Microsoft has said as recently as a few months ago that we'll see more Halo in 2014. It turns out that the next installment in Xbox's flagship franchise isn't so much a progression of the series as it is a retelling of the canon with a makeover. This will come in the form of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, a tetralogy consisting of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4.
The Master Chief Collection, as the name suggests, serves to tell the story of Master Chief before it's continued in 2015's Halo 5: Guardians. It will be available only on Xbox One on November 11, 2014, and will retail for $59.99. Included with the package is access to watch all the episodes of the Halo: Nightfall series as they release, and entry into the Halo 5 multiplayer beta which will take place in December 2014.
This is more than just a simple port, however. According to 343 Industries, all titles in the collection will run at 60 frames per second and at 1080p resolution. Additionally, new cutscenes are being added to bookend the experience, and to give some hints and context to what's being led up to in Halo 5.
Because so many people have already played through these iconic Xbox games, 343 isn't gating off any content. All levels and all difficulties are immediately available to play at any time. There are also playlists that are being curated by the developers that allow play of similarly themed levels. For instance, there will be one that features all the Warthog missions, while another will contain all the final missions across the four games.
Maybe the most reassuring facet of this collection is the approach that's being taken to multiplayer. 343 understood the frustration surrounding Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary's multiplayer being forced through Halo: Reach's engine. This time around, each game's multiplayer is true to its respective original, the only difference being that it's running at a higher framerate and resolution. 343's even intentionally leaving in the exploits, bugs, and glitches that avid players knew so well. There will also be dedicated servers for the Master Chief Collection's multiplayer, which should help things run smoothly.
Since 2014 marks the ten-year anniversary of Halo 2, it's getting a bit of special treatment within the collection. Maybe the biggest inclusion is that six of Halo 2's maps, apart from being available in their original state, will be remade in the specifically for the Xbox One, presumably running in Halo 5's engine. Also, there will be terminals and skulls to collect, the ability to instantaneously toggle between the original's graphics, and the updated visuals, and recreated cinematics. Despite extra effort being put into Halo 2, 343 denies that it'll be sold separately from the rest of the package in any way.
Although 343 Industries serves as the steward of the Halo franchise, other developers will be helping with The Master Chief Collection. Saber Interactive and Certain Affinity, who both worked on CE Anniversary are collaborating on this effort, and Blur is handling the cinematics. 343 has internal people dedicated to it, but it's simultaneously focusing on Halo 5.
That's how Master Chief is going to make his debut on Xbox One. The Master Chief Collection looks to be a suitable entry point for newcomers to the series. For fans of the franchise, it should offer some of their favorite experiences, but with a fresh coat of paint. One thing's certain, though -- everyone will have to wait until 2015 to further the series' lore.
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