Halo: The Master Chief Collection was extensively showcased behind closed doors at E3 this year, and I came out of that meeting convinced this would be something special. At first, one might assume that 343 Industries is creating the Master Chief Collection for new Halo fans, the people who, in their own words, weren't born yet or just too young when Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 were a thing. But the collection is more than a way to bring in the newbies; it's a way for diehard fans to fall in the love with Halo all over again.
Much of the major draw, I think, will be found in the presentation. For those of us who played through and still own all of the Halo games, the appeal of owning the Master Chief on one disc for Xbox One is undeniable, even if it's not enough to really sell the Master Chief Collection. More than that, Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 will be available in their anniversary forms on the disc, and 343 Industries definitely seem to have outdone themselves with the latter remaster.
The terminals will also be providing an interesting tie-in to Halo 5: Guardians. See, the terminals found in Halo: Combat Evolved teased the events of Halo 4 from Guilty Spark's perspective. In Halo 2 Anniversary, the focus falls on The Arbiter, Master Chief's old Elite/Sangheili friend and ally, and upcoming happenings in Halo 5.
To remind us of just how far Halo has come, a quick swap allows players to switch back and forth between the old visuals the updated ones, changing both the appearance and audio quality. All the music was re-recorded as well by orchestra, with the help of Skywalker Sound.
"It's like seeing 10 years of gaming evolution at the touch of a button," executive producer Dan Ayoub states, and rather proudly.
The difference is startling on screen, and many of us in the small audience -- scattered across plastic chairs, couches, and the floor -- were visibly taken aback by the sudden shift. In our minds, as men and women who grew up playing Halo, the game always looked so much nicer. Such is the power of nostalgia.
Halo 3 and Halo 4 won't be getting the same visual updates, but both ports should see better performance on the Xbox One. The 60fps boost will certainly be nice to have, if nothing else.
You'll find that every campaign mission is unlocked from the start, giving players the absolute freedom to play in any order -- any way -- they please. Create a playlist of your favorite missions, every Flood mission (ugh) or tank sequence, and whatever else. Go crazy with it.
As for the multiplayer in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, 343 have done something rather interesting to confront the obvious issue of combining the multiplayer from four separate, cross-gen games.
Over 100 maps will be available, taken from both PC and console version of past Halo games. To make the amount of content less overwhelming, players will be able to use specific search parameters to organize their options. If you wanted to play Slayer, for instance, you can search for Slayer maps, and the results will be taken from every single Halo game.
One important note here is that the multiplayer in Halo 2 Anniversary won't be running on an updated engine, like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary used the Halo Reach engine. That's a decision directly based on feedback from the fans.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be released for Xbox One on November 11, 2014, bundled with live-action miniseries Halo Nightfall and access to the closed Halo 5 beta. Fall 2015 will see the arrival of Halo 5: Guardians and the still unnamed Halo TV series.