The wait is finally over for PC owners. Halo is returning to the platform through the new Master Chief Collection, and it’s all starting with Halo Reach. Great news for PC owners, certainly, but there’s plenty here for Xbox One owners to be excited about as well. Halo: Reach’s debut on PC will also see it updated and released simultaneously on Xbox One, bringing one of the most exciting entries in the series to Microsoft’s modern console. If you didn’t experience Reach back on the 360, you’re in for one heck of a ride.
Reaching the stars
When it first launched back in 2010, Halo: Reach was an exciting prospect for several different reasons. Not only was it Bungie’s farewell to the iconic series they’d created, it also dared to do things a little differently. Following the footprints lain by ODST the year before, Halo: Reach took a more mature tone to its story, veering away from Master Chief to hone in on a select group of Spartans named Noble Team during the war against the Covenant.
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Noble Team are supersoldiers, yes, but they’re far more characterful and interdependent than the Chief. Crucially, they’re also vulnerable. Sent to help defend Reach, assess the Covenant strength and transport a crucial artifact, Noble’s crew of Carter, Kat, Emile, Jorge, Jun and Six are battered, bruised and tested during their journey.
This isn’t a tale of overcoming incredible odds to claim victory, it’s one of standing firm in the face of the undefeatable and doing what you can for the sake of others. Reach’s cast are memorable and, thanks to a smartly contained plot, the story is liable to stick with you far longer than most aspects of the Chief’s convoluted fight. Reach was rightly recognized as one of the best titles in the Halo series and made waves at the time for a superb ending sequence which we’ll leave unspoilt for those who’ve yet to try it.
To cut a long story short, Halo: Reach stands out as one of the best campaigns the franchise has produced, melding the best aspects of the series with new innovations and a drastically improved narrative. If you’re a fan of Halo lore, you won’t want to miss out either, as Reach ties directly into the core plot of Combat Evolved, setting the stage perfectly for the arrival of everyone’s favorite green-armored trooper.
Reach also introduced fresh mechanics to multiplayer such as class abilities like jetpacks and active camo, as well as the superb Firefight mode. The latter sees you face off alone or with friends against waves of increasingly tough Covenant foes, and while Horde modes are dime-a-dozen these days, Reach did it in a thoroughly enjoyable fashion. Firefight felt suitably in keeping with the game’s story, with your core team or Spartans holding off against waves of Covenant as they bore down on the planet.
The ultimate version
In making the jump to Xbox One and PC, Reach has picked up a few upgrades to help take advantage of the extra power that the platforms afford. Naturally, the first and biggest benefits come in the form of 4K, HDR and 60 FPS support, so you won’t need to worry about blurry or muddy textures. The jump to 60 FPS will draw the biggest oohs and aahs, keeping motion crisp without the heavy motion blur of the 360 version. The original art style of Reach has been kept intact — and it remains far from an ugly game — but visual effects such as lighting have seen a notable step up to produce a crisp and clear image.
Performance upgrades aren’t the only new things in the Master Chief Collection version of Halo: Reach. It’ll also arrive with a new progression and ranking system that rewards you for your online efforts. These kind of systems are now seen in almost all modern titles and offer a satisfying extra nugget of encouragement to keep playing. It would have felt odd had Reach neglected to include a progression system, but it still shows the extra spot of polish this remaster has received. Similar to a battle pass design, you’ll be able to unlock new armor pieces, badges and other rewards by competing during seasons, levelling up as far as you can within a certain timeframe.
Online also getting an upgrade, with an emphasis – at least on the PC version – on dedicated servers for modes such as Firefight as well as PvP, so you won’t need to battle your mate’s dodgy connection alongside the Covenant hordes. Saly, crossplay between PC and consoles hasn’t been announced yet, but who knows, maybe we’ll see it for the co-op modes at least down the line.
All in all, Halo: Reach was one of the best entries in an already iconic series, and a reminder of just how brilliant Bungie could be with the license. Whether you were after a story or tense multiplayer matches, Reach brought it all. The Master Chief Collection update looks like a fantastic revival of this classic title, so if you’re hungry for a Halo fix during the wait for Infinite, or haven’t played Halo: Reach before, there’s no better time than now to jump in.
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