It’s been almost 5 years (!) now since the original launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) and to developer 343’s credit they’ve stuck to their guns in giving the product the attention and support it deserved after the kind of launch that could sink franchises. A lot has changed in that time with a couple of notable releases that not only resolved the major issues with multiplayer but also brought in 4K support too. After the amount of work that had been put in it over this period it felt like the team must have rewritten the whole product numerous times to get closer and closer to giving players they Halo collection they always wanted.
With this new release finally adding Halo: Reach (see the announcement here via Halo Waypoint) it might be fair to assume that this might be the last major update for MCC. For Xbox gamers, the core game now includes all of the Reach multiplayer enhancements however anyone wanting to play either the campaign or the Firefight mode will need to cough up a small fee to unlock them. Game Pass owners can access it for free. PC players of MCC are starting off with Reach first with the other games gradually being added over time starting with Halo: Combat Evolved in early 2020. Which to choose I think depends on your platform but if you’re more focused on the campaign content having it all available now on Xbox One is handy.
The updates to MCC since the multiplayer overhaul have also resulted in the game’s UI steadily improving to the point now where it’s quite streamlined. Quite an achievement considering the games it’s is juggling while doing so. The menu has a new theme too with Spartan helmets replacing previous Halo and Flood themes used previously. The palette swap is a fresh change too as the series has always leaned hard on blues and purples so this tweak is a welcome change to my old eyes.
First glace at the new menu under your character customisation settings and you can see that there’s a leveling system that’s now displayed. Accruing XP for unlocks is not a new concept (even for Halo) but it’s now presented in a way that’s consistent with games such as Fortnite or Apex Legends… you just don’t need to spend any money. This aspect of the game may also work well in future updates to give long term players incentive to jump online again.
The new addition to MCC slots right into the game and takes pride of place at the top of the game’s campaign and multiplayer lists. It may have been a later release in the franchise but was the first in the series timeline. With only a couple of button clicks you’re right into the campaign within moments – previous optimisations have made load times across the whole suite quite fast and it’s great here too. Halo: Reach was a good looking game at the time on the 360 and on an Xbox One X you’re seeing the best possible version of it in 4K. It really gives you a chance to see why it was by far the best looking game original develooer Bungie had produced on the 360 up to that point.
Playing the campaign again after spending time in Halo 3 and it feels like the balance is a little more in favour of the enemy than yourself. Maybe fair considering the Spartan soldiers in Reach aren’t of the same calibre of the Master Chief but you can feel a little intimidated early on with just how much harder it can be to take anything down. But once you get the hang of it you feel right at home again. Having the multiplayer suite, including Halo‘s take on Horde mode with Firefight, is great and playing again on some of the game’s maps brought back find memories of regular sessions online. The tight symmetrical map “Boardwalk” has been in rotation a lot already from my time playing so far and is still a favourite. Any players wanting to find a way to earn XP and unlock those cosmetic items will not be short of options.
This might be the start of Halo MCC‘s life on PC but if what we get on Xbox One is any indication Microsoft and 343 have finally delivered on the promise years ago of delivering the ultimate Halo collection. It’s been a long time coming but what you have here is an incredible amount of value for shooter fans thanks to the lengthy campaigns and the massive suite of multiplayer modes. Is there any other shooter that offers this much content in a single package?