Remember when Halo used to really mean something? One doesn’t ask this to be egregious. We’re all aware of the success of the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. Legions of fans still pledge allegiance to Halo’s banner. In fact, every single Halo – from Combat Evolved to Reach and even Halo 4 – has earned its place in history. Suffice to say, no effort could possibly wipe Halo from the books as one of the greatest shooter franchises that ever existed.
That being said, there exists a single anomaly. It hasn’t festered so much as remained stagnant, steadily growing but not at an observable rate. It’s the black hole for enthusiasm of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
"When 343 Industries first revealed Halo: The Master Chief Collection, there was skepticism as to whether it was actually possible."
If you haven’t already, then go read Beyond Entertainment’s excellent in-depth piece on the first 100 days of Halo: MCC. Tracking the game’s online multiplayer performance from pre-launch till its 100th day on the market, the piece delves into the many bugs, discrepancies and glitches that exist in Halo: MCC till this day. It’s damning overall but only because of its factuality.
When 343 Industries first revealed Halo: The Master Chief Collection, there was skepticism as to whether it was actually possible. Could fans really play all four games in the series, remastered for their pleasure with Halo 2 being completely remade? Could you really access a playlist for the most awesome memorable moments in the series? Could one really play all four games in multiplayer with custom games, Forge and custom playlists? Could we relive the campaign that we knew and loved in co-op with our friends?
Indications at the time leaned heavily towards “Yes”. The actual result was and continues to be a different matter altogether. Kill enough team-mates and watch as you respawn as a member of the opposing team. Matchmaking takes its sweet time – yes, more than three months later – to find you a game. If it does find one, you’re likely going to be matched 4 vs. 3 or even 5 vs. 3. Want to play anything besides Team Slayer and have even halfway of a decent experience? Go back to Titanfall or Destiny then.
Many have made the claim that single-player is still viable. To an extent that is true, despite the enormous lag issues for those who try to play co-op. Let’s not forget earlier times when the game refused to save your progress at times or even wiped out your progress altogether. To be fair, it’s better now but barely.
"The question that rings out the most is a simple one - who was responsible for the debacle that is The Master Chief Collection?"
Halo: MCC wasn’t marketed on just the strength of its campaigns though and even if it was, the series has been and will always remain a multiplayer-focused franchise. The meat of the content – all 200 maps – is in multiplayer and yet players still can’t enjoy whatever mode they wish. 343 Industries has scrambled to address these issues but there’s been seemingly no progress. Actually, one stands corrected – the overwhelming number of issues outside of just the matchmaking is enough to make any significant progress negligible.
If you go the Halo page on Reddit, you’ll find players who are upset or those who still foster hope. You’ll undoubtedly find fans for whom Halo still means something but most users are largely indifferent (or watching the Halo Championship Series). The most recent update has come out after a convoluted series of promises and community posts and to the developer’s credit, it does significantly improve matchmaking to a great degree. It also goes the extra mile and corrects issues within Halo: CE including an odd bug where auto-aim would actually push the target reticule away from enemies. There’s still a lot of work to be done though – not to mention several users reporting very little change even after the update.
The question that rings out the most is a simple one – who was responsible for the debacle that is The Master Chief Collection? Who was responsible for the sullying of the franchise name, stamping out any nostalgia players might have had while ensuring those who bought an Xbox One would feel shafted at launch day?
Was it Microsoft, the big evil publisher who only pays attention to the bottom line and wanted a Halo title to release in the ever-important Fall season to coincide with its console price drop? Was it 343 Industries for under-estimating the amount of work it would take to get Halo 3’s Forge maps to work on the Xbox One, forget bringing over four games worth of content updated for the new generation?
"With Halo: The Master Chief Collection, efforts are being made to reanimate this shuffling zombie back to life while fans make every effort to not get burned again when Halo 5: Guardians rolls around."
Was it the incompetence of additional developers like Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, Ruffian Games and United Front Games in bringing the series to the Xbox One? Heck, was it originally the fault of Bungie for leaving Microsoft and splitting up its key employees, some who stayed with the publisher to form 343 Industries? Is it Bonnie Ross’s fault? Dan Ayoub’s fault?
The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter. In The Great Halo: MCC Murder Mystery, it ultimately doesn’t matter who’s fault it was or whether everyone was at fault. Because the fact remains that Halo: MCC was murdered at launch.
Murder mysteries don’t necessarily play up what the victim’s families or loved ones have to deal with afterwards, never mind what the general public must do to move on from this tragedy. With Halo: The Master Chief Collection, efforts are being made to reanimate this shuffling zombie back to life while fans make every effort to not get burned again when Halo 5: Guardians rolls around. This sadly doesn’t change the fact that a murder happened and for better or worse, many of us could only watch.
Halo will continue to mean something to the industry and The Master Chief Collection was meant to be a clear indicator of the same. For now, sadly, it’s an albatross for the entire franchise.