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With Halo MCC coming to PC, making it available for a wider audience, many might consider jumping in to experience the Halo universe.

A friend of mine started very recently and to my surprise, he started with Halo CE, his reason it being the first Halo game. And this got me thinking.

Similar to the Star Wars saga, we have a more recent game being a prequel to an older game, i.E. Halo Reach being a prequel to Halo CE, and maybe somehwat Halo: ODST and Halo 3, though the difference is less noticable.

Chronologically, the order would be (IMO) Halo Reach, Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo: ODST, Halo 3, Halo 4. But since Halo Reach is a more recent game than Halo CE, it has many new features as in weapons, armor abilities, vehicles and the like which will be missing in Halo CE. So when starting with Halo Reach, you will be taking a heavy downgrade in features when continuing with Halo CE.

So my question is: Is there an equivalent to Star Wars' machete order to the Halo franchise?

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  • Does this answer your question? Correct (lore-based) order of the Halo games – Rapitor Mar 5 '20 at 17:21
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    @Rapitor I don't believe that is the appropriate duplicate for this question. The OP made it clear they are aware of the chronological order of the Halo series. They are asking what is the recommended play order, which isn't necessarily the same thing – Wondercricket Mar 5 '20 at 17:32
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    Not quite. I'm aware of the chronological order, but I'm rather looking if there is a special order to play the Halo MCC in, considering the change of features. Something like: In Halo 2, Lord Hood mentiones the fleet that destroyed Reach was 50 times the size of the force attacking earth, cut back to Reach by playing Halo Reach. – Scorch91 Mar 5 '20 at 17:34
  • I don't see how this question is opinion-based. I think it might need additional details on what the Star Wars machete order is based on exactly, though. – Joachim Mar 10 '20 at 10:36
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It depends on your priorities:

  • Do you want what makes sense for storytelling purposes?
    • Play the games in release order: Combat Evolved, 2, 3, ODST, Reach, 4.
  • Do you want what makes sense for mechanical evolution?
    • Play the games in release order: Combat Evolved, 2, 3, ODST, Reach, 4 (and maybe stick to the original graphics of 1 and 2 to see the progression of that as well).
  • Do you want to play the games chronologically, and not necessarily be able to understand the significance of plot elements?
    • Play the games in in-universe chronological order: Reach, Combat Evolved, 2 / ODST (see note below), 3, 4

Unfortunately unlike a non-interactive medium like traditional films (choose your own adventure films aside), players are going to be subjected to the actual gameplay mechanics of the games they play (well, duh, I suppose). Especially since videogames are a new medium a lot of gameplay changes have occurred over the decade plus the Bungie (and Halo 4) Halo games span. With film, most viewers are able to suspend their recognition of the obvious technological progress that was made between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy of Star Wars, but with Halo its more of a buildup of mechanical changes that mostly make each entry better. While there are occasional reversals of new mechanics (ex. the removal of dual wielding), each game tends to be more complex a sandbox, or at least a refined version. With the plot of Reach in particular, it will have more meaning to players who already have experienced the rest of the trilogy; irrespective of mechanical progress.

Answer: I would suggest either playing them in release order, or possibly just sucking it up and playing them as they are re-released (luckily, this will change a few years after this answer is posted). Since games are different than film, I argue that a "machete order" doesn't work nearly as well for them.

Note on Halo 2/ODST: Thanks to some fan efforts its arguably possible to play the missions of each game in chronological order, the missions are as follows:

  1. Halo 2 "Metropolis"
  2. Halo 3: ODST "Prepare to Drop"
  3. Halo 3: ODST "Uplift Reserve"
  4. Halo 3: ODST "ONI Alpha Site"
  5. Halo 3: ODST "Kikowani Station"
  6. Halo 3: ODST "Sadie's Story"
  7. Halo 3: ODST "Data Hive"
  8. Halo 2 "The Arbiter"
  9. Halo 2 "The Oracle"
  10. Halo 3: ODST "Coastal Highway"
  11. After this point resume Halo 2.
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    I forgot that 2 is parallel to ODST, because 343 is calling the PC MCC release order "chonological", but they're releasing ODST after 3. – murgatroid99 Mar 5 '20 at 17:59
  • Luckily there are more dedicated fans than I to track down the details of how the parallels work. Strange; maybe its since Halo 3 is probably the more popular of the two games? Or perhaps Reach was only first so the Xbone release could get a new game added earlier and 343 isn't really committed to the chronological order? – Shoddy Weather Mar 5 '20 at 18:03
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    You have Halo 2 The Oracle twice in your list (9 and 10) is that a mistake? – Timmy Jim Mar 6 '20 at 13:42
  • Yes it it! Thanks for catching it. It's pulled from a Halo timeline that also includes the books and other sources, I must have missed it while pruning those from between the missions. – Shoddy Weather Mar 6 '20 at 14:14
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There are basically 3 "obvious" orders in which to play the games in Halo: The Master Chief collection on PC, and I would say that all of them are reasonable:

Original release order:

CE, 2, 3, ODST, Reach, 4, 5

Chronological order:

Reach, CE, 2, ODST, 3, 4, 5

Halo 2 and ODST can be interleaved as suggested in the other answer for maximum chronological purity.

Halo MCC on PC release order:

Reach, CE, 2, 3, ODST, 4, 5

I am not aware of any other popular playthrough order that is equivalent to the Star Wars Machete order.

Regarding the story, there are no substantial spoilers for Reach in any of the other games, and no substantial spoilers for other stories in Reach. It is a standalone story for the most part. The end connects to Halo 1, but in a way that I think works well no matter what order you play them in. Similarly, Halo 3: ODST shares some events with Halo 2, and it's probably better to play Halo 2 first or interleave them, but that works in all of those orders.

This is different from Star Wars; the Machete order was created largely because

Revenge of the Sith, and the prequels overall, spoil the big reveal in Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker

As for features, the progression was not as linear as you may think. Armor abilities were added in Halo: Reach, completely changed in Halo 4, and completely changed again in Halo 5. Dual wielding is a mechanic that only exists in Halo 2 and 3, and was removed in Halo 3: ODST and later games. Deployable equipment is a mechanic unique to Halo 3. Every game adds and removes guns and vehicles.

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  • The twist being presented differently really is the key difference in why a machete order doesn't make as much sense, good point. – Shoddy Weather Mar 5 '20 at 17:53

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