Halo: The Master Chief Collection is less than two months away from release, which should make Xbox One owners happy. It contains four memorable adventures from the Halo legacy in one neat little package, from the classic Xbox original to Halo 4, remastered at 60 frames per second and packing all sorts of multiplayer options, including over 100 maps.
One of the most critical parts of the Master Chief Collection is Halo 2 Anniversary. Not only does it include the original campaign, but also a variety of multiplayer maps. Microsoft recently invited us to go hands-on with one of the most popular maps in the game, Lockout (renamed Lockdown for the new pack), to give us an idea what to expect from the revamped experience.
First and most importantly, it still feels like classic Halo. The game features responsive controls as you run around shooting rivals on the Red or Blue team, occasionally jumping to avoid gunfire while trying to lock in on your fast-moving opponents. We ran into no problems with the online play, so you should be able to get into a multiplayer match with little effort.
Second, 343 Studios went all out to make this engine the best we've seen in a Halo game to date. Not only is the 60 frames-per-second speed astounding, but the map design remains loyal to Bungie’s original blueprint, from the old-school launchers that shoot you to higher platforms to the open dome area where you can easily pick off opponents or activate a protective shield to give yourself a breather.
All of the classic Halo multiplayer modes are playable in Halo 2 Anniversary, but the big one is Team Slayer, which divides players into Red and Blue squads and sets them out to create havoc. Although we didn't try out the other modes, Team Slayer feels like traditional Halo, as you coordinate with teammates to clean up hot spots, whether you're picking off enemies from afar with a sniper rifle or using a Covenant sword to get the job done, up close and personal.
Of course, being a multiplayer game, it helps to have strategy on your side. After taking a few nasty hits from the enemy, staying out in the open isn't a good idea. Luckily, in this Lockdown map, you're able to run into deeper cover in an effort to regain some of your lost energy, even though one of your rivals could easily show up and finish you off. It's nice to see 343 embrace the Halo tactics we've come to expect, and regaining lost energy as quickly as possible continues to be a recommended tactic – even when surrounded and fighting your way out.
There are other things you can do as well, such as locating convenient new pieces of cover to duck behind, or even breaking a window so you can take a clearer shot at enemies flying over in vehicles. These aren't significant changes to the map itself, but are little things that avid multiplayer fans can easily adjust to and use to their advantage.
What we've seen from Halo 2 Anniversary is just a small morsel of what the Master Chief Collection will offer with its multiplayer component. The mixture of all these classic elements into a new skin and set-up may be just what Halo fans need this holiday season, and paired with the forthcoming beta for Halo 5: Guardians will keep these gamers busy until the final version makes the rounds next fall.
Get excited, Halo fans, because Lockdown, along with all the other maps and action you've come to expect from the series are almost here. We call dibs on the Covenant Sword.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection arrives on November 11th for Xbox One.