Since its announcement in April 2019, a team at 343 Industries has been hard at work bringing Halo: The Master Chief Collection to PC via Steam and Windows. With the very recent release of Halo 3 on the PC platform; a historic moment in gaming has occurred of immense importance to PC gamers and the industry as a whole. So the question remains: why is the release of Halo 3 on PC such a big deal?
To answer that question, we must look back at the franchise’s difficult history on the PC platform. Halo has always been Xbox’s flagship since its debut in 2001; some may be surprised to learn that Halo: Combat Evolved & Halo 2 were ported to PC as well. This would be the beginning of the demand for Halo on PC.
The Great Journey
Halo: Combat Evolved PC released on September 30, 2003 and was ported by Gearbox Software & Westlake Interactive. Aside from the use of mouse & keyboard (KBM), the gameplay was very similar to its Xbox counterpart; but with the addition of new weapons and 16 player online multiplayer mode. Ironically however, the PC version suffers from a multitude of graphical downgrades due to port issues, which would occur in later ports as well.
Additionally, Gearbox Software also released a multiplayer-only standalone expansion for PC titled Halo: Custom Edition. This version of Halo: Combat Evolved allowed players to browse and play user-created maps and content, and provide modding tools to create their own. This awakened a passionate modding community that is still active today, creating amazing new content for people to enjoy.
Halo 2 PC released on May 31st, 2007 for Windows Vista; mere months prior to Halo 3’s launch on Xbox 360. The game was ported by Hired Number and included visual enhancements and better textures, however was held back due to its requirements of Windows Vista. This not only limited players who wanted to play the game, but this would also be the final PC port of a main Halo game for 12 years.
When Halo 3 originally released in 2007 on the Xbox 360, it was the first title to not receive a port to the PC platform. While this left the entire PC community unable to finish the fight; they also missed out on the most popular & respected Halo title to ever release. As such, Halo 3 became infamous as one of the most requested console exclusives ever to be ported to PC in its time.
Halo 3 would be the catalyst that would result in some fans, including myself, to make the switch from PC to the Xbox 360 platform. Many fans, however, would be left behind, unsure if they’d ever get the chance to finish the fight on PC. For over a decade, there was no word on when a PC port for Halo 3 would occur, and many lost hope in the dream.
As the years passed, Halo would continue to skyrocket in its success on the various Xbox platforms as PC was never addressed in any official capacity. As the industry seemed to focus more on exclusive games; the likelihood for Halo 3 – or any major Halo release – continued to seem extremely unlikely.
However, several small scale Halo games would eventually make their way to PC. Small scale twin-stick shooters Halo: Spartan Assault & Strike would make their debut on Windows PC; while the release of Halo Wars 2 would release along side a remaster of Halo Wars in 2017. Even a small Forge port for Halo 5 was brought over, but contained little of what the community was looking for. While these were indeed official Halo titles; none of them generated a fraction of the hype or interest in a grand scale for the PC community.
In this hopeless time, a game titled Halo Online was announced in 2015; which would’ve been an online only game for PC. Using a modified Halo 3 engine, with the addition of many other weapons, maps and more from Halo. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled due to lack of progress effectively extinguishing any hope for a true Halo game to come to PC. Or so we thought.
One Final Effort
The cancellation of Halo Online may have been a big blow to any faith that Halo may once again release on PC, but it was also a blessing in disguise. Before the full project was canceled, modders leaked a build of build of the game that they could continue to work on. Titled ElDewrito, a working build was released in April of 2018 and blew the gates open with popularity. ElDewrito had finally delivered a Halo experience worth playing, and was so incredibly popular it even got attention from Microsoft and 343 Industries themselves.
Depressingly, Microsoft Studios had to legally shut down the project, putting a full stop to the reality of ElDewrito. Fortunately, this demonstration of pure passion and love for the franchise seemed to have opened the eyes of 343 Industries; as they commented on how delighted they were about the project. In fact, they would even bring in the ElDewrito team for assistance at future mod support. This would end up becoming the push Halo needed for the PC community.
Only a year later, 343 Industries would announce that Halo: The Master Chief Collection would not only be coming to PC, but onto Steam as well. The plan would be to release the Halo games within the collection in canonical order starting with Halo Reach; which would finally begin it’s long awaited PC treatment in December 2019.
Between December 2019 and June 2020; Halo Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary & Halo 2: Anniversary would release on Steam. While the PC Community was able to experience Reach & the improved Halo anniversary editions for the first time; some enjoyment was restricted due to some major bugs and other issues. However, not even the worst bugs could resolve the hype for the long awaited Halo 3 release.
Finish The Fight… Finally
Nearly 13 years after the original release on Xbox 360, Halo 3 has finally released on PC via Steam on July 14, 2020. Except, it didn’t. With the immense hype for such a long awaited game; even 343 Industries themselves couldn’t contain their excitement and released the game a night early! Much to everybody’s surprise, the full game and all of it’s features was finally available on the PC after the long, painful journey.
So far, Halo 3 has been the most successful release in Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC since its release in December. According to Steam Charts website, Halo 3’s launch boasted 54,416 concurrent players within the first 24 hours. This a massive increase from the peak number of 10,819 users seen in June after Halo 2: Anniversary’s launch. As of the posting of this article, the game becoming the highest player count since the initial launch.
Halo 3 on PC contains all of the content from the Xbox 360 version, from the grand-scaled campaign, addictive multiplayer, theater mode and a ton of enhancements to the forge map maker mode. With additions such as an FOV slider, in game challenges and the fix of many bugs that have plagued the collection – the PC Community is finally getting the proper Halo 3 experience they’ve been waiting over a decade for.
As a hardcore Halo fan who was introduced to the franchise with Halo: Combat Evolved PC; the long journey to Halo 3’s release to PC is something I’ve been following since its launch in 2007. Halo 3 is the single reason why I jumped ship from PC onto the Xbox platform; which is become my preferred way to play. Seeing the greatest journey finally end while actively playing the game on PC has been incredible; and I’m happy to see it conclude.
We’re Just Getting Started
The legendary game has left a mark on gaming forever, and remains one of the most respected first-person shooters of all time. Halo 3 may finally be on PC after nearly 13 years, but this is just the beginning of Halo’s big future ahead on the platform. Where the franchise has had many struggles on the past, this launch has marked the strongest release yet on PC; and sets up the rest of the franchise perfectly.
Halo 3: ODST & it’s epic Firefight mode are up next to release on PC this summer, and Halo 4 arriving shortly after. With Halo: The Master Chief Collection being in a solid state after the most recent launch; fans can begin to get much more excited about the upcoming games and their quality. This also opens the door for Halo 5: Guardians to get a proper port to PC down the line as well.
All of this is leading the massively anticipated upcoming game, Halo Infinite, which will be the first title in history to launch on a new Xbox & PC on the same day. Although there has been no confirmation, the game will likely release on Steam alongside the Windows Store with Xbox PC Gamepass. No matter what the case is, we’ll be learning more about Halo Infinite with it’s campaign gameplay on July 23rd, 2020.
The last of 2020 will be the most exciting and busy time for Halo in history, and it all starts with Halo 3’s Launch on PC; which you can purchase on Steam & Windows. Learn everything you need to know from development insight to the latest news at Halo Waypoint; and be sure to follow Halo’s official Twitter as we approach Halo Infinite’s marketing season.
Stay Informed, Noble!
If you couldn’t tell by now, the team here at Informed Pixel are pretty big Halo fans, so be sure to stay tuned as we cover all things Halo! For more reviews and gaming news you can keep up to date at Informed Pixel. Want to speak to the team and interact with other gamers? You can do so over on the Informed Pixel Facebook page or on the Informed Pixel Twitter account.
If you’re interested in more Halo content by the team, check out our article that covers the latest Halo community update! This dives into all the new features for Halo: The Master Chief Collection Season 2, which launched alongside Halo 3. Additionally, check out our Game Recommendation for Halo 5: Guardians, which will be of great use for anybody jumping into Halo prior to Halo Infinite!
Listen to my personal project, The Noble Core Podcast on Spotify and Apple. Our weekly Podcast primarily focuses on Halo news and content. Follow us on Twitter @TheNobleCore, you can also find me @TheNobleGrunt and my co-host @JonTheChief117 as well. Join us as we get absolutely hyped about Halo 3 PC and Halo Infinite!