Microsoft’s biggest first-party franchise for Xbox is, and has always been, Halo. The series has been going strong for over 12 years and its popularity has yet to dwindle in that time span, but new players may have missed out on the story of Master Chief’s beginnings. That’s why 343 Industries and the house of Bill Gates have opted to revamp the entire story of John-117 on Xbox One with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Spanning all four Chief-centric games released thus far, the collection is a must-have for dedicated fans and newcomers who love sci-fi shooters. We were given a brief tour of the title’s menu screen and shown just how immense the game aims to be. Thanks to the power of Microsoft’s latest gaming console, the single disc will include Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary (which is arguably the biggest selling point of the collection), Halo 3 and the more recent Halo 4.
Players will be able to bomb through every single campaign mission in the aforementioned games as well as take part in their unique multiplayer modes. Of course, every fan of the Halo franchise has a favorite level – or better yet a type of level. During my brief preview, I was shown that 343 Industries has grouped certain types of levels together in playlists that span across the entirety of the Master Chief saga.
Do you like vehicle-friendly maps? You’ve got them in bulk. And f playlists aren’t really doing it for you, then you can just play the entirety of Halo 1 through 4. The choices are varied and appear well-built, making them ideal for gamers that just feel like avoiding the Flood or splattering Covenant in a Warthog. When that’s all done, gamers can then hop into the live-action, episodic series Halo: Nightfall, which stars a prominent up and comer to the franchise (he’s set to make a playable debut in Halo 5: Guardians) referred to as Agent Locke. Episodes for the Ridley Scott produced series will be released over time, but anyone who owns Halo: The Master Chief Collection will get them all for free.
The campaign in Halo is critically regarded at this point (with Master Chief becoming one of the most iconic characters in gaming as a result), but multiplayer has always been a huge focus of the series. Those looking for some online enjoyment will get just that too, as the disc will include every single map ever included in any of the four core Halo games. It doesn’t matter if the multiplayer map debuted as DLC or was originally a PC-exclusive, The Master Chief Collection has it running in its original, nostalgia-inducing engine and it’s all rigged to play online.
The only exception to this, however, are six select maps from Halo 2. So far 343 Industries has announced that Ascension, Coagulation, Sanctuary, Zanzibar and Lockout will be getting a nice coat of paint and a handful of additional layout tweaks. While the final classic map re-emerging in Halo 2: Anniversary is currently being kept safely behind closed doors, Microsoft did allow us to play a couple of rounds in the latest battleground it announced – Lockout.
As the arena booted up, I selected the option to spawn with the M7 SMG and entered into a high-definition rendering of a map that I knew intimately. Established players of the series will already be very accustomed to the map and all of its nooks and crannies, but there are some new tricks for gamers to make use of.
I quickly learned that other players can now shoot down a massive chunk of ice from the overhanging cliff located above the the walled-in sniper tower on the map. This prevents users from camping for too long, keeps the action of the map flowing and prevents teams from gaining a stranglehold on the competition.
Dual-wielding also makes its triumphant return, and it’s a familiar (yet refreshing) blast to run around spreading a barrage of lead or plasma amongst both the landscape and hostile players. It’s made even more nostalgic by the fact that the game plays exactly like the original Xbox iteration; there is no sprinting or class selections to be made in the new game. As intended, players will get the feel of Halo 2, warts and all, with a shiny new look that makes Master Chief’s first sequel worth revisiting.
Every aspect of Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been implemented to appeal to longtime fans of the game, while also introducing newer fans to the historic highs and lows of the franchise. After my time with the game, I can confirm that the title represents wonderful fan service and is an easy recommendation for Xbox One owners.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be arriving exclusively on November 11, 2014 exclusively for Xbox One.
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