Just days ago the entire Xbox team as well as much of the gaming internet, including TA, celebrated the brand's fifteenth anniversary. November 15th, 2001 marked the first day the original Xbox hit shelves. It had its work cut out for it going up against one of the most successful consoles of all-time in the PlayStation 2, but it held its own and, of course, laid the groundwork for where we are today. Two generations later with a massive Project Scorpio looming, there's no denying Microsoft and the Xbox name are massively popular, boasting the best achievement system, world class controller, and a generous handful of memorable exclusives.
There's no debate as to which series stands out as Xbox's flagship. The original Halo was a launch title for the Xbox way back on that first release day, meaning Halo and Master Chief are also celebrating fifteen years this week. Bungie and 343 Studios have spent that time creating expansive environments, thrilling multiplayer, and lovable characters that truly mean the world to countless gamers.
As a celebration of Xbox's landmark franchise, we want to hear from you. What does Halo mean to you as a gamer? Is it why you're here on Xbox -- maybe even on TA? Did you avoid it for years only to find out later what you were missing? Maybe you've still never played it. It's likely this thread will feature plenty who are willing to convince you. Here's what a few of us on staff think about Xbox's pinnacle exclusive.
Chanse says Xbox is forever indebted to Master Chief
Halo has provided me with many personal memories, but separating myself from the Halo brand and taking a wider view, I think it really represents Xbox. Whether you like the game or not, or have even ever played it, if you game on an Xbox a debt of gratitude is owed to Master Chief. In 2001, the original Halo put Xbox on the map as an actual contender against the pre-existing industry giants. When Halo 2 came out, internet based competitive gameplay on a console was born, alongside Xbox Live, setting standards for online communities up to the present day. Halo 3 was one of the largest entertainment spectacles ever seen, showing the world that games bring in cash, and influence, just like movies, music or television. While today the Halo games are released alongside busy schedules filled with other AAA titles, I think it is important to note how much Halo has done for Xbox and the gaming community as a whole.
Kevin fondly remembered the famous LAN parties
Halo will go down as perhaps the most important game I've ever played. I spent countless hours on Halo 1 with friends, staying up late doing 8-player LANs. Those nights were followed up by online play when Halo 2 released. That was in high school and I spent many nights playing and bonding with tons of people, some of whom I ended up becoming great friends with later on in life. It even lead indirectly to a relationship. So yeah, Halo's meant a lot to me. Without it my life would be totally different. It's a great game, but for me it's also much more.
Sam spoke highly of design and original music
What separates Halo from other FPS titles for me is the fact that I normally hate multiplayer FPS, and yet something about Halo's core design principles allowed me to see past my prejudices and enjoy it with friends. It all comes down to accessibility, and only recent titles like Rocket League and Overwatch have come close to providing such an easy route in for outsiders like myself. There's nothing complicated or particularly stressful about a game of Halo, and with the right crowd you can make the match as silly or as serious as you desire - not to mention the fact that matchmaking was rarely as torturous as most competitors.
As a video game music nerd, the Halo series also remains one of the only FPS soundtracks I rate among my favourites. The major themes of the Halo score are instantly recognisable, bombastic brass shot through with an almost jaunty piano melody. I'm not the only player that still gets a shiver down the spine if I hear the Halo 3 menu music, while Halo Reach's main theme remains one of my go-to instrumental pieces while writing.
Megan dropped in late but still found its charm
As someone who came to the Halo series fairly late, my main experience with Master Chief and his friends were with Halo 3 & 4. While Halo 3 did nothing to grab me, and to be fair I probably didn't give it the true time it deserved, Halo 4 really drew me in and I sunk in the time that it deserved (this may have partly been because it was a present, but never the less got me playing the game). I have fond memories of running through the game in co-op, trying to earn the more obscure achievements as well as simply completing the chapters, and even coming head to head with a power outage that forced us to replay a number of levels. What does Halo mean to you?
The gameplay itself is addictive once you get started, and you find yourself thinking "just one more level" or "just one more match online, then I'll come off..." before ending up sitting in front of your Xbox for hours on end. The release of the Master Chief Collection means no one has an excuse not to try at least one of the games, and even for fans not familiar with the story or Halo as a whole, it's an iconic series that would be a shame to miss.