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Halo: The Master Chief Collection has been out for a little over a month now and it has been one long month for 343 Industries. The game that includes all of Master Chief’s journey so far along with Halo 2 Anniversary did receive critical praise, but by the time it officially launched, it was the complete opposite for fans excited to relive their glory days in classic Halo multiplayer. It was pretty telling that the collection didn’t have good QA resulting in a rushed product that makes you wonder how it passed certification by Microsoft. 343 weren’t prepared to deal with the game’s numerous issues and while things have been better one month later, there’s still plenty of issues that needed to be fixed. Has the damage been done to Halo fans by arguably the most botched launch of the year?
The major problem with The Master Chief Collection has been the online multiplayer, mainly the matchmaking not working properly for this long now. Chances you are that if you’ve been playing this, you seen this image above a lot because it takes minutes to find matches. For the sake of trying to improve matchmaking’s performance, 343 decided to take out some matchmaking playlists, which were Team Hardcore and Halo 4 while Team Halo 2 Anniversary was the only ranked playlist. That plan didn’t work out because it still took forever to find games in matchmaking while custom games were working fine. So here we are one month later and are those playlists that 343 took out back? Nope and there’s still one ranked playlist, but SWAT was finally added in this week, which was a fan favorite in Halo multiplayer as Halo 2 Classic, Anniversary and Halo 4 maps are supported in this mode.
Most of my time in multiplayer was spent on the Halo 2 Anniversary ranked playlist and nostalgia can only do so much in any game because it hasn’t been very pleasant. Besides the matchmaking issues, uneven teams and balance have been my other big gripes with the Master Chief Collection. The majority of games haven’t been fun because of that along with playing the same Team Slayer BR gametype. It got repetitive pretty quickly with players repeatedly voting for that gametype than the other ones. I wished it is less seen in the voting options, but I can see why it is the popular mode because it is the “e-sports” mode even though there is the Halo Championship Series playlist for that as well. This goes hand in hand with the lack of more ranked playlists and an objective-only playlist, but I wished I played more CTF, Oddball & Assault in ranked games. Then again, there’s custom games for that, but I just need to play more with my XBL friends I guess. 343 will address the uneven teams problem in a future update, but the MCC’s online multiplayer has been just flat out frustrating.
The constant weekly patches by 343 for The Master Chief Collection also led to numerous apologies by the staff, including Bonnie Ross. They admit that they didn’t live up to expectations to Halo fans and they’ll promise they will make things right. So far, who knows what 343 has in store to give back to the fans, but it could be a variety of things. They can go the Assassin’s Creed Unity route, which also had a botched launch, and release more Halo 2 Anniversary remastered multiplayer maps for free assuming there is work being done on more maps that haven’t been remade yet. The upcoming Halo: Spartan Strike, the sequel to Spartan Assault, can also be given out for free despite it being delayed for more work fixing this. 343 can also extend or even release the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta early too. Whatever 343 decides to do, they definitely have to redeem themselves because the damage has been done and there’s a lack of faith by fans for the future of the franchise.
The issues are not just matchmaking but also the campaigns as well. The Halo 2 Anniversary campaign has been plagued with saving problems. If you leave your game in the middle of a level, you don’t start from the last checkpoint as you thought you would. Instead, you start from the beginning of the level, so be sure to finish levels till 343 fixes that. This would be frustrating especially on Legendary, which is arguably the hardest of the four campaigns on that difficulty. Co-op both offline and online hasn’t been running smoothly as well which is another no-no for fans. I ran into a big bug in Halo 4’s Reclaimer level where the rest of the level didn’t flat out load and restarting from the last checkpoint didn’t fix that. So I had to reset the game and the level did load as it should. Bugs as crazy as that should make the game not pass certification, but hey, it’s a Xbox One exclusive and Microsoft behind the scenes probably were like screw it and let 343 release it assuming it will be fixed later on.
One month later and Halo: The Master Chief Collection is still an unsatisfying experience to not just fans and also newcomers coming to the franchise for the first time. Sure, matchmaking has been better than it was on launch week, but it is still not working consistently for certain folks. The uneven teams and balancing has also been frustrating to deal with as well along with 343’s current handling of playlists. The campaigns also have their fair share of problems too, but matchmaking getting to work smoothly is the more important priority now. I am concerned with the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta coming up later this month since you have to boot it up from the Master Chief Collection itself. That can lead to a new set of problems if this botched launch is any indication. Even watching all of Halo: Nightfall has been underwhelming as that mini-series just took a while to get going. 343 Industries are doing the best they can to make things right for Halo fans, but the future is not looking bright for Microsoft’s beloved franchise now with the damage done by The Master Chief Collection’s botched launch.