This joyfully chaotic Halo total conversion mod for classic Battlefront 2 is a perfect complement to the Bungie campaigns

Battlefront Halation mod
(Image credit: Battlefront Halation Mod Team, Microsoft, Lucasfilm)

Esteemed scholars of expanded universe Halo lore know that the Human Covenant war was primarily a combined arms conflict. Expertly trained UNSC special forces teams carried out near suicidal decapitation attacks on Covenant military and spiritual leadership, military infrastructure, and even wiped out entire fleets before they left drydock. The Halo games rarely actually represent the Human Covenant War as the wider fiction presents it, which is why there are two moments in Halo 3: ODST that I always look back on with great fondness.

When the Covenant carrier slipspace jumps inside the city and all the ODSTs think they're dropping straight into a nuclear blast, and when the Covenant begins excavating the Ark and Buck thinks that they're about to glass the entire planet—real human moments of terror and despair that, especially with 343's interpretation of Halo and it's universe, have fallen to the wayside.

Humans, and aliens that show humanity, are buried under the weight of proper-noun stuffed junk sci-fi main plots. Having the opportunity to play as the little guy, the poorly trained, the freshly promoted officer falling feet first into hell. For me, this is the big appeal of Battlefront Halation, and my brief time with a new version of this total conversion mod has renewed my appreciation for the Bungie era of Halo. 

Battlefront Halation is a total conversion mod for Star Wars Battlefront 2 (the old one) that adds a slew of vehicles, weapons, units, maps, and mechanics from the Halo series. It's a tremendous labor of love, with reworked space combat, multiplayer, and a surprising level of polish and stability given the massive scope of a total conversion project like this.

Playing as Master Chief in the early Halo campaigns you occasionally lose sight of just how badly the war is going, especially when you're up to your knees in Forerunner plot BS. The difference between an elite and a UNSC marine isn't too significant in Halo, but in Battlefront Halation the Elites' stature combined with the way they loom crooked over you as they close in with intense blasts of offensive plasma fire definitely makes you feel outmatched and outgunned, appropriately.

All of Battlefront Halation's weapons feel significantly neutered compared to their Halo series counterparts, a decision I came to appreciate—a shotgun in the hands of a marine is hardly the point blank artillery piece Chief dispenses death with in the campaigns, and the rocket launcher's destructive power is dashed when you can't jump twelve feet high and fire it straight down. 

While some elements of Halo's combat sandbox have been preserved (some units, like Elites, have shields that need to be drained before you can damage their health), shootouts are chaotic close quarters killzones that quickly degenerate into ferocious mob assaults on both sides. It's a better fit than it sounds—check out this clip of a conquest match on the Pillar of Autumn.

View post on"

I was really struck by how, despite using a combat model intrinsically more simplistic and less kinetic than Halo's, this twist on Battlefront still manages to capture the frenzy of Halo's combat. And it situates those bigger and messier scraps inside a narrative context that I thoroughly enjoyed as a fan of the wider fiction. 

The maps featured in Battlefront: Halation are an impressive cross-section of some of Halo's best vistas and arenas, from the classic rolling green mountains and islands of Installation 04 to the brutalist government centers of New Mombosa. My favorite by far though is a space battle map, "UNSC Angler." When I first booted up Battlefront Halation, I went straight to the Instant Action (in classic Battlefront 2 fashion), selecting a few random maps for the playlist. Loading into UNSC Angler absolutely stopped me dead—it's a classic Battlefront 2 space map, except it's at the Fall of Reach.

A Covenant carrier is glassing the planet surface below, the atmosphere these roiling waves of plasma induced firestorms. Playing as the UNSC on this mission has a context so much more personal and tragic than anything in Battlefront, a creative decision that had me eying up the update status of some of my favorite Halo: Reach rebalance mods. Waves of Sabre strike fighters & Pelican gunships swarm the midfield between the Angler and Covenant cruiser—the dogfighting is more or less unchanged from base Battlefront 2's clunkiness, but boarding the cruiser, fighting room-to-room, planting bombs to disable point defense systems and life support while ODST commandos hold off the waves of Covenant piling in was one of the moments that just felt like peak Halo.

The presentation here is also stunning as a mod for a 19-year-old game, with Halo: Reach quality models and textures, and a sorrowful ambient track that perfectly captures the horror of the Covenant. Eking out a "victory" as the UNSC feels desperate and pained, a swipe from a cornered animal, the mammoth achievement of taking down the Covenant flagship meaningless above the fires raging below. In contrast, a victory for the Covenant here is just another Tuesday.

While Battlefront: Halation isn't liable to make you a Halo fan if you're ride or die for Star Wars, and its changes to the Battlefront formula aren't significant enough to warrant an install for the shooting alone, it's an incredibly fun toy box for Halo players who love Bungie's games. While I didn't get the chance to have a go at multiplayer, it's dirt simple to connect and play with friends through the server browser—just make sure you've got the Remaster mod & Shader patch.

Halation definitely seems like some good Discord game night fodder, and is well worth considering for any Halo-oriented playgroup as 343 slows down content updates on Halo: Infinite. 

Noa Smith
Contributing Writer

Noa Smith is a freelance writer based out of Alberta, Canada. Noa's grab bag of non-gaming interests and passions includes Japanese mecha anime, miniature painting, as well as history, literature, and classical music. Noa also moonlights as a bureaucrat and amateur historian.