On November 17, Halo 4 arrived on PC—the final part of The Master Chief Collection and the end of a genuinely impressive run from 343 Industries. Since releasing in December 2019 with only Halo: Reach, the MCC has added Halos 1 through 4 and the excellent spinoff Halo 3: ODST in rapid succession, an achievement even more impressive in a year of remote working.
An update for MCC has been released with various minor bugfixes, accompanied by some notes from 343 Industries on what happens now that the package is content-complete. The Halo 4 launch came with the introduction of cross-play for PC and Xbox players in multiplayer, custom games, Forge mode, and the co-op Firefight mode. This feature doesn't currently support the various campaigns and, according to 343's Dana Jerpback, that's unlikely though not impossible.
"Campaign game modes are not currently supported for crossplay, but it is something the team is interested in and will continue to investigate potential ways to make that happen. But this is by no means a confirmation that it could happen. Digging into the code we have found some things that just cannot be done with current architecture of these games that are nearly 20 years old. But even that said, we tend to look down the rabbit holes to see if we can."
This leads into a long-running community question over whether the first two Halo games might ever see four-player co-op. 343's answer to this comes through their community manager Postums and basically amounts to "pin your hopes on the modders".
"In the grand scope of body of work in the team's backlog of need to do and want to do, this one is further down the list. Cracking open the old games to make this an official feature is about as big of a 10 as possible on the complexity scale. Now, that’s not saying it can’t be done, but in terms of effort to impact ratio, I think it’s not as far up there as updating the old co-op netcode, or bringing long lost content to the games, or even making other global upgrades with collection wide updates. In the future however, I would not be surprised in the least bit if players are able to mod the game content to make this a reality on PC. In the future when major development support for MCC ends up winding down, the modding community will be where MCC lives on."
Before anyone gets too excited about the notion of long-lost content, what's being referred to here is almost definitely stuff like the armour designs cut from Halo 4, with 343 specifically addressing Halo 4's GRD helmet in this same post ("We are currently planning for it to come into MCC in a future update and will make sure to sound the alarm when it is something players can work towards unlocking.")
343's Postums ends on this note. "This blog closes out our journey to bring MCC to PC, but it does not mean that we are done. As seen above, we still have a lot of things we want to do for the collection, including resolving bugs and bringing both new features and content to our community [...] Thank you all for accompanying us in this year long journey of bringing MCC to PC. Although all of the games are now in the collection on PC, this is not the end. In fact, I think we are just getting started!"
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is currently 35% off on Steam, £19.49, which works out at just over three quid per Halo. There's no denying that elements of these games show their age, but one of my 2020 highlights so far was tearing back through the Halo 3 campaign in co-op: there really was a time when the Chief set the bar.