Is Halo: The Master Chief Collection worth returning to?

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (hereby referred to as the MCC) was one of gaming's all-time biggest disappointments. What was promised as a definitive collection of all the main Halo titles before Halo 5: Guardians turned out to be a bug-ridden, glitchy disaster that heavily damaged the reputations of both 343 Industries and the Xbox brand.

Despite this, 343 committed to fixing the MCC as a side project while they develop Halo Infinite. Near the end of August, the MCC was updated with a plethora of fixes and new features, and on the first of this month, it released on Xbox Game Pass. But does the update deliver on what it promises? I decided to test the game extensively to find out for myself.

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Features: Selective install, interface, and more

One of the coolest things to come to the MCC in this update is selective install, which lets you choose which Halo games to install. For people without external hard drives or a massive game library, this is a dream come true. Additionally, the multiplayer playlists have been expanded on significantly, which allows people to have more control over which games they play and what modes they play in them.

Also new is a completely redone user interface that's cleaner, more concise, and less laggy than the one that preceded it. Concerning graphics, the update added Xbox One X enhancement, which improves the visuals of every game in the collection across the board on that console and gives users the ability to edit high definition resolution settings. And if that wasn't already enough, the game even received LAN support.

The only negative to come out of the new features is the fact that matchmaking servers are now region locked, which means that you can only play with people in your country. This won't be a problem for United States players like me since the MCC is popular here, but in other countries where it's not, finding a match takes ages. Granted, this does guarantee good connections, but I think people would rather play with some lag than wait dozens of minutes to find a match.

9/26/2018: Recently, 343 Industries has reduced the severity of the region locking. This has resulted in people who were previously affected having a better experience.

Read: 343 'evaluating' Halo: Reach for the MCC

Performance: Bug fixes, stability, and consistency

The real meat of this update is the extensive list of fixed bugs and glitches. The MCC's poor performance was what originally made it a failure, so it was critical that 343 Industries solved these issues. Thankfully, for the most part, they have. While there's the occasional glitchy moment or net code mishap, the MCC is in excellent working order ninety-nine percent of the time.

The most noticeable improvement is by far the speed of matchmaking — provided you aren't a victim of the region locking issue, the time required to find a game ranges between two-to-four minutes, which is on par with most current games with matchmaking. Other positive changes include faster load times, more consistent hit registration with weapons, and fixes for almost every campaign bug across all four of the included Halo games.

Should you return to the MCC?

Ultimately, people should definitely give the MCC another try after this update. Almost everything now works as intended, and the new features allow the player to customize their MCC experience more than ever before. The region lock issue is a problem for players in countries where the game isn't popular, but nothing is stopping them from adding some people on Xbox Live and playing Custom Games.

The MCC is available on Xbox One for $29.99, or with a $9.99 subscription to Xbox Game Pass.

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • I can barely find players in the south Brazil server...
  • The Halo community has been very vocal in its disapproval of region locking, so hopefully it's removed.
  • The problem is as soon as they remove region locking all you get are copious American's complaining about being paired up with anybody outside the USA. That's exactly what happened with Gears of War 4, and it would happen here too,
  • The only solution is to add an option to search for players within same region, specific regions or global. Sure, there are drawbacks - primarily people electing to select same region thus increasing match making times for some players. However, that can be some alleviated by leaving the global search enabled as default. If people want to play with people in the same region, then they can manually choose to do so. Also they can add the ability to sort via latency/ping or no preference.
  • I hope they do something about it soon, I would really love to play some Halo 3 multiplayer
  • Yes. I'm not one to to much multi-player but when I do it's easy enough to find active servers. I'm mainly in it for the single player modes.
  • Same here. I enjoy the MP from time to time but my main draw to the MCC is by far the campaigns.
  • Same here! What a trip down memory lane and it looks better than ever. All them gamer points and achievements.
  • Your extensive test left out one of the standout new features: LAN. Halo was born on LAN, and the fact that this showcase game didn't have it was crushing. I am hosting a 16-player LAN this weekend, so I hope to find out firsthand how good it is! If you can, please update the article with your thoughts on LAN, at least mention it.
  • Good point. I hadn't even thought to mention the new LAN feature. Hope your couch sesh goes swell!
  • I thought a majority of the issues with the collection were mainly MPhil and wasn't the entire collection that suffered as a result, since I never really weighed my opinion on it, this series was awesome and the fact that they got out all in one was just amazing to me, so I thought issues were just part of the collection since it was pretty much the most epic undertaking and the fact that it worked AT ALL, a miracle worth praising... 😑
  • >Almost everything now works as intended
    >Almost everything
    What's with MS lately?
  • Considering they're developing an entirely new game as well, I think it's acceptable that there are still a few things to work on after the first big update.
  • And that is a major part of the problem with the industry. They crank out a game as fast as possible and then move onto the next. When problems are found in that first rushed out game they give some sort of "well we really don't have the resources to fix it right now as we are working on a new game". Too bad, so sad! Maybe you should have put out a complete working game before starting on something new. Maybe you should have done it right the first time instead of pumping out as much as you can as fast as you can. People will forgive a game that is released late in order to make it as perfect as you can. People do not easily forgive a game that was released buggy and broken and that took 2 years to have most of the bugs fixed. But it comes down to this really, as long as people are willing to keep allowing companies to do this by buying their buggy garbage and accepting their pathetic fake apologies they will continue to do it.
  • Still not available on PC? I'm out. The Halo series is the only reason I'd buy an Xbox, but buying a $300 console for 1 series isn't worth the cost for me. I don't have a high end PC, but it should be good enough for me to play through the story.
  • is this on windows 10 yet?
  • No, let the Xbox have one exclusive.
  • I believe Halo had already been ported to PC, so if that's the case it isn't an exclusive. I disagree though, Windows 10 and Xbox synonymous when it comes to the store in my mind. It annoys me now if I can't get a MS made game on both. XPA has ruined it!
  • The Master Chief Collection is currently exclusive to the Xbox One. As is Halo 5, I think. I disagree with that, as then anyone who has a decent PC has absolutely zero reason to buy an Xbox One, so they will buy a PS4 instead. I know for me personally if I had a gaming PC and Halo was available on there I would just sell my Xbox One as it would be completely useless to me then, but to each their own, I suppose.