Halo stands today as one of the greatest gaming franchises of all time. It’s among the most well-known first person shooters out there, to the point where it’s even received a live-action TV series. With the recent release of Halo Infinite, it’s interesting to look back on the series and how its story was shaped over the years. That’s why this article will take a look at all Halo games in chronological order.
This article will only consider the games and the events that take place during them. Novels, webseries, and in-game data pads will not be mentioned.The only game that won’t be included is Halo: Recruit, a short VR experience with no clear timeline indication.
Set around 20 years before the first Halo game, Halo Wars features a Real-Time Strategy gameplay style shared by almost no other title in the series. Players command the human forces of the USNC during some of their earliest battles against the evil alien Covenant. This title is the first one to occur according to the series’ timeline, topping the list of Halo games in chronological order.
Acting as a more direct prequel to Master Chief’s games, Halo: Reach takes place mere weeks before Combat Evolved. The player joins a team of Spartans as they battle against the Covenant, struggling against impossible odds to turn the tide of their war. It’s also the only Halo game to feature space combat, making for one of the most unique experiences in the series.
Combat Evolved is the first-ever Halo game, as well as the first game to feature John-117 - also known as Master Chief - in the starring role. Combat Evolved defined the modern era of first-person shooters, providing intense gunplay and even a multiplayer mode. Its story was also surprisingly in-depth, featuring a new faction known as the Flood to cause chaos amongst humans and aliens. Some might consider it dated by present standards, but it’s a fantastic title to start your journey in playing all Halo games in order - be it by release date or by chronology.
One of the more unique titles on this list, Halo: Fireteam Raven is an on-rails arcade game you won’t find at home. It’s set during the same time as Combat Evolved, with the eponymous Fireteam defending Installation 04 from Covenant forces. It’s not exactly an easy game to experience, due to its status as an arcade game, but it’s a perfectly serviceable addition to fans of the franchise.
Set around one month after Combat Evolved, Halo 2 continues the battle between the Covenant and Flood forces. It also allows players to experience the campaign through the eyes of a Covenant soldier known as the Arbiter. On top of this, Halo 2 was the first game in the series to feature online play, a staple feature that would popularize the franchise to millions of fans.
Halo 3: ODST is a complicated title when it comes to playing the Halo games in order. It occurs during the events of Halo 2, but is meant to act as a more direct prequel to the next title in the series. Players take the role of a rookie, teaming up with ODST soldiers to fight against the Covenant in defense of Earth. Its gameplay is much more open-ended than previous entries, and ODST even came packaged with a copy of Halo 3’s online multiplayer. The title might not feature Master Chief in much capacity, but it’s a great experience that any Halo fan should try.
With the tagline of “Finish the fight”, Halo 3 allows players to experience the end of the Human-Covenant war. It featured the most refined features of the series up to its release, including a map editing mode known as Forge. This game, released in 2007, marks the end of the original trilogy. Thanks to the release of numerous prequels afterwards, it was also the final time John-117 would star as Halo’s lead until Halo 4’s release in 2012.
Taking place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, Spartan Assault is a top-down spinoff set during a time of peace. Ignoring the end of the war, Covenant forces led by Merg Vol battle against improved Spartan soldiers in a world-shattering conflict. Its lead, Sarah Palmer, is an active part of future titles, giving players some extra backstory as they play the Halo games in order.
Set four years after the events of the third game, Halo 4 continues the story of Master Chief as he battles against remnants of the Covenant. This title features new and improved multiplayer alongside updated weapons for fans to try out. It also includes a co-op mode known as Spartan Ops, continuing the story and giving the players even more great content to experience.
Spartan Strike is the eighth game in the chronological order of the Halo series. Its missions are set both during the events of Halo 2 and after the events of Halo 4. It follows the top-down gameplay of Spartan Assault while tying more closely into the events of the main series. Despite this, Spartan Strike doesn’t influence the story of the main series all that much; an understandable development, seeing as how it was designed for the sake of mobile phones.
Halo 5 once again follows Master Chief as he battles against rogue Covenant forces. During the campaign, players can issue orders to fellow NPCs in order to provide an even more robust solo experience. It also included Warzone, a massive gamemode with support for up to 24 players. Halo 5: Guardians was the last mainline game for six years, marking the longest time fans had to wait for the return of Master Chief.
Set just after the events of Halo 5, Halo Wars 2 follows the RTS gameplay style of its predecessor. Players continue the story of the crew from the first Halo Wars, fighting against yet more Covenant remnants in a desperate bid to defend all of humanity. The story of this title doesn’t get much reference in the latest Halo entry, but it’s a fine choice for fans of the series that also love RTS games.
Halo Infinite is the final title in this list of all the Halo games in order. This game features a campaign with an open world setting, a first for the series since ODST. Between this and other features, such as the return of split-screen play and a cross-platform online mode, Infinite is perhaps the most definitive Halo experience out there.
The Halo series is more popular than ever, and the games only cover a fraction of it. The franchise is populated with novels and movies, providing backstory while allowing a glimpse into the future of Halo. One can only wonder where the series will go from here - and just how much further Master Chief’s story can be taken.
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