After finally getting an Xbox One and with Halo 5: Guardians on the horizon, one of my first orders of business was to rendezvous with Master Chief. I didn’t have an original Xbox so I jumped on the Halo train with Xbox 360. I played a lot of Halo 3, probably more Halo: Reach, and a disgusting amount of Halo 4. I recently started listening to the audiobooks, as well. I like Halo, ok?
Halo: MCC had a lot of issues at launch, but how is it now nearly a year after release? Fun and nostalgic, that’s for sure.
- TL;DR: Master Chief’s timeline remade for Microsoft’s flagship console
- Platform: Xbox One
- Hours Played: 15
- What I Played: Mostly multiplayer, the majority in 3 and 4
- Should You Play It?: If you’re a series veteran, definitely. If not, still yes.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection collects Halo: CE, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 into a single, remastered collection. At a high level, the story is that Master Chief is a Spartan, i.e. a super soldier with power armor, tasked with stopping the alien Covenant from wiping out humanity. There are other alien races in the mix, planets attacked and battles waged, but I won’t go into that here. The campaigns of all four games are in Halo: MCC waiting for you, if you so choose. One quick aside — I mentioned listening to the audio books in my opening blurb. The first book, Halo: The Fall of Reach, is pretty interesting. I recommend it if you’re interested in the lore of the Halo-verse.
While the story is interesting and the campaigns are both fun and challenging, I really only bought Halo: MCC for the multiplayer, which is where I’ve spent the vast majority of my time and will spend the rest of this article. There are a dozen or so playlists to choose from, including playlists for each specific game and playlists that mix games like action sack, big team battle, and SWAT. Each pre-game lobby has voting on three map/mode combinations mixed between the games in the playlist. Map overviews are shown on the loading screen which is a nice way to reacquaint yourself with maps you may not have seen in years.
Halo has primarily been a couch co-op game for me and MCC has let me continue that tradition. Guest accounts can play online, although not in ranked playlists. Split-screen Halo is the best way to play Halo, if you ask me.
My multiplayer time has mainly been spent in Halo 3 and Halo 4, but I’ve played a handful of games in both Halo: CE and Halo 2. Since this is my first time playing CE and 2, I can’t speak to improvements but only what I experienced playing them for the first time.
- Halo: CE: The assault rifle seems to shoot about triple the rate that it does in later games, but also does far less damage. The pistol (shout out to my man Pistol Vin) is crazy powerful and I swap to it whenever possible. It feels like an old game and, being 14 years old, isn’t a surprise. I’d like to spend a little more time with the game that started it all.
- Halo 2: I know Halo 2 was beloved, so it might just be me having played Halo 3 and Halo 4 after it to make it pale in comparison, but I’m not a big fan. I really don’t like having red blips show up on my screen when a teammate is shot because I’m conditioned to think that that’s me being hit. It’s surprisingly smooth, though. The one game of Kill From The Hill I played in Halo 2 Anniversary was great, too.
- Halo 3: Now we’re in my wheelhouse. Halo 3 is just as quick as I remember it with small maps and quick respawns. It’s weird to see an older game running so smoothly on the Xbox One. It takes some getting used to, actually. Remembering where weapon spawn points are and named locations on maps bring back a flood of nostalgia.
- Halo 4: Also silky smooth, Halo 4 feels great on Xbox One. You can only choose between generic armor setups, not the full-fledged customization originally in Halo 4. But, you can make loadouts with all weapons and armor abilities unlocked from the get go. DLC maps seem to be favored in the map selections, but my old favorites Abandon and Haven are still in the mix.
Overall, multiplayer is a blast, especially with friends. You can set thumbstick layouts, button layouts (bumper jumper or bust!), look sensitivity, and more either per game or across the board. As always, you can customize your emblem and callsign while clan tags and nameplates unlock as you play.
Other Halo standbys, like Forge and Theater, are in Halo: MCC. If you, for some reason, haven’t dove into the user-created games in the action sack playlist in the past, trust me and do it. I’ve had some of the most multiplayer fun in recent memory playing things like shotty snipers, clang of the hill (king of the hill with swords and thruster packs), and paintball (one-hit kills with plasma pistols). You can also play the Spartan Ops missions from Halo 4, which were a lot of fun when they were new, at least. I’d imagine there isn’t a huge community playing those anymore, though.
Halo: MCC was marred with issues at launch, including horribly long matchmaking times, splitting pre-made teams into separate sides, and broken stat tracking. I haven’t experienced many, if any, issues now that the game is 10 months old. Lag acted up on a few occasions, sure, but things are smooth for the most part. I have seen a few instances of bodies popping and writhing on the ground after death, which is pretty funny.
One last note — it’s a shame that Halo: Reach isn’t included in MCC. I really liked Reach, especially the story which was one of the more relatable and humanizing entries in the series. I’ll always have fond memories of Noble Team.
As it’s own standalone game, Halo: The Master Chief Collection collects four games from Microsoft’s flagship franchise, including their epic campaigns and excellent multiplayer, all in one package. For series veterans who love Master Chief, this is a must-own. The nostalgia factor is just too strong to avoid it. Plus, with Halo 5: Guardians out in a few months, what better way to shake the rust off your Warthog driving skills and four-burst Battle Rifle kills?