The jewel in Microsoft's gaming crown, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, is finally on its way to PC after five years of XBOX exclusivity. Comprising Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4 and Halo 3: ODST, it will be Halo's first significant appearance on PC since the original release of Halo 2 in 2004. What's more, that's not the only major Halo news to be revealed by Microsoft and 343 Studios this week.
When Halo: Infinite was announced for XBOX and PC at E3 last year the internet was abuzz with the possibility of the franchise returning to PC in a remastered form. The entire franchises' visuals and and back-end were updated with The Master Chief Collection for a remastered launch in 2014, and Halo 5: Guardians was a clear next-generation title with an eye towards the capabilities of the XBOX ONE X. Sadly it was revealed soon after that Halo 5: Guardians would not be coming to PC, and it was assumed that this would likely be the case for the rest of the franchise.
Today's announcement is important not just because of the end to XBOX exclusivity, but also because the Collection will be sold through both the Windows Store and Steam. Windows Store exclusivity has been a somewhat mixed success for Microsoft, but with Halo: Infinite a marquee release for 2019/2020 both developer and publisher need to stoke the popularity of the franchise on PC. That means keeping the market as wide as possible, which means Steam. Timely vindication for Valve perhaps given how Epic have made inroads into their dominance.
The Master Chief’s arrival on PC will happen in stages with each title releasing one by one over time [..] Our current plan is for this journey to begin with the launch of Halo: Reach – the fictional beginnings of Master Chief’s saga – with the rest of the titles following in chronological order thereafter. Halo: Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST (Campaign), and Halo 4 will each be available for individual purchase within MCC as they become available. And each game will evolve and grow over time with community input.
A staggered PC release for each individual title in the Collection is intended to give developers the opportunity to make the best possible port. That doesn't just extend to offering 4K/60Hz gameplay, but also adapting the games to support keyboard/mouse controls alongside PC controllers, a wider selection of screen aspect ratios, FOV sliders, variable frame rates (i.e. FreeSync/G-SYNC) etc. And of course multiplayer will be a major part of their plans.
Unfortunately pricing hasn't been revealed, and that will be pretty important given that each title is effectively paid DLC on PC. Expect more Halo news from Microsoft throughout the week.