Master Chief's journey on Xbox One begins, as promised by franchise steward 343 Industries at last year's E3, later this year. But maybe not in the way many thought.
The optimized high-definition compilation includes four games for $59.99: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4. The package will be all-inclusive, packing in every level, every multiplayer map (more than 100), every gameplay mode and every little bug or quirk as they originally shipped. Everything will run at 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second. Dedicated servers will power the collection's multiplayer component. The game will offer 4,000 gamerscore, with redone achievements that are unique to the collection.
"binge on Halo a la Netflix"
343 Industries, and developers Certain Affinity and Saber Interactive, want Xbox fans to "binge on Halo a la Netflix." In accordance with that philosophy, players will be able to access everything from Halo 1-4 right from the start. Every level, difficulty setting and game mode is unlocked, so players can jump around each game's campaign and relive their favorite moments.
The collection will even include curated playlists, called Mission Setlists. A playlist might focus on epic battles from all four of the games, or include every level that features a Warthog.
At the center of The Master Chief Collection will be Halo 2, which is getting a bit of extra attention for its 10th anniversary. Like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary for Xbox 360, Halo 2 will get brand-new visual assets that breathe new life into the game's graphics. Players can swap between the original Xbox visuals and the new Xbox One visuals with the press of a button, just like in Halo Anniversary.
Halo 2's cinematics are also being completely redone, with go-to CG trailer house Blur crafting incredibly detailed remakes of those cutscenes. The developer is looking to add some new gameplay moments that "bookend" the new Halo 2 cinematics, and is adding a new epilogue and prologue that tease and set up Halo 5: Guardians.
With the re-release pitched as both a look back at Halo's history and a look forward, The Master Chief Collection will also give players access to their first peek at Halo 5. A multiplayer beta for Halo 5 will available through the collection this December.
Halo Nightfall will tell "a specific story that connects the past to the future"
The Master Chief Collection will also have another carrot to dangle in front of Halo fans: a new digital series called Halo Nightfall. Produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzen, the weekly episodic series will ramp up to the Halo 5 beta and focus on Master Chief's past and future, 343 says. According to 343 Industries general manager Bonnie Ross, Nightfall will tell "a specific story that connects the past to the future," and deliberately connects Halo 1-4 with Halo 5.
Nightfall is a project separate from the Steven Spielberg-produced Halo television series announced last year. That show is slated to arrive in 2015.
Despite being a collection of familiar games, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has a few unknowns. We're not sure how 343 plans to address Halo 3's Forge mode and save films in the collection, something the developer is "still evaluating." The studio also promises "some big surprises" around Halo 2 multiplayer that it will reveal as it gets closer to launch this November.