After a seemingly endless run of rumors, the news Halo fans have been waiting for is here: the series is finally coming back to PC, and in pretty big fashion.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive on Windows PCs “later this year,” according to the official Halo Waypoint site, and fans will be able to buy the collection either via Steam or the Windows Store. (Anybody who’s dealt with Windows 10’s UWP woes will appreciate this rare example of Microsoft launching one of its first-party games on Steam at the same time as Windows Store, as opposed to delaying a Steam version for a few months.)
The game’s listing confirms that PC gamers can look forward to full mouse-and-keyboard control support, along with support for resolutions up to 4K and an HDR toggle. Whether this version will also include the kinds of tweaks that hardcore PC gamers crave—including ultra-widescreen ratios, higher frame rates, and fully remappable controls—remains to be seen. We highly doubt Microsoft will include official mod support beyond letting players use individual games’ built-in “Forge” creation tools.
If you’ve already torn through the Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, either in its original, buggy incarnation or its fixed, better-late-than-never build, one perk still awaits the Halo faithful: a port of Halo Reach will join the MCC on the day it launches on PC. The anthology’s Xbox One owners will also receive some of Halo Reach‘s content (meaning, its Halo 4 multiplayer maps and its “Theater” option) as a free update. Meanwhile, its campaign and “firefight” co-op modes will be sold as a paid add-on. Whether Reach‘s PC and console launches will happen on the same day is clear.
Speaking of “paid add-on:” buyers of MCC‘s PC version will get access to each MCC title one at a time, as opposed to seeing all six of its games at once, and as of press time, they’ll have to buy each game individually. Whether or not Microsoft will offer an “all six games” bundle at a discount is unclear. But either way, you’ll have to wait for all of the games to launch on PC in “chronological” order so that its developers at 343 Industries, Splash Damage, and Ruffian can “ensure each [port] is right, while giving players a chance to jump in right away, rather than having to wait for the entire suite of games to be completed.”
Microsoft has advertised this launch strategy as “chronological.” Thus Reach, as a prequel, will be the first entry available for purchase on PC, followed by Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4. (Meaning, the current dev team is releasing the “remastered” Halo 2 for PC, as opposed to just re-shipping the old Microsoft Game Studios port from 2007.)
To be clear: today’s news makes zero mention of Halo 5: Guardians either joining the MCC or receiving a PC port. The game launched before Microsoft’s “Xbox Play Anywhere” initiative made PC and Xbox One launches a simultaneous guarantee (and a free perk for digital game purchases).
We imagine this prolonged wait for (nearly) every Halo title’s arrival on PC will last just long enough to help fans bide their time until the launch of Halo Infinite, which rumors now peg as a launch title for the next Xbox console in 2020. Microsoft has not formally commented on that rumor; instead, the company recently insisted that Halo Infinite will launch for existing Xbox One consoles. It remains to be seen whether that statement and the rumor will line up—and how the future game might scale across such a broad spectrum of hardware power, if so.