Master Chief has been on many adventures, but it’s fair to say some are more celebrated than others. Let’s rank the Halo games from best to worst.
While many fans would agree there’s never been an objectively bad Halo game, some have hit the mark more than others. To some, the best Halo games are Master Chief’s early quests, battling to save the world from Covenant aliens and Flood parasites.
However, others feel the best Halo games are the more modern titles, which told more personal stories in their campaigns. These games also offered more emphasis on competitive online multiplayer, rather than the split-screen fun that made the franchise popular.
With the release of Halo Infinite, the series looks to be bringing the Reclaimer Saga to a close, but how has this trilogy compared to the original three Halo games? Which Halo title stands the test of time better than all others? Here’s our list of the best Halo games ranked.
7 – Halo 5: Guardians
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Halo 5, it just didn’t have the same impact as previous games. This was strange because it was the first Halo game to arrive on the Xbox One. It may have been franchise fatigue or the fact that the game felt like it was borrowing too heavily from Call of Duty or other FPS games of the time.
The game split the narrative between Master Chief and Spartan Locke, when really, all we wanted was more of Chief doing his thing. Halo 5 hadn’t learned from Halo 2’s mistakes, although the game deliberately compared Locke to the Arbiter, which gave fans some interesting ideas to ponder.
The lack of a clear villain also held the game back from greatness and in many ways, it felt like an introduction to Halo Infinite rather than a fully-fledged Halo chapter. Cortana’s idealistic but sinister musings didn’t have the same level of threat that the Covenant or the terrifying Flood represented. Even Halo 4’s Didact felt more fleshed out.
It’s a shame because Halo 5’s multiplayer was buttery smooth and featured more customization options than any earlier Halo games. Halo had never looked so good, but also never felt so redundant.
6 – Halo 4
Halo 4 arrived five years after the original Halo trilogy had concluded, so the world was excited to see where Master Chief’s next adventure would lead. After all, peace had been established between humanity and the Covenant, both sides had even worked together to rid the universe of The Flood. So, what else was there to do?
The game introduced a new villain and was the first chapter in the Reclaimer Saga. It offered a refreshed take on the Halo 3 formula and re-established Halo as the king of sci-fi multiplayer shooters. Halo 4 is a superb game, and it still holds up well today. The Master Chief Collection has improved it even further, but it was no slouch visually when it arrived, either.
The only issue is Halo 4 could never match the excitement and wonder of the three original games. Each one built on the foundation of the last as it hurtled towards an epic finale. By Halo 4, that had been and gone. It was nice to check back in with Master Chief, but it felt like his best days were behind him.
5 – Halo Reach
Those who had played the original Halo Trilogy had heard a lot about ‘The Fall of Reach’ –the cataclysmic event that nearly led to a Covenant victory and made Spartans like Master Chief an endangered species. Halo Reach allowed us to see what happened for ourselves, and while it doesn’t star Master Chief, it has to be on any list of the best Halo games.
Serving as a prequel to the first Halo, players take on the role of Noble 6, another Spartan who’s tasked with defending the human settlement of Reach from invading Covenant forces. Of course, Reach still falls, but Halo Reach shows this through an action-packed campaign of sacrifice and heroism. The ending will stick with players long after the credits roll.
Halo Reach also offered a refreshing spin on the classic Halo Multiplayer, with new maps, weapons, and settings that are still used in Halo today.
4 – Halo Infinite
Halo looks glorious in 4K and makes a fantastic addition to Xbox Game Pass. The fact that the multiplayer released early delighted fans of the series, be they new or longstanding players. While the multiplayer has had some teething issues, we’re confident that the title will overcome them, providing many years of Halo goodness. The campaign also brings the Reclaimer Saga to a poignant but satisfying close, telling a more contained and personal story – but still lets Chief save the galaxy, again.
Master Chief is older and beaten down in Halo Infinite, he’s tired, but there’s still fight left in him. The conclusion to his arc with Cortana is bittersweet and genuinely surprising, so we look forward to seeing where Halo goes next. Halo Infinite is superb, and a real improvement over Halo 5. It’s new modern mechanics also give it the edge over the well-liked Halo 4, but even the power of the Xbox Series X|S can’t top the classic and original Halo Trilogy.
Halo Infinite is the best chapter of the Reclaimer Saga, and a welcome return, but when it comes to the best Halo titles of all time, there’s only ever really been three games in the conversation.
3 – Halo 2
We actually feel bad about not having Halo 2 higher in the rankings, but it’s up against some stiff competition. Halo 2 is many people’s favorite game in the series, it improved on every aspect of the original and cemented the franchises’ legendary status. By the time Halo 2 arrived, the original game had won over a legion of Xbox fans and Halo 2 increased this exponentially.
Be it the game’s gripping campaign, improved multiplayer, or overhauled visuals, Halo 2 was a huge success. Then why’s it not higher on the list? This is mainly because there were Halo games that were even better, but it’s also because Halo 2 made some mistakes.
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Halo 2 made the same mistake as Metal Gear Solid 2 – it switched out the main (and beloved) protagonist for a new character in a swerve that nobody saw coming. This new playable character, the Arbiter, was also a member of the Covenant – which made the revelation even more shocking.
While the decision was met with fury by some fans, the Arbiter has become a classic and well-liked character in Halo since then. Bungie were right to make this decision, but looking back, it did make Halo 2’s campaign a little clunky at times. On the plus side, though, Halo 2 introduced the Battle Rifle, as well as the ability to dual-wield weapons.
2 – Halo 3
We agonized over where to rank Halo 2 and Halo 3, but ultimately stand by our decision. Halo 3 edges 2 by bringing Master Chief back to the forefront of the series. The Arbiter also got to shine in Halo 3 as a valued ally and supporting character, but Halo 3 was Master Chief delivering on his promise of “finishing this fight.” Halo 3 served as the epic climax to the original trilogy and blurred the lines between heroes and villains at multiple points.
Despite setting up the Flood as a ravenous threat to humanity and Covenant alike, Chief and Arbiter are forced to ally with them to destroy the Prophet of Truth. He’s a former Covenant leader who cannot accept the peace between the two former enemies and continues his quest to annihilate humanity, The Flood, and his own people.
Halo 3 also marked Halo’s first appearance on the Xbox 360, showing off improved HD visuals for the first time which wowed fans of the original games. The console’s emphasis on online multiplayer also catapulted Halo 3 into the stratosphere when it came to success. In 2007, Halo 3 went head-to-head with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as the undisputed king of online shooters.
1 – Halo: Combat Evolved
The top spot must go to the original Halo, not because it was a better game than subsequent entries, but because of what it represents. Halo 1 was a game-changer when it came to the first-person-shooter genre, and if it wasn’t for the original Halo, we imagine games may look very different today.
Halo, like Wolfenstein, Doom, and GoldenEye before it, helped to shape and evolve the shoot ‘em-up genre. Not until Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare would another game be so influential on the first-person shooter genre. This puts Halo in rare and highly valued company, and it’s an achievement that none of its sequels have ever managed to replicate.
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Halo not only created a compelling campaign that featured unforgettable moments of sci-fi mastery, but it rewrote the rulebook when it came to multiplayer too. The game also created a universe where countless more stories can be told and cemented the Xbox brand as a major player in the market.
Since it was released, all the way up to today, Halo is the premier Xbox franchise. Like Sonic is to Sega, or Mario is to Nintendo, Master Chief’s green helmet is synonymous with Xbox, and it all started with Halo: Combat Evolved.
So that’s all of the mainline Halo games ranked, and it will be interesting to see where Halo goes from here. We’re confident we’ve not seen the last of Chief, the question is, what else is there for him to achieve?
Want more details on Master Chief’s latest outing? Here’s everything we know about Halo Infinite in one place.