Halo Games In Order

Halo has been an iconic game series since 2001. Here are all Halo games in order of release, including spinoffs and remakes.

With a legacy that stretches as far back as 2001, Halo has played a pivotal role in defining modern first-person shooters and establishing the Xbox brand.

However, due to the extensive number of games in the series, it can be hard to keep track of where each entry falls in the Halo timeline.

In this list, we’ll explore all of the Halo games in order of release, including the original trilogy, reclaimer saga, spin-offs, and remakes/compilations released throughout the years.

Last but not least, we’ll be updating this list following any new Halo game announcements from Microsoft in the future, so make sure to check back!

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Table of ContentsShow

Original Trilogy

The franchise kicks off with Halo: Combat Evolved, a first-person shooter developed by Bungie prior to being acquired by Microsoft.

Initially, the title was thought to be a real-time strategy game that later morphed into a third-person shooter and ultimately became the first-person shooter we know today.

Combat Evolved’s story is set during the 26th century and sees players taking on the role of Master Chief, a cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier accompanied by an AI named Cortana.

In it, players set off on an adventure to uncover the secrets behind the titular Halo, a ring-shaped artificial world, while battling with an alien species known as the Covenant.

Following its release, Halo: Combat Evolved was met with glowing reviews and eventually received universal acclaim for the number of innovations it brought to the shooter genre. 

Three years later, Bungie and Microsoft would release the sequel to Combat Evolved for PC and the original Xbox with forwards-compatibility on Xbox 360.

Halo 2 features an updated graphics engine as well as a host of new gameplay elements, including the ability to dual-wield weapons.

It also added new weapons, enemies, vehicles, and online multiplayer via Microsoft’s Xbox Live service.

The story centers on Master Chief and an extra-terrestrial called the Arbiter as they become entangled in an ongoing conflict between the UNSC, Covenant, and Flood.

Much like its predecessor, Halo 2 was met with universal acclaim, particularly for its audiovisual presentation, and went on to win multiple awards including “Console Game of the Year.”

Halo 3 concludes Bungie’s original trilogy as well as the story arc that began with Halo: Combat Evolved.

Set after the events of Halo 2, the story sees Master Chief attempting to stop the Covenant from activating the Halo rings amidst an ongoing civil war between Covenant Elites and Brutes.

The franchise’s core gameplay was refined and expanded to include new deployable equipment and vehicles, as well as the ability to use support weapons during combat.

Additionally, Halo 3 introduced in-game tools for saving gameplay films, file sharing, and custom map-making via the Forge map editor.

Similar to both its predecessors, Halo 3 received critical acclaim upon release and won several awards for “Game of the Year” and “Best Multiplayer Game.”

Reclaimer Saga

Work on Halo 4 began in 2009 by 343 Industries, an at the time newly-created studio within Microsoft that was put in charge of developing all Halo releases following Bungie’s departure from the company.

During the development process, 343 began exploring the Forerunner fiction within the Halo universe and decided to incorporate it into the game’s new setting, enemies, and main antagonist.

The story focuses on Master Chief and Cortana’s relationship as they explore an ancient civilization’s planet and encounter a new Covenant faction, alien military alliance, and mechanical warriors known as the Prometheans.

Existing characters and art assets received complete visual overhauls that sought to recreate them from the ground up while motion capture was utilized to create the animations for Halo 4’s cutscenes.

Despite the significant number of changes and unique selection of weapons, enemies, and game modes, Halo 4 received widely positive reviews, particularly for its more focused and relatable story.

Shortly after Halo 4’s release, 343 got to work on Halo 5: Guardians with the goal of creating a larger campaign and bigger multiplayer maps than previous installments.

Its plot follows Fireteams Blue (led by Master Chief) and Osiris (led by Jameson Locke) as the latter is tasked with retrieving the former after the Chief receives a cryptic message from Cortana directing him to the planet Meridian.

The game introduces a host of new character designs and Spartan Abilities that replace the existing Armor Abilities in previous Halo releases.

Additionally, Halo 5 is the first entry to not include any offline multiplayer capabilities, including split-screen co-op in the main campaign and local networking options.

Although these changes were met with heavy criticism by fans, Guardians ended up being a commercial success and was fairly well-received aside from some complaints regarding the direction of its campaign.

Releasing six years after its predecessor, Halo Infinite has gone through the longest development cycle of any game in the series following a delay in August 2020 to its eventual release in December 2021.

This can be attributed to the ambitious nature of the game’s campaign, which sought to incorporate open-world elements along with a new grappling hook traversal mechanic.

The story sees players reprising their role as Master Chief as he continues his fight against the Banished on the Forerunner ringworld Zeta Halo, aka Installation 07.

Unlike previous installments, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer component was made available separately as a free-to-play game, with both the campaign and multiplayer modes added to the Xbox Game Pass library.

Despite concerns following the reveal of the game’s initially rough-looking state, the final version of Halo Infinite was well-received and deemed a return to form for the series by numerous gaming outlets.

Spin-Offs

With the release of Halo Wars in 2009, the franchise’s original conception as a real-time strategy game was at long last fulfilled.

The game was developed by Microsoft-owned Ensemble Studios, with post-launch support, updates and DLC handled by Robot Entertainment following Ensemble’s closing by Microsoft.

The story takes place 21 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved and centers on the Covenant’s assault on the Outer Colonies during the Human-Covenant War.

Players are tasked with leading human soldiers aboard the warship Spirit of Fire as they try to prevent an ancient fleet of ships from falling into the hands of the Covenant.

Even though Halo Wars garnered positive reviews and is considered a commercial success, critics remain split on whether or not it was successful at translating the RTS formula to a gaming console format.

Also released in 2009, Halo 3: ODST was initially conceived as a small side project at Bungie that continued to grow in scope until becoming a full-sized game.

Instead of featuring recognizable characters like Master Chief, Bungie shifted their focus to a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, or ODSTs, with the story set during and after the events of Halo 2.

In it, players set out to explore the ruined city of New Mombasa and recover their missing teammates amidst an ongoing alien invasion.

The game also includes a Firefight multiplayer mode in which players battle increasingly difficult waves of enemies while scoring points and trying to survive for as long as possible.

Upon release, Halo 3: ODST was met with a warm reception and cited as having one of the most compelling stories compared to other series spin-offs.

Following the release of Halo 3, Bungie split up into different teams in order to work on two separate titles that would go on to become Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach.

For Halo: Reach, the developers decided to position it as a prequel to the original trilogy, thus freeing themselves of any continuity or narrative obligations.

The story takes place on the human planet Reach, which has found itself on the brink of collapsing as humanity wages war with the alien Covenant.

Players take control of Noble Six, a supersoldier assigned to an elite Spartan squad tasked with pushing back against the alien threat throughout several missions.

At launch, Halo: Reach received critical acclaim, with many critics praising Bungie’s decision to combine the best elements of previous games into a final send-off for the studio’s involvement with the franchise.

After years of rumors regarding canceled handheld Halo projects, Microsoft and 343 Industries released Halo: Spartan Assault for PC, console, and for the first time in the series, mobile devices.

To better suit the new format, the developers spent a lot of time honing the game’s design to allow for shorter gameplay sessions and appeal to a more casual audience.

Gameplay follows that of a twin-stick shooter with an overhead top-down perspective and either touchscreen or physical gamepad controls depending on the platform.

The plot is set between Halo 3 and 4 and sees players controlling Spartan soldiers Sarah Palmer and Edward Davis as they take on a new splinter faction of the alien Covenant.

Spartan Assault received mixed reviews upon release, with some critics praising its authentic Halo look and feel and others walking away disappointed.

Despite Spartan Assault’s polarized reception, a successor came two years later in the form of Halo: Spartan Strike released exclusively for PC and mobile.

In it, players control a Spartan-IV supersoldier as they lead UNSC forces against the Covenant as part of a combat simulation based on historical events in the Halo universe.

Spartan Strike features new weapons, armor abilities, and vehicles to explore throughout a campaign spanning 30 missions in total.

This was a direct response from the developers based on feedback concerning Spartan Assault’s limited mission variety and poor controls.

Unfortunately, their efforts only went so far, as Spartan Strike was also met with mixed reviews; while some considered it an improvement, the lack of any multiplayer features was heavily criticized.

Nearly a decade removed from the release of the original Halo Wars, Microsoft and 343 partnered with Creative Assembly to put out a sequel.

Halo Wars 2 maintains the RTS format of its predecessor, in which players must construct a base of operations, generate resources to spawn infantry and vehicle units, and lead their armies into battle.

Combat is kept balanced via a rock-paper-scissors counter-attack system where ground vehicles overpower infantry, infantry overpower aircraft, and aircraft overpower ground vehicles.

The story centers on the crew of the UNSC ship Spirit of Fire after it arrives at a Forerunner installation known as the Ark and a conflict ensues between UNSC forces and the Banished.

While Halo Wars 2 was met with generally positive reviews on Xbox One, veteran RTS players on PC were less impressed by the game’s perceived lack of tactical depth.

Remakes and Compilations

In 2011, Microsoft and 343 collaborated with Saber Interactive and Certain Affinity to release a remake of the first game in the series, Halo: Combat Evolved to celebrate the franchise’s 10th anniversary.

Saber’s proprietary game engine was used to replicate the original’s graphics and gameplay while assets from Halo 3 and Halo: Reach were incorporated as well.

Among the Anniversary edition’s improvements were high-definition visuals, co-op and multiplayer support via Xbox Live, remastered audio, achievements, in-game collectibles, and Kinect support.

It also includes a feature that lets players toggle between the original and new visuals as well as six remade multiplayer maps from Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo: Reach.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was met with positive reception and would later be included with Halo: The Master Chief Collection along with the rest of the mainline games in the series.

When The Master Chief Collection first debuted in 2014, it was deemed a hot mess littered with game-breaking bugs and multiplayer glitches that did a disservice to the franchise’s coveted legacy.

However, after partnering with various studios, 343 were able to get things back on track and ensure each title looked and played just like fans had envisioned way back when.

Today, the collection is considered a living anthology of Halo releases and currently includes Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.

Much like Combat Evolved Anniversary, each game has been updated to support high-resolution displays and features improved online matchmaking and local multiplayer.

Despite its rough state at launch, Halo: The Master Chief Collection has gone on to receive positive reviews praising the graphics, frame rate performance, and overall content included in the bundle.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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