Halo's Top 5 Most Epic Games Ranked
Celebrating 20 years of Halo and counting down my favourite games in the series, which titles made the cut?
It feels like just yesterday the original Xbox launched with Halo: Combat Evolved, now two decades later the Xbox platform and the Halo franchise are staples of the video game industry. With the next installment of the storied sci-fi franchise arriving December 8th, I decided to rank my top “triple A” Halo games.
Halo Infinite looks to be the crown jewel for Microsoft’s new Xbox Series hardware and Game Pass service. The Xbox platform has always been synonymous with Halo, far and away the brand’s biggest game. You could argue that without Halo, Xbox might not have the global appeal it enjoys today.
The series has spawned countless comics, novels, toys and its own upcoming TV show. With 11 games that span multiple genres and platforms, these are my “crème of the Halo crop.” These are absolute must-plays before Halo Infinite drops, let’s countdown my top 5 Halo games:
#5 - Halo Combat Evolved
Halo CE was the harbinger for what the series would become, it broke the mold for FPS on a home console and dictated what the genre should and could be for years to come. Many of its kind had come before it, but had fallen short, leaving the PC as the best and really only option for the FPS experience. All that started to change after Combat Evolved, the gameplay was spot-on, the story was epic sci-fi fare, and the local multiplayer inspired a loyal following.
Halo CE laid the foundation with its tight gameplay, great story and local multiplayer experience that I personally poured hundreds of hours into.
#4 - Halo Reach
The game’s tagline, “from the beginning, you know the end” really struck a chord with me, especially as someone who loves to dive into Halo’s extended lore. Before playing Halo Reach, I read Eric Nylund's stellar novel, "The Fall of Reach" and my expectations for the campaign’s story were massive. After all, Bungie just needed to take aspects of the novel and inject it into the game. Nylund’s version had the incredible potential to evolve into a Master Chief origins story.
Things didn’t pan out that way, instead we were introduced to Noble Team, a group of Spartans tasked with repelling the Covenant onslaught on planet Reach. The story is interesting, but it contradicts much of the novel, which I hoped would play a bigger role. Battling as the ill-fated Spartans provides some great gameplay moments, especially the final onslaught where you simply need to “Survive.”
On the multiplayer side of things, Reach introduced armour abilities which polarized the online audience. On the flip side, the armour customization is stellar, offering a wide variety of options to sport on the battlefield. The classic map remakes like Asylum, Reflection and Breakneck kept me and my Halo crew busy for hours.
#3 - Halo 3
The super-charged storyline and incredible multiplayer experience slots Halo 3 into third place for me. The campaign’s story was the conclusion the human-covenant war deserved, living up to the hype in a big way. Even the leadup to the game’s release birthed the “Halo – Believe” ad spots, which are still the best the series has to offer.
Halo 3 also has one of the greatest missions in franchises’ history, the eighth level, “The Covenant” has you facing off against two Scarabs, zipping around in a Hornet and engaging in Scorpion tank battles. Talk about going out with a bang! All this intense action has a soundtrack to match, the game features some of Marty O'Donnell’s most epic work. It promises you’ll “finish the fight” and it delivers, with an engrossing story and incredible multiplayer.
#2 Halo 3: ODST
The jazz filled streets of New Mombasa delivered a noir-Halo experience that I didn’t even know I wanted. Trading in Spartan armour for ODST gear meant it wasn’t about being an overpowered super soldier, this experience was all about survival. This shook-up the Halo formula and pushed you to become more tactical with your squad, using brains instead of brawn. Outnumbered and seriously overpowered, the only way to survive the Covenant threat was to stealthily regroup with your squad and look for a means of escape. Along your journey clues and playable flashback missions were discoverable helping give some insight as to what happened to your team. The dark, melancholy campaign is one I will never forget, and Bungie even managed to introduce a new online mode to boot! In the multiplayer arena Halo 3: ODST debuted Firefight mode pitting you and other players against waves of Covenant enemies.
The non-linear experience, sans-Master Chief, paired with a new multiplayer mode was a bold direction for the franchise, one that I am grateful Bungie decided to take.
#1 Halo 2
The follow-up to a blockbuster title is always a massive challenge to a developer, balancing fan expectations with the realities of what can be accomplished is no small order. Luckily, Bungie delivered with Halo 2, bringing with it a multiplayer experience that helped cement Xbox Live as the killer app for the platform. The campaign took things in a bold new direction, especially with the split playing time between Chief and the Arbiter.
The game has only gotten better with the Master Chief Collection, which includes Halo 2’s Anniversary edition, adding more to the story via stellar cut scenes, sharper graphics and a bump in FPS. Besides minor story gripes (cliff-hanger ending) my sky-high expectations for the game were met.
The Future of Halo is Infinite
There's no denying Halo’s impact on the gaming industry, it has been nothing short of remarkable. The franchise has helped launch a new platform, broken multiple records and has become one of the biggest entertainment properties on the face of the Earth. If you are new to the series or are returning for some nostalgia, there is no better time to brush up on your Halo skills. Based on my experience with the franchise, you should never bet against the the Chief, he always comes through.