Multiplayer Review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection

About Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Follow the long journey of the Master Chief as he battles against—and alongside—the Covenant to destroy the Halo rings that threaten to end all life in the universe. The Master Chief Collection features four original Halo games: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4.

Fans of the series will enjoy playing through the games back-to-back and switching back and forth between the original and remastered graphics in Combat Evolved and Halo 2, and new players can fall in love with the series and its iconic characters over many weeks of co-op gameplay.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Multiplayer

Two players can play cooperatively through the entire campaigns of all games in the collection, either locally or online. For local (split-screen) play, none of the games support more than 2 players at a time. However, when playing online, PVP mode supports up to four connected players in the series' later games: Halo 3 and Halo 4.

Local Multiplayer: Up to 2 players, split-screen

Online Multiplayer: Between 2 and 4 players (see note above)

Systems: Xbox One*

Genre: First-Person Shooter

*The Master Chief Collection was released only on the Xbox One console, but gamers with Xbox 360 consoles can enjoy the series by buying the discs made for either the original Xbox (Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 have backwards compatibility) or the Xbox 360 (Halo 3 and Halo 4).

Review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection

I loved Halo as soon as they released Combat Evolved nearly 20 years ago, and I still love it to this day.

As a gamer who’s primary interest is in RPGs, I was skeptical of my friends’ claims that I’d enjoy Halo. The best feeling in the world when playing an RPG is discovering an unopened treasure chest. Shooters don’t have treasure chests. They require refined control, and characters don’t have magic spells. While I get why other people like shooting games, I never found much compelling about them.

But my friends were right—Halo was different. While it was a shooter, it had a storyline. It brought the hero’s quest from my world of RPGs to the shooter genre, and I found myself drawn to the characters, pulling for them, and looking forward to getting off of work to complete the next level.

Like most fans of the series, I’ve played through each of the games multiple times. Why, then, would I want to buy a collection of old games? Well, there are two big reasons:

  1. While I’d played all of the games multiple times, I’d never played them back-to-back. The storyline is much more engaging when you experience it consecutively.
  2. The graphics in the first two games have been remastered, and they’re spectacular. You can toggle back and forth between them, and it’s fascinating to see how different games look today than they did when Combat Evolved and Halo 2 were originally released.

Whether you’ve been playing the games since day one or are considering playing them for the first time, The Master Chief Collection is worth purchasing.

Halo: Combat Evolved

As the original Halo game, Combat Evolved has the fewest features, weapons, and vehicles of the series. However, though its more simplistic than its sequels, in many ways, Halo CE is the most challenging game of them all.

There are very few waypoints to guide you along your journey, and if you lose your way, you can spend a significant amount of time wandering around lost. The world of Halo CE is enormous—it feels almost open-world at times, so it’s easy to get turned around.

But aside from the occasional frustration of not knowing where to go, the original Halo’s storyline is one of the best. Like most series games, the sequels use specific tropes and patterns that are recognizable from game to game, so Halo CE offers the greatest amount of surprise for new players.

Halo 2

While Halo CE was remastered in 2011 and rereleased on the Xbox 360, Halo 2 was remastered specifically for The Master Chief Collection in 2014 for the Xbox One console. Because it was developed for a more advanced console, the remastered graphics are absolutely amazing.

In both Halo CE and Halo 2, you can toggle back and forth between the old graphics and the remastered graphics, and it’s striking to see how much game graphics have evolved in less than 20 years. Spend some time while playing Halo 2 just looking at characters and scenery and toggling between versions. You’ll wonder how you ever enjoyed playing the original games on the original Xbox.

Halo 2 shifts from the Master-Chief-only storyline of the first game, allowing you to see the destruction of the Halo rings from both Master Chief’s perspective and the perspective of the Covenant. In some campaigns, you play as the Master Chief, and in some campaigns, you play as the Covenant’s Arbiter.

Halo 2 also adds some awesome new weapons and vehicles to the offerings of CE: a Covenant sword, a Covenant sniper called a beam gun, and a Covenant tank you can steal and use against your enemies.

Halo 3

The theme of the Master Chief and the Arbiter working together continues in Halo 3 where player one plays as Master Chief and player two plays as the Arbiter. While it’s interesting in terms of the storyline—and makes more sense than two Master Chiefs running around—it puts the second player at a disadvantage when beginning each campaign.

While Master Chief drops with some of the better weapons—an auto rifle, pistol, shotgun, or sniper—the Arbiter usually drops in with the Covenant weapons that you usually only use out of desperation when all other ammo runs dry.

Halo 3 has many more waypoints than its predecessors, making it much more difficult to get lost during campaigns.

One ironic thing about playing the games in sequence as part of the Master Chief Collection is that Halo 3 looks horribly outdated in comparison to the remastered version of Halo 2. Still, it’s by no means unplayable—just another illustration of how much game graphics have evolved in recent years.

Halo 4

For new players to the first-person shooter genre, I think Halo 4 would be the best introduction to the series. The game takes a much more RPG approach in its storyline—it’s less about conquering enemies and more about the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana. The compelling storyline could effectively bridge the gap into shooters from other more story-based game genres.

Halo 4 is colorful and beautiful, and its variety of exciting weapons and vehicles—including the Mantis, a walking tank that’s my all-time favorite Halo vehicle—are hugely improved over the previous Halo games. The enemies are more difficult than ever before, but the new weapons and vehicles help to even the playing field.

Final Thoughts and Advice

While playing through The Master Chief Collection in online multiplayer, getting connected online and launching the game was notoriously buggy. What we found was that we could avoid connection problems 99% of the time if we both opened the game, launched a single-player campaign, and then backed out to the menu before attempting to join together for online co-op.

Another somewhat frustrating aspect of the game was that it comes bundled with Halo Channel, and occasionally you’ll run across a console in the game that looks to be part of the gameplay. Instead, it launches Halo Channel, and if any enemies are nearby when this happens, you’ll be killed.

But even with its bugs and minor frustrations, the Halo franchise remains one of the best first-person shooter franchises of all time. It’s absolutely worth playing if you haven’t before, and worth replaying to enjoy the games and storyline in sequence—and with significantly improved graphics.