Home / PC & Laptops / Halo: Reach PC impressions: The prodigal son returns to the PC, with some quirks – PCWorld

Halo: Reach PC impressions: The prodigal son returns to the PC, with some quirks – PCWorld

The original plan, if I recall correctly, was to have the entire Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC by the end of 2019. Alas, that’s not going to happen. But 343 Industries did manage to get Halo: Reach out before the end of the year, the first Halo game to hit PC since Microsoft’s ill-fated attempt to use Halo 2 to sell copies of Windows Vista back in 2007.

So how is it? I won’t lie, it’s kind of janky. Given how many rounds of testing Reach went through this year, I expected a more exhaustive PC version. But it works! If that’s all you care about, if you simply need to satiate your nostalgia…well, you’re probably already playing. After all, Halo: Reach “reached” the top of the Steam sales charts on release day.

If you want to know what works and what doesn’t though, read on.

Illusion of choice

First, let me say: I understand Halo: Reach is a remaster of a decade-old game. It’s been given a new coat of paint, but not a very extensive one, and thus is bound to run on basically any machine at maximum settings.

That said, when I got some hands-on time with Reach at E3 I wrote that “I didn’t see anything in the way of graphics settings, but I assume those will be in there at release.” Come release day…nope. Still no graphics settings—or at least, not to the extent you’d expect. You have your choice of three locked-down presets: “Performance,” “Original,” and “Enhanced.” I imagine these are the same options as the Xbox One X, though I haven’t checked.

Halo: Reach (PC) - Performance Setting IDG / Hayden Dingman

Reach on Performance settings. Notice the blocky trees in the background. (Click to expand)

Halo: Reach (PC) - Original Setting IDG / Hayden Dingman

Reach on “Original” settings clears up some of the blockiness except at extreme distances.

Halo: Reach (PC) - Enhanced Setting IDG / Hayden Dingman

…And on Enhanced settings, well-defined foliage. Less of a difference between Enhanced and Original.

I did toggle between the three in numerous environments, and mostly noticed differences in draw distance—and even then, mostly between the “Performance” and “Original” modes. With “Performance” enabled, objects in the middle-distance (particularly trees) devolve into abstract polygonal blobs. Moving to “Original” greatly increases the distance at which this happens, enough so that I really had to hunt for examples to show a difference between it and the “Enhanced” mode.

Halo: Reach (PC) - Performance Setting IDG / Hayden Dingman

Another example of “Performance” mode. Notice the flat lighting on the concrete buildings.

Halo: Reach (PC) - Enhanced Setting IDG / Hayden Dingman

On “Original” and “Enhanced” settings, the shadows are more clearly defined and the game draws the green and orange lights from the power-ups inside the left bunker. (Enhanced shown.)

As I said, most modern PCs will run Halo: Reach maxed-out, even at higher resolutions. It’s aged well, but it’s definitely aged, and some slight improvements to textures and terrain aren’t enough to mask that fact. Logically there’s no real reason to include graphics options when most people will just set everything as high as it will go. And yet I find it somehow strange Reach doesn’t even pretend—especially since I’d read that the Reach beta tests did have more granular settings earlier this year. Where’d they disappear?

Field of view has been expanded since my last hands-on, at least. As I said at E3:

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