Microsoft’s press conference was two days ago and I’m just about recovered from the console-selling bombshell that was dropped on us with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
I honestly didn’t believe it when it was leaked a while back, it sounded too good to be true – and I am still somewhat in-denial with all the things that have since been announced about what the game will offer. Four games for the price of one, full Anniversary treatment for Halo 2, new Terminals, Ridley Scott’s digital feature Nightfall, Forge in Halo 2, every multiplayer, every map… That’s just scratching the surface, it’s hard to keep all of this amazing new functionality in your head at once.
For that reason, I’d like to compile everything we know into one comprehensive post.It’s probably best to do this as a list because there is so much to this collection, we’ll be here all day if I talk about everything at-length… Everything you’re about to learn about is on one disk.
The Master Chief Collection
- The MCC contains Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4.
- The game is set to release on November 11th of this year.
- There are 93 multiplayer maps included, that’s every map from those 4 games along with the PC counterparts of Halo CE and Halo 2. 45 campaign missions overall, and all 50 Spartan Ops missions are included as well. [x]
- All of the games are running on their original engine, so for the first time ever you can play Halo CE’s multiplayer online on a console. [x]
- Every game runs at 60 FPS with 1080p visuals and dedicated servers.
- Custom campaign playlists allow you to play a series of missions across each game seamlessly.
- 2 player split-screen for campaign and 4 player co-op over Xbox Live. [x]
- The MCC will ship with 4000 gamerscore, that’s 1000G for each game.
- There will be a unified ranking system that works across all games, it has been heavily hinted to be like Halo 2’s 1-50 ranking system where you can gain and lose ranks. [x]
- The switch between old and new graphics for Halo CE Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary will be instantaneous, there will no longer be the fade-to-black screen. You can also switch the graphics during cutscenes.
- While Halo 3 and 4 will not be receiving the Anniversary treatment (they don’t really need it, Halo 4 already looks like a next-gen game) they will benefit from the 1080p visual upgrade and 60 FPS.
- Other improvements include much higher fidelity, better shadowing, reflection, and lighting effects in all games.
- Most tricks and glitches from Halo 2 (superbouncing, button combos etc) will still work.
- Halo 2 will have Forge.
- There will be 6 classic Halo 2 maps remastered, one of which is Ascension.
- Halo 2 will have a remastered soundtrack, along with the option to switch between the original tracks and the new ones.
- Theatre has been confirmed to be a feature, with the possibility that it could be implemented for Halo CEA, Halo 4, and Spartan Ops. [x]
- Halo 2 will come complete with new Terminals and Skulls.
- The original E3 2003 demo mission for Halo 2 was going to be include, but the remaining code was deemed to be so buggy that if the player deviated from the course of the mission by even a few pixels the whole thing would crash.
- Current assets seen in gameplay videos of Halo 2 Anniversary are still subject to change, much like the announcement of Halo CEA back in 2011 which depicted the Master Chief in armour that had been scrapped and wielding the Reach Assault Rifle. The game isn’t finished yet.
- Also included is access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta, and the first episode of Ridley Scott’s digital feature – Halo: Nightfall.
Halo 5: Guardians
- The multiplayer is set to return to focusing on arena-style gameplay with equal starts and no loadouts.
- There will be no Armour Abilities in the game. [x]
- Spartan Abilities have been mentioned – these are not Armour Abilities, they are things that all players can utilise, but we don’t know any details yet. [x]
- The multiplayer beta is set to launch December 27th and will run into mid-January.
- Nathan Fillion is the voice of the Spartan in the multiplayer beta trailer, it appears that he may reprise his role as Buck who has gone on to become a Spartan-IV.
In addition, here are some quotes from Frankie about Halo 5: Guardians’ multiplayer gameplay and the return to arena traditions.
“There has been kind of a backlash about it; not just with our stuff but with other peoples’ games where there’s just too much and people want something sort of simple, and as E-sports comes back they want something more balanced and more symmetrical and fair.
I think it’s a see saw, and I think it’s tipping back towards the [competitive side], and E-sports is certainly driving a lot of that by going for things that are really truly competitive rather than just sort of reward driven. I think you can have your cake and eat it. I think you can have both of those sets of experiences in a game and sort of reward people in the campaign and make sure that your multiplayer is something pure.”
To provide a degree of commentary here, I think it’s quite clear that 343 Industries has taken everything fans said about Halo 4’s multiplayer on-board. They obviously want to create a game which everybody is going to enjoy and they’re not looking to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes when it comes to Halo 4’s less-than-stellar performance as far as multiplayer went.
The Master Chief Collection is a perfect opportunity for 343 to see what kind of Halo game the players want. The beta for Halo 5: Guardians is coming in December which is, I would predict, about 11 months before the actual game’s release. Resultantly, 343 will have the opportunity to listen to player feedback and tailor the Halo 5: Guardians experience to the community’s wishes. In this, the MCC isn’t just a console-selling love letter to old fans and new, but a platform with which the future of Halo’s gameplay experience will be experimented with and sculpted into the game we want.
I think it’s a very sensible thing to do, and it’s clear that a hell of a lot of effort has gone into making the experience as substantial as possible for both campaign and multiplayer fans due to the numerous improvements they’ve made. I for one will be overjoyed to finally be able to play Halo CE’s multiplayer on console.
Halo: Nightfall is going to be included as part of the MCC, it has been described as being an origin story for a brand new character (Agent Locke, who we saw in the E3 trailer conversing with the Arbiter) and a sort of spiritual successor to Forward Unto Dawn in that manner. As it also turns out, ‘Marlowe’ was just a codename used for Agent Locke earlier on in development.
But let’s talk about the image we’ve been shown here because it has very interesting implications. At a glance, this appears to be set on the remains of Installation 04 – the first Halo ring we destroyed in Halo CE.Right off the bat, I think it’d be so cool to see Locke’s character journey begin in the same place as John’s did in Halo CE. The official Waypoint description for this series states:
“A strange and treacherous world exposes elite UNSC operatives to a much deeper danger in this live action series from 343 Industries and Scott Free Productions.”
Right away, my brain is thinking ‘Flood’. It has been directly stated in Halo: Primordium that the Flood will return (I’ve written volumes on this particular topic), and we’ve very recently seen that the Flood are still aboard the Spirit of Fire in the latest issue of the ongoing comic series Halo: Escalation.
And, let’s face it, Ridley Scott handling the Flood? That could just be about the most terrifying thing ever…
Halo 2 Anniversary
I wanted to dedicate this last section to the shining jewel of the Master Chief Collection, since we’ve been shown a number of images from the cutscenes in the last few days. I am absolutely astounded at how photorealistic these look, I still have to do a double-take whenever I see that image of Johnson because it looks like a real person. Who do we have to thank for this? Blur animation studios, the same people who were responsible for the cutscenes in Halo Wars back in 2009.
Every cutscene in Halo 2 Anniversary is going to be pre-rendered by Blur, the level of time, effort and detail is readily apparent from these shots alone. It looks like something you’d expect to see in a blockbuster movie, it’s a testament to just how far video games have come and I can’t think of a better series than Halo to exemplify that. What I love most is that this whole thing is contextualised in the universe itself, so it’s not just you playing through these games again but the experience is bookended by a prologue and epilogue cutscene where Agent Locke and the Arbiter appear to be examining these events from John’s past to see if they can ascertain where he’s gone because he is going to be instrumental in the galaxy’s future.
“To find him, you have to forget the stories. Forget the legends. You’ll have to do more than walk in his footsteps, for he is more than the sum of his actions. I tell you this, not because I trust you, Agent Locke, but because all our lives are at stake. Because the seeds of our future are sown in his past…”
Whenever I think that Halo can’t possibly top what’s come before, I’m surprised in new and exciting ways. My heart skipped a beat the moment that iconic Gregorian monk choir started playing, and now I face the dilemma of wanting to buy an Xbox One…
Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be available on November 11th for £40/$60.