"The Commander of the Covenant turns his attention to the Flood, but Chieftain Lepidus has other plans"
The Commader: Evolved is a reimagining of the level The Commander in Halo SPV3. It was originally cut from the mod until it finally saw a release in the SPV3.2 update in 2019 along with the missions The Commander, None Left Behind and the Lumoria campaign. This mission acts as an alternate version of The Commander, retelling the events of the same level in a different scenario.
In this mission and The Commander, the player takes control of Thel 'Vadamee, the Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Particular Justice during the Battle of Installation 04, and also the Sangheili who would become The Arbiter in Halo 2.
Overview & Background
The Commander: Evolved is a spinoff of the main campaign that takes place on the same map as The Silent Cartographer: Evolved, much like the normal version of The Commander takes place on the same map as the original The Silent Cartographer. Thel 'Vadamee, along with Rtas 'Vadumee and Usze 'Tahamee, travel to the Cartographer Island to investigate after contact was lost with the Covenant task force, led by a pack of Brutes, that was sent there to retake the island.
Upon arrival, they soon learn that the leader of the Covenant task force, Brute Chieftain Lapidus and all the Covenant under him have turned AWOL against Thel 'Vadamee. After losing most of his pack to the Flood, that is also responsible for the death and infection of the Marines that took the island with the Master Chief earlier, he accuses the Commander of sending him and his forces on a suicide mission and intends to kill him and escape on his Phantom. Meanwhile, it transpires the Flood have infested the entire island, taking control of the Cartographer to learn more about Installation 04 and how to escape. These events lead to a four way battle on the island between Thel, Rtas and Usze, the mutinous Covenant task force, the Flood and the Sentinels and Enforcers.
This mission takes place at the same time as The Maw.
In this mission, players are in control of Thel 'Vadamee before he becomes The Arbiter, effectivley playing as an Elite Zealot. Two other Elites accompany the player for the majority of the mission: Rtas 'Vadumee, the Spec-Ops commander from Halo 2 and Halo 3, and Usze 'Tahamee, the player 4 character from Halo 3's Co op campaign. The squad mechanic from Halo 5 is echoed here as the players allies can be knocked down and revived by the player. However, the player cannot be revived.
Health packs are unavailable in this mission and The Commander, due to a function where the player will regain full health when Thel's shields are at full power and there are no enemies present, no matter how much has been lost. Thel's shields are also stronger that John-117's, since all Elite Zealots have very powerful shields.
Although UNSC weapons are used by the Covenant and the Flood, they are unusable to the player, despite still being dropped by enemies. Covenant and Sentinel weapons are still usable. To balance this, two weapons unique to this mission and The Commander have been added: the Needle Grenade and the iconic Energy Sword.
The Needle Grenade replaces the Frag Grenade and works similar to the Spike Grenade of Halo 3, except, when it explodes, it releases a flurry of needles in all directions that rebound off any surface and detonate if an enemy is hit. It will also detonate several times if the grenade itself is stuck to an enemy, though it will not fire needles if this happens. This grenade also appears in the Lumoria campaign, replacing the Cluster Grenade.
The Energy Sword works differently to its other apperances in the Halo franchise. Rather than a weapon that can be picked up from the field, it is equipped as a permanent armor ability, like the Master Chiefs VISR, HEALTH REGEN, SPRINT and RADAR abilities. It is available from the start of the mission and has infinite ammo, but it can only be used for a short time before it needs to recharge. It can be disengaged at anytime during use and also works as a light for dark areas. The lunge function from other games has been removed.
The HUD has also been changed, being made to look more Covenant themed. The charge level of the Energy Sword can be monitored in the upper right corner of the screen. There is also no motion tracker or radar of any kind. The locations of Rtas 'Vadumee and Usze 'Tahamee are shown via markers shaped like Elite helmets at all times they accompany the player, turning into red crosses when they have been knocked down.
- The shield power, health bar and Energy Sword charge display for the new HUD resembles the Marathon logo, a homage to Bungie who developed Halo: Combat Evolved.
- In the menu description of The Commader: Evolved, Cheiftain Lapidus's name is misspelled as "Lepidus". His name's correct spelling is confirmed in the in-game datapads and dialogue.
- Cheiftain Lapidus and his Brute pack are in command of an entire Covenant task force, including Grunts, Jackals and Hunters in this mission. In The Commander, however, only Brutes were sent to the island.
- Early in the mission, although in-game messages instruct the player to break through a locked door with the Energy Sword, its not actually necessary as the door will break with a regular melee attack.
- Lines of dialogue for Thel 'Vadamee and Rtas 'Vadumee have been taken from other Halo games and even mixed together in certain instances to ensure continuity. Voice actors were used for Chieftain Lapidus and Usze 'Tahamee, ergo, Usze adds more exposition than Thel or Rtas.
- Covenant enemies in this mission speak english due to the player controlling an Elite, who would understand them. Because of this, Jackals and Brutes have had their alien language vocal sounds changed in favour of english spoken phrases when in combat. Since Grunts already speak english, their vocal phrases have been left unchanged. Hunters vocal sounds are also unchanged.
- This mission contains 3 Forerunner terminals, the final terminal appears in an adjacent room to the Cartographer room, but seems to be inaccessible due to a locked door.
- Although this mission shares the same geometry as The Silent Cartographer: Evolved, there is an underground cave section that is only accessible in The Commander: Evolved. The doors that lead to this area have yellow lights and are locked shut in The Silent Cartographer: Evolved with no way to enter.
- This was maybe added to make up for the fact that The Commander: Evolved mainly forces the player to take a particular path across the island, in juxtaposition of The Silent Cartographer: Evolved's more non-linear approach to the level design.
- The Commander: Evolved features music by Jafet Meza not heard anywhere else in the mod, including an alternate, more imposing sounding version of Devils... Monsters..., the general theme of the Flood, that plays during the underground cave section.
- This is the final mission that features the Blind Wolves. Like in None Left Behind, they have been infected by the Flood. They do not appear in the normal version of The Commander.
- Thel is an honor-bound Sangheili at the time this mission takes place. He, like his fellow Elites, would rather die than use the humans weapons. This is why UNSC weapons can't be used in the level. This sense of honor is lost to him after he becomes the Arbiter in Halo 2.
- At the end of this mission, players have the option to pilot a Ghost back to the beach after escaping the Cartographer's facility before fighting Lapidus. This section is reminiscent of the Warthog run in The Maw since it uses the same music. However, there is no timer for the Ghost run in The Commander: Evolved.
- Although The Commander and The Commander: Evolved share basically the same setting and mission objectives, both levels play out quite differently from each other. The main differences being that while both missions feature the story of what happened to the Brutes sent to the island, the evolved version brings it to the forefront, is more plot driven than the normal version and the Covenant is fought as a regular enemy alongside the Flood, Sentinels and Enforcers. The Commander: Evolved features Brute Chieftain Lapidus as the active villain where he is shown to be far more antagonistic than his role in The Commander. In this level he is fought as a boss, similar to Tartarus in Halo 2, whereas in the normal version, he is mainly unseen and appears as a Flood Combat Form at the end of the mission.
- The A.I.'s for Rtas 'Vadumee and Usze 'Tahamee are vulnerable to minor glitches including rolling for no reason (even off a cliff), not following the player when they should be and even freezing altogether. None of these bugs are game threatening and even resolve themselves in time, but as such, it is advised not to rely on their support entirely.