While the disappointing delay of Halo Infinite has dominated all of the headlines for the series lately, there’s reason to rejoice today. Developer 343 Industries has worked to bring modern, high-quality ports for all of the classic Halo games to PC by way of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Today, Halo 3: ODST joins the PC collection along with its wildly popular Firefight wave-based mode. There’s also an update for the existing games in the collection, with the focus being on Halo 3 multiplayer.
ODST was a unique experience in the Halo series, because it didn’t place players in the roles of Spartan super soldiers tasked with saving humanity. Instead, players had smaller roles to play as shock troopers. However, we quickly found out that they too were bad ass. Equally impressive was the story that ODST told. It felt far more grounded and personal at times.
Orbital Drop Shock Troopers
As the rookie member of the squad, you were initially tasked with tracking down your scattered comrades in the Earth city of New Mombasa. It’s the same city that the Master Chief fought in during the second and third missions of Halo 2. If fact, ODST generally picked up where that event left off, as the Covenant never actually left Earth. Instead, they sought to establish a foothold in the city, and ODST was all about figuring out what they were doing and then kicking them out.
Therefore, ODST felt like somewhat of a mystery noir at times. Bungie emphasized the design by giving you the chance to play as different members of the squad. Each had their own unique mission, and completing all of them resulted in finally being reunited. That’s when things got heavy, but that information is classified. You will have to check with ONI about that. However, we will say that the story eventually intertwined with the events of Halo 3.
ODST may be a spin-off, but it’s every bit as good as any other Halo game to grace the Xbox or, now, PC. In fact, it’s arguably one of the best. Bungie did make it during its heyday, after all. The story took risks and deviated in design from the mainline games. For example, the Streets of New Mombasa levels were just massive labyrinths filled with Covenant.
You never knew exactly where you were going, but there was plenty to discover along the way. It was dark, and you relied on tech like night vision and an advanced HUD to progress. All the while you wandered about, searching for your squad, as saxophones and ambient jazz music made the city feel mysterious and somber. ODST was full of hidden surprises, too. For example, you can uncover lore about the evacuation of the city and signs of the Covenant civil war.
ODST’s unique qualities extend past the campaign though. It was the first game where Halo featured a wave-based PvE mode. Bungie called it Firefight, and ODST’s was arguably the best iteration ever made. It’s pretty straightforward, as you fight waves of Covenant in various configurations on a variety of maps, but it’s simply good. Halo 3‘s excellent combat and diverse enemies combined with cooperative shenanigans is a clear recipe for success.
Yet despite all of this praise, today is the first time Firefight will be available in the Master Chief Collection. Xbox players received the campaign back in 2015, but 343 never got around to porting Firefight. Luckily the PC version of Halo 3: ODST received its due diligence, and you can enjoy the mode from day one.
Shaping up to be the ultimate collection
Of course, each addition to the collection brings with it an update to the other games. 343 typically fixes bugs, adds features, and now seemingly adds new content, too. The addition of Halo 3: ODST brings the exciting integration of the ODST-exclusive weapons to Halo 3 multiplayer. The automag pistol and the silenced SMG are now available in select modes for Spartans to wield. We previewed these additions in the multiplayer flight and can say they are a blast to use and welcome additions. There’s an ODST playlist running in Halo 3 right now where you can try them out as starting weapons.
In addition to the ODST weapons, Halo 3 players can enjoy the new seasonal pass content starting today. For the first time, there are custom visors, weapon skins, and vehicle skins to use and they are all free. You will need to unlock them with XP though, so get slaying. We also covered a preview of these last month, so check that out for detailed pictures and descriptions of what’s new. Eventually, 343 plans to add seasonal content for each Halo game, and it’s already done Halo 1.
A deadlier game
The final change to note relates to Halo 3‘s hit registration. This is a big one, as it fundamentally changes how the game plays. I’m actually divided on this one, because while all of the hit registration issues are gone, it’s almost like Halo 3 is too easy to play now. One of the defining characteristics of Halo 3 multiplayer was its wide skill gap. Hitting shots was not easy, and while bullet magnetism has not changed, it still feels a lot easier to drop enemies with the BR now. My kill counts are at all time highs, but I can’t shake the feeling that the skill gap will diminish at the same time. It’s hard to say how the community will feel as a whole, but at least we can say that Halo 3 LAN feel is finally online. Now our hearts are set on the upcoming cross-play update.
If you thought this was a lot, there’s even more coverage about the latest additions to Halo: The Master Chief Collection on 343’s developer blog. There, you can learn about the new challenge system added to the game as well as QoL improvements and matchmaking updates. Halo 3: ODST is part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but you can buy individual games for PC if you like. Each title costs $9.99 USD, but the whole collection will eventually feature six games for the bundled price of $39.99 USD. You can pick it up on Steam or the Microsoft Store.