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Halo: MCC's Thanksgiving update massively improves matchmaking speed, but adds weird new issues

Jonathan Lester
343 Industries, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft, multiplayer, Updates, Xbox One Games

Halo: MCC's Thanksgiving update massively improves matchmaking speed, but adds weird new issues

Will it hold once America wakes up?

Halo: The Master Chief Collection's matchmaking is an object of shame, embarrassment and ridicule, both for 343 Industries and us reviewers. The fortnight since launch saw Halo's new guardians apologies, grovel and make all the right noises, but fixes were slow and stumbling, especially following a massively-hyped patch last week that addressed practically everything EXCEPT the state of matchmaking.

However, in the wee small hours of last night (UK time), 343 quietly slipped out another Halo: The Master Chief Collection update weighing in at 523MB. With few hopes and low expectations, I summarily download the file and tried it out.

Ooh. Hey. Whoa. I don't want to jinx anything, but from what I've experienced post-update, this unassuming new patch actually makes an enormous impact. Sadly, it also sometimes does something weird and stupid just to keep us on our toes.

Halo: MCC's Thanksgiving update massively improves matchmaking speed, but adds weird new issues

You can read the patch notes here, which contain familiar promises. "Improvements to the way the matchmaking system handles player matching." Right. "Improvements to the team selection process to improve team balancing." Uh-huh. "Resolved a variety of miscellaneous stability issues to improve overall performance." Okay. Excuse my apathy, but we've heard it all before.

Except this time it looks like 343 has actually delivered, at least, where it counts. Matchmaking wait times.

I tried out all the Gametypes and found, to my intense delight, that I was matchmaking and joining games within 2-4 minutes. Team slayer, two and a half minutes. Big Team Battle, three minutes. Halo 2 Anniversary, less than two minutes.

Excellent. Better yet, the team balancing now seems to be balanced! At one point I saw The Master Chief Collection attempt to start a Team Slayer match with nine players... then stop... then find a tenth Spartan before continuing with map voting. So far every match I've played post-patch has been balanced, barring those who decided to ragequit. UPDATE (15:11 BST): Contrary to this, I was just thrown into a 7 vs 1 Team Slayer match after two big parties were thrown together. More work needed.

Halo: MCC's Thanksgiving update massively improves matchmaking speed, but adds weird new issues

So far, so long-overdue good news then, only that's not the end of the story. As you've no-doubt sussed by the title and introduction, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is still far from fixed, and these improvements come complete with some bizarre new problems.

First off is an annoying and serious bug that can group all players into a party in a new multiplayer lobby screen and assign a leader, rather than actually starting map voting and continuing to a game! Sometimes it then leads to a match, otherwise it just sits there while everyone eventually quits... and sometimes the leader can take their new party into a totally different gametype! This doesn't happen every time, but to encounter it more than once in the few hours after the patch suggests that the problem is widespread and therefore unacceptable.

I also found that, every once in a while, the Master Chief Collection was too eager to start a new match without replacing new players. After a quickly-found and thoroughly enjoyable blast of Team Slayer on Halo 3's Last Resort, for example, us four remaining players were effectively thrust straight into map voting for the next game!

And, on occasion, I also found matches failing to load, booting back to map select, then loading a totally different map and starting the game. Weird.

Halo: MCC's Thanksgiving update massively improves matchmaking speed, but adds weird new issues

So once again we find ourselves having to berate 343 Industries for not fixing The Master Chief Collection outright, and once again take them to task for not stress testing their product before launch. But at least, for now, I can finally report some forward progress and significantly faster matchmaking.

The big test is yet to come. America will wake up in a few hours, consume an enormous amount of Turkey and then get online. As we saw with the intial release of The Master Chief Collection, it's the load that seems to affect Halo's matchmaking most, and we have yet to see whether this new update can handle the strain once the biggest worldwide audience hits the servers.

We'll find out soon enough.

Add a comment8 comments
ReasonFreeman  Nov. 27, 2014 at 13:39

I can't find the articles where you berate Driveclub which has been out a lot longer and still doesn't work

JonLester  Nov. 27, 2014 at 13:45

@ReasonFreeman: Erm, no offence, but you probably didn't look very hard then. :/




For starters. We've hounded DriveClub since its terrible re-reveal to botched launch, and frankly we're just sick and tired of it now.

Last edited by JonLester, Nov. 27, 2014 at 14:04
Lemming  Nov. 27, 2014 at 13:52


You missed my favourite, title says it all! :)


As for Halo I'm glad I haven't picked it up yet, I'll put it in the list with AC:Unity for stuff to buy when it's a bit more fixed or much cheaper!

JonLester  Nov. 27, 2014 at 13:59

@Lemming: Oh yeah, how could I forget that old chestnut! :D

RE MCC: For me it's worth buying for £25-35 if you love the campaigns and plan to log some serious time in them, BUT yeah, I think it's a good idea to wait and you're making the right call. As much as anything, not rewarding companies for pushing broken product (whether wittingly or unwittingly), then rewarding the fixed product with a sale, seems like the right thing to do.

But mainly because you'll probably get a screaming deal too. :P

YahooModdedController  Nov. 27, 2014 at 16:26

Tired of the modded controllers.

JonLester  Nov. 27, 2014 at 19:04

Tired of the modded controllers.

I think the jury's out on exactly how much impact the modded controllers really have - a lot of it is marketing BS. Especially in Halo 4, in which semi-auto weapons have a locked firing rate IIRC.

cju  Nov. 28, 2014 at 10:36

Most of the unbalanced team issues are probably because people are dropping out of the lobby out of habit. Just stay in the lobby people!

JonLester  Nov. 28, 2014 at 10:59

@cju: I think that's a part of it. Also, I find that many unsporting players quit because they didn't get the map they wanted - either when a CE map gets picked, or Halo 2 doesn't get picked.

Yeah, it's best to stay in the lobby. Also, if you find yourself becoming the session leader due to that weird lobby bug, don't quit, instead take your new party back into matchmaking - BTB if you've got too many people for Team Slayer!

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