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Halo: The Master Chief Collection up for digital preload, Spartan Ops delayed to December

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You can now pre-order and preload Halo: The Master Chief Collection from the Xbox Games Store, developer 343 Industries announced today — and you might want to go digital in order to save yourself a bunch of time.

The full game is 45.63 GB, which is close to the limit of a dual-layer Blu-ray Disc. And 343 will release a day-one content update that weighs in at an additional 20 GB with "some features and multiplayer content," according to Dan Ayoub, studio head for Halo external development at 343. He added, "You'll be able to start playing campaign and more as the content is installing."

Ayoub said the patch will be released "at launch," but a Microsoft representative confirmed to Polygon that customers who preload The Master Chief Collection from the Xbox Games Store will also be able to download the content update ahead of time. That will happen by itself as long as they've enabled the automatic download of purchases and updates on their Xbox One, and set the console's power settings to "instant-on."

The Master Chief Collection comes with remastered versions of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 (screenshot above), Halo 3 and Halo 4, along with all the multiplayer maps ever released for each game. But at launch, neither the game nor the 20 GB content update will include Halo 4's episodic co-op campaign, Spartan Ops. Ayoub said that 343 is working on "technical enhancements" for the mode, and will release Spartan Ops in December — all 10 episodes at once.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection will launch Nov. 11, and 343 announced today that that's a worldwide release date except in a few places; originally, the game was set for release Nov. 11 in North America and Nov. 14 elsewhere. Now, the Nov. 11 date applies everywhere except Belgium (Nov. 12), Japan (Nov. 13) and France (Nov. 14). The digital version will go live at 12:01 a.m. ET on Nov. 11. Pre-order customers on the Xbox Games Store will receive a Boom Skull, which provides doubled explosion physics in the Halo 2 Anniversary campaign. It will remain exclusive until Dec. 12.

For more on The Master Chief Collection, which also includes the first episode of the television series Halo: Nightfall and access to the multiplayer beta for Halo 5: Guardians, check out our previews from E3 2014 and Gamescom 2014.