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Halo: Reach is the best game in the franchise since Halo 2

Now that Halo: Reach has been added to the Master Chief Collection on PC, it’s as good a time as ever to argue that the game is the best in the franchise since Halo 2 on the original Xbox.

Halo: Reach is technically the fifth game in the franchise, but chronologically, it’s the first game in the mainline shooter series (Halo Wars takes place before Reach, but it’s a real-time strategy spin-off). Storywise, Reach is a direct prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved.

As you would expect, the game shares a lot of story elements with Halo: Combat Evolved, helping to fill in questions as a sort of origin story for at least two key game characters and setting the stage for Master Chief’s appearance in CE.

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The story, though, is arguably the weakest aspect of Reach. The characters feel pretty generic and passionless. At the start of the game, there’s a lot of unnecessary infighting and drama, something that you would not expect from an elite taskforce of fighters.

Halo: Reach is at its best when it channels Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. The game feels like it alternates between the two original games in the franchise. There is a liberal amount of relatively open-world space to drive around – and, yes, the Warthog is back.

If you’re wondering, Reach has plenty of flying around – including a mission quite similar to Halo 2 where you fly from skyscraper to skyscraper – and a space fighter mission that feels a bit like a nod to Star Fox. And there are also enemies from both Combat Evolved and Halo 2 that make an appearance: from the Covenant Grunts to Jackals and Brutes.

Overall, Halo: Reach feels something like a Greatest Hits album. The levels are not 1:1 remakes, but there is a lot of inspiration drawn from the first two games here. Importantly, there aren’t any stretches where you feel like the developers needed to mix things up some more.

Whether you are playing on a gaming PC or Xbox One X, Reach is capable of running at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. That’s a vast improvement from when the game launched on Xbox 360. Back in 2010, it only managed 720p.

Still, there are noticeable performance issues if you play the game in split-screen co-op on an original Xbox One console. The level of detail basically drops off a cliff. Additionally, the game suffers from a ridiculous amount of pop-in and a modest amount of slowdown during intense gunfights.

If you already own or are considering getting the Master Chief Collection, Halo: Reach is a game that you will want to check out. It’s available now on both PC and Xbox One.