With 34 Halo Reach as the initial title of the Master Chief Collection, Studio 343 Industries has successfully ported it – we can say that at the beginning of our test, despite some criticisms. However, it is important to make it clear that the entire Master Chief Collection was not published in one go, but rather that the associated titles were gradually added to the smorgasbord. This misunderstanding has caused some confusion for some. Reach itself is the last offshoot of the series, which was made by the original developers, i.e. Bungie. As the prequel to the main series, the fifth part is a very fitting start to get started with the legendary franchise.
Beautiful, recurring nostalgia
Today as before, the campaign remains worth seeing with well-integrated gameplay elements. As part of a special unit, you try to defend the eponymous planet Reach from the alien invasion of the alliance as Nobel Six. A novelty for the series is that for the first time we can see the faces behind the helmets of the elite soldiers called Spartans. On a playful level, the adventure on the alien planet remains just like the previous offshoots. We don't mean anything bad: the sound design is outstanding, the AI in the campaign is demanding depending on the level of difficulty and with the skulls in the main menu we can even create individual challenges in the campaign. The standard controls on the keyboard are also very intuitive. We got used to them right in the first few minutes of the game and were pleased that we were now able to aim even more precisely than on the console.
When you buy the game, you have the choice of choosing Halo: Reach as a stand-alone or buying the Master Chief Collection as a whole. As already mentioned at the beginning, the other titles will only appear at a later date. With Halo Reach on the PC we get a polished version of the Xbox 360 classic in better resolution and higher frame rate. The introduction of the story about the Master Chief can now also cast a spell over new players – but also with some flaws.
Halo: Reach is not a real remaster
Halo: Reach received a minor polish due to the PC release. Almost nothing on the design or the models has been revised. In our opinion, the possibilities of a better resolution and refresh rate are the minimum requirement for today's standards to go through as a neat port. If you make direct comparisons in terms of character models to the X360 version, you notice that, although there are certain differences, they do not appear to be really significant. Richer colors, sharper textures and a higher FPS number are the most important. Concrete assets such as trees, stones, symbols and also weapons continue to appear somewhat washed out and dull.
What is very disappointing is the lack of controls and more detailed setting options to adjust the settings completely according to our preferences. Instead, we are only given a few prescribed setting options that rob us of the possibility of individual adjustments.
When it comes to frames per second, we only have the choice between a 60 FPS lock or an unlimited refresh rate. There is nothing in between or below. The advanced graphics options are also modest. We can either play Halo: Reach in old-fashioned X360 graphics, let the system adapt the graphics to our equipment or get the best out of the game in "unlimited". Again, there is no possibility to adjust your own gaming experience independently with individual settings. After all, you can adjust the field of vision according to your preferences, which works wonders for motion-sensitive players in first-person perspective. But what also lacks individuality is the key assignment of specific game mechanics. For example, the primary and secondary weapons cannot be reconfigured. The same also applies to grenades. The mandatory Microsoft account is similarly cumbersome – also for Steam buyers. This is no longer a novelty in the industry, but it is still an annoying inconvenience. In addition, the PC version is struggling with some technical diseases such as sound problems, which the developers are already addressing and are gradually delivering updates. At the end of our grumbling, the bad German setting continues to get on our nerves, which does not really support the actually exciting plot.
What really makes you feel good right from the start is the online matches. With proper technology, the first-person shooter plays on the PC as it should have always felt. However, there should be no misunderstanding here: You can clearly see that the game has had a few years under its belt. For example, we found it difficult to like both the hit feedback and the vehicle control using the mouse and keyboard. In any case, the lobbies are well filled with the rush and popularity of Halo – we hardly had to fight with waiting times. We also encountered no problems on the server side. For customization fanatics there is also the possibility to adapt his character as a Spartan or as an Elite Alien at his own discretion. Additional cosmetic adjustments can be gained in-game through brands from online activities. We can earn the brands during the announced seasons.
There will be new seasons for Reach throughout the Master Chief Collection release cycle – similar to Rainbow Six: Siege. The map editor and the maps that were previously available for the X360 version of Halo: Reach will be submitted later in the year. In addition, certain modes currently appear to be tied to specified cards. Furthermore, there are also the special abilities already known from the original with upgrades such as sprinting, jet packs or protective shields. However, these upgrades, which allow for individual playing styles, continue to trigger either love or hate. There is nothing in between!
With the Halo: Reach, 343 Industries has delivered a successful, but not too expensive port of a popular shooter. It offers what fans want and has a well-staged campaign ready for beginners, with an interesting story and a well-chosen introduction to the Halo universe. You can also quickly find yourself in multiplayer mode if you are not absolutely a shooter novice. If Halo didn't like the basic concept before, you won't be really happy here either. With this port you can experience a piece of shooter history again on the PC. 343 Industries relies entirely on fan service here and appears to be quite convincing, especially in the Master Chief Collection.
"Finally enjoy Spartan power in 4K and over 60 FPS with mouse and keyboard!"
For fans of the Halo series, the PC version is almost a must. The story is and remains successful, the amount of vehicles and weapons offers something for every style of play. With PvP multiplayer you can sink hundreds of hours, but also for co-op lovers there are a lot of challenges such as firefights or skulls as gameplay modifiers. If you haven't had any contact with Halo yet, you can buy Halo: Reach as a stand-alone for little money and discover the brand for yourself without having to purchase the entire collection. If Halo has never agreed to this from the start, you will not find joy here either.
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