It’s hard to rank the best Halo games because it’s one of the most important franchises of all time and the mascot for generations of gamers who were raised on Xbox consoles. Even if you’re just here to see Master Chief and Cortana in action, there’s a Halo game out there for you.
Remember when you scored a “Killimanjaro!” spree on Last Resort during a heated online team deathmatch? You’ll need to show us the game clip to show us that you did. Or when you first looked up at the ring in Halo: Combat Evolved, pushed through the crowded streets of New Mombasa, and tried to get through Halo 3’s Tsavo Highway with three friends in co-op. The best Halo games have taken all of this into account when we came up with our list.
1. Halo Wars 2
Ask yourself the truth. Do you really need another Halo real-time strategy game in your life, or do you already have enough? A lot of people think this isn’t the case. Well, you’re going to get one anyway, champ! In defence of Halo Wars 2, it does one thing very well: it’s an RTS that works very well on a pad. You can play the original with a controller, and this sequel tweaks the controls a little to make it easier to play. It’s a strategy game that doesn’t feel like it needs a mouse and keyboard, even though it does.
When you split your army into smaller groups, you can kill aliens while doing other things at the same time. This is called “multitasking alien murder.” The story the Creative Assembly tells is also pretty good, and Blur Studio’s cinematics look like they were made for a big-budget movie. They also like how the new Blitz mode makes it fun to build huge UNSC armies by making decks of cards, which is a fun twist on the RTS genre. Halo Wars 2 may keep trying to fill a gap in the market that probably doesn’t need to be filled, but it still has a good strategy game in it that you can play.
2. Halo Wars
It’s hard to believe that Halo Wars is even a part of Microsoft’s best-known game. There isn’t a Master Chief in sight. Perhaps even more important, it isn’t even close to being a first-person shooter. Ensemble Studios, the studio that made PC strategy classics like Age of Empires, took Halo’s many aliens, weapons, and vehicles and put them in a console-exclusive real-time strategy game. This is the video game equivalent of mixing oil and water. Besides, Halo Wars is one of the games that people don’t know about.
In Halo Wars, you can build and improve your own base. You can also get a huge army of soldiers, Warthogs, and Pelicans to fight the Covenant. But instead of getting bogged down in menus and statistics, Halo Wars makes the whole process easier for the Xbox 360. This keeps the action moving quickly at a pace that is unique to Halo. Compared to its PC counterparts, Halo Wars doesn’t have as many options. But if you want a break from staring down the barrel of an MA5 Assault Rifle, Halo Wars gives you a new look at an iconic franchise.
3. Halo 5: Guardians
This is the first (and hopefully only) Halo campaign that doesn’t make sense to play alone. It’s just not fun to play alone. In fact, Halo 5 was made to be played with three friends by your side. Fight against one of the campaign’s dratted Wardens, a type of mini-boss that can only be killed from behind as your allies distract them from the front. You’ll know what kind of grind Halo 5 is when you play it on your own.
Even though Microsoft spent a lot of money on the Xbox One’s first real Halo game, “Guardians” doesn’t make sense. Call of Duty and Titanfall were both used as inspiration for the game’s controls, but they never fully worked. Master Chief has to share the spotlight with new Spartan protagonist Locke, and Cortana isn’t really a bad person, but she’s kind of. Even Warzone, a great new online mode, looks out of date next to the ever-changing FPS games in Destiny. I don’t think Halo 5 is a bad video game, but it’s unquestionably a very weak one.
4. Halo 4
343 Industries had a harder time than most people when they took over a long-running series from its creators. This is what happened when Bungie said goodbye to its best-known sci-fi shooter. It had become like the Beatles in game development by that point. People would’ve thought Halo 4 could have been the best game ever made, but they would’ve thought it was too hard to meet. Of course, this soft reboot of the series isn’t the best game ever made. It’s just a very good shooter. You still did pretty well for yourself.
With smart level design, Halo 4’s campaign is one of the best. Bungie has a bad habit of making big spaces that are easy to get lost in, but Halo 4 never does that. For the first time, there are no Flood in Halo: CE or Halo 3. This makes it the first game in the series to completely get rid of its most annoying enemy. A sprint button in Halo still feels like an act of heresy. But there’s no denying that this is one of the most beautiful games ever to come out for Xbox 360.
5. Halo 2
The game that made Xbox Live known. Even though you might think back on the Arbiter missions in the campaign and think they were a waste of time, Halo 2’s online mode is still one of the most important of all time. Halo 2’s multiplayer is one of the most important moments in the history of Xbox Live, even though it took a day-one patch to really shine. It brought Bungie’s unique combat into a sprawling set of matchmaking features, customization, skill rankings, and just about everything else you’ve come to expect from online games today.
If you play Halo 2 online, you’ll see that it had a huge impact on the Xbox landscape. The hugely influential mode almost hides an unbalanced campaign full of linear environments, grating shootouts, and cheap “gotcha!” moments. The plot is smart to make the first game’s events a spark that starts a civil war in the Covenant. The spectacle is always looking for a better game to go with it. In the end, at least Marty O’Donnell has great music.
6. Halo 3: ODST
ODST doesn’t even let you play as a Spartan, but it still has a good spot on this list because it’s jazzy and important to Halo’s history. You see the fight against the Covenant in a new way. People think you have super powers, but you’re not. You’re just a guy who went to the local recruiting office and signed up for the USNC. There are a lot of things that you can’t do because you can’t jump as high, take as much damage, or use two weapons like the Chief. Who cares? Those flaws just make your ODST stand out from the rest of the superhumans in the game.
A detective-style story is mixed with the series’ open-ended shooting in Halo 3: ODST, which makes for a very interesting story. Your character, the Rookie, gets separated from his team and is knocked out. When he wakes up, he has to piece together the events that happened in the city of New Mombasa after the Covenant ship smashed into the city. If you want to keep up with Halo 3’s overall story, you need to play the campaign first. ODST isn’t the same old Halo game. It has a set of story missions that you can do in any order you want, spread across a sandbox-like city. This is perhaps the bravest game in the series.
7. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Xbox 360)
If you play the original Halo game today, you can still enjoy yourself just as much as you did when it came out 20 years ago. The anniversary package is a heartfelt tribute to how the game changed the industry when it first came out. A lot of this game is very similar to its predecessor. The real treat is that you can switch between different graphical modes at any time. It doesn’t matter if you like the chunky character models or if you want to see a more high-res approach to Master Chief’s first console adventure. The change between modes is a stark reminder of how far the series had come in terms of graphics between Xbox generations.
“Bungie’s iconic title was clearly a big project, and this modern remastering of Halo: Combat Evolved does a good job of highlighting what made the original Halo: Combat Evolved so important in the first place.” VideoGamer: file other>
8. Halo Wars (Xbox 360)
A Halo real-time strategy game was only a matter of time before someone saw how it could work. A Halo real-time strategy game was only a matter of time before someone saw how it could work. This is how it worked: In 2009, developer Ensemble Studios tried it. They made a Halo-themed game that was only for consoles at the time. Surprised, the game runs like a champ. The tight controls, always-satisfying rush of building a base, and unleashing an army in the direction of Covenant forces make Halo Wars one of the best games ever made. Having Halo Wars be an RTS that doesn’t have a lot of extra content is what makes this game so great. It’s a lean and mean tactical game that doesn’t have any extras. Because this game looks so good and runs smoothly on the Xbox 360 is a modern miracle, it won’t be long before there’s a sequel that adds even more to what the first one did.