We told you that Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) existed before anyone else, but thanks to the package being officially official, we now have a veritable truckload of details about it. When the game releases November 11th, just over 10 years after Halo 2's launch, it'll pack remastered audio and visuals, four whole games on one disc, a staggering number of multiplayer maps and even a few surprises.
"We think about our fans," 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross said during the presentation I attended at E3. "We're going for the nostalgia play, but [MCC] is about providing a new way to play. For us that are geeking out on story, it's about being able to connect to Master Chief's past."
The future, however, is the impetus for that past. Developer 343 Industries (Microsoft's internal Halo studio) knows that there's an entire generation of gamers that weren't even born when the franchise launched in 2001, and the team doesn't want people to avoid next year's sequel simply because they aren't caught up on the decade-plus narrative. The MCC serves to address that by putting Master Chief's story all in one place to give context for next year's Halo 5: Guardians.
"We want you to know the full story [of Master Chief]," Ross said. "We want to make it incredibly accessible and so that the pieces are aligned leading up to Halo 5."
Where Halo 4 tucked a lot of its story within semi-hidden computers in the game, those will be unlocked from the outset in MCC, and Halo 2 is getting a series of those off-the-beaten-path narrative points, too. Those will serve as a "breadcrumb trail" to Halo 5 and also flesh out the tale of The Arbiter, the disgraced alien general. Blur Studio, the company responsible for some of Halo 4's TV spots, is also creating narrative book-ends for the prologue and epilogue of the MCC, which should help fill in the gaps for those who haven't been following the franchise's wealth of expanded fiction, too.
I was told that the game is expected to be sold digitally, but if all you want is Halo 2, you're out of luck: 343 isn't breaking the game into discrete pieces; you have to buy the entire collection as a whole.