It’s largely been forgotten about now, but Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched on Xbox One in an absolute state. The games were all there, in a fashion, but it felt like something that had been slapped-together as fast as possible on a shoestring, rather than a definitive remastering of the series that remains one of Microsoft’s crown jewels.
The reason that launch period’s receded into the mists is that 343 Industries took charge of the project (the released game had multiple developers) and has, over many years, doggedly added-to, polished-up, and made Halo: MCC shine. As well as actually bringing it to PC, of course.
I’d now say that this package not only represents enormous value, but is the definitive way to enjoy some of the classic FPS games. That’s because 343 has one-by-one added all the pre-Infinite Halo games, including Halo 3: ODST (one of the series’ best campaigns), and has over-reached itself by, for example, going back and fixing Halo 2’s broken PC port (opens in new tab), adding mod tools to Halo: Combat Evolved (opens in new tab), and restoring cut content (opens in new tab). When microtransaction plans inspired a bout of community grumbling, Microsoft just cancelled the plans (opens in new tab).
All of which suggests that, back in that launch period, Microsoft had some serious internal discussion about how it had presented its supposed icon of the Master Chief (and in a collection bearing his name). 343 Industries clearly has both the will and the funding to continue improving the game. And now, in what may make the biggest difference to the game’s PC playerbase yet, it’s added Steam Workshop integration out of nowhere.
For the uninitiated, Steam Workshop can basically be read as “easy mods”. In a blog about the game’s latest update 343 writes (opens in new tab):
“Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Steam is now integrated with Steam Workshop. Using Steam Workshop, players on Steam can now subscribe to mods, such as a multiplayer map, then play that content in-game without having to manually navigate to or move downloaded files.”
In addition to this, the update adds modding tools for Halo 2 and Halo 4, as well as an “excession tool” that makes it a doddle for modders to package-up their existing mods to be workshop-ready.
As can be seen from the workshop page (opens in new tab), the mods are already flooding in: including biggies like Halo 2 Uncut, various total overhauls of the games, oddities like a Resident Evil 4 location, a fight against a giant rat in Reach, and something called “Saving Sergeant Johnson” which I have to play tonight.
The update comes along with a bunch of smaller bug fixes and tweaks, listed here (opens in new tab), and the addition of even more Golden Moa statues. These were first added to Halo 3 but can now also be found in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 4, appear in different missions every week, and are collected by shooting them. I mean they’re not exactly big ol’ skulls but, look: if 343 keeps on supporting Halo: MCC like this, it can add all the daft birds it wants.