Halo 3 for Xbox 360 now free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers

Today marks the availability of October’s second Games with Gold offering for Xbox 360 owners. From now through October 31, Xbox Live Gold members can download one of the console’s earliest hits: Halo 3 from Bungie and Microsoft Studios.

If you’ve never tried the series, this is a great chance to see what all the fuss is about. And even existing Halo fans might enjoy the wealth of new players that will be jumping online into this classic first-person shooter.

Halo 3 – Free from October 16-31

Xbox 360 – 5.7 GB – Xbox.com Store Link (opens in new tab)

Halo 3 was the first entry in the popular series of science fiction-themed first-person shooters for the Xbox 360, released all the way back in 2007. The game’s plot involves the alien Covenant race’s attack on earth, the end of the Human-Covenant War, and the final confrontation with the vicious Flood parasites. An exciting setup, though the plot itself jumps around too much to tell an effective story.

The third Halo introduced several series mainstays - most notably 4-player online co-op (2-player split-screen is still supported). Cooperative play goes a long way towards alleviating the problems with level design which still persisted at this point in the series. The Forge mode first appeared here as well, allowing players to customize maps and share them online. And of course, the mainstay 16-player online competitive multiplayer is on hand.

Halo 3 has since been succeeded by two proper sequels, Halo: Reach and Halo 4.

Downloadable Content

Like any popular online shooter, Halo 3 received its share of downloadable map packs over time. They’re not needed for cooperative multiplayer, and you can play the game’s competitive multiplayer without them too. But for the best online experience, it’s important to have the same maps as the people you like to play with. Hey, some of them are free!

The Halo 3 Map Packs include:

  • Cold Storage Map (opens in new tab) – 1 map – 116 MB – Free
  • Heroic Map Pack (opens in new tab) – 3 maps: Standoff, Rat’s Nest, and Foundry – 487 MB – Free
  • Legendary Map Pack (opens in new tab) – 3 maps: Ghost Town, Sidewinder, and Blackout – 411 MB – $1.99
  • Mythic Map Pack (opens in new tab) – 3 maps: Orbital, Assembly, and Sandbox – 328 MB – $4.99
  • Mythic II Map Pack (opens in new tab) – 3 maps: Heretic, Citadel, and Longshore – 314 MB – $9.99 ($4.99 this week!)

Halo 3 ODST cover

Alternately, all of the downloadable maps are included on the second disc of Halo 3: ODST. The game itself is a standalone expansion starring a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, who are regular humans rather than genetically enhanced Spartan soldiers.

ODST’s campaign features one of the best stories in the series (way better than Halo 3 itself) and supports 4-player online co-op. ODST also features a 4-player co-op mode called Firefight that is not found in Halo 3. Finally, the second disc contains every single Halo 3 multiplayer map and can be played without Halo 3 itself. However, the map disc can’t be installed to the hard drive.

If you prefer the Halo 3: ODST option to buying the individual map packs, it currently retails for $14.99 and goes for even less at Amazon (opens in new tab).

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Yay!
  • Downloading now.
  • *insert comment about PS plus even though no one cares and Xbox is better*
  • PS plus is better. I have 20-30 games that are not 10 years old..
  • Enjoy playing them without a PS+ subscription or without an internet connection.
  • That's a fair point, but some people will always have a PS+ subscription and the internet, in which case those requirements are not a downside for them.
  • Exactly
  • True but, what if people lose their job and have to make sacrifices to make ends meet?
  • Dealing in hypothetical What Ifs is a losing argument every single time.  What if my home is flooded by a Tsunami? What if a metorite crashes though my ceiling? What if...?
    But what PS trolls don't get is I don't give 2 craps about their excellent digital game rental service.  
    If I cared at all, I'd have a PS3, not an Xbox 360.  People who require affirmation to feel better about something they claim they love so much are the bottom of the barrel losers. I'd probably hate them in real life as much I hate them on the interweb
  • I bet you would love me.
  • I recently cut off my internet at home... i'm getting all these Games with Gold games just using the internet connection sharing on my Lumia 822, my 2Gb limited data plan and the WiFi connection on my Xbox 360.
    i'm happy. :D
  • PS plus is different sure but quality is subjective.
    New games can still be crap. Can you definitively say that every PS + release is good? Universally revered?
    ANYWAY Halo 3 came out in 2007. 2007. Literally millions of Xbox 360 have sold by then. Some to people brought in by Kinect/streaming capabilities.
    TLDR: Not every body who has a 360 has had it since the begining (2005) or played Halo 3. The game is availabe to download for free and keep until the hardware breaks for good. Literally nothing bad about that although you trolls will try. I'll let you get to it.
  • I love my Xbox, I'm completely entrenched in the Microsoft ecosystem with my WP, PC, and tablet, yet I still think PS+ is leagues ahead of this Games for Gold program. Some people who game frequently will never unsubscribe from PS+, much like some people have never unsubscribed from Live Gold, and those people have had dozens and dozens of much newer games available to them, not games that retail for $5 used that came out 6 years ago. MS still hasn't even announced if this is a new program that's here to stay, only that they'll keep it until the end of 2013.
  • http://kotaku.com/recharge-everything-new-humble-bundle-ps-plus-and-liv-... also, take a look at the list of PS+ sales on here. Those are games that you keep once you purchase. Though the Xbox has had some similarly great sales during the summer, and march when they had that ultimate Games Sale or whatever it was, the frequency with which PS+ doles out the discounts is much higher. Also, MS still doesn't do day-1 digital because it "hurts" their relationship with brick and mortar retailers. PS3 has done them for quite some time now, and they still sell at all the same places Xboxs are sold.
  • Nothing beats the free ouya games!!!!!! /sarcasm
  • i think there is two more months of this so 4 more games, hopefully there is a game that i want to play and a more recent game. 
    All the games that came out most of them i've played besides magic the gathering the the RPG one that just came out. 
  • I hope they offer a game released this decade and one that I don't own.
  • If id had known six years ago that this game would be free I would have waited! (jk not srs) ;)
  • I've never really played Halo, so I'm kind of excited. Kind of.
  • I'll pretend you didn't just say that. Everyone plays halo, EVERYONE.
  • LOL
  • No, i played GoW instead. Now there we have a love story!
  • I feel you, Daniel. I only ever played the games when I went to friends' houses and would always just get obliterated. It'll be nice to actually play the game.
  • Welcome to 2007
  • Gee, thnx, this welcoming brings ... *sniff*, no I'm not going to cry *sniff*, all these feelings. Such warming Words *sniff*
  • Look at the first iPhone specs(2007) compared to your current phone and laugh.
    - 2mp camera
    -160 ppi
    -3.5 in MASSIVE display
    -11.6 ultrathin design
    -a PROXIMITY Sensor
    the keynote is on YT. 2007 was not too long ago....:)
  • Here's to hoping for a boost in the online Halo 3 community!!
  • I don't see anyone online lol
  • I've never played Halo, I don't play FPS because I get motion sickness. Is this a true FPS or a "3rd person FPS" where you see the character you're maneuvering from behind? Those I usually can tolerate...
  • Its 1st person. Its not as fast as most fps games though so you may want to try it, its free so no harm no foul. Just get some painkillers and a big glass of water ready.
  • The second genre you're describing is Third-Person Shooter. The F in FPS stands for First, as in First-Person Shooter.
  • Haha yeah I know the F stands for that, just wasn't sure if there was an actual distinction made. :) Would be nice to be able to switch between views, like in racing games.
  • Ghost Recon Future Soldier is a solid third person shooter.
  • Agreed. I've always enjoyed that series.
  • I like how this is the first game they announced way back for games with gold but we are just now getting it
  • That's what you like about it? Cool. Good to know.
  • Come again?.... I didn't get any of that.
  • You didn't get any of what?
  • Just kidding... I'm not a gamer. That's why I didn't get any of the content of the article.
  • Meanwhile, we're still not getting a new WP game. Sigh
  • That's quite all right with me since I'd rather have games that all well polished before they're released.
  • The problem isn't specifically that a bunch of games are in certification getting polished. There really aren't too many Xbox WP games in development that we know of.
  • How does anyone have an Xbox and never played Halo....lol
  • Well, I played other games? I love my games with a great story and talking, and reading about these games there seem to be a mess of things.
  • Do these deals mean the games are yours to keep after the deal is over and if you don't renew your Xbox Gold membership later on?
  • It's yours forever, unlike with PSN offers.
  • one thing I am waiting to hear is if xbox live games will work on xbox one
  • No, XBLA games and Games on Demand from the Xbox 360 won't work on Xbox One. There is some hope they will be playable via cloud streaming in the future though.
  • Cool. Thanks. I prefer a PC for FPS games. I suspect I'll be frustrated without my keyboard and mouse. But, free is compelling enough to give it a go...and if I like it, it will still be there when I don't renew gold.
  • Thanx for deleting my comment but it's true I finally managed to buy LIVE and now I can't get the free games 80150017 error..
  • No problem - please try to watch your language in the future. Have you tried downloading it through the console itself?
  • Sorry for my behave I was really angry on them, yes through console and get the 80150017 error, and it's not cool, my region is Romania and they don't support us but believe me a lot of us have a xbox console
  • Do you get the same error when trying to queue the download from a PC? And have you been able to download previous Games with Gold titles successfully?
  • I will try soon from my PC to see the result, this is my first month of LIVE after a lot of methods to get it and my first free game (I am an addicted person for Microsoft, love my Xbox, windows phone 7.8 and 8 but they don't support us)Check my profile flygeani on xbox and see how many games and achievements I've got
  • Ah. Good luck, man!
  • Sorry Your purchase cannot be completed at this time. Please try again. (This is what I get from PC)
  • That sucks. As I was telling another user, the problem could be due to the Xbox live servers being overwhelmed today. It wouldn't hurt to try again in a few days. But there might be some other problem preventing you from getting it, in which case there wouldn't be anything else you could do.
  • I will just wait, like the other user I can download the maps but not the game so I guess it should be fine after some days
  • @flygeani Try fix your regional settings. The IP address you are using must match your Xbox Live profile setting.
  • Tried from my device no luck.
  • Goddamnit AT&T
  • He he, never got any of them Halo games so this should be nice. A friend told me he think the 3'rd is the best. Well, I'll see.
  • There is no "sprinting". If you've played the first two, the third is epic.
  • I can purchase the maps, I can purchase the gamerpics, but I cannot purchase the game itself. It shows "Sorry Your purchase cannot be completed at this time. Please try again."   BTW, I'm in Canada.
  • Hopefully it's just a temporary Xbox Live issue. I hear their servers are getting slammed today.
  • I confirm it is region issue.
    First, I use my company computer to buy, which has a US IP. And I got the error. Then, I tried to use my cellphone to buy the game. I got success.
    I guess the purchase device IP should be consistant with the user profile. Don't know why only the game itself has this restriction.
  • I picked up Halo 4 for cheap after Spartan Assault piqued my interest.  Is Halo 3 any better?  Or will I still be a testosterone-fueled generic supersoldier who heroically cowers in a corner waiting for my shields to regenerate?
  • Searching endlessly for health packs isn't too much more heroic, if you ask me. Most people consider Halo 4 better than 3, but 3 still has its fans.
  • I didn't say health pack hunting was any more heroic. I just thought there was a strange disconnect between the fast-paced gameplay and the heroic cowering.
  • Health regenerates in Halo 3. No sprinting and you jump high and stay in the air longer.
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 is the best game ever made in my opinion and it holds 7 Guinness world records
  • This is ridiculous. Have fun playing a game which was released over half a decade ago. Meanwhile I am playing Far Cry 3 and Dragon's Dogma. Next week Metal Gear Rising and Remember me. Do you see the difference? People defending this bullshit of MSFT are nothing more than fanboys.
  • So what? They don't have to give any games away for free, ever. It's nothing to get uppity about.
  • +1
    PS+ is much better!
  • +100
  • I'm sure it would be different if you could keep it after your PS+ subscription expires. That is the main difference between these two offerings.
  • Finally!  I've been waiting so long to play this game.  Anybody for some team match-making?  ;)
  • Ima rock some doubles tonight halo 3 is the 2nd best halo. Halo 2 being the best.
  • I'm not sure about the second best Halo, but Halo 2 has also always been my favorite.
  • Thanks MS for a regional restriction - I cant download that f.cking  game!
  • My halo 3 disk broke awhile ago an I've haven't been able to buy another one, so this is good for me, now I can play anniversary-4
  • I <3 Halo
  • Consider it snagged...
  • I can't download on my console... It gives me this error 80150017. I tried on my PC but it wants me to add a credit card to purchase free game -.- ridiculous. us account.
  • Will these games work on my Xbox one?
  • As I told another user, no they will not.
  • Also for all the people flipping over how psn is better because they give you better games... Its this simple: they give better games because they are doing everything they can to get more users. They don't have as good an overall service as msft and that makes them have to be extra generous. To force people like you all here to debate and to convince others that psn is better. So that's all. If psn had more subscribers and it was mandatory paid and try had tons of apps and cloud services and so on to manage in addition to the games you could bet the freebies would be less amazing.
  • That's a good point.