Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a bundle of Halo games starring Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. The set includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, as well as the digital feature Halo: Nightfall and access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. Halo 3: ODST's campaign was added via content update on May 30, 2015. The collection was released exclusively for the Xbox One on November 11, 2014 for $59.99 (USD).
In mid-2018, The Master Chief Collection would undergo a dramatic overhaul, with 343 Industries working to fix the bugs that had plagued the game since its release in 2014, to 2015. Improvements ranged from a UI overhaul, to the improvement of overall game stability, as well as the addition of a match composer, enabling users to fine tune their social game selection.
In March 2019, it was then announced that Halo: Reach would be remastered and released on the Xbox One as part of the collection, and that The Master Chief Collection was set to release on PC via the Microsoft Store and Steam, with Reach spearheading the release. Halo: Reach was released simultaneously on both editions of The Master Chief Collection on December 3, 2019. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary followed after, and was launched specifically on PC on March 3, 2020 with Halo 2: Anniversary following on May 12, 2020.
The four games in the collection are all contained on a single disc, with two additional games as DLC, and are accessible through a unified interface known as the "Master Menu". The menu allows players to directly play any mission in any of the five games straight from purchase, or arrange the levels from different games into their own custom playlists. Some playlists arranged by 343 Industries are readily available from launch. Examples of these include "Final Four", featuring the four final missions of each main game, "Hogs" for levels featuring the Warthog, and "Flood" for missions featuring the eponymous parasite. Halo 2: Anniversary also features separate Arbiter and Master Chief playlists which allow players to complete the two protagonists' respective levels individually. The music and backgrounds in the Master Menu are sensitive to the game that is being browsed at the time, as well as specific modes of that particular game.
All six titles have been optimized for the Xbox One and run natively at 60 frames per second; Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4 are a native resolution of 1920x1080, whereas the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign has a lower native resolution of 1328x1080 which is automatically up-scaled to 1080p by the Xbox One. Halo 3 and Halo 4 have received upgrades to their lighting systems. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary has also received an update to its graphics toggle, which is now instantaneous similar to Halo 2: Anniversary. The Kinect features available in the original Combat Evolved Anniversary, however, are not supported in this version.
The collection features intro and outro cinematics for Halo 2: Anniversary created by Blur Studio, which was also responsible for remastering the cutscenes in Halo 2: Anniversary. These cinematics follow Agent Locke's search for the Master Chief after the events of Halo 4 and have narrative connections to Halo 5: Guardians. New terminals are featured in Halo 2: Anniversary; the original terminals of Halo 3, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4 remain unchanged.
In addition to the control schemes of each individual game, The Master Chief Collection features several universal control setups to span all the games. However, Halo 3's specific controls are not available as one of these options due to the difficulty of implementing them to function with the other games.
The collection features campaign scoring for each game and an option to have a HUD overlay tracking one's score in real time. Each level has its own leaderboard featuring various stats, including total score, fastest completion time, and the number of enemies killed. Players can designate friends listed on the leaderboards as "rivals", whose scores can then be measured against in the in-game real-time score tracker.
The Master Chief Collection is available for digital download on Xbox Live Marketplace. The download version also features the attached Halo: Nightfall and Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta access passes. The Halo Channel is integrated with The Master Chief Collection. Players can unlock features, such as skulls, for the campaign by completing challenges on the Halo Channel. Additionally, players can use the Halo Channel to view their friend's stats during ongoing games or seamlessly join their matches.
On December 20, 2014, it was announced that Halo 3: ODST's campaign mode, a remake of the Halo 2 multiplayer map Relic, one free month of Xbox Live, an avatar award and an in-game nameplate would be included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection for free to players who had played the collection between its release on November 11, 2014 and December 19, 2014, serving as compensation to said fans who had experienced many bugs and glitches in the weeks following the collection's launch. The Halo 3: ODST campaign was officially released as DLC for The Master Chief Collection on May 30, 2015. Players not eligible for the free DLC can purchase the ODST campaign add-on for $4.99 USD.
PC release and Halo: Reach
In March 2019, it was announced in a Social Stream that 343 Industries was working to bring Halo: Reach into the Master Chief Collection, and the Collection itself onto PC, with several Flight tests between these two platforms. On November 14, 2019, it was announced during the Inside Xbox 2019 that Halo: Reach would be released on December 3, 2019 on both Xbox One and PC/Steam for $9.99 USD. Players on PC may pre-purchase the entire collection for $39.99 USD. Titles on PC will be released incrementally once developers feel that each title is ready for a "'first-class' PC experience." The PC version does not require an Xbox Live Gold subscription, but does require a basic Xbox LIVE account for both the Microsoft Store and Steam variants. A PC port had been long-planned for the future, but the success of the ElDewrito mod for Halo Online in 2018 had "lit a spark" for 343 Industries to begin development on the PC port sooner due to the huge community interest in the Halo PC experience, even after the 2016 cancellation of Halo Online.
During E3 2019, Xbox announced that MCC for both console and PC would be available on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The Game Pass version is fully-loaded and will include all titles, including Reach and the Halo 3: ODST campaign (which was previously paid DLC). The Xbox One Game Pass variant launched with the release of Game Pass Ultimate. On PC, MCC via Game Pass is only offered on the Microsoft Store on Windows 10. Halo: Reach launched for MCC on December 3, 2019 on both Xbox and PC platforms, though the Forge and Theater modes are presently absent from the PC releases while 343 Industries continues to work on adapting their control and feature-sets to a keyboard and mouse control scheme. As part of the revamp of the Forge mode, nicknamed "Thorage", additional forge objects from the campaign and other maps will be added to Forge World and Tempest that were unavailable in the Xbox 360 release of Halo: Reach.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary launched for PC on February 20, 2020, with Halo 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary beginning flighting in late March 2020.
MCC Insider program
Due to the game's notoriously buggy codebase, the Master Chief Collection went without significant updates for several years. In October 2017, 343 Industries announced a revitalised effort to revisit the game and update it with new patches and content, due to their plans to update the game for 4KUHD on the Xbox One X. To ensure that future patches would work as intended, 343 Industries implemented the "MCC Insider Program", a program designed for select players to be able to download and beta test MCC update releases. The program was initially closed to a select few thousand people, but soon grew to become an open program that anyone could join. The program is now used to test all content updates the MCC gets, with the game's UI, main menu background, new Skulls and more being added in post-launch updates. After the announcement of PC support, a completely separate Insider program for PC was made available for anyone to sign up for. Testing on PC has initially consisted of Reach, however it is likely that further testing will include the other titles already on console as each is developed for PC.
Both online and split-screen co-op campaign play are supported in all six games. The campaign co-op breakdown is as follows:
Multiplayer is available for all four games—each running from their respective original engines—and is accessible via a unified matchmaking menu system. Players are put into a lobby, then asked to vote for a match from a random selection of over 100 maps from all games (depending on playlist), rather than have the population split into groups for different games. However, there are a number of playlists specific to each game. The collection uses a single unified multiplayer ranking system shared across the four games. Rank, stats or unlockable items such as armor permutations do not carry over from the previous games.
The Master Chief Collection ships with every multiplayer map ever packaged with Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4, as well as all downloadable content maps ever released (including the six maps from Halo: Combat Evolved (PC port) as well as the two exclusive maps from Halo 2 (Windows Vista)). In addition to the original maps of each game, the collection also contains six remastered maps from Halo 2: Ascension, Lockout, Zanzibar, Coagulation, Sanctuary, and Warlock.
Forge is featured in Halo 3 and Halo 4, as well the remastered multiplayer portion of Halo 2: Anniversary. Halo 2: Anniversary also features a new vehicle, the M274-M Gungoose. Forge will also be included in the port of Halo: Reach. However, due to intricacies learned from bringing Forge to PC in Halo 5: Forge, the PC release of the Forge and Theatre mode will be delayed until Halos 3 and 4 are brought into collection on PC.
The Firefight game mode is not included within the MCC port of Halo 3: ODST, though the Halo: Reach Firefight mode was included in the game's campaign release. Although the team is currently focused on bringing Reach and the rest of the collection to PC, it is possible that they may begin investigating bringing ODST's Firefight mode into the game in the future.
While originally reported by 343 Industries to contain 93 competitive multiplayer maps, The Master Chief Collection was later established to feature all maps from the four games, increasing the total number of multiplayer maps to over 100. With the complete campaigns of all five games, the collection contains 55 campaign missions, as well as Halo 4's 50 Spartan Ops missions.
The Master Chief Collection allows players to select single a three-digit Service Tag and a multiplayer emblem which are used for all games in the collection. Nearly all emblems found in the constituent games are available for use.
Players can select an armor permutation for each of the five multiplayer modes. The Halo: CE and Halo 2 armor permutations mirror the original games, however the Halo 3 and Halo 4 is much-simplified; specifically, players can no longer customize individual armor pieces, but instead must choose from complete armor sets. Halo 4 armor and weapons skins are also not found in the collection, nor are the DLC customization elements, specifically the Prefect, Mark V, and ODST armor permutations, the Resistor tactical package, and the Recharge and Survivor support upgrades.
Players can customize five loadouts for Halo 4 multiplayer; unlike the original game, all five loadouts and all loadout options are unlocked by default.
In the Halo: Reach component of the game, players will be able to fully mix and match their armour as in the game's Xbox 360 release, with a new customisation system designed to retain the feel of the older systems while blending it with more modern unlock systems, though no microtransactions will be involved. 343 Industries has no current plans to expand this level of armour customisation to Halo 3 and 4 currently, though may begin investigating it following the release of Reach in the collection.
The collection contains its own series of achievements for each of the five games, with the collective Gamerpoints attainable initially totaling 4000. An additional 50 achievements worth 500 Gamerscore were added at launch, while 50 more achievements worth 500 Gamerscore were added on January 8, 2015. An option in the in-game achievements list allows players to jump directly into a game configured to be optimal for the completion a given achievement.
The collection features 37 skulls, most of which are exclusive to certain games. Some of the skulls were initially accessible only through pre-order bonuses but were unlocked universally on December 12, 2014. One skull, Swarm, is unlocked by watching all episodes of Halo: Nightfall on the Halo Channel and completing all associated challenges.
The Master Chief Collection also features over 300 unlockable player customization options, including emblems, nameplates and avatars for use in game lobbies and player profile pages. There are various ways to unlock these items, although most are earned by completing achievements. Additional unlockable items include 15 terminal videos and a customizable clan tag. For every unlocked achievement, the player receives a high-resolution image from the remastered Halo 2 cinematics, concept art, level images, or a frame from a terminal. These images can be used for one's personal Xbox One background.
Additional PC features
During one of their monthly update blogs covering the development of the PC version of the MCC and Reach for Xbox One 343 Industries announced that it will allow players to set and change new options that are exclusive to the PC version. These include the configuration of different key bindings, changing the Field-of-View while on foot and while driving vehicles, resolution scaling, HUD anchoring, V-sync, framerate limits and uncapped framerates, adjusting the volume of game sounds, effects, music and voice chat independently of each other, changing the position of the crosshairs and more.
It is currently unknown if these features will be added to the Xbox One version in a later update.
E3 2014 trailer
The trailer features a remastered cutscene from the level Cairo Station from the Halo 2 campaign. The trailer shows John-117 dragging a Covenant antimatter charge through one of the hangar bays in Cairo Station to "return" the bomb to a CAS-class assault carrier. Arbiter Thel 'Vadam provides a voice-over for the trailer and it is revealed that an Office of Naval Intelligence agent, Jameson Locke, is searching for the Master Chief.
The trailer depicts a target profile report concerning Thel 'Vadam, compiled by Jameson Locke sometime after 2553. The report details 'Vadam's personal history from the start of the Human-Covenant War to the glassing of Reach and beyond. The report was later accessed by the Master Chief.
Halo 2: Anniversary cinematic trailer
A trailer that originally shown at the 343 Industries panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014. It showcases the newly remastered Halo 2 cutscenes by Blur Studio.
Halo 2 Anniversary cinematic launch trailer
Remaking the Legend
A documentary chronicling 343 Industries' journey as they re-imagine Halo 2 for its ten-year anniversary.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection launch trailer
A trailer featuring footage of all four games.
Halo TV Ad We Will Rock You
A television commercial set to We Will Rock You by Queen.
Halo Grunt Ad
A commercial where a grunt is interviewed for being the only Covenant soldier to "survive all battles against the Master Chief".
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Xbox One X Enhanced trailer
To coincide with the launch of the Xbox One X enhancement update and release of MCC on the Xbox Game Pass, a trailer was released promoting the game's new 4K UHD features.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC Announcement
An announcement trailer featuring footage from all four games, before announcing an upcoming PC release.
Halo Reach - X019 - The Master Chief Collection Launch Trailer
A trailer announcing the imminent inclusion and release date of Halo Reach into the MCC on Xbox One and PC.
Like Halo 4, pre-order bonuses for the bundle varied between retailers. Three of the bonuses were revealed to be skulls that modify campaign gameplay, namely those introduced in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
Amazon offered the Piñata skull, GameStop the Bandana skull, Best Buy the Grunt Funeral skull and the multiplayer map book and ShopTo offered a new skull called Bonded Pair. GAME UK had two exclusive "limited edition" offers: the first edition, titled "Limited Edition", had a steel bookcase, a multiplayer map book and a Grunt Funeral skull while the second edition, titled "MJOLNIR Edition", had all of the exclusive items of the previous edition with an ArtFX statue of the Master Chief ArtFX. The Master Chief ArtFX statue bundled with the MJOLNIR Edition was not exclusive however; the statue, made by Kotobukiya, was released separately worldwide in Fall 2014.
Release and reception
Halo: The Master Chief Collection went gold on October 17, 2014. The collection takes up 45 gigabytes of disk space and includes a 15 GB content update at launch. The game launched in most countries worldwide on November 11, with delayed releases in Belgium (November 12), France (November 14) and Japan (November 13). Halo 4's Spartan Ops component was added to the collection via a content update on December 12, 2014. The Master Chief Collection received a day-one update that included an additional fifty achievements, with a total of 500 Gamerscore.
The Master Chief Collection shipped with a significant amount of bugs, many of which had an impact on playability particularly in multiplayer. Among these flaws were atypically long matchmaking times, sporadic unattainability of achievements and glitches in the user interface. 343 Industries applied multiple patches to the title over the weeks after its release in an effort to fix these problems. On November 24, 2014, 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross issued a formal apology for the debacle, assuring that the studio would continue their work on amending the issues with the collection. On December 19, Ross announced that 343 Industries would be offering players a series of exclusive items and new features—most notably Halo 3: ODST—as compensation for the issues with the game.
The game generally received positive reviews upon its release. Nathan Ditum of Eurogamer applauded The Master Chief Collection for including each game's original multiplayer and every map ever released; one of the largest criticisms of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was the lack of multiplayer. Ditum also expressed "constant astonishment" at increased resolution of the older games, claiming he spent several minutes at a time staring at battlefields, ancient structures, and walls. IGN reviewer Ryan McCaffrey criticized the multiplayer, calling it "unacceptably unreliable and bug-ridden performance". However, he praised the remastered audio, the game-unifying interface, and the smoother framerate. Despite his criticism of multiplayer, McCaffrey commended the new six Halo 2: Anniversary remade maps, and the nostalgia The Master Chief Collection was able to deliver. GameSpot's Chris Watters delivered a more critical review of the game, also condemning the multiplayer's issues and bugs, citing that it "barely works". However, he enjoyed the engaging combat formula and claimed that the remastered Halo 2: Anniversary cutscenes by Blur Studio to be fantastic. Kyle Hilliard of Game Informer gave Halo: The Master Chief Collection a "Gold Rating", lauding the game's concept and improved graphics. He complimented that the game "is massive and intimidating, but none of it is crammed in or hastily included". Hilliard also praised Blur's cinematics, claiming that the Gravemind is now a terrifying monster, instead of a "huge muppet". Finally, he stated that Halo: The Master Chief Collection has risen a high bar for other video game remastered collections.
Main menu background art and splash screens