Halo Infinite is almost here but there’s still time to play through the series if you haven’t yet. Xbox Game Pass makes it easy to do so too since it includes all of Microsoft’s first-party games, which of course includes the Halo series.
Here’s the essential Halo games to play (and in chronological order) before Infinite drops next month.
Playing the Halo Series in Chronological Order Before Halo Infinite
You don’t even play as Master Chief in Halo Reach. That’s how early the game’s story is in the Halo universe’s story. John 117 still makes an appearance, though it’s brief and at the end of the game.
Halo Reach is a dramatic and heroic story, telling the tale of Noble Six and how the ill-fated squad helped Master Chief and Cortana (almost) escape the Covenant’s grip, with Reach leading straight into Combat Evolved, the first game released in the series.
Halo: Combat Evolved
It might not look like much now but Halo: Combat Evolved is the reason shooters feel good on consoles. Combat Evolved follows Master Chief and Cortana as the two battle the Covenant and uncover the mysteries of Halo, a giant ring that stretches around the mysterious planet they’ve found themselves on.
Halo 2 takes place just after Combat Evolved and features a lot more action on Earth as the war against the Covenant continues. Master Chief and Cortana also find an unlikely ally in Arbiter, an Elite that’s defected and is no longer loyal to the Covenant.
Halo 3: ODST
Halo 3: ODST is much different than the rest of the series, and that’s part of what makes it so special. Though you don’t control Master Chief, the game is almost better for it. The game’s jazzy soundtrack and noir atmosphere make it an essential experience.
Halo 3 is an action-packed title that also marks the end of the war between the UNSC, the flood, and the Covenant. It’s also one of the best co-op experiences from the Xbox 360 era.
Halo Spartan Assault
Spartan Assault is a twin-stick shooter that differs greatly from the rest of the series. It takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4 but can be skipped unless you’re a die-hard fan of the series.
The story details within Spartan Assault are nothing a Wikipedia summary can’t take care of and the gameplay is lacking, at least compared to the rest of the series.
Halo 4 was the first major title released by 343 Industries, the new studio set up within Xbox after creator and longtime developer Bungie left Xbox and the Halo series.
Halo 4 marked the start of a new saga (the Reclaimer Saga) within the Halo story canon, in addition to introducing enemies not featured in previous titles, the Prometheans.
Halo 4 Spartan Ops
Spartan Ops is meant to be a cooperative experience but it can be enjoyed solo too. It was released alongside and after Halo 4 as part of the game’s story and to serve as a bridge to the next game in the series, Halo 5: Guardians.
It’s also available within Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It’s worth reading up on the story details if you decide to skip it though, as there are a few important details present.
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo 5: Guardians continues with the pain and loss experienced by Master Chief in Halo 4. It’s also a technical achievement and includes drop-in/drop-out co-op in a fireteam dynamic, making it a departure from the rest of the series, for better or worse.
That being said, Halo 5 is also the last shooter released in the series before Halo Infinite so it;s a great spot to jump in and will also likely include a lot of connections to Infinite.
Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 is a real-time strategy title, differing greatly from the rest of the series, but it’s still an important part of the franchise’s story. It’s been confirmed by 343 Industries that Halo Infinite takes place after Guardians and Halo Wars 2.
Infinite even includes The Banished, an enemy that was introduced in Halo Wars 2.
Related: Halo Infinite Multiplayer Surprised Released During Xbox Anniversary Celebration