Halo Master Chief Collection re-engergizes franchise

For the first time the Master Chief’s story is on one console. Featuring a remastered Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo: Nightfall (a new digital series) and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta – the definitive Halo experience has arrived.

There is a sense of reverence in Halo: in The Master Chief Collection that is undeniable. What could have been another quick collection slapped on a disc is instead a significant update. Some of the additions are minor and some drastic; regardless, the four included games are stronger than before. If you own an Xbox One, there is too much to pass up here.

The most universal update is the increase in resolution and the jump to 60 frames per second. While Halo has always been smooth, each game now has even more fluidity. The new resolution and frame rate also re-energizes competitive multiplayer.

Unfortunately, following the release of The Master Chief Collection Nov. 11, the matchmaking times were taking ridiculously long. In an hour’s time, I had maybe played one game. 343 Industries was quick to address the matter as they removed various matchmaking playlists and postponed the first season of the Halo Championship series. They are now targeting a release for the latest patch “later this week,” which should improve the matchmaking experience, according to 343 Industries.

Much like the treatment given to Halo: Combat Evolved in 2011, Halo 2: Anniversary is a complete overhaul. It features a new look, sound effects and a soundtrack.

As with the first remastered game, players can switch between the new and original graphics with the push of a button. The difference is that there is no longer a fade to black during the switch – it happens instantaneously.

The sound effects are equally impressive. It is startling firing a submachine gun in Anniversary only to jump back to the past to hear how weak the old submachine gun sounds in comparison. While Halo 2 has always had excellent music, the re-done songs burst with newfound energy, making the campaigns more urgent and exciting.

Nothing is more important in The Master Chief Collection than its preservation and enhancement of each game’s multiplayer. All four games play exactly as they did during release – meaning the wonderfully overpowered pistol is only in the original Halo while sprinting is solely relegated to Halo 4.

Having every single map and every single gameplay mode from the four main games provides a staggering amount of variety. Duking it out in Blood Gulch from Halo: Combat Evolved then immediately hopping over to The Pit from Halo 3 is a revelatory experience. It is Halo multiplayer without limits: simultaneously nostalgic and liberating for those who grew up with such a monumental series.

However, it is hard to get caught up on slight missteps when The Master Chief Collection is already so generous. It proves that, at its best, nothing is quite like Halo. No game can capture the sheer bliss of landing a fully charged shot from a Spartan Laser or the absolute chaos of playing with nothing but Rocket Launchers on a tiny map. Halo’s insistence on power weapons, map awareness, and creative vehicles lends it a distinct identity that remains captivating. If you need a reminder why you spent all that time mastering the art of the battle rifle years ago, The Master Chief Collection provides ample justification.

Many HD collections or re-masters are often pleasant trips down memory lane, but this feels like more than that. It is a gripping reintroduction into all things Halo and something that will likely be enjoyed for years to come.