“Halo 5: Guardians” may not be hitting until the fall of 2015, but faithful followers of Microsoft’s flagship first-person shooter can curb their Covenant-crushing appetite this November with “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” Landing just in time to celebrate “Halo 2’s” 10-year anniversary on November 11 of this year, this fan-pleasing package contains “Halo: Combat Evolved,” “Halo 2,” “Halo 3,” and “Halo 4” on a single disc for $59.99.
More than a mere bundle of previously released games, however, “The Master Chief Collection” is a beast of an offering brimming with more bonuses, enhancements, and extras than you can shake an Energy Sword at. For starters, each title is optimized to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s power and will run at 60 frames-per-second. So, even the series’ most recent releases – “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” and “Halo 4” – will benefit from the jump to Xbox One, sporting much higher fidelity, better shadowing, reflection, and lighting effects, as well as an overall level of detail that trumps the previous console generation.
While “Halo: Combat Evolved,” “Halo 3,” and “Halo 4” will melt your eyeballs, “Halo 2” raises the bar even further… then chucks it, javelin-style, through the heart of your high expectations. Because the Master Chief’s second outing is celebrating a big anniversary, his handlers are giving it an extra coat of awesome. All of the cinematics have received a retina-searing makeover courtesy of Blur Studios; the crazy-talented team is also applying the movie-making magic to a brand-new prologue and epilogue that sheds some light on the Chief’s forthcoming journey in “Halo 5: Guardians.”
Those who replay “Halo 2” will also be treated to new narrative elements via story-expanding Terminals, much like those found in “Combat Evolved Anniversary.” Also like its predecessor, “Halo 2” will see the addition of game-customizing Skulls, as well as the cool ability to swap between its original visual presentation and the optimized version at the touch of a button. Finally, “Halo 2’s” massive multiplayer following can celebrate the big 10 by diving into six map remakes, built from scratch for the Xbox One.
Speaking of fragging friends online, “The Master Chief Collection” features all the multiplayer content from each of the four games, including all previously released download-only maps. While sorting through this enormous amount of solo and multiplayer content might sound like a daunting task on par with fixing a Warthog flat, 343 Industries has got your back. Thanks to what they’re calling the “Master Menu,” players won’t have to hop from menu to menu when navigating this epic offering. All campaign chapters are unlocked from the get-go, so fans can use this intuitive interface to play any mission, any time, at any skill level. Multiplayer will also benefit from the Master Menu, as a variety of user-friendly, streamlined features – such as maps being broken into gameplay types – are being implemented.
The final game will also leverage this seamless UI to offer curated playlists, such as ones that, say, allow you to play through each of the four games’ final missions consecutively, or let you experience every Warthog mission in one sitting. While the prospect of piloting the Chief’s slick ride for several hours straight is exciting, it’s but just one of the reasons this collection will have you up way past the wee hours.
On top of all the tweaks and enhancements to four of our all-time favorite games, “The Master Chief Collection” also features the debut of “Halo: Nightfall,” an all-new digital series executive produced by legendary director Ridley Scott and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Heroes”). While details on the project are protected as fiercely as UNSC secrets, we can reveal that the series – airing weekly – will tell the origin story of an all new character that is pivotal to “Halo 5: Guardians.”
While “Nightfall” will offer a tease of what’s to come in “Halo 5: Guardians,” “The Master Chief Collection” will give fans an actual taste of what it’s like to play it with access to the “Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.” Welcoming fans this December, the “Halo 5: Guardians” Multiplayer Beta offers a taste of the new multiplayer gameplay and features coming next year with the game’s full release.
Whether you’re a new Xbox One owner wondering what the fuss is about, or a seasoned Spartan looking to revisit gaming’s signature sci-fi epic, “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” is a must-have that will keep you locked, loaded, and littering the landscape with Covenant corpses until “Halo 5: Guardians” lands next year.