So, after years and years of pleading from the PC gaming community, the mainline Halo franchise will now be released on PC in all its glory. We have had Halo on PC before as both Combat Evolved and Halo 2 have had their PC ports in the past. But this time around, we will have Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.
Now, I joined the Halo train pretty late all things considered. I remember playing Halo Reach with my cousin when I was around 13/14 and having an absolute blast with it. Before then, I had been predominantly a PlayStation kid and Halo had totally passed me by. A while later, I saved up my pocket money and bought an Xbox 360 Elite with Halo 3: ODST bundled with it, along with Halo 3 and Halo Reach separately. I was hooked on the franchise, the gunplay, the story, the characters, the stories created with friends in multiplayer lobbies, designing my own maps in Forge mode (I made a terrible map which I creatively named Battle Bridge, which was just a floating map with two bases at either end and one path between the two. It was awful). To me, these games had it all and Reach was, and still is, my favourite entry in the series. The gunplay was at its height in my opinion, the multiplayer modes were plentiful, the customization of your Spartan was insane (I always kitted out mine to look like an ODST as ODST’s are far cooler than Spartans, sue me) and the story hooked me immediately. What with it being a standalone story not featuring the Master Chief and being the first game chronologically in the story line, it served as a great starting point for a newbie like me. At the time, my least favourite was Halo 3: ODST. But not long after, I adored the change of pace, tone and vulnerability you felt as Rookie roaming the New Mombasa Streets compared to being an OP Spartan. To the point where ODST is probably my second favourite in the series, just below Reach.
As I mentioned in my introductory post, I began my forays into PC gaming circa 2012 with my first proper rig being constructed in 2015. So, when I heard that the Master Chief Collection was being ported to PC, I could've busted a mighty fat nut right there and then. The idea of playing Halo with a keyboard and mouse in 60+ FPS was like a dream come true. My excitement was slightly dulled when it was revealed the games would be released incrementally as opposed to the entire bundle being released in one go. However, this wasn’t too much of an issue as I understood that porting the games takes time and I would rather they took their time to produce and excellent PC port for each of them. It also helped that the 343 are releasing them in chronological order with Reach being the first.
So then release date for Halo Reach come around, I was going to buy the Collection on Steam for the marked £30. However, I was informed by a friend that the Xbox Game Pass Is available for PC and that Halo would be accessible through it, so I opted for that choice. It was hard not to opt for that with the first month costing only a quid and then only a few quid from then on.
Initially, I had trouble with the game right off the bat as, for some reason, the game would freeze in the main menu after about 10 seconds and I was not quick enough to the get into a game in that time obviously. However, after researching the issue, it kinda just sorted itself out so whatever. I first jumped into the campaign to refresh myself on how the combat worked and very quickly got reacquainted with my proved method of charging elites and then when in melee range mashing the melee key until they stopped moving. Another issue I encountered was the audio. At times, they audio just straight up crapped out. It would begin sounding garbled and slow, not being able to keep up with the subtitles and other voice lines, so they would begin overlapping eachother. Upon further research, I have found this was due to an issue with the audio encoding when porting from the 360 version to PC. 343 have stated that a patch for this issue is in the works and will be released soon.
Overall, the gameplay felt great and playing Reach with a keyboard and mouse felt natural. It didn’t feel strange to control and was very well ported and adapted for the platform. The game also runs incredibly smoothly which will attribute to the optimization by 343 plus the fact that its an older game now. But there were no framerate issues at any point and no crashes at all.
I did used to play multiplayer a fair amount back in the 360 days, but it was never the main focus for me when playing a Halo game. That being said, it was very fun to jump back into Reach multiplayer and paying Infection, Team Slayer, SWAT and Grifball. Infection was one of my favourite modes back in the day, and it came back to me naturally like riding a bike. Before I knew it I was demolishing players as the new zombie as well as holding out for ages as a survivor. SWAT is also incredibly fun and with the more precise aiming with a mouse, is even more focused on your skill at aiming. Though, with the map design, many deaths can contribute to a bad spawn or an enemy just seeing you before you saw them and getting the fatal shot off. Team Slayer is just Team Slayer as its always been, a consistently fun deathmatch. One of my gripes with the multiplayer is choosing a mode in the menu. I would love an option which I could highlight any mode I wanted regardless of player count. For instance, if I want to play Grifball, I can only select Grifball as a choice and no other modes that I may also like to play. This is due to the difference in player number for that mode. So I can’t select both Infection and Grifball as the modes I would like to queue for. A minor gripe, but substantial enough that it did kinda irritate me.
Another thing I’m not too keen on is the change to customization. In OG Reach, you would unlock helmets, armour pieces and visors by leveling up and earning credits. You would need to meet an item’s prerequisite level and then spend the credits on that item to unlock it. With the new system, you earn a token whenever you level up and then unlock which ever item is next on the Fortnite style battle pass unlock system. Now, I’m not as big on customization as I used to be, but the old customization system was one of the things I loved about Reach and sheer variety of pieces you can unlock with the credits you earn. But now, you’re bottlenecked into whichever piece is next in the queue. As I said, I’m not as mad about tweaking my character as I used to be, but it would be nice to unlock the helmet I want (Most likely, the ODST helmet), rather than railroaded into unlocking the HAZOP’s helmet which is mad ugly fam.
In summary, I do enjoy Halo Reach on PC however, I can’t imagine I will continuously return to play multiplayer as traditional multiplayer games have kinda grown stale for me. Most likely, I’ll dib in and out of it when I feel like it and wait for Combat Evolved to be released sometime in Spring 2020. Then once, all of the entries have been released, use MCC on PC to play through the campaigns when I feel like marathoning them. Definitely worth picking up, especially on the Xbox Game Pass for PC.