Today marks 15 years since Halo debuted on the original XBOX. WOW!
We sure have seen a lot of stories, characters, planets and other places, armors, aliens and changes along the way.
What started out as an idea by the Bungie forefathers and what would have been an RTS game for the MAC, became an FPS shooter and a franchise that was bought by Microsoft for its fledgling console, the XBOX.
At the time, Master Chief was little more than a husk. One that the player would be enveloped by to take on the epic campaign. That campaign culminated in the destruction of one of the vaulted Halo rings. In between however, we tackled wave upon wave of Covenant and Flood.
It didn’t stop there. While Halo CE had a local multi-player built into it, Halo 2 is arguably where Halo REALLY took off.
Not only did we, again as Master Chief, kick some alien butt, we got to do it on our home planet. Oh, you know, in a little town called, New Mombasa. The LAN parties of Halo CE didn’t go away though. Instead, they were transformed into an international setting Instead of being called LAN parties, we had a fully functional multiplayer through servers. And Halo 2 THRIVED at it! In fact, some might say this is where multiplayer overtook campaign as the favored game mode. There is no doubt that professional eSports on consoles hit a new benchmark when Halo 2 hit the scene. Gamers from all over the U.S. Formed or joined teams to compete. Not just for noteriety, but for fame and a little bit of fortune…just a little bit. LOL
The battle for earth didn’t stop there. Master Chief slammed into the ground and with just the slightest help from Sgt. Johnson, began yet another epic journey. This through lush jungles, savannahs, and another Halo ring.
Forge debuted to the delight of many gamers and for the first time enabled US to create maps for Halo. And boy, did we ever create! Foundry was one of the go to maps. In large part, that was due to the spacious interior of the preformed warehouse. Many an Infection map was made. With Haunted Mansion probably being the most played one of them all.
Multiplayer was still thriving and had in some ways increased in popularity. We had both Social and Ranked playlist. Each had several playlists to choose from and all were heavily populated.
At the end of the campaign, we were left to wonder…would we ever see Master achief again? Would he indeed be woken because we needed him??
That year saw not one but TWO Halo games. First came Halo Wars. Not an FPS, but rather an RTS game. Much in the same vein as what Bungie had originally planned. Though this title was NOt made by Bungie.
Halo Wars took place several years before the events of the original trilogy of Halo games. We were introduced to Captain Cuuter, Sgt. Forge, Ellen Anders, Serina and more. Epic mostly top down gameplay allowed us to take control not just of one character, but MANY! Running UNSC troops through the Covenant like we had never done before. Once again we had Multiplayer. This time with a whole new set of strategy to learn and implement.
The crew of the Spirit of Fire had one, but at a cost, their ship’s slipspace drive. Cutter ordered everyone to Cryo chambers. Here the story ended and we though we’d never see the ship again…
Later in 2009, Halo 3: ODST hit the ground running. Literally, well within the campaign at least. Taking place right around the time of Halo 2, this time we deployed as a squad of bad ass ODSTs. We now became “the Rookie”. Though we also became other members of the squad in an intertwined set of missions.
Not as strong or armored as Spartans, as ODSTs, we had to play things slightly differently. We couldn’t just charge enemies, guns blazing. Now we had to learn tactics. It was even better if you were doing so with friends.
Halo 3: ODST also brought about a NEW game mode; Firefight! We took on hordes of Covenant at several locations. Rounds getting progressively harder and even an achievement that would take you and three of your friends on a struggle and play a game of around 2 hours or more to complete.
We saved a little critter dubbed Virgil and in doing so, helped to turn the tide of battle for what was to come.
We returned to Spartan gameplay. This time as a Spartan III, with Noble team. We became Noble Six. In what was one of the arguably best features of Reach, we got to create our OWN Spartan that would play I. The campaign. We were no longer limited to playing as Master Chief. Now we could play and BE our own Spartan!
Along the way, we got to know the other Spartans of Noble team, Carter, Kat, Emile, Jun and of course, Jorge.
Each with their own special skill sets. You teamed up with one during different missions that took place all over the planet Reach and at different times of day.
Multiplayer began to change a lot in the Halo franchise with Reach’s release. Now we had loadouts we could choose from. Each one with their own Spartan ability..
We also got yet another new game mode: Invasion! Not only did we get to team up with friends as Spartans, but we got to play as Elites!! While not new to Halo, the way in which we got to play Elites in Reach was. You towered over your Spartan Enemies. Through 3 phases of the mode you fought your way through bands of enemies, be they UNSC or Covenant, depending on which side you were on, at the time.
We got a revamped Firefight. One in which saw limited waves in the matchmaking part. You battled through 15 rounds and a bonus round if you were skilled or lucky enough. All sorts of enemies from Elites, to Brutes, Jackals, Grunts, Hunters and a new one…Skirmishers. Though directly related to Jackals, Skirmishers were the more athletic and quick version of Jackals, You may miss them now, but back then, they were lethal to play against. Especially if you were brave enough to play Skirmegeddon.
Forge saw a big upgrade here. Not only could we manipulate object like we hadn’t before, we had Forge World. A MASSIVE map from which spawned some of the greatest community made maps, even til this day. Race really got a foothold in Reach and allowed us to have endless hours of fun to see who could outrun each other.
Mutiplayer took a hit from the pro community. With MLG dropping Halo Reach, dark times for Halo lay ahead. But would that last?
At the end of the campaign, Reach had been glassed, and our Spartan face insurmountable odds, only to be slain. But we knew that from the beginning.
This was Bungie’s last Halo title. People were unsure where or even IF the series would go on from here.
Enter Halo Waypoint and 343…
Roughly around the halfway point of Reach’s solo run as the current Halo game, 343 took over for Bungie. Bloom had now been fixed. Gamers slowly started to come back to multiplayer
We then got word that this would indeed NOT be the last Halo game. 343 had already been in production of Halo 4!
The ten year anniversary gave us an anniversary game in the form of Halo CE Anniversary. Here we got to relive the events of CE. This time though, we had the option to switch back and forth between the classic and NEW graphic for CE. We got to start the fight all over again.
As well, we got a special map pack that was playable in Halo Reach.
Wake Up John… It wasn’t just Cortana who needed Master Chief. We all did. And so, John-117 was brought out of Cryo sleep and right into battle. The remnants of the Covenant were brought together by one Jul ‘Mdama. As Master Chief, we now got to battle a new yet OLD enemy. Prometheans and the Didact!
We finally were facing off against Forerunner. The Prometheans were Forerunner robots with the digital essence of humans. And there was an endless supply of them it seemed. Not to mention, there were various forms of them. While Knights posed our biggest problem, watchers protected the knights with light shields and pesky swathes of Crawlers would swarm you from all around and in some case above and below you.
In somewhat alternating missions, we squared off against both Covenant and Prometheans. Later on in the campaign, we would be reunited with the UNSC in the form of the mighty UNSC Infinity.
At the end of the campaign, we finally challenged the Didact but at a grave cost…
Set 6 months after the events of the campaign, we would set off on 50 Spartan Ops missions. Winding their way through various locations within the Forerunner sphere, Requiem. Spartan Ops took over for Firefight. Instead of waves of enemies on various maps, we essentially got a whole other campaign. This time playiing again as your own Spartan as a member of Fireteam Crimson. You were pitted in a contest of sorts with FIreteam Majestic to see who could finish first.
Also. We got to see much more of the UNSC Infinity, this time from the inside.
Once again Forge got a revamp. Anchor points were added to objects and magnets got the objects to stick together.
In the end, we had to deal with the loss of Cortana, a Chief who was struggling with that loss and the uncertainty of the Didact’s demise. Where would we go from here?
Halo gone mobile! For the first time we got an official mobile game in Halo Spartan Assault. Playing alternately as Spartans Palmer and Davis we traversed different worlds and Forerunner locations. At first a one-person only game, we got an expansion that allowed us to play 5 missions with a friend against the vaulted flood.
The Master Chief Collection. While the game suffered a horrible launch with many bugs, connection issues and the like, it would eventually settle off to be the collection of the Halo numbered games and an addition of ODST.
A whopping amount of achievements made even the most hardened achievement hunter’s mouth drop. 4,000 gamerscore.
Within HMCC as it came to be called, we got Halo 2 Anniversary. Switching between classic and updated graphics campaign was now instantaneous. We also got our introduction to Spartan Locke.
Once again, we got another twofer. Halo Spartan Strike would come out early in the year and was the second official mobile game. Here we played as an Orange and White armor colored Spartan. This top down shooter, like its predecessor, Spartan Assault, pitted us against Covenant. But we also face off against Prometheans as well.
The game gave us a new vehicle to play with. The Kestrel. The name was brought back from an old Bungie concept piece of art for a ship. In fact, much of the Kestral’s finished design was based off that concept piece.
No co-op play this time, but still a fun mobile game.
Later in 2015 came Halo 5. Master Chief had been reunited with the other members of Blue Team. They went rogue and it was decided that a new fire team led by Spartan Locke would be brought in to bring Chief back. This new team, Fireteam Osiris, included Spartans Vale and Tanaka. Vale having been introduced via a novel, while Tanaka was introduced in a comic book. And of course, the final member of Osiris, Buck. Yep, Buck got a promotion to Spartan. They used to say if he were any better, he’d be a Spartan. Guess he got better…
Much of the campaign had us playing as Locke or other members of Osiris if you were playing co-op campaign . Though we did get 3 missions to play as Chief and Blue Team. Jul ‘Mdama and his now failing remnant of the Covenant We being decimated by the Arbiter and Prometheans who had now turned on Jul.
WE faced a new enemy in the Warden Eternal as well as a friend turned enemy in Cortana. Is that really her or is it a fragment? Time will tell.
Multiplayer got a big remix. Gone were some of the past abilities like jet pack and new abilities out in place like Clamber.
343 made a distinct effort to get Halo back to the top of the eSports world. It’s first Halo 5 competition ending in a more than $2 million dollar prize pool!
Halo 5’s Forge was a massive overhaul from Forge in past titles. For six months we got more and more forge items and tools to work with and still are, as of this writing.
DLC for Halo 5 was free, much to the delight of gamers. This meant no one was left behind.
A new gamemode made its debut. Warzone. Think BIG big team. Now 12v12 instead of 8v8 and with a heavy mix of AI to fight along the way as well.
The REQ system was also introduced in Halo 5. This a new means to garner new armor, weapons, assassinations, emblems and more.
While Halo 5 continues to thrive, we look to the future.
Today marks 15 years of Halo. Will there be 15 more?
If Halo Wars 2 in 2017 and Halo 6 on the distant horizon have anything to say about it, we’ve still got a lot of Halo left to play!
Thanks for sticking with me in this long article, I had it much longer, but had to cut it down somewhat. The original article was another 3/4 as long again as this one….
Yes, I may have skilled over some things, but when talking about 15 year franchise, it’s hard to get everything I There and still try to have a short article.
I hope you enjoyed the walk down memory lane.