Halo Reach was a special game to me. One which soaked up many-an-afterschool evening’s time, funneled my creativity, and truly sunk it’s competitive teeth into me.
As you may – or may not have – heard, the legendary Halo: Master Chief Collection is fast-approaching to PC via the Windows Store and Steam, and honestly, I never thought I’d see the day. Having exited the PC market after Halo 2, and briefly popping back in with Halo 5: Forge, to hear that nearly every single Halo title is making it’s way onto PC absolutely blew me away. Finally – A platform I can access these timeless games on, support, and even introduce to new friends!
It’s certainly a flashback to 2010’s me, that’s for certain – I was immensely hyped for Halo Reach’s launch back in 2010, with my stepdad having texted me whilst I was at school to tell me that our limited editions of the game had arrived at home, waiting for me after my long day at Upper School – I ran home in the blistering summer heat, literally sprinting as I was laughed at by college kids and senior students on the way home, as I burst through my front door, grabbed the collector’s edition, unpacked it and rammed it into my Xbox 360 to blast through the campaign on Heroic with my mates Owen, Billy and Luke (Shoutout to you guys).
What awaited me was what I consider to be the best Halo experience available even today – Halo Reach not only set new heights for the franchise, it dominated them. This was Bungie’s swan song from the franchise, and as such, they poured every single piece of their hearts into every facet – A decently sized, well-balanced and fun campaign with some of the most emotional moments in the series? Check. Incredibly long and fun progression in multiplayer that rewarded you for having fun, playing daily and playing a variety of modes? Check. The most complex and easily accessible map creation tools yet? Check. Couple this with some of the best weapons, vehicles and maps, and you have yourselves a fucking winner mate.
Hours upon hours were spent on this game between me and my friends making intricate race maps, shooting galleries, houses, prisons, custom game maps and more, or even just creating our own bases and raiding them with our own set up wars – This game just had this odd way to foster your creativity and acted as a total sandbox for your time; this isn’t even considering the intricate armour customisation which – to this day – is still unmatched; as you played, you earned credits that would allow you to buy new cosmetics for your Spartan – New helmets, body types, gauntles, accessories, aesthetic changes like death animations and even exclusive characters like story characters such as Emile and the legendary Master Chief – All gated via rank progression and credits; everything can be bought in-game with enough time and patience, and the best part is you don’t even need to be good at the game to progress! Achieving simple daily challenges across the Campaign, Firefight or Multiplayer allowed you to amass a decent amount of credits daily, and playing everything from Forge to Custom Games, to fun unique modes like Grifball, Infected and races all fed into your progression, and made you feel like you were never wasting your time, no matter what you were doing. Combine this with the different difficulty limiters you could put on the Campaign and Firefight modes via ‘Skulls’, and you had yourself an extremely well-balanced game with the potential to really challenge even the most die-hard FPS fans to their very limits.
Combined with this is the amount of community support that Bungie offered, allowing for fan-created maps to be fed into the main multiplayer map rotation, hosting community custom game weekends, frequent double XP and credit weekends and more – It felt like being part of this large community who just wanted to have fun, and honestly I think that’s what I’m most excited for with Reach’s re-release on PC, being the first title to arrive – The ressurection of this community and the fun that we used to have, and bringing it to new people.
Being 2019, and not 2010, technology and support has grown immensely, proven by projects such as Halo Online, with map distribution sites, forums, server parties and Custom Game nights all being organised through external means; this will only evolve further with the help and support of 343 Industries, and with the game being so readily accessible… And imagine the mod potential! Finally we may be able to see custom Firefight maps!
So yeah – This was me rambling about why Halo Reach means so damn much to me, and why it should mean so damn much to you. I’m incredibly giddy for this game and cannot wait to get on with some of my new and old mates just like the old days.