Halo MCC – January 2019 Winter Update Adds New Skulls to Halo: CE

Halo: The Master Chief Collection just got a new update for the winter of 2019, and it pays clear homage to the past whilst also looking forward to an exciting future for this under-appreciated title.

Despite having been out since 2014, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has seen a recent revival thanks to renewed efforts by development team 343 Industries to ‘fix’ the game after the fan backlash to the game’s broken state at launch. By altering their perspective on the game from a failed release title to a killer app in dire need of maintenance, the development team are making fast progress on winning fans back over with the new features that have been added to Halo MCC in recent months, including the updated social multiplayer system and an updated UI. Whilst this recent update is not nearly as glamorous, The first and most obvious change to the game is the new menu, new sporting a nostalgic winter theme depicting a Warthog on the Halo 3 multiplayer map Snowbound, surrounded by animated snow, a welcome addition to the app.

Another subtler but no less significant addition is the new ‘Modern Aiming’ feature for the classic Halo games. As Halo MCC features 5 Halo titles from across 2 previous consoles and over 15 years of video game engine development, several of the classic games felt sluggish and slow compared to their more modern counterparts. With the addition of the Modern Aiming setting, the aiming is smoother and auto-aim is tweaked, so  players can choose to use either the original aiming system or the revised version that is more suited to what many younger players will be used to from a shooter game.

Perhaps the most exciting feature for classic Halo fans is the inclusion of more Skulls to Halo: Combat Evolved. Since the release of Halo 2, Skulls have been hidden in levels throughout various Halo games and, when activated, they change how the game plays. With the release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary in 2011, ten years after the release of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, 343 industries took the opportunity to add skulls into the game, but were limited in how many they were able to test and implement before the game was released. Fans have already discovered evidence within the code of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary that more Skulls were going to be implemented into the game, but were cut. In 343 industries’ recent blog post on the Halo MCC January update, Sean “Scoops” Cooper, a programmer who currently works on Halo MCC, said:

“There are of course more skulls in Halo 2 which have not made their way over to Halo: CE yet, but some of them with good reason. Some have no equivalent features to change (eg, there’s no vehicle boarding in the first game so Jacked is off the table). Others require data or code which did not exist originally and would risk breaking the baseline game trying to make them work. Then a few others haven’t been brought over yet as they require more time and testing.”

Sean also mentions in the blog that he eventually plans to add more of Halo 2 Anniversary’s diverse range of Skulls to other Halo titles in Halo MCC, an exciting prospect for players who now find replaying older Halo campaign levels to be a bit stale. The new update also features, among several other bug fixes, a fix for the Bandana (Infinite Ammo) Skull on Halo: CE and Halo 2, so energy weapons now have infinite ammo as originally intended.

The last of the major additions included with this update is the ‘Super Duper Fiesta’ mode, a compilation of many of Halo’s popular Fiesta multiplayer modes into one easily accessible playlist. This addition is only for social matchmaking, not competitive, and replaces the usual Team Action Sack setting for the match composer, though the announcement blog post does reassure Team Action Sack fans that this is only a temporary change.

Having recently entered its fourth year, many Halo fans might have given up on Halo MCC following its shabby launch and proceeding spat of abandonment. However, 343 industries have proven before that they are listening to fans via social media, their blog posts, game reviews and their occasional live events. As such, much of the fan feedback that was received about MCC is now being implemented, and future features that are either announced or all but confirmed range from a Custom Games Browser that allows players to search for games created and hosted by other players to a fix for the infamous duel-wielding glitch in Halo 2’s campaign. 343 industries have even stated that the team has been discussing adding Halo: Reach to the MCC, as it is now the only Halo title to not be re-released for the Xbox One in some form, although it has been made backwards-compatible. Halo fans should hold back from getting their hopes up about Reach just yet, however, as the team did stress that it is at this point little more than a remote possibility for the future. Still, the January 2019 Update gives Halo fans lots of hope for the future of not just Halo MCC but the future of Halo as a franchise.

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Author: Dalek Rabe

I am a huge fan of Doctor Who, Halo, Star Trek and Star Wars and I enjoy watching classic Doctor Who episodes, customising Dalek figures, replaying games like Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy from the early 2000s on the original Xbox.

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