'Halo Online' is a free PC game launching only in Russia

Halo is making a triumphant, if border-blocked, return to PC with Halo Online, a free multiplayer-only game set to launch in Russia this spring. The Russian launch is a closed beta, as Microsoft figures out the best way "to welcome new fans to the Halo universe," according to a post on Halo Waypoint. Halo Online is built on a modified version of the Halo 3 engine, and it should run smoothly on lower-end PCs, Microsoft says. Halo Online comes from Halo: The Master Chief Collection collaborator Saber Interactive and software developer Innova Systems, who have partnered with Halo 4 and 5 studio 343 Industries and, of course, Microsoft.

It's multiplayer-only, so there's no solo campaign, but the game does have a basic storyline, as laid out on Waypoint: "Halo Online is set on a secret UNSC space installation called Anvil, where Spartan-IV soldiers train together in war exercises to sharpen their battle skills and test experimental technology."

Historically, Halo is exclusive to Xbox, since it comes from that console's manufacturer, Microsoft (though the first Halo did launch on Windows as well). However, the company notes that Halo Online is not destined for Xbox One, since it was built specifically for PC. In a similar move, after several years of development Activision recently launched an open beta for Call of Duty Online, a freemium version of its flagship shooter that's only available in China. Right now, Halo Online is in development for Russia only, though Microsoft notes that "theoretically," the game would have to be adapted for different regions before launching elsewhere. Until then, we'll just be sitting here, Needlers crossed.