No, you’re not hearing things. That was a Mass Effect reference in the Halo series premiere.
Mild spoilers for Halo episode 1 follow, you have been warned.
After Miranda Keyes (Olive Gray) finishes speaking to Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), you can hear some faint radio chatter from the UNSC flagship. Among those at 33:50, an operator says, “Commander Shepherd, you are requested at the Skillian Response Center.”
While that’s Shepherd and not Shepard, it is still a clear nod to Commander Shephard. If you’ve been living under a rock on the Citadel for the past 15 (!) years, Commander Shepard the lead playable character in the Mass Effect series, who was tasked with seeing off the Reapers in BioWare’s trilogy, which ran from 2007 to 2012.
343’s Kiki Wolfkill has confirmed that it was a deliberate Easter egg. “Everybody loves Mass Effect” she tells us, adding that the shoutout happened because the games industry is a “very collegiate environment.”
Mass Effect could one day return the favor. There has long been speculation of a Mass Effect series being in the works, which has intensified further following actor Henry Cavill posting a cryptic piece of research for a top-secret project on Instagram.
We recently asked Cavill whether he would be interested in joining the Mass Effect series.
“Very much so, yeah, all depending on how they’re executing it,” Cavill said at the time. “The world of adaptation can be heavy or light. When I like a product, I prefer the adaptation to be less changed from the source, so it all depends.”
Cavill continues: “I think it’s found a home, hasn’t it? If [the series] finds a home, I would love to have a conversation.”
For more on the Halo side of things, here’s our interview with the cast and creators of the Halo series, including talk of timelines, controversies, and reinventing the Master Chief.