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Halo Online brings free-to-play multiplayer Halo to PCs in Russia

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Like Call of Duty in China, Halo is bringing a free-to-play online game to Russia: Halo Online, currently in a closed beta there. It's not coming to North America or anywhere else anytime soon, though.

343 Industries, the Halo franchise's developer, revealed the endeavor in this FAQ this afternoon. The game is based on a modified version of the engine running Halo 3, which launched in 2007 — although never for PC. It's a "free multiplayer only PC experience," being developed with Saber Interactive, which worked on the high-definition remaster of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Moscow-based Innova Systems is the game's publisher.

"Halo Online was built from the ground up specifically for the PC," 343 said. "There are no plans to bring Halo Online to the Xbox One." Further, anyone trying to access the game outside of Russia could "theoretically" do so, but they "would have to go through region-specific changes to address player expectations."

While there is no campaign mode, Halo Online does apply a little bit of background to players' activities: They're Spartan-IV trainees on a secret UNSC space installation, tasked with honing their battle skills and testing secret technology.

Halo Online "has no definitive launch date at this time," 343 said.

Gameplay Preview: Hands-on with Halo 5's multiplayer beta