Do I ever feel like an idiot. After refusing to give Halo: The Master Chief Collection a score last week because the matchmaking was untested, I finally got online over the weekend once 343 flicked the switch, successfully tried out the delayed netcode and awarded the game top marks.
Job done. Mission accomplished. Only problem being that the matchmaking then fell to pieces almost immediately!
343 have been working around the clock to fix these problems and many gamers are reporting huge improvements. Unfortunately, I've personally found that the experience has worsened following yesterday's server-side updates, with some crazy wait times and the occasional loading screen freeze. So thank goodness The Master Chief Collection has four massive campaigns to keep you going, packed to the gunwales with fun stuff to try! Here's a sampler (obviously there are minor spoilers ahead):
Track Down The Secrets & Easter Eggs!
The Halo franchise is absolutely stuffed full of secrets to discover. Here are just a few of my personal favourites from the last 13 years.
- The Thirsty Grunt: On Halo CE, take a detour to find a hilarious talking grunt
- The Final Grunt: Same diff, but in Halo 3. Cracking dialogue.
- Rooster Teeth Easter Eggs | Plenty of these, but the best is in Crow's Nest (Halo 3)
- Halo 2: Scarab Gun | Wield the power
- Halo 4 Elite Snipers | Want a challenge? Backtrack and bring it
- All the skulls! | Get out there and find 'em.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Happy hunting, and be sure to share!
I Would Have Been Your Daddy
... but the dog beat me over the fence! This great skull doesn't affect gameplay, but instead activates loads of hilarious rare marine dialogue containing bloopers and out-takes. Use it constantly for a hilarious experience, but especially during Halo 3 level 'Tsavo Highway,' which stars Nathan Fillion as Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds.
Couple this with the Grunt Birthday Party skull for extra hilarity.
Spot All The Marathon References...
Okay, this one's only for hardcore Bungie lifers, but I get a huge kick out of this fun little metagame. You may have spotted obvious references to Bungie's original Sci-Fi trilogy such as Guilty Spark's eyeball and the whole rampant AI storyline shtick, but did you notice that Halo 3's warehouses are full of mentions of 'Traxus?' Traxus V was the AI in Marathon that originally became rampant and likely infected Durandal and Tycho... oh gawd, do I ever love Marathon.
Halo 4's AI, Roland, is also a very clever reference that I'm taking full credit for. The rampant AI Durandal was the main ally (and often antagonist) of the Marathon series... but did you know that he was named after the sword of a legendary Paladin from French literature? A paladin called... wait for it... Roland?
Oh yes. The rabbit hole runs deep. Let us know what you find!
Then PLAY Marathon!
Do it, then hit up The Story Page. It will change your f*cking life.
Make The Most Of Halo 2
Halo 2 is by far the weakest of the Halo campaigns, but the remaster job is excellent. In fact, this is the perfect time to revisit the rushed and flawed yet incredibly important game to see what's new.
First things first, be sure to change between engine modes all the time. Not only will you appreciate the graphical overhaul, but you'll get to choose the soundtrack arrangement you like. Incubus sadly aren't in the remastered soundtrack and they're sorely missed.
More importantly, though, hunt down those terminals! 343 have done a fantastic job at inserting new lore that frames the narrative slightly differently, resulting in some really nifty optional cutscenes.
The Legendary Run
I don't care how you do it. Solo Legendary is fine. 2-4 player co-op is fine. LASO is fine if you're an insane psychopath with demonic skills and too much time on your hands. But however you do it, try to complete the campaigns on legendary.
You'll experience a stiff challenge and emerge truly satisfied from a harrowing yet rewarding ordeal, not to mention having experienced some extra cutscenes for your trouble.
Mind you, I still have trouble with Halo 4. Seriously, those Promethians pack a punch...
So Custom Games seem to be working. Set up some crazy gametypes, invite some mates and throw down!
The joy of Halo is that its levels are sandboxes, not shooting galleries, designed to let you experiment and improvise with totally new strategies. Every section can be completed in numerous different ways with unique results, and here are a few of my personal recommendations.
- Steal the Banshee in Assasult On The Control Room | Steal a ride, rule the skies!
- Don't kill the Wraiths... hijack them! | Delta Halo (Halo 2) and Tsavo Highway (3) are great for this!
- Mongoose jump onto a Scarab! | The Storm (Halo 3). Mongoose. Lift. Ramp. EPICNESS.
- Marine Survival Challenge | Assault On the Control Room. Silent Cartographer. Halo. How many can you save?
- Speedrun The Silent Cartographer | How fast can you do it?
- Storm the Metropolis bridge... without the tank! | I know what the ladies like: hijacking everything (Halo 2)
Seriously, that's just off the top of my head. Get out there, pull off some crazy experiments, then let us know some awesome things to try in the comments!
Oh, and we'll keep you updated about the matchmaking, so long as you let us know how things are on your end!