Halo: Reach PC revives Microsoft's legendary titan in 4K glory

Halo: The Master Chief Collection hits PC later this year, expanding Microsoft's leading Xbox system seller to Steam and Windows 10. The six-piece compilation compiles its mainline hits into a unified 4K HDR bundle, serving up the iconic first-person shooter series its best form yet.

With work on Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC still underway, the game has adopted a staged rollout over months ahead. Halo: Reach kickstarts public testing this summer, packing an extensive lineup of enhancements tailored for Windows. Microsoft's latest E3 2019 showing has now proved it's serious about PC gaming, crafting a healthy foundation for Halo outside the living room.

Injecting new life into Halo: Reach on PC

Halo: Reach Tip of the Spear

Halo: Reach Tip of the Spear (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

With Halo: The Master Chief Collection slated for Windows PCs later this year, E3 2019 served our first sample of Microsoft's ongoing porting process. We caught a glimpse of the mid-game mission "Tip of the Spear," an environment demonstrating essential components of the single-player campaign. From close-quarters industrial complexes to scorched vehicle-friendly plains, it's a fitting testing ground for Reach's revival.

Halo: Reach dropped in the latter years of the Xbox 360; an era where games wrangled maximum horsepower from fast-aging hardware. The results attained by Bungie's final farewell remain impressive nearly one decade later, but exhibit clear comprises amid a late-generation power struggle. It's among several Xbox 360 titles that used aggressive motion blur to mask performance snags, scrambling to achieve 720p at 30 frames-per-second (FPS).

How to play Halo: The Master Chief Collection early on PC

Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC extracts the best from Halo: Reach, outputting up to nine times the pixels at 4K resolution. The studio is also targeting unlocked framerates and removal of smeary motion blur, streamlining the shooter to modern standards. The PC debut dabbles with a roster of commonplace PC settings too, including advanced graphical options, dynamic field of vision (FOV), and ultrawide support. Integrating these into Halo: Reach is surprisingly seamless, while gameplay emerges tight and agile in-hand.

Halo: Reach looks and plays better than ever on PC.

Although we're unable to compare the two versions side-by-side, Halo: Reach PC appears to pull higher resolution textures over its Xbox 360 counterpart. The game draws the full potential of Bungie's original assets when stacked upon a resolution bump, spotlighting details on firearms and surrounding vistas.

Microsoft's E3 2019 build provided a work-in-progress glimpse into the port but excluded some features expected for the final release. Finishing touches are still being applied to The Master Chief Collection's new Unreal Engine 4-powered PC interface, restricting us from experimenting with settings after loading into the game. Reach also still lacks common PC standards like scroll wheel weapon selection, but 343 Industries affirms this will be addressed before the first public test.

No thumbsticks, no problems

Investing hundreds of hours into Halo: Reach on Xbox 360, the PC version personally emerges just as gripping as launch day. Synonymous with Microsoft's home console family, a departure from the gamepad was admittedly jarring at first. However, it's sleek and refined across all facets of this vertical slice, translating the full controller-bound shooter.

The resources backing Halo: The Master Chief Collection highlights worthy talent on the PC project, meticulously tuned for mouse and keyboard. Gunplay is snappy under mouse command, with no evidence of acceleration or virtualization trickery under the hood. The fully-remappable keyboard bindings also appear well-tuned, even breaking out some actions under shared buttons into separate keys.

While Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC has been under development for some time, 343 Industries is still ironing the final controls. It's been among several motives for ongoing delays, committing extra time to perfect its inputs. The time has allowed the studio to nail an impressive layout packed with quality of life considerations, guaranteed to impress even seasoned PC gamers. The result is a sleek reincarnation of Bungie's final Halo title, fitting for newcomers and returning veterans.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is set to hit PC later this year, starting with its 4K remaster of Halo: Reach. Fronting its staged rollout over coming months, Halo: Reach PC is expected to cost $10 for access to its campaign and multiplayer modes.

In the meantime, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available exclusively on Xbox One, bundling Halo: Combat Evolved through Halo 4 at 4K and 60 FPS.

Cheap PC accessories we love

Take a gander at these awesome PC accessories, all of which will enhance your Windows experience.

Anker 4 port USB 3.0 hub ($10 at Amazon)

Whether on a desktop or laptop PC, you always need more ports to connect things to. This hub gives you an additional four USB 3.0 Type A ports.

Ikea Fixa Cable Management System ($11 at Amazon)

This IKEA cable management kit is your ticket to a clean setup. It's simple and functional.

NZXT Puck ($20 at Amazon)

This clever little accessory has powerful magnets on the rear to make it stick to any of the metal panels on your PC case or anything else. It's great for hanging accessories like headsets.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.