries out for your destruction and I am its willing instrument." This is similar to a phrase that has been used by the Covenant several times: "Your destruction is the will of the gods... and we are their instrument."
- More borrowed language can be found in Halo: Combat Evolved's promotional Transmissions. The Covenant Truth and Reconciliation sent the following message to humanity: "When no single human brick lies atop another, then will we be satisfied with your destruction." Mendicant Bias says to the Forerunners, in Terminal Five on Heroic, "I will hammer your cities until no stone lies atop another."
- Finally, there is Ur-Didact's line in Terminal Seven: "I will begin our Great Journey without you, carrying this bitter record. Those who came after will know what we bought with this [false transcendence] - what you bought, and the price you paid." This may have been discovered by the Covenant and used as the basis for their concept of "the Great Journey," as the Didact was referring to the activation of the Halo Array. Additionally, the phrase "[false transcendence]" may have been mistranslated further as simply "transcendence," leading the Covenant to believe that the Forerunners had literally transcended upon activating the array.
- When certain Terminals are redirecting the player after they have logged into one, as the screen turns red on the left side are symbols and the words "I AM MENDICANT BIAS."
- If you look closely during the Threshold terminal while Guilty Spark is zooming in on the Gas mine, you can briefly see the outline of the Ascendant Justice in the background.
- The model of Terminal that appears in Halo 3 and Halo 4 is the Z-9930 Information Vector Console.
- Interactive Terminal Archive: A comprehensive archive of the Terminals compiled by Halo.Bungie.Org