Halo: The Master Chief Collection developer 343 Industries released the most significant update in the game’s history on Monday, patching the bundle of four games to add features such as Xbox One X support and fix a variety of long-standing issues.
The massive patch — the total size is approximately 73 GB if you want everything (more on that later) — arrived ahead of The Master Chief Collection’s Sept. 1 debut in the Xbox Game Pass library. The fixes and additions contained within came about through a collaboration between 343 Industries and the Halo community, which conducted beta testing over many months to get to this point.
“To our [Master Chief Collection] Insiders, who have played, tested and provided feedback over the past weeks and months, THANK YOU,” 343 wrote in a post on Halo Waypoint. “Your passion and participation have been a critical part of the process and this simply wouldn’t be possible without your support.”
This update has been a long time coming. Halo: The Master Chief Collection originally debuted nearly four years ago in November 2014, bringing Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 to the Xbox One. But severe network issues rendered the games’ multiplayer components nearly unplayable for weeks after launch. Bonnie Ross, head of developer 343 Industries, eventually issued a formal apology, and 343 later offered a free make-good to affected players: a remaster of Halo 3: ODST’s campaign.
All five of those games have been updated in some way with this patch — in particular, 343 has added Xbox One X enhancements (up to 4K resolution and HDR) to the bundle’s four original games as well as the remastered Halo 3: ODST campaign. However, the studio noted that because Halo 3: ODST was not a part of the Master Chief Collection package from the start, neither it nor the digital series Halo: Nightfall will be available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Customers who don’t already own the Master Chief Collection upgrade for Halo 3: ODST can buy it for $4.99.
A key new element of Monday’s big update is the ability to choose what you want to download. The feature, which 343 refers to as Intelligent Delivery, is an opt-out setting — in other words, your Xbox One will pull down all 73 GB of The Master Chief Collection by default. But once the download has progressed to the “Ready to start” state — which comes at about the 5 percent mark, according to users on Reddit — you can boot up the game and decide not to download, say, the Halo 2 Anniversary campaign or Halo 4’s multiplayer component (which includes the Spartan Ops co-op mode) if you have no interest in playing those pieces of the package. Intelligent Delivery also allows you to choose from 12 different languages for both text and audio.
Monday’s update for The Master Chief Collection also addresses multiplayer connectivity, making it so that the game uses dedicated servers for all matchmaking sessions. Currently, there are only five multiplayer playlists available in the game because 343 is limiting the variety to ensure that players can find matches without waiting too long. The studio plans to eventually offer 14 playlists.
The last major feature added in the new update is support for offline LAN play, a nod to the dorm-room origins of competitive Halo. In addition, 343 has improved load times across the bundle and revised the user interface.
There are some known issues with this update, and 343 is referring to this big patch as a “first update.” For instance, a custom game browser is one of the planned future additions to The Master Chief Collection. And of course, there’s one more big Halo game out there.
“The team is definitely aware that many, many players are very eager to see Halo: Reach added — we don’t have anything to announce or commit to right now, but it’s on the long list of things the team is constantly evaluating and thinking about for possible future updates,” said 343.
Check out Halo Waypoint for the full patch notes.