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PC

Halo 2: Anniversary Master Chief Collection New Images And Details Revealed For PC Release

Last month, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was released as a part of the roll out of Halo Master Chief Collection on PC. While there isn’t another main title release this month (apart from the Halo 2 beta test), we did get a big developer blog update with everything going on with the re-release of Halo 2: Anniversary for PC as a part of the collection.

On PC, the MCC is an ever-evolving platform, with titles in the franchise being released over time and updates constantly being reworked in conjunction to community feedback.

The Halo 2: Anniversary beta/flight content is going to be packed with an all-new challenge system, customization options, theater mode, and campaign missions all being revamped for the eventual PC release. Those who have opted in for the early access play sessions, and are selected, will be able to play the beta or “flight” editions of the title releases before the full edition release dates. For more on how to opt in to this program check out the community website.

The challenge system will include a series of tasks for players to complete throughout the beta. There is no word yet on if this challenge system will be included in the full release, or if any completed challenges will carry over for accounts.

All-new Spartan and Elite customization options have been added as well, with these new additions available for both Halo 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary.


Theater mode has been updated for use with keyboard and mouse on Halo 2: Anniversary for all your video, screenshot, and machinima needs.

Certain campaign missions in Halo 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary will now support options for all difficulty levels, as well as single player and co-operative online play. These missions are: Cairo Station, Metropolis, The Oracle, Delta Halo, Quarantine Zone, and Gravemind.

Multiplayer for Halo 2 and Halo 2: Anniversary will support a range of maps and playlists. This includes Custom Games, Social Games, and Competitive Games. Here is the full list of playlists and maps that will be available for each title in multiplayer:

  • Social Games: 2v2, 4v4, and 8v8.

  • Competitive: H2C Team Hardcore.

  • Halo 2 Multiplayer: Lockout, Midship, Beaver Creek, Burial Mounds, Coagulation, Headlong, Waterworks, Containment, Sanctuary, and Turf.

  • Halo 2: Anniversary Multiplayer: Lockdown, Zenith, Stonetown, Bloodline, and Shrine.

The developers also mentioned the “Relief and Recovery” cosmetic pack for Halo 5: Guardians. The proceeds of the in-game purchase is going directly to the GlobalGiving organization’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. This is a great opportunity to get some in-game cosmetics and donate to a good cause.

The Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 2 flighting Ring 1 of beta has been released already, with Rings 2 and 3 to be released down the road. For more on the ring system head over to the Halo Website.

The next title in the series, Halo Infinite, is still planned to release on schedule, but Microsoft has warned that developers are facing new challenges and restraints due to COVID-19. Halo Infinite will be available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.

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News

New Halo 5 DLC Supports COVID-19 Relief

Following Call of Duty: Modern Warfare before it, Halo 5: Guardians has added a new premium DLC pack that players can purchase to support the ongoing COVID-19 relief effort.

Microsoft has released the “Relief and Recovery” REQ pack for Halo 5, which includes an assortment of rare items that players can use in the game’s multiplayer mode. All proceeds from the $10 USD microtransaction will go directly to the charity Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The DLC pack comes with five customization items that are at least ultra-rare, in addition to 10 rare or better boost cards to help you level up faster in multiplayer. The DLC pack will be available through April 30

You can buy the Relief and Recovery REQ pack through Halo 5 or right here on the Xbox Store. This could end up driving serious money, as Halo 5’s REQ microtransaction system has proven to be incredibly lucrative over the years.

As mentioned, Halo 5 is not the first game to launch an in-game campaign to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Modern Warfare’s “Defender” microtransaction has returned to help military veterans during this stressful time.

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News

Halo Infinite May Be In Trouble (Due To COVID-19)

Halo Infinite has been set to be one of the first flagship titles on the upcoming Xbox Series X, though it appears the game’s development has been affected by the destructive novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty released a statement that acknowledged the challenges brought about by COVID-19. In the statement, Booty said that, while Xbox is committed to delivering high-quality content to its fans and consumers, it also remains conscious of those who are part of the Xbox Game Studios development teams. As the developers’ health and safety remain vital and integral in Xbox’s decision-making, Microsoft and Xbox Game Studios are “supporting our studio leaders to make the right decisions for their teams and their individual games during this challenging time.”

RELATED: Halo: Infinite Will FAIL Without A Battle Royale Mode

While nothing had been said about Halo Infinite‘s release date or that of any other Xbox Games Studios-developed title, there are implications within Booty’s statement that suggest potential delays. While Halo Infinite developer 343 Industries indicated in a blog post that development was on track for its projected release, the virus may “get worse before it gets better.”

No official changes have been made at this time, but this statement prepares readers, in a way, for any delays made to Halo Infinite or any other Xbox Games Studios-developed titles.

As COVID-19 has been determined to be one of the most infectious viruses, companies have made appropriate decisions to accommodate the unfortunate decision. From shifting to a “work-from-home” model to delays, gaming industry companies have found ways to work around the impacts of the virus, though it will likely continue to have impacts from here on out.

The coronavirus has already had numerous impacts where gaming events are concerned. From the cancelation of E3, leading to a Microsoft digital Xbox event and the cancelation of the Taipei Game Show, the novel coronavirus is rearing its ugly head all across the gaming industry. Of course, while it’s understandable to be depressed over a particular game’s delay, it’s important to keep in mind that the health and safety of those who are heading the development of affected games are of utmost concern.

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Reviews

Halo: Infinite Will FAIL Without A Battle Royale Mode

Although many questions remain about the next installment in the Halo saga, fans can be sure of one thing. If Halo: Infinite launches without a battle royale mode, the game will be dead on arrival.

Fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the next Halo game, and have shown a thirst for any information that 343 Industries is willing to offer. Not much information has been given, but fans of the series do know some things:

  • The expected release should be sometime around the holiday season in 2020.
  • It will be available on both the Xbox One and the new Xbox Series X, also launching around the same time.
  • The game will be included with Xbox Game Pass.
  • A brand new Slipspace Engine will be put into effect.

All that fans have had to go on thus far is an announcement trailer at E3 2018, and a “Discover Hope” cinematic trailer at E3 2019.


These trailers are jaw-dropping and have only amplified the hype around this game. There is one important aspect, however, that is getting overlooked.

Fans are used to what Halo has offered in the past: a captivating and immersive campaign, a high-powered and engaging multiplayer experience, and forge and custom games to give to game longevity. But one question remains: will Halo: Infinite feature a battle royale mode?

Why Battle Royale?

Battle royales have taken the world by storm, completely transforming the face of gaming on Twitch and YouTube. Starting with H1Z1, then evolving through PlayerUnknown’s BattlegroundsFortniteApex Legends, and now Call of Duty: Warzone, the battle royale genre has changed the future of first-person shooter (FPS) games forever.

The launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare saw great success early on, topping $600 million in sales during the first three days alone. This marked the most successful launch weekend in Call of Duty history. As shown on the green line on the chart below, viewership on Twitch quickly fell off, however. As early as December, only two months after the game’s launch, viewership was down well over 50 percent to under 50,000 average viewers per day. This has only continued to decrease over time.

The bright side to this is the giant spike in viewership since March 10, 2020. That day marked the release of Call of Duty: Warzone, Modern Warfare’s brand new, 150 person, battle royale. In just 10 days, this game has reached over 30 million players, marking an extremely successful launch. Activision’s marketing has been nothing short of genius, recognizing that at around this point in a Call of Duty game’s lifecycle, even die-hard players begin to turn away from the franchise and search for different games to occupy their free time. Launching Warzone strategically at this point, along with cultivating partnerships with famous streamers and content creators such as Dr Disrespect, has lead to the successful revival of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

It’s important for Halo: Infinite game developers to understand this lesson. In order for Halo: Infinite to be equally successful for longer than just a few short months, 343 Industries needs to fully understand the direction the FPS genre is going. The studio then needs to apply what it knows to the game.

Halo is known for its immersive campaigns and addicting multiplayer, and frankly, it always will be. 343 does not need to reinvent the wheel with an entirely new battle royale experience that changes everything. The development team does, however, need to cater to the FPS community’s desires and offer a battle royale to its player base. This would not come without some downsides, of course, like less time and money spent making and updating the multiplayer and campaign. But the upside is absolutely limitless.

Esports observer Moses_FPS took to Twitter to state his opinion on the matter.

The Limitless Potential of the Battle Royale Format

Battle royales offer unmatched replayability for the FPS genre, as often times games in this category quickly become dull, repetitive, and lack quality competition. Every single drop, every single gunfight and every single epic victory is entirely different, giving the player an endorphin rush that a simple team-slayer win will never replicate.

Halo has such a storied history with so many brilliant storylines and characters that fans have come to know and love. Whether this hypothetical mode is free-to-play is subject to 343 and Microsoft, but there are countless monetization options by solely relying on the franchise’s history and passionate fan base. It would be a win-win for both fans of the series and for the developers that are trying to appease shareholders.

343 Will Need To Give Players What They Want

Fortnite was released in 2017, yet is still consistently one of the most-watched games on Twitch and YouTube. PUBG smashed record after record during its successful run before eventually succumbing to the success of other battle royales. FPS fans absolutely love this game mode and will continue to demand it for years to come. The success of PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and now Call of Duty: Warzone has shown that appreciation for the battle royale genre is not just growing, but is growing exponentially. The passionate fanbase of the Halo franchise should be demanding this from 343 Industries. One can only hope that this developer, like many others, obliges. If Halo: Infinite does not want to become another failed shooter, tossed quickly into the discount bin at Walmart, it must include a battle royale.

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PC

Halo: Combat Evolved Adds A Mode It's Never Had Before In The Master Chief Collection

Microsoft continues to update and support Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and the newest change brings a multiplayer mode to Halo: Combat Evolved that it’s never had before.

The latest playlist update brings the mode Team SWAT and FFA SWAT to Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. This might not sound like a big deal, but this is the first time that SWAT has been available in original Halo game. It’s been featured in most of the Halo sequels, but never the first game.

You can now find out for yourself how SWAT plays in the original Halo. The matchmaking gametype is currently available for both PC and Xbox One in Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

The Team SWAT playlist features the Battle Creek, Damnation, Prisoner, Hang ‘Em High, Chill Out, Derelict, and Wizard maps, while the FFA SWAT playlist has all those maps except Wizard.

SWAT is a brutal and punishing game mode that can be immensely frustrating or highly satisfying depending on how good you are and the skill level of the opponents you’re playing against. In SWAT, you have no shield or motion-tracker, and you spawn with a precision weapon. This means you can kill opponents with just a single, well-placed shot. The lack of a motion-tracker means you never know where your enemies are, making SWAT a very intense game mode that rewards skill and precision.

In addition to ongoing support for MCC, developer 343 Industries has another internal team focused on Halo: Infinite. The studio recently sent its employees home due to COVID-19. While the team is continuing to work remotely on Halo: Infinite, which is set to be a launch title for Xbox Series X this year, the studio has warned that the global pandemic may get worse before it gets better.

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News

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary – Skull Location Guide

With Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary having recently released on PC via The Master Chief Collection, tons of gamers across the globe have been re-experiencing the beginning of Bungie’s storied franchise. While not every aspect holds up to time, the game still offers a unique feeling that many other shooters haven’t replicated.

There are no new levels in this remastered port, but a bunch of new collectibles have been sprinkled about for eagle-eyed space marines to find. One of these collectibles happens to be the skulls that were introduced in Halo 3. Oddly, you’ll need to be playing in the “Remastered” graphics mode to spot these skulls, but you can actually switch between the different modes on the fly.

There are a total of 13 skulls in the game spanning the game’s 10 levels. For some reason, the campaign mission “Keyes” does not feature any skulls, so you can take a break on that level.

Here is where you’ll be able to find them. This guide applies to both the Xbox 360 Anniversary and the Xbox One/PC release.

The Pillar of Autumn

Iron

The first skull in the game is located immediately at the beginning. Once the Master Chief exits from the cryochamber, turn around and look behind it. You’ll spot the skull in the back behind some crates.

Halo

Mythic

The next skull comes on the second level, “Halo.” At the very beginning after crash landing on the planet, head directly to the waterfall in front of you. Ignore Cortana’s pleas to run and you’ll spot this skull behind a rock in front of the falls.

Boom

On the same level, you’ll encounter this skull after Foe Hammer drops you a banshee. Instead of going directly down into the gulch, drive along the right ledge to a bush that the skull is sitting behind.

Truth and Reconciliation

Foreign

Fairly late into the level, you’ll find this skull in the hanger where the marines get ambushed. You can actually access it early by bum-rushing the locked door and running in when enemies jump out.

The Silent Cartographer

Famine

Right at the start of The Silent Cartographer, ignore the beach assault and walk backward. Once around the mountain, you’ll spot a small hill in the middle of the beach. Walk around its base, climb the hill, and you’ll spot this skull at the end.

Bandanna

When going to the control room to unlock the security doors, this skull can be found on a distant platform outside. You’ll need to grenade or rocket jump to reach it, or can stack up on your friend in co-op.

Assault on the Control Room

Fog

Another skull you’ll need to grenade jump to. After crossing the first bridge and riding the elevator down, this skull can be found in the middle of the room inside of an opening. Use the picture to help you spot it.

Malfunction

When traversing through the level, you’ll come to a gorge that requires you to drive your tank across a bridge. Kill all the enemies, then go back to the start and look at one of the pipes. You’ll have to die to grab this or have your co-op partner wait for you.

343 Guilty Spark

Recession

From the beginning, turn left and walk deep into the swamp. You’ll find this behind some trees. You can also progress in the level until the game asks you to turn right into the facility. Hang a left instead and jump off the cliff near the turret.

The Library

Black Eye

This skull can be found inside one of the vents before entering The Index for the first time. You’ll need to grenade jump to reach an elevated platform, then hop over into the vent on the right and climb up a black void to spot the skull. It’s in the first area of the level, so you won’t need to progress too far to find it.

Eye Patch

At the end of the level, instead of running for the objective, take a right and follow the path to the back. You’ll find the skull nestled between two large blocks. You may need to take all of the enemies out first.

Two Betrayals

Piñata

When progressing towards the third generator, fly past the objective and to the right. This skull can be found on top of the entrance to the underground tunnel you previously came out of.

The Maw

Grunt Birthday Party

During the final escape sequence, this skull can be found in the location where Cortana tells you to stop. You’ll need to position the warthog to the right of the bridge so you can jump onto the pipe and claim this skull. There’s plenty of time to do it while Foe Hammer is dying.

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eSports

Former Triumph Support Halo Joins Boston Uprising

While the Boston Uprising were consistently ranked near the bottom of most analysts’ team rankings prior to the start of the Overwatch League’s third season, breakout plays by up-and-comers like Mouffin and “Scary” Jerry have reinvigorated the fan base of a team once thought to have squandered its season before it even started. This week, the Boston Uprising announced that a new player will be joining its roster⁠— a main support player, Halo.

As has been the trend with the Uprising’s roster building philosophy, Halo isn’t a household name (insofar as any Overwatch pro could ever be, anyway) but has the potential to be a key member of the Uprising. Famously, to those keeping track of the business side of the team, Boston takes a “buy low, sell high” approach to signing players. Much of its roster is built from talent scouted from teams not necessarily placing high in tournaments, but who may still have a large individual impact on their team’s play.

The flip side of this philosophy is that players don’t stick around on the Uprising for long. Gamsu and Striker were key parts of the team’s undefeated stage during the league’s first season, and are now stars on the teams to which they were sold. This year saw the return of Fusions, Colourhex and Axxiom (who was benched for most of last year’s season) to the team alongside an otherwise entirely new roster of players.

Among those was Munchkin, whose signing did not follow the team’s general scouting philosophy. He, rather, came to the team from the Seoul Dynasty. Just before Halo’s signing was confirmed, however, the team announced the departure of Munchkin from its roster. He has since been signed to Lucky Future, alongside other one-time Overwatch League players Daco, Nus and Gido.

Halo previously competed in North American Contenders as part of Triumph. There he led his team to placing fifth in the 2020’s Season 1. Main support player Swimmer has been a serviceable and at-times solid member of the Boston Uprising, so Halo’s stage time is contingent upon a high level of play. Whether he starts alongside Jerry and co., or simply joins the team’s bench reserves, the Uprising appear to be strengthening their roster in hopes of surprising many an analyst who had them ranked last.

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Halo: Combat Evolved on PC sparks fond memories of a simpler time

Aaaah, now this is Halo. Three months after releasing Halo: Reach on PC, Microsoft surprise-added Halo: Combat Evolved to Steam yesterday—both standalone and as part of the Master Chief Collection. Unlike Reach, the original Halo had its day on PC back in 2003. This is the Anniversary edition though, the remaster from 2011.

And you know what? It still holds up surprisingly well—visually, at least.

Combat Devolved

Playing the game? That’s a different story. The original Halo’s an interesting one, missing key features that came to define the series later. Regenerating health, for instance. You still have a shield in Halo: Combat Evolved but it’s a flimsy one, and you collect a lot of Red Cross-emblazoned medkits off the floors here. It wasn’t until Halo 2 that Bungie settled on the idea of only having regenerating shield health, a decision that influenced shooters for over a decade after.

And if you’ve played Halo: Combat Evolved before, you doubtless know the starting Pistol is the only gun worth using. Fan-favorite weapons like the battle rifle and sword don’t exist here, and the rest of the roster is either highly situational or near-useless. The Assault Rifle is equivalent to sneezing on most enemies. Meanwhile the humble Pistol has a 2x zoom and can one-shot through the Covenant with ease.

It has rough edges, and a lot of them. Voice acting is passable, but pretty rough circa 2020. The tutorial is loooooong. Level design is dated, with an over-reliance on labyrinthine corridors, especially in the infamous Library level. Even the once-impressive outdoor levels feel small and stilted by today’s standards. It’s very much a game that tried a lot of interesting ideas, but with one foot still stuck in the ‘90s.

Still, it’s the Halo campaign I’m most nostalgic to boot up. I associate the Halos that came after with multiplayer, primarily. Sure, I played every campaign, but I finished Halo 2 maybe twice and spent the rest of my time with it (hundreds of hours as a teenager) on Xbox Live. There, I’m nostalgic for Lockout, Ascension, Zanzibar, all the time I wasted in those iconic arenas. Halo 3, it’s the same. I finished once on Heroic, once on Legendary, and then never went back.

But I barely played the original Halo’s multiplayer at the time—only ever in splitscreen, and only with two people. Instead, my buddy and I spent a lot of time playing and replaying the Combat Evolved campaign. I can picture it, every step of the way: The winding corridors of the Pillar of Autumn, those first cautious steps onto the Halo installation, the beaches of the Silent Cartographer, the arrival of The Flood, the fate of Commander Keyes (and his pipe), the Warthog run.

We spent hours perfecting the Warthog Jump, and stealing Banshees to get to parts of the level we weren’t supposed to see. We mined the levels for secrets, like the hidden room on the Pillar of Autumn.

It’s a landmark game for me. I think you generally only get a few of those in your life, and most of them come when you’re young and your access to games is limited. I wrote about this a bit with Warcraft III, another from around that same time. Halo: Combat Evolved is more than a game I once played. It’s emblematic of a time and a place. I can picture the room my friend and I used to sit in, the couch we used to sit on, the crappy 14-inch TV we squinted at when a fight went sideways.

I play Halo not so much to relive the campaign but to relive those memories. They come flooding (heh) back as soon as I take my first steps on the Pillar of Autumn, and so while I think this is objectively one of the weakest parts of the Master Chief Collection—seriously, it’s showing its age—I have to admit it’s also probably my favorite. Or at least tied for my favorite with Halo 2’s multiplayer.

You probably had to be there, but I was there, and my friends were there, and we had one hell of a summer.

Combat Re-evolved

And now it’s easier for me to boot up Halo on a whim. That’s the promise of the Master Chief Collection, and I’m pretty impressed with it so far…with a few caveats.

My complaints about the original Halo are identical to my complaints about Reach. First and foremost, the bizarre manner in which weapon switching is handled. Mirroring the Xbox controls, swapping between primary and secondary weapons is done with a single mapping, the “1” key. Hitting “2” to go to your secondary instead changes your grenade type.

It’s been three months, and it still irks me. This is not how PC games handle weapon swapping. I’ve adapted to a lot of strange control schemes in my life, but this one flies in the face of PC shooters both before (i.e. Doom-era) and after. It’s an aberration, and I wish 343 would simply give PC players the option to use the scroll wheel, or map “1” to primary weapon, “2” to secondary, and “3” to swapping grenades. The option, is all!

Speaking of which, Halo sports the same three options as Reach: “Enhanced,” “Original,” and “Performance.” As with Reach, any halfway decent gaming PC will run Halo maxed out, so I understand logically why 343 didn’t bother with more granular graphics settings—and yet I find it weird. It’s a PC port. Where is my list of settings to set to “Ultra” so I can feel smug?

There are a few Halo-specific bugs I’ve noticed. Cortana has a bad habit of talking over herself if you progress through a level too fast (which is easy to do on Pillar of Autumn especially). Shadows don’t render correctly sometimes.

And you can still toggle between the original graphics and the updated Anniversary edition remaster by hitting Tab—an ingenious feature, which will prompt anyone who played the game in the early ‘00s to sputter “There’s no way it looked this bad back then.” Time makes fools of us all.

Remastered…

…versus original. And this isn’t even the worst of the old graphics.

Unfortunately the jump back and forth is nowhere near as smooth as it was on Xbox—at least on my PC. If it’s been a minute or two since I last switched, the first new instance causes the game to stutter and hang for a second before flipping over. After that it’s fine, as I assume all the old (or new) textures get loaded properly into memory. Still, it’s not quite as seamless as I’d like. Also, there’s some ill-advised 2011 meme humor embedded in the Anniversary graphics that I wish was stricken from the game.

There’s also a “bug” that’s actually a feature: Control settings are per-game. They don’t carry across the entire Master Chief Collection. If you remapped melee to Mouse 4 or weapon switching to Mouse Wheel Up last time (as I recommended), you’ll have to do it again here.

Annoying? Maybe, but also kind of neat, I’ll admit. The Master Chief Collection is smart about how it packages and presents the series, and unique per-game controls are emblematic of 343’s mostly hands-off approach. You can also pick-and-choose which Halos you want to install from an in-game menu, and each entry is further split into singleplayer and multiplayer components.

Snag the ones you plan to play and don’t bother downloading the rest. I wish more games were this kind to my hard drive.

Bottom line

Anyway, it’s Halo on PC—again. That’s going to be the takeaway for all of these, and at some point I’ll probably stop writing up every single release in the Master Chief Collection.

But for now, I still find it exciting. The PC went nearly 15 years without a Halo game. Now they’re all coming over at once, and that makes them infinitely more accessible than they were on my Xbox One, which is in a box in my closet. Master Chief Collection was one of two Microsoft games (along with Rare Replay) this generation that I wanted to come over, and now it’s happening. That’s worth celebrating, at least one or two more times.

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