Halo: The Master Chief Collection Game Review


Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Nicholas Paragano

In my last article, I discussed popular games this holiday season. One game I mentioned was Halo: The Master Chief Collection, even though it was released all the way back in 2014. Why bring it up in 2020? Well, The Master Chief Collection (which I’ll be referring to as simply “MCC” from here on) has received a slew of content updates in the past year that make it a truly solid collection of games. These updates have fixed a lot of bugs that have affected the game since launch, added a multitude of new features, and brought the collection to the PC via Steam and the Microsoft Store. 


Originally announced at E3 2014, the collection was seen as a way to bring previous Halo titles to the Xbox One before Halo 5: Guardians would release in 2015. The star of the show was a remake of Halo 2, Halo 2: Anniversary, a celebration of the game’s then 10 year anniversary. The collection also included Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. In the six years since launch, Halo 3: ODST and most recently Halo: Reach have joined the collection. Every game received enhancements, most notably the upgrade from 30 frames per second to 60, which makes the games feel a lot more smooth and modern. While the game had a number of issues with the multiplayer as well as bugs all throughout the collection at launch, most of said bugs have been ironed out since. Nowadays, the collection is the best it’s ever been. With a new progression system, unlockable content, and new features such as a custom games browser and a field-of-view slider for the Xbox version, there’s a lot of added value to the collection. 

A screenshot from the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

The games themselves are fantastic. I’m a relative newcomer to the Halo series, and thus MCC as well, but I think all of the games included stand the test of time and are still insanely fun and rewarding to play. If you are interested in the series, this is the perfect place to start. The order I would recommend playing them is the original trilogy first (Combat Evolved, 2 and 3),then ODST, Reach, and finally 4. This is the order in which the games were released. The campaigns, especially Halo 2 Anniversary look gorgeous and run silky smooth at 60 FPS. This is the definitive way to experience them. The multiplayer modes likewise both run and look fantastic. Some games have better multiplayer than others. For example, I think Halo 3 is the best of the classic games in terms of multiplayer. If you are a fan of more fast-paced and chaotic first person shooters, then you may find Halo Reach and 4 to be more to your liking. These games have the ability for the player to sprint, and are more similar to the Call of Duty games. If you are a COD fan, you may enjoy these two games more. While fun, the multiplayer in Combat Evolved is definitely a product of its time. It’s nearly twenty years old, and is more reminiscent of old-school “boomer shooters” like Doom and especially Quake than the games of today. Halo 2’s classic multiplayer is, well, classic. It popularized online multiplayer on consoles, and while also primitive compared to today, is still fun and enjoyable. Halo 2: Anniversary’s multiplayer is the perfect combination of classic and modern multiplayer experiences. Overall, the multiplayer component is strong and has something for everyone. 

A screenshot of Halo 3’s multiplayer. Image courtesy of Moby Games.

Every few months, a new season of unlockable content begins. By completing challenges in single and multiplayer modes, you can unlock new armor pieces for your Spartan, as well as weapon skins and nameplates for your gamertag. This gives you new incentives to play the game, as the new armor and weapon skins in particular look awesome and give the game new life. Something that’s been there since the beginning is achievements. There are thousands of achievements to be unlocked, and even if you aren’t an achievement hunter, you will likely find it thrilling to collect as many if you can. New features are being added as well. For example, a custom games browser will be added in the coming months. This allows you to join custom-made multiplayer games featuring wacky fan-made modes that are truly unique to Halo. An update for the newly released Xbox Series X and S enhances the MCC for the new console, allowing a framerate up to 120 FPS and 4K resolution (Series X only). In addition to this, crossplay between the Xbox and PC versions was recently added to the MCC. This means you can play multiplayer on Xbox with your friends on PC, and vice-versa. This has increased the player-count exponentially. There are still many updates and seasons to come, but right now, The Master Chief Collection is in the best state it’s ever been in it’s six year history.

An example of the new armor and weapon skins in Halo 3 on MCC. Image courtesy of GameSpot.

Overall, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a solid collection of great games that is well worth the investment, and is a great way to get introduced to the series. With Halo: Infinite set to launch next fall, now is a great time to introduce yourself or get reacquainted with the series. If you already have Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One, Series X/S, or PC, then you can get MCC for free. The collection is also available on PC on Steam. If you want the Xbox version without Game Pass, you can purchase it on Amazon or at a local retailer. 

A screenshot from the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary campaign. Image courtesy of Microsoft.