Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a compilation of first-person shooter video games in the Halo series, originally released in November 2014 for the Xbox One, and later on Microsoft Windows through 2019 and 2020. An enhanced version was released for the Xbox Series X|S in November 2020. The collection was developed by 343 Industries in partnership with other studios and was published by Xbox Game Studios. The collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4, which were originally released on earlier Xbox platforms. A “living” anthology of past Halo games, it continues to receive regular updates and new content as more games age-out of being commonly offered in the retail setting.

Each game added to the Master Chief Collection received a graphical upgrade, with Halo 2 receiving a complete high-definition redesign of its audio and cutscenes, exclusive to the collection, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The game includes access to the live-action series Halo: Nightfall as well as the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta that was available for a limited time. The collection’s multiplayer features every map originally released with each game, including six Halo 2 maps remade from the ground up.

At launch, critics generally praised The Master Chief Collection for its updated audio and visuals, as well as its quantity of content, but criticized its multiplayer aspects due to a significant number of bugs and poor matchmaking experiences. Many of these technical issues were later fixed in post-release patches, so much so that reviewers took the time to more positively re-review the collection following its updates.

The Master Chief Collection originally consisted of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4, complete with their full catalog of extras, including all multiplayer maps and gameplay modes. There have been no story or gameplay changes to the original releases. The games are first-person shooters with vehicular combat that takes place from a third-person perspective. All four campaign modes can be played alone or cooperatively via split screen or Xbox Live. Each campaign has four difficulty levels and access to gameplay modifiers known as “Skulls”.

As in Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 players can swap between the original and upgraded graphics on the fly. Additions to Halo 2’s campaign mode include “Terminals”, and new prologue and epilogue cutscenes to link the series for Halo 5’s debut. Since only six of the game’s multiplayer maps were remastered, there are two Halo 2 multiplayer modes. The Halo 2 anniversary multiplayer mode uses the six remastered maps, while the standard Halo 2 multiplayer mode includes all of the original game’s released maps with a full graphical update but no remastering. The Collection multiplayer includes Mission Setlists, curated lists of levels selected from throughout the series.

The Extras menu includes access to live-action video series Halo: Nightfall and the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta, until it was removed prior to the game’s release. The compilation features new Achievements, and all difficulty and play modes are unlocked from the start. The game launched with a total of 4,000 Gamerscore spread across 400 Achievements—the largest amount of Gamerscore given to a game since its introduction—with another 500 Gamerscore, spread across 50 Achievements, being released in a day-one update. With the release of Spartan Ops a few months later, an additional 50 Achievements, worth 500 Gamerscore, were released. In May 2015, another 100 Achievements, worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore, were released alongside Halo 3: ODST.