The full Halo Infinite experience is on the horizon, which means it’s time to look back on every other game in the series’ past and rank them from worst to best.
I love being able to replay Halo 3 through The Master Chief Collection as much as the next person, but I’m definitely not alone in feeling the series needs something new to help revitalize it a bit. Plus, it’s not like we won’t be able to go back to the other games in the franchise if we ever want to revisit them. Thankfully, the multiplayer (which is free) for Halo Infinite is out for everyone to enjoy prior to the launch of the game’s campaign mode. I’ve been having so much fun with it and as of right now, I truly believe it’s the best multiplayer experience since Halo 3. Of course, only time will tell and I don’t think it’s fair to rank it in this list since we still haven’t played the campaign mode and everything else the game will offer over time. Infinite‘s future is bright, that’s for sure.
For now, let’s venture into the past and rank every mainline game in the series, starting from worst to best. Of course, this is only my opinion and it may be different than yours. For what it’s worth, I will only be counting games that deliver the full experience, that being multiplayer and campaign. Technically, Halo 3: ODST did contain a new multiplayer experience called Firefight, but it isn’t the multiplayer fans grew to know with the other games. Therefore, I won’t be putting it on my list. The same goes for the Halo Wars games, and even Halo: Spartan Assault and all the other weird ones.
6. Halo 4
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time with Halo 4 when it first released, because I remember playing it for a few months. Its problem was it lacked the same kind of quality and flair that made the first couple of Halo titles stand out. The guns did have hit scan, which was a welcome change, but the multiplayer maps weren’t as fun or memorable, and the Spartan abilities were highly unnecessary. Sometimes, simplicity is key, and this remains true with Halo. One of the redeeming qualities for Halo 4 was the campaign, especially playing with friends, but even its forge mode was lackluster compared to what came before it. Unfortunately, it’s my least favorite Halo by a long shot.
5. Halo 5: Guardians
I believe Halo 5: Guardians improved on Halo 4 in every way. The movement felt much smoother, the use of the Spartan abilities felt a bit more natural and fluid, the gunplay was tighter, and the maps were better. Even the campaign, as good as Halo 4‘s was, was an improvement. It’s an overall better game in almost every way, but it still slightly strayed away from what made me love Halo to begin with. I mean, I don’t mind the sprinting, but I think Halo Infinite is on the right track in terms of the gameplay, that being not focusing much on the Spartan abilities, but more on the movement and gunplay. It’s all about how it feels, and although Halo 5 felt good at times, it wasn’t the definitive Halo experience I was hoping for.
4. Halo: Reach
This is where the Halo series began to make a change for the worst. I mean, it’s still better compared to what came after it, but this installment introduced quite a few changes that would become staples for the future, including the Spartan abilities like jetpacks, deploying a defense shield, and sprinting. Sprinting isn’t technically an ability anymore, now it’s just a standard gameplay feature. However, it was in Reach, meaning it was optional to sprint or not. This game also had the terrible bloom feature, which made adjusting to it frustrating at times. Honestly, the game ran much smoother and was more entertaining without it. I did enjoy some of Reach‘s maps, however, and it felt a bit like Halo 3, just with unnecessary additions. The campaign was great as well, so I’ll give it that. But, the same story applies here. It deviated a bit from the formula. It could be the nostalgia talking and I’m open to changes if it makes the game better. Then again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
3. Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: CE will always have a special place in my heart. I can’t say I’ve played it extensively, but the times I have played it have always been a blast. Sure, it’s a bit dated, but it’s definitely one of the games responsible for the standard we set for first-person shooters today, especially for online multiplayer and campaign modes. Playing it on PC at school with a bunch of friends was some of the most fun I’ve had playing video games, as well as playing it on the original Xbox at a friends house since I didn’t have an Xbox back then. It may pale in comparison to the next two, but it’s the starting point of one of the greatest FPS franchises of all time.
2. Halo 2
By many, Halo 2 is considered the best Halo game and I can’t blame them for that. Some even say it’s the best online multiplayer/competitive game ever made and with good reason. The maps are fantastic and set the tone for the rest of the series because of the 3-lane, symmetrical design. A variety of the maps have even been remade in games to follow, which shows these maps stood the test of time and are massive fan favorites. To name a few, there’s Lockout, Ascension, and Ivory Tower. The campaign was incredibly fun and engaging as well. But, as mentioned already, the competitive aspect of this game is what everyone remembers. Learning and mastering all the tricks, such as quad-shotting and the BxR combo. The ranking system was great since everyone was trying their hardest, day and night, to get to level 50, and it gave you a certain incentive to play your best to keep up. Unfortunately, I didn’t play it during the glory days, although I wish I did. I still revisit it from time to time and it still holds up. I wish the anniversary edition they released didn’t change so much about what made the game so great, but it is what it is. Halo 2 is phenomenal.
1. Halo 3
Like if there was any other option. Not only is Halo 3 my favorite Halo game of all time, but it’s also one of my favorite games of all time, period. Other than maybe League of Legends, some Call of Duty games, the Gears of War series, and a handful of Nintendo titles, it’s hard to think of another game I’ve put more time into than Halo 3. Luckily for me, I was able to be a part of Halo 3‘s glory days while it was still relevant in the community. I didn’t have an Xbox 360 when it launched, but I would play it with my cousin all the time for hours on hours. The split-screen co-op was so entertaining and finding all the tricks, secret achievements, and so on created everlasting memories. Being creative in the Forge mode was also a highlight. Although I wasn’t very good in that regard, I remember being blown away by what other players across the world were able to create with the different maps and modes. The custom games are the best private matches I’ve ever played in any game. The lobbies were full of friends and some even had to be left out since there wasn’t enough room for everyone. The most entertaining feature is the online multiplayer, of course. These are the best maps ever made in any game, in my opinion. The Pit, Guardian, Narrows, Construct, the Foundry maps, Snowbound, Sandbox, and even the remakes; all these maps are incredibly iconic to me and I don’t think any other game has done it better. It’s also the game I feel makes the best use of the BR. It feels so smooth in Halo 3. This is Bungie’s masterpiece and I believe it’s the best Halo game, by far.