If you’re a diehard Halo fan then this is essentially where your next-gen adventure truly starts. True, the tablet-turned-console blaster Spartan Assault may technically have been the first Halo game to grace the Xbox One. But it’s The Master Chief Collection that’s really where things get started.

And if you are one of the franchise’s legion of loyal followers then there’s a fair chance that, of all the insane amount of content that’s being crammed into this package, it’s the Halo 2: Anniversary Edition remake that’s probably grabbing your attention the most. After all, not only will it be the first Halo game to feature true next-gen graphics, it marks the return to Xbox Live of one of the service’s first true multiplayer hits.


Striking a balance between old and new is therefore key, and fortunately it’s a challenge that 343 Industries and Saber Interactive have understood and responded to accordingly. Take the graphics, for instance; irrespective of whether it’s the revamped architecture and improved textures or the addition of a full-scale Halo ring that surrounds a multiplayer map, there’s no disputing that it looks great. But yet, both studios have been careful ot to overload your retinas with so much clutter that it
ends up affecting the gameplay.

But that’s not to say subtle but key changes aren’t being made to both the campaign mode and the six remastered multiplayer maps which include Ascension and Coagulation that will feature in the Anniversary Edition. The bridge in Ascension, for instance, has been widened slightly and had more cover added to better protect you against long range attacks. At least one of the skill jumps has also been revised slightly, and the communications dish in the middle now features an energy shield that can be triggered via any of three switches on the map to provide cover for exposed team-mates.

Some existing weapons have also been revised here, including a tuned Magnum, while the Assault Rifle and a silenced SMG have been added. There will be new-to-Halo 2 multiplayer modes, such as Ricochet, Swat, Race and Infection, and over 30 skulls in the finished game. The campaign mode will also offer terminals to hunt out that tell the background story of the Arbiter and, best of all, online co-op. We can’t wait.

Whitelisted


While Halo 2: Anniversary Edition may be the focal point of the Collection’s improvements, that’s not to say that the other three entries have been overlooked. Although the core content will be largely the same as the 360 games, the frame-rates have been doubled to 60fps to deliver smoother action.

Thanks to a revised playlist system you’ll not only be able to play through, say, the Arbiter’s missions consecutively in Halo 2, but also be able to standardise the controller maps across all four games while still having the option to use custom controls for particular scenarios. And when you’re cycling through the menus, the music and backgrounds will change to match the game whose content you’re looking at. Forge will also return, although each title’s Forge mode will be separate from
the others with no item crossovers.

Sure, this legacy content won’t look quite as tasty as the next-gen feast that Halo 2: Anniversary Edition and the Halo 5 multiplayer beta will be serving up. But thanks to its inclusion, The Master Chief Collection will feature over 100 maps which isn’t to be sniffed at.

Pimp my mongoose


Another important part of The Master Chief Collection is the host of new vehicles that are set to join the party, starting with the snazzy M274-M Gungoose. Essentially the familiar Mongoose with a light machinegun strapped to the front, this nifty little vehicle promises to deliver performance with a punch. Furthermore, it will also be the subject of its very own mode, Gungoose, which is a play on the standard capture the flag.

And 343i has already been teasing how this particular mode will work a treat with the remastered valley terrain of the Coagulation map, which should do a fine job in mixing up the multiplayer a little. Better still, it seems we’re due further new vehicle announcements in the coming weeks and months, so keep an eye out for those and obviously we’ll be here to report on how they, and any other new additions, will further impact on the gameplay.