Yesterday, I nearly reinstalled Halo Infinite for the sixth time. I couldn’t care much less about Season 4’s battle go (incomes XP continues to be a horrible expertise) or the brand new teleporter gadget—no, apparently the one factor that may draw me again into 343’s free-to-play Halo at this level are focused appeals to my nostalgia. 343 dropped an update this week that added a trio of Forge-created Halo throwback maps to official playlists: Zanzibar, Valhalla, and Rat’s Nest.

They actually acquired me there—these are two all-timer Halo locations (and likewise Rat’s Nest, which is okay). I used to be hovering over the set up button when my eye drifted to The Grasp Chief Assortment sitting right beneath Infinite in my Steam library. Oh yeah, I believed. The all-in-one Halo game with each basic marketing campaign, map, and mode in a faithfully-preserved time capsule. 

MCC already has Zanzibar, Valhalla, and Rat’s Nest, in all their authentic glory. If I’m leaping into Infinite to play three outdated Halo 3 maps, why wouldn’t I simply play Halo 3?

No offense to the proficient of us who put them collectively, after all, however Forge remakes can’t actually do basic maps justice—it’s a special engine with mismatched belongings, they usually have that unnatural “snapped-together” look inherent to the whole lot in Forge. It’s simply not the identical. 

The actual purpose to play a reconstructed Zanzibar in Halo Infinite is to play a modern 2020s Halo with modernized shooting and funky new weapons. You possibly can’t get both of these issues in MCC, however funnily sufficient, it does have just about the whole lot that Halo followers suppose Infinite is missing: a deep pool of maps and modes, a sturdy {custom} video games browser, and armor personalization that doesn’t suck. MCC is the gold commonplace for maintaining old-but-great multiplayer video games alive and kicking. To not point out, MCC nonetheless will get updates too (although not as continuously since Infinite got here out). 

MCC’s sterling popularity speaks to a bigger notion downside Infinite has confronted since its 2021 launch. MCC is, in a way, the anti-Halo Infinite: so handy and improbably beneficiant as a product that it’d make extra sense as a fan challenge led by modders. And truly, since final 12 months it has largely been pushed by modders as 343 turned its consideration to Infinite.

halo infinite zanzibar

The Halo Infinite neighborhood remake of Zanzibar appears to be like spectacular, and likewise undeniably “Forge.” (Picture credit score: 343 Industries)

Labor of legacy

343 Industries was established to make new Halo video games, however the studio has spent simply as a lot time delving into the collection’ previous with a stage of respect and reverence that simply wouldn’t be attainable from individuals who don’t love Halo. The MCC staff continuously appears to be like for alternatives to resurrect basic content material with a contemporary twist, end work began by Bungie, or dig up historical artifacts of Halo historical past only for enjoyable.

The Grasp Chief assortment is, in a way, the anti-Halo Infinite.

An MCC update from this week is an ideal instance. The headlining characteristic is Escalation Slayer mode for Halo 3—a more recent mode custom-made for a game that wasn’t designed for it, fairly cool. After which simply because 343 can, it additionally doubled the Firefight participant restrict from 4 to eight in each ODST and Attain, admittedly breaking the stability… but in addition who cares? Whereas at it, why not add three Spartan devices to Halo 3 multiplayer that you could possibly beforehand solely get within the marketing campaign? Or add a statue scavenger hunt to each marketing campaign with places that change weekly? There’s a whole part of the July 2023 patch notes about one dev tinkering with the co-op-only ODST to get 16-player multiplayer working inside it—an pointless and intensely cool challenge that I hope may be accomplished sometime—earlier than casually mentioning a discovery of three unfinished Halo 3 DLC maps in ODST’s recordsdata which have now been added to MCC’s modding suite.

That’s right, modding! The studio has spent the final 12 months refining its modding instruments, bringing neighborhood modders into the fold to seek for lower content material hidden deep inside Bungie’s outdated recordsdata (with the assistance of modders), and implementing Steam Workshop help. 9 years into its life, MCC is the Halo present that retains on giving. Rewind to 2014’s disastrous MCC launch and also you’d be shocked to study it’s grow to be the Halo to root for, whereas the free-to-play Halo Infinite struggles to be thrilling.


(Picture credit score: Xbox Game Studios)

Halo wars

It’s a uncommon scenario for 2 video games in the identical collection to be pitted towards one another, but in addition a superb alternative to replicate on what we wish from multiplayer shooters. Halo Infinite has far more happening nowadays with new maps, devices, and cosmetics whereas MCC will get enjoyable little scraps of historical past each six months, so why is MCC averaging over twice as many gamers on Steam?

It’s simply higher Halo, with beloved co-op campaigns, far more maps, and a decidedly much less aggressive vibe. Plus, I’m not continuously ready for it to fulfill my expectations. Infinite is the newer game, and 343 set expectations excessive from the beginning. I’ve no expectations for MCC past what it’s already doing, as a result of the whole lot you could possibly need from it’s already there, after which some.

It issues loads to me that MCC is an entire game (truly, six full video games) whereas, after practically two years, Infinite nonetheless comes off like 343 is laying down the observe because it goes. Nostalgia actually performs a task too, although Infinite additionally tugs on coronary heart strings where it may possibly. 

Infinite gamers have confirmed to be harsh critics all the time hungry for extra, however I more and more imagine they’re justified. By consequence of its dwell service mannequin, Halo Infinite is continually asking extra from us, too. Infinite doesn’t simply get cool stuff, it will get cool stuff and a brand new $10 battle go, retailer refresh, and limited-time premium cosmetics. 

I simply don’t need my Halo expertise to be a collection of scheduled, itemized transactions—one where I’m inspired to purchase into a brand new part of Halo and ask myself every time if it was value it. Infinite, for all its strengths, represents an period of video games that nakedly treats folks like ATMs, whereas MCC is a residing reminder that Halo doesn’t need to be this manner. If you consider it like that, it’s hardly a good combat.