14-year-old fanmade Halo PC maps could get a strange second life on Xbox Live

In a few rare cases, console games like Skyrim: Special Edition get some limited form of the mod support they have on PC. But this is something I don't think I've ever seen before. As part of an ongoing process to update and fix the Xbox-exclusive Halo: Master Chief Collection, developer 343 is testing out the ability to import fanmade maps from Halo: Custom Edition into the console game. Halo: Custom Edition was an unofficial add-on for Halo PC, released back in 2004, that supported custom maps.

So these decade-old custom maps, which were built for a version of Halo exclusively released on PC, will be playable in the remastered version of Halo for Xbox, which is only available on console. Is your head spinning yet?

Here's what Halo Waypoint's latest Master Chief Collection update had to say about the custom maps: "Another area Sean has been tinkering with on the side is working on the pipeline and process to bring Halo Custom Edition maps into MCC. This is longer lead proof-of-concept work that isn’t part of the near-term scope but he’s shared some exciting progress successfully loading a Halo Custom Edition map into MCC. There’s a lot of rough edges and plenty of work to still do on this front—and to be honest this feature work isn't currently even tied to an official milestone—but it’s a really tantalizing and exciting prospect to think about further down the road."

Halo: Custom Edition's Wartorn Cove map.

It's not coming soon, in other words, and it's possible it'll never make it into MCC at all. But I think chances are good the feature will arrive eventually, or 343 wouldn't risk getting people's hopes up. To me, it's another weird step in Halo's weird, back-and-forth relationship with PC. I played a ton of Halo: Custom Edition around 2008, and most of that time was spent in custom maps like Wartorn Cove and New Mombasa, player favorites at the time. Wartorn Cove was this truly massive, elongated canyon of a map built for hours-long Capture the Flag matches, while New Mombasa recreated Bungie's original vision for a Halo 2 level demoed at E3 that was heavily changed for the final game. Those maps were built long before Bungie introduced Forge, a fairly simple mapmaking tool, into the Halo series—in proper 2004 fashion, there was a real modding SDK for Halo on PC.

Halo: Custom Edition still has servers online to this day, 14 years later. Those maps are almost certainly no longer in vogue, but I could still host my own server to play them if I wanted. It's so strange to think about them being playable as "new" maps to the Xbox Halo community in 2018. And it makes me wonder if, once it's all patched up, Master Chief Collection will make its way to PC. It would be weird to see Master Chief Collection ported to PC years after it had a disastrous launch on Xbox One—but compared to this news, it'd be utterly mundane.

Here's a delightfully ancient Youtube video of Wartorn Cove.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).