W.it Halo infinite Arriving later this year, there has never been a better time to argue about what the best Halo games are. After all, Master Chief and his adventures are a crucial part of what has made the Xbox so successful over the past 20 years.
It’s even easier to see for yourself when you have Xbox Game Pass, and you really should treat yourself to a subscription if you haven’t already. After playing through all of the major franchise games in quick succession, we’ve decided to put them all in a ranking of what’s best and what’s not.
Granted, these are Halo games and frankly, none of them are terrible. They are all worth your time, especially if you study the history and lore behind it. With that in mind, we focused specifically on campaign modes and not everything multiplayer-related because that’s a whole different debate.
Prepare to disagree, or perhaps reluctantly agree, as we evaluate the best Halo games.
Besides being the game that shows what the Xbox 360 was capable of back then, it’s the set pieces that make it up Halo 3 stand out in your memory. That moment where you face off against two huge, terrifying scarabs that are quite a challenge even in the easiest difficulty modes as they are gigantic. Sure, there are many vehicles at your disposal, but it takes real strategy to defeat these beasts. Elsewhere there are the last closing moments of Halo 3 where it feels like a race against time to survive. It’s hideously over the top at times, but it goes perfectly with the Halo nature.
Everything about it is well balanced so you can enjoy the return of the assault rifle and the feeling that every firefight actually feels reasonably powerful and meaty. Even shooting people like a humble jackal or grunt still feels pretty good and satisfying. Designed to end the fight it doesn’t, of course, but it still has that sense of victory and finality. You’ll feel like part of an over-the-top space opera, even if you haven’t paid much attention to the story before.
Halo: Combat Evolved
The game that started it all Halo: Combat Evolved has aged remarkably well for a 20 year old game. It feels as fresh as it did back then with just a few minor criticisms, it’s a very close second Halo 3. Really very close. It’s another piece full of memorable set pieces, all the way to the weird affection we still have for a flood-infested library that is a bit boring and yet surprisingly tense at the same time. Who wants to be chased by a seemingly never-ending infestation?
The enemy AI is a bit out of date at times, but that can work in your favor as groups stoically refuse to run away from a carefully thrown grenade, so we don’t consider this a disadvantage at all. And yes, the guns may feel dated by later Halo standards, but they still have a punch. As you should, you’ll instantly feel part of something bigger, making this the perfect opening game for something we doubt anyone could have imagined would one day be such a big deal.
Halo 3: ODST
Halo 3: ODST represents a significant change in pace from any other Halo game and look, we get it. Not everyone will like that it is so high profile. Instead of playing as Master Chief, you are a soldier dealing with a mystery. There are still plenty of enemies to shoot at and some nice set pieces, but this is a quieter affair. Most of the time you wander through isolated parts of New Mombasa looking for clues to find out what just happened in the war.
It takes a little tweaking at first, but it blends in nicely Halo 3‘s story gives you a glimpse of what it is like to be a humble soldier rather than the almighty Master Chief. You can’t help but wonder if one day your husband just went through the wrong recruiting office and got too deep. It’s a bold move for the franchise, but one that is paying off. Expect more melancholy than downright epic action here.
Arrange everything nicely, Halo Reach is an admirable prequel. It might be halfway through our list, but remember – this is the list. Without the focus on Master Chief, you have the advantage of being part of a Spartan crew Halo 3: ODST. Again, there is no dual wielding which further shows that you are not as good at combat as you might like to be.
There is also a surprisingly emotional plot that reminds us that this is the end of an era for these soldiers, even if it leads to the beginning of Halo: Combat Evolved where you’ll feel a lot more pimped up. We’re still a little undecided on the Sprint power-up as it feels less important to Halo, but hey, these guys need all the help they can get.
Halo 5: Guardian
Go right in Halo 5: Guardian from Halo 4 and you will hate it. The controls are different and you will feel incredibly uncomfortable at first. The pace is off too. This is a game that has more in common with Titan Fall as a halo game so some people will despise it. However, do your utmost Halo 5: Guardian and it’s a lot of fun. That extra speed boost is satisfactory, well, quick, and you’ll find that you get into the rhythm over time. The introduction of the Iron Visor is also a long overdue feature and will quickly help you in key moments.
Otherwise it’s not perfect Halo 5: Guardian would be further up the list. You almost need support from friends with some bosses like the rather irritating Wardens who have to meet you from behind. Kind AI is pretty good, but not as good as someone helping you. There aren’t many signs of Master Chief either, with Locke not being the most exciting character. Still, moments like a Predator-inspired sequence in the mist stand out in a way that is different from other Halo games, and once you switch directions you will soon appreciate it.
Halo 4 is good. It’s all OK. To be honest, that’s his problem. It doesn’t stand out. It’s all a lot of fun, but there is no really outstanding moment that will inspire you, other than a short experience with a pelican flight, which offers a bit of variety. Instead, it mostly seems to think that bigger is better and it isn’t. After about two-thirds of the game, you will be constantly battling the odds as the game will seemingly throw it all at you. It’s getting a little boring. The satisfying struggle is there, but even that can outlast his greeting.
The final boss fight is a bit too obvious too, though we will forgive it for a somewhat formidable ending that we won’t spoil here. Ultimately, it’s the pace that enables us Halo 4 Low. It’s so eager to please you that it just tosses you too much and leaves everything a bit empty. Except for this ending. You will see what we mean.
Historical, Halo 2 is incredibly important. Its multiplayer changed everything and it was a difficult act to follow after that Halo: Combat Evolved. It has not aged brilliantly, however, and we need to measure this against what is now working well. The introduction of regenerative health and dual use are good strides, but the latter is not done brilliantly in retrospect.
Pacing issues are also evident, as the beginning is exceptionally sluggish before fending off a Covenant boarding party invasion. Just as it starts, everything subsides again and despite a brief moment of liveliness with a Scorpion tank never really picks up speed. Add in some slightly misdirected stealth sequences and an abrupt ending and Halo 2 never feels as comfortable as other games in this ranking. It’s one that needs to be enforced a little sometimes.