- “When in doubt, flee.”— Unggoy philosophy
The Unggoy (Monachus frigus; Latin, "cold monk") are a sapient species of squat bipedal xeno-arthropodal vertebroid lifeforms in the unified races of the Covenant. They are the fourth species to be assimilated into the Covenant and the lowest-ranking species in the hierarchy. They suffer frequent mistreatment by almost every other race, particularly by the kig-yar, and are primarily used as laborers in peacetime and cannon fodder in times of war. Their race was one of the last to be absorbed into the Covenant and the second Covenant species to be encountered by humans. They are referred to as Grunts by humans, as they are considered weak in comparison to their superiors, because they perform the majority of the physical labor required by the Covenant and they lack the knowledge of combat compared to other Covenant species.
Very little information about the Unggoy prior to the activation of Halo survives to the modern era, but it is known that theirs was a Tier 6 society. However, they never became spacefaring due to a number of factors. Their species' rapid breeding cycle led to a population crisis on their homeworld of Balaho, which was reflected in and compounded by the near complete collapse of the planet's biosphere due to global industrialization.
Balaho's atmosphere and hydrosphere were severely damaged by industrial waste. It's speculated that the planet was home to thousands of fish and avian species prior to industrialization; afterward, eight out of ten were extinct. This naturally led to a shortage of basic resources necessary for survival, which in turn began a brief but devastating resource war that left the Unggoy all but bereft of any means of self-sufficiency. Entire clans were destroyed, cities razed and any semblance of governance was nonexistent; they had fallen into a state of self-preservation and no longer possessed the resources to lift themselves back up from the pit they had thrown themselves into.
Halo and Reseeding
The Unggoy were one of many sentient species indexed by the Librarian for preservation on Installation 00 from the firing of the Halo Array, after which they were returned to their homeworld where they began rebuilding their culture, though they never regained their pre-Halo status. The highest they achieved was Tier 4, having just rediscovered electricity when the Covenant found them.
Despite never being depicted as a target of the Flood in any of the games except Halo Wars, it's meant to be assumed by the fans that they were just as threatened by the parasite as every other species in the Milky Way.
Discovery and Assimilation
Not including San'Shyuum and Sangheili, Unggoy were the sixth client race to be integrated into the Covenant, coming to their indoctrination at around 2142 on the Military Calendar. By the time of their discovery by the Covenant, the Unggoy homeworld was still recovering from its ecological collapse over a hundred millennia earlier, and the Unggoy civilization had yet to return to its former state.
While they are essentially a slave race, the Unggoy have managed to largely retain their cultural identity and rebelled in the past several times. Being the lowest-ranked species of the Covenant, they are bitter rivals with the Kig-Yar, the next lowest-ranking species. The higher-ranking races of the Covenant have often ignored this rivalry, content to . The breaking point came when a junior staffer in the Ministry of Concert discovered evidence of the Kig-Yar planning to poison recreational narcotics the Unggoy enjoyed, which would have left them sterile, but the High Council refused to investigate the matter. The rising tensions with the Kig-Yar and the general disinterest from the other Covenant races led to the Unggoy Rebellion in 2462. While the rebellion was ultimately put down thanks to an Arbiter and the near-glassing of the Unggoy homeworld, the Unggoy proved that they were not the cowards they had been long deemed, and could indeed be vicious fighters when provoked. After the uprising's conclusion, as was their tradition, the Sangheili forgave the surviving Unggoy and allowed them to enter the Covenant military as armed infantry units, rather than the unarmed cannon fodder as which they had previously served.
Despite the low place they have in the Covenant Hierarchy, the true irony is that the Unggoy's entry into the Covenant has ensured their species' survival. Membership in the Covenant granted the Unggoy freedom from risk of extinction during Balaho's two winters, as they now have access to sufficient supplies of food. Infant mortality has decreased to below fifty percent since joining the Covenant, and geronticide is no longer a necessity for survival. The average life expectancy for non-combatant Unggoy has doubled. Their incorporation into the Covenant likely also alleviated the threat of the Blue Death, which Unggoy typically fear.
The Great Schism
The Unggoy obey other Covenant races out of fear more than faith or loyalty. They have next to no political power in the Covenant; the highest political rank an Unggoy can hope to achieve is Deacon, and the Unggoy community harbors a strong resentment toward other species, especially the Kig-Yar. Their low rank, cruel mistreatment and the aforementioned war also led to a lack of political loyalty during the Great Schism, as they didn't ally with a particular side, and stayed with whoever commanded them, most likely out of subservient fear to their current masters. However, many of those serving under the Jiralhanae still held support for the Sangheili and revered the Arbiter, pointing out to their comrades that they once served under him.
Unggoy are poor warriors in terms of skill and physique. Their focus is nominal at best, their natural posture inhibits quick movement, they lack any meaningful tactical or strategic ability and their constitution is generally unsound. When witnessing their commanders eliminated during a battle, they often go into a panic and scatter in random directions. However, what they lack in skill and prowess they make up for with sheer numbers and tenacity; also if they are focused, can be quite accurate with their weapons not to mention they breed at a remarkable rate. The Covenant used the high-breeding rate of the Unggoy to their advantage in the Human-Covenant War, where squads of Unggoy very frequently overpowered UNSC personnel through weight of numbers alone. The conflict on Harvest, and thus the Human-Covenant War, was in part started by an Unggoy named Yull tearing apart Private Osmo. Special Operations Unggoy, known for their dark armor, are far more tenacious than the lower tiered ones and have even been known to carry fuel rod guns and plasma launchers which makes them extremely dangerous foes, it should also be noted, that these fuel rod-wielding Unggoy can fire their massive weapons without needing to stabilize them with their other hand.
Unggoy are the only species known to breathe methane rather than oxygen. Their combat harnesses have integrated methane breather systems, as they are unable to survive long periods without methane due to asphyxiation much like humans without oxygen. Therefore, if the player manages to knock their methane tank off in a melee attack they will die after a short amount of time. Also, it is possible in Halo: Reach to shoot the vents on either side of the tank, resulting in the tank popping off and the Unggoy becoming airborne.
Psychology and Behavior
Fairly intelligent, cowardly and not very creative on the battlefield, Unggoy are one of the most gregarious and sociable of the Covenant races and possess a very strong pack mentality, often associating with each other in groups. Although quite capable of operating weaponry, vehicles and machinery such as Ghosts and Shades, Unggoy are thought to be unintelligent. This is most likely due to stereotyping created by higher-ranking species such as Sangheili and Jiralhanae, who have grown accustomed to expecting blind obedience from subordinates.
There are exceptions to this rule, however: The Unggoy Deacon Dadab, for example, was noted as being quite intelligent for an Unggoy, as demonstrated by his ability to learn and communicate in Huragok sign language; however, this is simply because he was allowed to be intelligent by his superiors. An Unggoy can be found on the farm lands of the Sangheili homeworld Sanghelios. They sometimes use a recreational drug in the form of a gas they mix into their methane tanks called infusion, sometimes referred to as "the gas." It was found by ONI operative Evan Phillips.
The Unggoy seem to outnumber the other races to a large degree and might offer impressive resistance if properly organized. They have been called "cannon fodder" because their Sangheili or Jiralhanae leaders will often send them out to serve as a distraction, rather than actually having them effectively engage an enemy in combat. This numerical superiority and pack mentality allows for their sense of cultural identity to remain, despite a number of hardships, including their extreme subservience to the other races of the Covenant, as well as the dark time following reintroduction after the activation of the Halo Array.
An inherent psychological advantage possessed by the Unggoy are their unburdened neural pathways, which allow the Unggoy to absorb knowledge more freely compared to the other Covenant species. As such, they are often tasked with monitoring space for traces of human communication. In addition, many Unggoy have developed a clear understanding of two or even three human languages. This advantage serves as a river of confidence in times of great stress for them.
Unggoy generally follow a few short, simple guidelines given to them by the Sangheili, namely "when in doubt, shoot," or "stay out of the way, live another day." Despite being held in low stature in the Covenant, many Unggoy appear to be strong followers of their religion. Their Deacons will often hold sermons onboard ships to boost the morale and teach the Unggoy onboard about the Covenant. For instance, a Deacon named Dadab gave sermons and taught the Unggoy on board a Jiralhanae cruiser about the Covenant and its religions. The Jiralhanae allowed Dadab these teachings because they believed that it would help the Unggoy become more competent and helpful.
They often gamble with each other and play games. One in particular, hunting rock, involves two Unggoy competing to kill the most Scrub Grubs. In the novel Halo: Contact Harvest, the Unggoy Deacon Dadab stated that scrub grubs were easy targets compared to the mud wasps and shade crabs of his homeworld.
Anatomy and Physiology
Unggoy share a number of features with different animal species on Earth. Like primates, they walk both bipedally and with the aid of their oversized forearms in a manner similar to a chimpanzee. Their bodies are armored with a hard exoskeleton, much like crabs and insects. Their mouths have a set of small, pointed teeth, much like reptiles. However, the UNSC has classified them taxonomically as being most similar to Earth arthropods, but being alien in nature, they still aren't technically arthropods.
Unggoy are on average about five feet tall and are relatively weak compared to other species. Although they can easily walk upright on two legs, they may often use their arms to move in a quadrupedal fashion. While carrying armaments, they are forced to walk upright so that they may support their weapons with their hands, but while trying to flee, or while patrolling without a weapon drawn, they use their oversize arms as forelegs to add speed or stability to their gait. Their eyesight and hearing are average and they seem to have a very well-developed sense of smell, sometimes sniffing the air to detect traces of foes or hidden threats. This is facilitated through the olfactory membranes installed in their masks.
Unggoy also have thick, bio-luminescent, light-blue blood, possibly a result of methane-based proteins in the blood to facilitate methane-based respiration. Like Earth's horseshoe crabs, it is possible that their blood is blue due to high copper content.
Unggoy have oversized forearms, while their upper arms and thighs seem disproportionately small. This has allowed them to be quite excellent climbers, as revealed in Halo: Contact Harvest. Spiny protrusions on their elbows help them scale rocky surfaces and may also be used to add force to their melee attacks. They also have an amazingly fast finger reflex speed, as they can fire a plasma pistol at the same rate a Sangheili can with a plasma rifle.
Most Unggoy have flat, three-toed feet, with another toe on the back of their feet, though others may have four reptilian toes in front. While they are small, stocky and lacking in agility, they are quite sturdy; most Unggoy use light plasma pistols, and some Unggoy are surprisingly strong, able to carry a collapsed plasma cannon or fire a fuel rod gun with one hand without toppling from the recoil or weight. As rank-and-file Unggoy are clumsy and tactically inept, more powerful weapons are likely only issued to those who are more disciplined and experienced.
Although they require an atmosphere to breathe, Unggoy are capable of surviving in the vacuum of space without sealed, full-body gear. Unggoy carapaces apparently can withstand the chilling cold and airless environment of EVA conditions, but they must employ sealed face masks in order to breathe, as well as presumably to protect their facial tissues. In the post-war era, the Unggoy seem less able to survive without a mask and are less armored.
Unggoy breed prodigiously, with large egg clutches and short childhood periods. Combined with the large number of young per clutch and rapid sensory-motor integration development, this was one of the primary reasons why the Covenant cleverly used the Unggoy's breeding habits to their advantage in battle, deploying the Unggoy as cannon fodder. Overpopulation is a serious problem in peacetime and strict laws are enacted regarding when and how many Unggoy can breed.
Unggoy do value their ties to their offspring, but are usually separated from their families at an early age by the requirements of military service to the Covenant. They resent this greatly, but because of their low social status in the Covenant, they are unable to muster any response. Unggoy also have multiple fathers and mothers. Though, its unknown if all but two are genetically related to the offspring.
The Unggoy's culture has been largely erased by their incorporation into the Covenant. They have been granted very few civil rights in comparison to other members of the Covenant and on a good day they are treated like second-class citizens. Despite the advances in civil rights granted after the Unggoy Rebellion, including the right to carry weapons and hold places among infantry units, their representation on the High Council is mostly powerless. The negative aspects of their existence are offset by the irony of their continued survival due to the acceptance of the Covenant. The entire species is no longer at risk of being eradicated by two consecutive horrible winter seasons, as they had on their homeworld of Balaho, a swampy planet with a methane atmosphere. Infant mortality is now below 50 percent. Average life expectancy has more than doubled (not including combat personnel). Geronticide is no longer a necessity for the survival of the tribe. Producing enough food to last through the winter season and burning plague victims no longer rank as the top two priorities on their daily chores.
Unggoy often have names which reflect a language with very simple phonetics. Unggoy may be based on the Filipino term for "monkey." Common names, such as Yayap and Dadab, begins with a reduplicated consonant and consist of two syllables. Other names consist of a single syllable with clusters of consonants, such as "Flim." Some exceptions have occurred of which a name has more consonants than is usual while following the first method of naming, as in Kwassass. Often, their names are palindromes, such as Zawaz.
Unggoy names encountered so far consist of these phonemes:
- The vowels short A, short I, and short U.
- The consonants D, F, K, L, M, S, W, P, Y and Z.
Unggoy do not have family names, possibly because the Sangheili did not allow it. Instead, they identify themselves by famous ancestors, their homeworld, and where on that planet they lived.
- Main article: Balaho
The Unggoy homeworld of Balaho is a temperate, swampy planet with a methane atmosphere and naturally occurring pillars of fire. The cold season makes them highly covet any source of warmth and light they can find, mainly due to the "Blue Death." The planet is still in process of recovery from a global ecological collapse before the activation of the Halo Array due to overindustrialization caused by the Unggoy at the time.
Since their natural environment has a methane atmosphere, they need to carry methane tanks and breathing apparatus with them whenever they travel into areas without high levels of methane in the air. Since all the other races of the Covenant, and their human enemies, breathe oxygen, the Unggoy find themselves wearing breathing masks more often than not. They have been revealed to be inhabiting large environment domes that have airlocks and methane filters for them to breathe while not in armor or restocking their methane reserves at battlefield methane tanks. They seem to have high-pitched and squeaky voices, possibly due to the different resonant properties of methane gas. The high-pitched voices are commonly regarded as humorous by most other races, since they tend to sound like frightened children trying to sound intimidating.
The Unggoy have five classes which are easily identified by the color of their armor and/or the type of armor.
|Unggoy Ultra||These Unggoy serve as field officers to their comrades, and wear distinctive white-lilac or silver armor (reminiscent of the Sangheili Ultras). While they appear to have some authority over lesser-ranked Unggoy, they have no control whatsoever over the other Covenant races (except for Kig-Yar). They are stronger opponents than their subordinates, and are more accurate with firearms, throw plasma grenades more often, and wear heavier armor.|
|Special Operations Unggoy||These Unggoy are experienced and specially-chosen, usually commanded by the special operations Sangheili, and are given distinctive jet-black armor. They are part of the Covenant Special Operations division of the Covenant Special Warfare Group. Just like the special operations Sangheili, they are able to use Active camouflage. They are extremely skilled in warfare compared to their lower-ranked counterparts, and won't panic too often in combat situations, if they do at all. They usually can be seen wielding needlers and sometimes fuel rod guns, and throw plasma grenades with great accuracy. Many of them chose to side with Thel 'Vadam and the other Covenant separatists during the Covenant civil war. However, there were some who didn't side with the Separatists, wearing white armor similar to the Unggoy Ultra. Some loyalist Unggoy were seen during the battle of installation 00.|
|Unggoy Heavy||Being similar to the rank of UNSC Corporal, these specialized Unggoy wear green colored armor and are often deployed for defensive actions. Their primary purposes are to give heavy support for their group, and are commonly seen wielding fuel rod guns. In Halo 4 their armor can be found in green, blue, silver, red, orange, and rarely violet.|
|Unggoy Major||Similar to a UNSC as a Lance Corporal, they are more experienced than Unggoy Minors, and wear crimson/red colored armor. They command several Unggoy Minors and are slightly more skilled in combat and courageous, though this difference is not always substantial. In Halo: Combat Evolved, two Sniper rifle shots in the chest is required for one to die on Legendary (they have roughly the same health as the player in the game).|
|Unggoy Minor||The Covenant equivalent of a UNSC Private or Private First Class. They wear orange colored armor and are often the least dangerous, most cowardly, and inaccurate marksmen of all the Covenant. When their commanding officer is killed, they routinely break formation and flee; however, they will regroup and start firing at their target again. As is fitting for Jiralhanae behavior, Unggoy under the command of the Jiralhanae are substantially more aggressive.|
|Unggoy Storm||Storm Unggoy are Unggoy who are a part of the Covenant remnants. They share many of their ranks with the main Covenant but also have a few unique classes. They are more fanatical than regular Unggoy, and are more dangerous as a result. They serve the same role as Unggoy Minors in the original Covenant. Their armor can be found in many colors including orange, blue, red, green, yellow, etc. Unggoy Storm, like their Unggoy Minor counterparts are cowardly, but they are fanatical as the Sangheili they serve under.|
|Unggoy Imperial||Unggoy Imperials seem to hold the same position as Unggoy Majors and Ultras. Unggoy Imperial armor can be seen in red, blue, silver, and green. They can command Storm Unggoy, but are more commonly lead themselves by Sangheili.|
|Unggoy Ranger||Like the Unggoy Imperial and Unggoy Storm, the Unggoy Ranger is a new rank of the Unggoy species. The Unggoy Ranger, like the Sangheili Ranger and Kig-Yar Ranger, functions in harsh atmosphere, including in space, because of their rank, Unggoy Rangers are specialists. Their armor is designed for 0 gravity and has suitable breathing equipment for space operations.|
- Main article: Deacon
The only position open to the Unggoy in the Ministry of Tranquility. This rank doesn't often involve combat or hard manual labor, though they have been known to carry around plasma pistols and needlers, the former possibly meaning it is the lowest position on the Covenant hierarchy. But as seen in Halo: Contact Harvest, the Deacon ordered around other Unggoy whenever it came to matter of religion. In Halo Wars, Deacons are available as the final upgrade for an Unggoy. They further bolster and strengthen the abilities of the Unggoy squads. Interestingly, they wear elongated helmets reminiscent of their Sangheili counterparts.
Though it is never formally named as a rank and only mentioned once, it was revealed in Contact Harvest, that merchants are Unggoy well-respected in the Hierarchy. When Truth was sworn into office a Drone queen, Kig-Yar ship masters, and Unggoy Merchants were said to be there. It was also said that their Combat Harnesses were adorned with large jewels. They are known to trade Human audio transmissions such as soap operas and radio chatter on the Covenant black market.
The Covenant assign select fanatical Unggoy squads to use suicide attacks as their primary offensive tactic against the enemy. The suicide Unggoy appear in Halo Wars as the Arbiter's unique unit, produced in squads of four and resembling standard Unggoy except for a large, transparent cylindrical tank in place of the standard triangular one. Sometimes, however, whether overcome by religious fervor or in a fit of desperation, they will rush a target while carrying a charged plasma grenade in each hand. In Halo 3, this usually happens when their commanding officer is killed.
- Main article: Heretic Unggoy
These Unggoy have different methane tubes than their non-Heretic counterparts. They use two rounded tubes, instead of the triangular shape. Another feature of the Heretic Unggoy armor is a small mouth-breather that exposes an Unggoy's teeth. Unlike the armor of the Heretic Sangheili, there is only one uniform color for an Unggoy's armor, which is a shining, golden-brown. Because of this, there is no hierarchy or ranking system, and Heretic Unggoy are inferior only to Heretic Sangheili. Heretic Unggoy are also superior to their Covenant counterparts by their equipment and usage thereof. They almost always use needlers, or occasionally fuel rod guns, but never the plasma pistols that are often wielded by their counterparts. They set up turrets like the Heavy Unggoy. They are better treated than their Covenant counterparts, and are not used as cannon fodder. It's also worth noting that Heretic Unggoy are much harder to kill than normal Unggoy. Typical Unggoy can be killed with two or three shots on normal via Carbine, but Heretic Unggoy can absorb up to five shots before dying.
- Main article: Unggoy/Gameplay
Overall, the Unggoy are very weak in combat and often flee when their leader has been killed. However, they can pose a significant threat when encountered in force, especially on higher difficulties. If their leader is killed, Unggoy may activate two plasma grenades and rush the player in a last-ditch attempt at glory.
In Halo Wars, the Unggoy are the main infantry unit, serving as the Covenant equivalent to the Marine. They start with a plasma pistol and three in each squad, but they can be upgraded with Needlers. When upgraded to Needlers, they seem to also function as anti-air units as well due to their projectiles setting off a Hornet's chaff pods and doing extra damage towards enemy aircraft.
- In Halo 3 and Halo 5: Guardians:
- It is possible to shoot off the methane tank on the back with any precision weapon.
- In Halo: Reach:
- Their voices were changed. Instead of their original high-pitched and squeaky voices, they sound more deep and mechanical, possibly because of their breathing apparatus. However, they are still being voiced by Joseph Staten.
- If their Methane Tank is shot or punched and falls off, their gas tank may launch and send the Unggoy into any direction and eventually explode.
- It is possible that, when not shot at, they will shake their weapon up and down as if it is jammed.
- In Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary:
- They were supposed to have the Unggoy Ultra helmet, but was not added in because of time constraints.
- In Halo 4:
- They look more reptilian than in the previous games.
- They now breathe methane through a tube leading to their nostrils instead of wearing masks over their mouths.
- They appear to have a sharper, more reptilian voice than in previous games.
- They are seen with Fuel Rod Guns (commonly seen on Legendary), and tend to use their methane packs to "super-jump."
- It is no longer possible to shoot or melee an Unggoy's methane tank off without killing it.
- They stand their ground more often instead of fleeing.
- They may be a variant that was genetically mutated by the Covenant, or they may be a different sub-species.
- Whenever they are sleeping, they make the same sleeping noises as they do in Halo: Reach.
- In Halo 5: Guardians:
- In Tagalog, Unggoy means "Monkey."
- In real life, "Grunt" is a slang military term for infantrymen.
- Unggoy enjoy trading human communication files, such as soap operas and comedies, through the black market.
- The Unggoy were ranked #5 in Game Informer's "The Top 10 Most Pathetic Enemies" list.
- Since Balaho, their home planet, has a methane atmosphere, the Unggoy wear methane tanks to breathe. However, in gameplay, they can still survive without a methane tank.
- A Minecraft DLC Skin pack (1) for the Xbox 360 includes an Unggoy Minor Skin.
- A Halo 4 Storm Unggoy is featured in a advertisement for the Master Chief Collection in which the Unggoy is interviewed to have survived the events of the series by being "smarter, stronger and faster than the Master Chief," however it was quickly revealed that it's survival was through running and hiding, which it resorted to at the end of the ad.
- In the 2018 film Ready Player One, one can see an Unggoy charging into the battlefield at a Sixer with a T-25 Diredcted Energy Pistol in the final battle scene.