Ranking the Mainline Halo Games

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Ranking the Mainline Halo Games

Halo 4 a

The year is nearing its end, and there have been many big games released this year. This month saw the release of another major title in the form of Halo Infinite. Halo has always been one of the biggest and probably Microsoft and Xbox's most iconic gaming series. Halo Infinite was supposed to be a launch title for the Xbox Series X|S but was delayed a year so the series could truly shine again upon release. Now, with the game out and people enjoying it and the franchise's 20th anniversary, it's time to rank the mainline Halo games released before Halo Infinite since people are playing and enjoying Master Chief's newest adventure. Now, let's get to it!

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 a

The most recent game in the series is starting our list off, Halo 5: Guardians. Halo 5: Guardians was 343 Industries' second go around with a new entry in the series. Unfortunately, it is nearly universally considered a mixed bag of a game by fans. The feel and combat of the game still feel great, and multiplayer is a lot of fun with the new abilities introduced.

However, everything else surrounding the game is awkward. First, there's the dissonance between what the game's marketing built the story up as, including the fantastic Hunt the Truth podcast, and what it turned out to be. Then, there's the story itself which is split between the following two teams with structural and pacing issues, as well as it feeling like you need to know all of Halo lore before going into the game. Finally, there is no offline multiplayer functionality. Thus no split-screen or local games felt so strange for a series that has always had a significant focus on playing with your friends. All that brought Halo 5: Guardians down to the bottom of our list.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo 4

Halo 4

Next is 343 Industries' first foray into the series with Halo 4. Being the first to pick up Master Chief's story since Halo 3, 343 had a lot on their plate. The studio had to take the story in a new direction. They did so by exploring the Forerunners' ancient history and focusing on the relationship between Master Chief and Cortana. The game also introduced Spartan Ops to replace Firefight, and it was a unique side mode featuring episodic story content set after the main game.

The story itself is powerful regarding the relationship between Chief and Cortana but falters when it comes to the antagonists. The main antagonist and the new Promethean enemies don't feel developed enough compared to The Covenant in the original trilogy. Then, The Covenant aliens that appear in the game feel a bit out of place following the events of past games. Finally, multiplayer itself doesn't feel as strong as the older games. While overall a good experience, Halo 4 lands at number 6.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3 ODST

Halo 3: ODST is the first in the series not to focus on Master Chief's story. Set on Earth during the events of Halo 2, Halo 3: ODST follows a group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) as they remain on Earth as the main Halo story takes the main characters off-planet. With a great, eerie atmosphere, the game feels different from the rest of the entries in the series, and it gives off some noir detective vibes at times as you explore. The semi-open nature of New Mombasa was also unique to the game compared to other entries in the series.

On the downside,  Halo 3: ODST does feel a bit small and less impactful than the first three mainline games. Then, there are the multiplayer options. The introduction of Firefight to the series is incredible and brings something entirely new to the series. However, the lack of an actual multiplayer suite feels strange as it just gave you access to Halo 3's multiplayer options while introducing a few new maps. All this made the game feel more like an expansion to Halo 3 than its own game. Thus, its placement on the list.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo: Combat Evolved

Combat Evolved

The one that started it all. We wouldn't be making this list today had Halo: Combat Evolved not released alongside the original Xbox over twenty years ago. Halo: Combat Evolved brought first-person shooters on consoles to the next level. Nothing felt like Halo did back in 2001, and you can see how influential Halo would come to be on the future of the shooter genre. From the introduction to some of gaming's most iconic characters to some of the best missions in video games, there's so much to praise about the first entry in the series.

Then, there's multiplayer. Before introducing Xbox Live, Halo Combat Evolved surged as the game you wanted to play with your friends. Split-screen and LAN connectivity allowed friends to play the game together in multiplayer and campaign modes. The game still has probably the most iconic multiplayer maps in any shooter. Everyone knows Blood Gulch, for example. The only reason Halo: Combat Evolved falls this low is how each of the following three games builds on the original's formula.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo: Reach

Halo Reach scaled

Starting the top 3 is Bungie's final game in Halo: Reach. Halo: Reach is the only other game on the list that doesn't follow Master Chief. The game is a prequel to the series and is set on the planet of Reach. It follows the six-man team of Noble Team as The Covenant invades the planet, and anyone with knowledge of Halo lore knows what happens on Reach.

The game has some of the strongest moments in the series, including one of the absolute best final missions of being all alone against the world. New armor abilities gave new options in multiplayer compared to equipment in Halo 3. The jetpack was something utterly different from anything before. New variations of older maps were a delight to have. The firefight was done even better than in Halo 3: ODST. Overall, the game is an excellent prequel to the series and sets up one of the most iconic stories in games.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo 2

Halo 2 scaled

If Halo: Combat Evolved is what put the franchise on the map, Halo 2 cemented the series as one of the biggest in video games. Halo 2 is everything great about the original, but bigger and better. Combat is even stronger with things like dual-wielding and new weapons introduced. Then, the story is even more intriguing thanks to the introduction of things like more development for The Flood and playing as the Arbiter. The game does end on one of the worst cliffhangers in gaming.

Finally, what made Halo 2 stand out is its multiplayer function. The game launched alongside Xbox Live and became a phenomenon. Everyone who had an Xbox at the time was playing Halo 2. The maps were designed to make the arena combat intense and fun. The game is easily one of the best in the series and even got a complete remake, including its multiplayer component as part of The Master Chief Collection in 2014.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

Halo 3

Halo 3

Halo 3 is peak Halo. Nothing compares. Halo 3 felt like the end of the series, and Bungie brought out all the stops to conclude the original trilogy feels special. The campaign feels grandiose and goes nonstop for its duration. It's all about finishing the fight, as Master Chief says. Missions were all solid and memorable, with some unforgettable moments happening throughout.

Then, there's multiplayer. Halo 3's multiplayer is the best in the series. The introduction of equipment allowed for new strategies and elements to gameplay that were impossible in the first two games. The maps are some of the greatest in the series, with strong contenders like The Pit, Sandtrap, and Valhalla being standouts. Finally, the game introduced everyone to Forge mode, which allowed the community to create and build their maps. This was incredible for the series as it allowed for crazy creativity and new game modes to be introduced, all thanks to the fanbase. Halo 3, for everything it does right and is the peak of the series's popularity, deserves to land at the top of the list.

Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Microsoft Game Studios. 


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