343 Industries is still working on improvising some parts like detailed graphics settings and framerate smoothness of this masterpiece Halo: Reach, but it feels great to play it on PC.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection, previously released by Microsoft on the XBOX One, uniting almost entire Halo series in one gigantic game, was a complete mess. It was so drastic and full of bugs, Halo developer, 343 Industries has spent past few years fixing its issues. And finally, it landed on PC as Halo: Reach in Dec 2019, an enhanced and PC version of the 2010 Xbox 360 game.
I played it on Steam alongside 123,000 other players. All of them are too excited to play a Halo game on PC again. After playing for a while, I can certainly say that Reach is a beautiful game and it feels great and has almost everything a PC Gamer would ask for. It’s completely opposite of the Master Chief Collection. After playing for a few hours and testing the campaign and multiplayer mode, I can easily say that Halo: Reach for PC is completely set to entertain you.
Let’s talk about some technical stuff.
It worked smoothly on fairly modest hardware. On my i7-6700K and GTX 980, running Reach at 1440p, my framerate mostly hovered between 180 and 220 fps when unlocked. I didn’t see any shuttering, crashes, or any noticeable issues. No lag in online multiplayer. Even super fast-paced one-hit-kill SWAT matches felt perfect, thanks to dedicated multiplayer servers and mouse controls. It felt as good as other FPS games on PC. I feel some features are missing for the PC port like limited settings in the graphics section to play with (we will talk about them later in this article). I hope 343 Industries would consider them as it continues to expand the Master Chief Collection on PC.
General graphics settings
When I moved to the “Video” setting, I can easily see that Halo: Reach is a console port, with very limited video settings. Fortunately, some crucial settings are here: FOV, window mode, framerate, and graphics quality. But, if we compare it to a PC port like Red Dead Redemption 2, which has dozens of individual toggles, and its single graphics option—Performance, Original, or Enhanced—seems lacking.
This could be a concern for those who like to do experiments with the settings. But, if you just want to enjoy the game, you don’t need the individual settings for elements like lighting, texture quality, draw distance, and the like. They’re presumably all maxed out. Some options like anti-aliasing, ambient occlusion, and a more detailed breakdown of these quality settings would be nice if included. “Graphical quality is increased for maximum quality”, the description for Enhanced, isn’t enough.
Framerate options: 60 fps and unlocked
Halo: Reach offers only two options here, listed under an “experimental settings” header in the video settings menu. You can lock the framerate at 60 fps, or set it to unlimited. It also has an option of V-Sync to eliminate the screen tearing. You have to tab the framerate setting to the left to select unlimited, rather than to the right as you’d expect.
343 Industries has said in their blog posts, the unlocked framerate implementation isn’t final, and the developers are already working on post-launch updates for Reach.
FOV options: Sliders
Halo’s console FOV has always been restrictive, but on PC we have the blessed freedom of not one but two FOV sliders. One controls your first-person view, and the other controls the third-person vehicle camera. Both sliders range from 70-120, with 78 as the default. I comfortably kicked it up to 95 or so with no fisheye distortion.
Here’s a comparison of FOV at 78 (default), 90, and 120 (max).
Ultrawide support: Excellent
Halo: Reach support ultrawide monitors. That’s not it. It supports setting a windowed aspect ratio regardless of your monitor’s default. The options are 16:9, 16:10, 21:9, 4:3, and 3:2.
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One more thing, it has a “HUD anchoring” feature that allows you to attach the HUD to the center of the screen or the edges. This is what some other games lack. In 16:9, it doesn’t matter much. But in 21:9, it brings you important HUD elements like the motion sensor into easy view.
Keyboard and mouse controls: Feel great, missing a few options
If I would be given an option to choose between console and PC to play Halo, I would choose PC without any second thought. Getting perfect aim by mouse holding sniper in hands, and blowing the enemy’s head, man, this is a kind of satisfaction. 343 has done a great job in this particular area and they continually refining mouse control by multiple beta tests.
One thing I really miss here is the ability to add alternate keybinds, something most PC games support. There should be an option to set alternate commands without losing the previous one. But, 343 is still working on improvements, so I hope we’ll get this thing in the next update.
Online Multiplayer Play: Very well
I have played some multiplayer matches and the experience was great. Be it free-for-all or Big Team Battle, everything worked butterly without any noticeable lag. Halo: Reach isn’t perfect but I don’t think I’d say I didn’t like it. I really like it. The game is full of entertaining cutscenes, the gameplay is awesome, no lag, no noticeable issue. That means, it’s pretty good.
The Firefight, Reach’s PvE multiplayer mode worked perfectly online. I remember playing Reach’s Firefight back in 2010 and having a terrible time. Back then, the game uses P2P networking that worked well for regular multiplayer but in Firefight, it was terrible. This time, 343 Industries used the dedicated servers for the same and they’ve scored very well for that.
You can buy Halo: Reach on steam for 10$. That’s a fair price as it’s the best-looking, best-playing version of Reach ever. There are still plenty of gaps for improvements like
- More details in graphics settings
- A finalized framerate instead of unlocked framerate.
- Alternate Keybind options.
- Users have reported issues with the audio, which does sound fairly subdued; in a November 22 post, 343 said it has improvements in the works for a later update.
- There’s some wonkiness with Steam friends and Xbox Live friends showing up in-game that 343 has noted to be fixed
At launch, two of Reach’s original modes are missing: Theater and Forge
- Theater is used for editing screenshots and videos whereas Forge is used for creating custom maps.
“These complex features require additional work and fine-tuning in order to support the additional requirements (and opportunities) offered on PC. Work is already well underway on these features (and additional post-launch updates to Reach) and we’ll share more details later next year,” says the official site.
343 is working hard to make these features available as soon as possible. They have already worked very well for Halo: Reach PC, and if they need a little more time, I won’t mind waiting.