Image: 343 Studios

It’s time for Halo fans – and PC gamers, in particular – to unseal the hushed casket yet again.

In a surprise announcement, Microsoft and 343 Studios revealed that Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is now available on the PC as part of the The Master Chief Collection (MCC). The package originally launched in December with just one title, Halo: Reach, but fans can now re-live the excitement of Master Chief’s first encounter with the mysterious, alien ring world that defined the series.

This isn’t the first time that Halo was released on the PC (Gearbox Software released a port of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2003), but the MCC edition represents the definitive version of the game. It comes with plenty of modern updates, such as 4K/60 FPS graphics and native keyboard/mouse support.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary looks and plays better than ever at 60 frames-per-second (or greater) with 4K UHD support, and players can fine-tune their experience with a vast array of options including variable framerate, native mouse/keyboard support and the ability to rebind controls, support for ultra-wide displays and different aspect rations, updates texture/shadow quality and more,” said 343 Industries.

Players can also instantaneously switch between Halo’s classic graphics and the Anniversary edition’s enhanced visuals with the press of a button. Jeff Steitzer’s original voice work for multiplayer has been restored as well.

“Additionally, we’re happy to introduce community-requested features such as the option to use ‘classic’ audio in multiplayer and improvements to Spartan customization,” the developer added.

The Master Chief Collection can be purchased on the Microsoft Store and Steam for $39.99, but those who only care for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary can buy it as an individual title for $9.99.

Halo fans can also get The Master Chief Collection by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass for PC, which is still in beta. 343 Studios says that the rest of the Halo titles – Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST (Campaign), and Halo 4 – will be added before the end of the year, “completing the collection in 2020.”

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2 Comments

  1. DF took a look at the PC version of Halo 1 Anniversary: [URL]https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2020-halo-cea-pc-the-master-chief-collection-tech-analysis[/URL]
    They made a good point about the audio in the Gearbox PC port being superior due to EAX. I still enjoy hardware-accelerated audio with the game on my current system using ALchemy and my X-Fi. “Also strange is that the original soundscape mode on PC seems to randomly insert shield or plasma pistol charge sounds at random. Hopefully both of these issues can be corrected.” I also had an issue in my own playthrough where I destroyed a banshee and it crashed to the ground, but it was still emitting the sound it makes when it is flying. This sound never stopped playing until I left the area.

    Some selections from the article:
    “…there’s a problem in how SSAO scales, leaving vertical banding in all of the game’s shadowed regions. I hope this is another aspect that can be fixed in due course to make the enhanced mode one step closer to perfection.”

    “Also, unlike Halo Reach, FPS interpolation and higher than 60fps frame-rates work properly this time around, but that does not mean that it is completely perfect. Plasma weapon effects such as the shots from stationary plasma turrets, plasma pistols and plasma rifles all update at 30fps no matter your chosen frame-rate target.”

    “This also applies to the update rate for the energy swords carried by Elites which can look really awkward as the arms move out of sync with the sword they are supposed to be carrying. Most surprising for me was that all of the cinematics in the game have animation rates tied to 30fps, while the camera in these cinematics moves at an uncapped frame-rate. So basically, the new port of Halo exhibits many of the same problems that Halo PC had all the way back in 2003. Perhaps this is done for reasons of syncing cutscene playback in coop play.”

    “These frame-rate problems for certain animations are somewhat surprising to me because the Chimera mod for the original 2003 PC release unlocks the frame-rate of animations and interpolates them, creating workarounds for this issue – so I’m curious as to why a new 2020 port has these issues when existing mods have been available for some time that cure 17-year-old limitations with the original port. Surely with all the time, money and resources available to 343 Industries, the firm should be able to match the efforts of the Halo community?”

    “While it plays extremely well and offers new visuals and cooperative experiences we’ve never seen before on PC, the visual foundations for this release are still not [I]right[/I] – something that’s very important in preserving a genuine classic. The original Gearbox version of Halo from 2003 was released missing visual aspects found in the original Xbox version and the MCC version of Halo CEA on Xbox One and in this PC version inherit those problems. The issues are found right across the game and can really have a negative effect on the intended visuals. Transparencies and fog effects are often incorrectly delivered, textures and bump mapping effects can present poorly – and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.”

    “The thing is that these are issues that have been known about for a long time in the Halo community, problems that the community has actively sought to resolve via modding. Today you can download the Halo Restoration and have a version of the game on PC which does not have many of the visual problems that the Master Chief Collection has. And it’s here where I really hope that the team behind this new Halo CEA port can perhaps draw some inspiration from the community and work to address these issues once and for all. It’s all about preservation: Halo as a game deserves to look as art-correct as possible with Bungie’s original design, as it is a timelessly gorgeous game. Its extensive use of effects, bump mapping, and other DirectX 8 trickery made it such a stand-out title back in the day and really, the official 343 port should hold up and continue this proud legacy.”

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