Welcome Back, Noble Six
It's hard to believe that the entire Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming to PC. 343 Industries is releasing an entry to this massive assembly of games in chronological order per the lore, beginning with Halo: Reach. It was Bungie's last stab at the flagship franchise, and back in the day it was well-received. Reviewers and fans alike loved its compelling campaign storytelling and fun multiplayer, a normal reaction for Halo at the time. Going back in 2019, does it still hold up? More importantly, is there any reason to return? Playing Halo on PC is incentive enough, and 343’s additions are sure to please longtime fans and new recruits alike.
Halo: Reach story remains unchanged.. You take control of a Spartan named Noble Six as they're deployed onto planet Reach. Your new home base suddenly becomes the focal point of an invasion by an extremely dangerous Covenant force. Along with the rest of your squad, you take on the futile mission of defending Reach from the invaders. Widely regarded as another fantastic entry into the Halo mythos, the story has aged nicely. The level design is a bit linear to my liking, but I will always have fun returning to any Halo campaign, Reach included.
Halo: Reach Review | Port Quality
One of the most important questions to ask about a port — especially for a game that has some age to it like Halo: Reach — is how does it run? Thankfully, 343 Industries did a wonderful job bringing the classic Reach experience to PC. I did not encounter any frame drops during my time in both campaign and multiplayer. Although the graphics aren't taxing for most PCs, it's always good to see a game run well.
Graphical options for Halo: Reach are not abundant. There are three different graphics modes: “performance,” which allows Halo: Reach to run better; “original,” which is the base Xbox 360-era setting; and “enhanced,” which just makes everything look a bit higher in quality. While the settings you choose can only make a decade-old game look so good, I'm pleased at how Halo: Reach holds up.
The downside is, these are the only ways to make any substantial changes to visuals. The other few options include FOV settings, windowed mode, resolution, v-sync, hub-anchoring, and framerate limits. It's all pretty standard stuff, but again, that's all you can adjust. A bit more would be nice, like shadows, anti-aliasing, and all of those robust options PC players have come to expect. But, with more games for The Master Chief Collection coming down the line, there may be improvements on the way.
The biggest change to the Halo: Reach experience is the use of a mouse and keyboard. The option to use the traditional controller is still there, but this console game controls extraordinarily well with traditional PC inputs, even if there was a bit of a learning curve. It took some tweaking of the sensitivity to get just right, but I would highly suggest sticking with mouse and keyboard when playing Halo: Reach. Your ability to aim is much more precise, yet the experience still feels like the Halo we've all come to know and love. Because your inputs are more precise, you turn faster and adapt combat situations more effectively. The mouse and keyboard input is a natural fit for the franchise, and I wonder how I even got along with the sluggish Xbox controller.
If you do opt to use a controller, you'll find yourself at a significant advantage. Normally, the opposite would be true, but Reach has exceedingly strong aim assist. It almost feels like aiming in the general direction of a multiplayer opponent or a Grunt's head snaps the reticle into place. This effect is especially prominent in SWAT matches, where headshots are the only way to get a kill. I think that the system could use some minor tweaking, so as not to completely stifle players who prefer a controller. One overall solution is to match players with other players using the same input device, but I would rather see 343 tweak how much bullet magnetism and aim assist there is so that everyone can play together without any sort of advantage over the other.
Multiplayer in Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach’s multiplayer is the cream of the crop. It's the first game in the series with any sort of significant cosmetic customization, with the ability to mix and match shoulder pads, knee pads, chest armor, helmets, and more. This was a big highlight of the arena modes a decade ago. 343 changed the progression system from the original, and I don't like it as much. The currency system that would accrue when playing online is gone, replaced with something that feels like a battle pass. Every time you level up, you gain a piece of armor.
Personally, I enjoyed working towards gaining enough credits for a really cool piece of armor that felt unique. While everyone in Halo: Reach on 360 could obtain all the armor pieces, not many did. Purchasing a really cool helmet after all your hard work felt like an achievement (and not the Xbox kind). Now, everyone gets the same pieces of armor in the same exact order. It removes a lot of individuality when it comes to customization.
Qualms aside, multiplayer is still really fun. The map design is relatively good in Halo: Reach, with a few standouts and a few that fade into the background. This port also features a large amount of game modes. You have the choice of team size and game modes, with options like SWAT, Slayer, Griffball, Action Sack, Snipers, and more at your disposal. There is literally something for everyone. I myself prefer Big Team Battle matchups, which places you on giant maps with larger team sizes. Slayer is your standard multiplayer experience but always a safe bet if you're looking for some classic multiplayer fun.
My main problem with these playlists are the standard loadouts given to players at the start of a match. Around 90 percent of modes seem to equip players with a DMR and an Assault Rifle. It can be frustrating to use the same weapons match after match. Inevitably, it turns into a game of "who's a better shot with the DMR?" I would have liked to see more modes start with, say, an Assault Rifle and Magnum. Bungie is partially to blame for this, as they omitted the Battle Rifle from Halo: Reach, a decision I curse to this day. Again, because there are so many game modes to play, it's not a big enough issue that it ruins the whole experience.
It's Halo: Reach, Alright
Admittedly, Halo: Reach is not my favorite entry in the franchise, and I simply can't wait for Halo 2. As for Reach, it's a good representation of what we all played back int he day. It's an excellent entry into the franchise, offering a compelling and emotional campaign. The multiplayer has plenty of options, although DMRs show up too often. The PC settings could be more robust but overall, the port is incredibly well-done.
If you already own Halo: Reach, or played it when it originally came out, what's the incentive to come back? If you're curious to see how Halo is on the PC, check it out. Another incentive is that it's Halo, which magically instills that magical feeling of nostalgia every time I play. If you're on the fence, let me put it this way. I didn't know how bad I wanted to play Halo: Reach again until I got my hands on it. If you are anything like me, you'll probably feel the same way. See you on the battlefield, Spartan.
TechRaptor reviewed Halo: Reach on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Mouse and Keyboard Works Incredibly Well
- Port Runs Perfectly
- Campaign Aged Well
- Multiplayer is Still Fun
- Limited Graphical Options
- Controller Aim Assist Seems Too Strong
- Some Repetitive Playlists