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I’m not so hot about the latest re-release of Bungie’s swansong Halo Reach. In fact, I’m 100% sure that I’m not completely on board with its interpretative remaster on Xbox One and PC. Halo Reach Remastered feels cut up; this newest add-on pack to Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been skinned from its original form. The troublesome Master Chief Collection might now wear Reach’s skin, but it’s in the vein of Ed Gein; it may wear its face but it doesn’t inherit its soul.
In part, 343 Industries’ need to keep every Halo game unified under one collective library has taken from the personality of Reach. It’s not just the gameplay of a video game that can make you feel: everything from loading screens to UI elements to the distinct visual makeup of a title combine to make a game feel unique. The uniformity of Halo: The Master Chief Collection ruins Reach in ways it doesn’t ruin other Halo titles in the collection.
Upon opening the newly revamped Halo: The Master Chief Collection – which has been updated with a flatter, more boring menu system that feels substantially less Halo than before – it really hits you that this isn’t Reach. The somber tones of Reach’s menus are replaced with the standardised format of the gold-trimmed collection’s.
But while the personality of a game’s menus being stripped and flayed away aren’t a deal-breaking trade-in for a solid remaster, the changes for uniformities sake are felt in other places. The amazing armour customisation of Reach was originally freeform: using credits you earned from gameplay you could purchase whatever armour pieces you wanted and build your Spartan. Now it’s locked behind a level-based battle pass.
While more modern amongst the rise of Fortnite, the battle pass system is not as engaging as Reach’s original credits-based unlocks. In the original, each game you played had you aiming for what you wanted to unlock. Say I wanted to unlock the Mjolnir Mark V, I knew how many credits I needed. Now, I’m at the mercy of 60 levels of unlocks.
Thankfully, Halo Reach Remastered hasn’t done anything to sully the experience of its fantastic campaign. The story of Nobel Team remains an amazing tale of Halo’s darkest period and its presentation is better than ever. No longer marred by blurry visuals with plenty of ghosting and a lovely doubling in performance, this is the best way to play Halo Reach’s campaign.
Multiplayer on the other hand is slightly different. While also benefiting from a great deal of spit and polish on the visual front, it suffers from the inherent problems that still arise from Halo: The Master Chief Collection. While nowhere near as bad as it used to be, searching for games can still be a pain. Numerous times we’ve been kicked from games that are about to start only to be forced to find another game all over again.
Map rotation is still whacked, mostly leading to different varieties of SWAT on the same few maps ad naseum, but it’s not a deal-breaker. When you’re in a game, it’s a mostly smooth experience, but never expect it to be truly without issues.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s compiling of all-things Halo does take away from some of Reach’s charm. While gameplay is mostly improved outside of the dilution of its armour customisation, it still suffers from some of the collection’s issues. However, if you want to re-experience Reach or just play it for the first time on PC, this is still a fantastic Halo game that’s well worth your time.