As of November 18, 2016, both Halo: Combat Evolved and the original Xbox are officially 15 years old . It’s almost hard to believe that Halo hasn’t always been around, largely because of the incredible and unprecedented success it achieved as a console FPS. In light of its achievements and to celebrate this anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of six ways that Halo had an impact on the FPS genre and gaming as a whole.
More than just a simple tale of good guys vs. bad guys, Halo has always strived to be something more. Early on, a series of novels helped to flesh out the backstory of John-117, the man who would later be called Master Chief, and his story only continued to expand over time. The Halo universe is populated by multifaceted humans and aliens both benign and threatening; even the Halos, artificial ringworlds depicted throughout the series, have reached iconic status. Master Chief himself stands at the center of it all as one of the most recognizable video game characters ever created – one who has come to symbolize the Xbox itself.
Halo: Combat Evolved was among the first shooters to ever introduce vehicles for players to use. They were especially noteworthy for their relative ease of use and multi-character seating options. It was a thrill to sit down with a friend and play Halo split-screen back in 2001, with one person driving a Warthog while the other manned its artillery. Who could forget the triumph of clearing a wave of enemies together or the hilarity of driving off a cliff while your friend shouted in anguish?
Online Console Multiplayer
While Halo: Combat Evolved did not feature online play when it launched alongside the original Xbox – Microsoft’s Xbox Live service hadn’t yet launched at that point – Halo 2 was essentially the online console shooter for years upon years. It was the first game of its type to draw a huge active player base, and for many, it was their de facto introduction to online gaming. Halo 2 continued to be played fervently even after the launch of the Xbox 360, all the way up until its servers went offline in 2010. Now that’s dedication!
If you grew up playing an Xbox 360 and not a Super Nintendo, you may not get why Halo ‘s graphics were so revolutionary back when it released. And why would you? Looking at the game now, it feels flat and dull, especially when compared to the latest title in the series, Halo 5: Guardians. But when the original Xbox launched in 2001, Halo’s visuals were nothing short of astonishing. The water, the ground textures, the lens flares, and most of all, the Halo ringworld stretching out across the horizon… these were all crafted on a level never before seen on a home console. The series only continues to look better over time – just look at Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary to see how far it has come.
It Made Machinima Huge
Red vs. Blue may not have been the first-ever machinima web series, but it sure as heck is one of the all-time most popular. Using assets from the Halo games, Red vs. Blue told the story of soldiers caught up in a fictional civil war from a comedic angle, making it something of a parody. Most internet-savvy types who have been around since the early 2000s can tell you how ubiquitous the series’ online presence was, and it remains popular today, with fourteen seasons to date. Its popularity was unprecedented for the emerging medium and did much to shine the spotlight on Halo when it was still establishing itself as a franchise to be reckoned with.
It’s no secret that Halo is a popular series, but it’s so popular that it has broken sales records on numerous occasions. The launch of Halo 3 was especially momentous, as it became the biggest US entertainment release in history when it made over $170 million in 2007. That trend has continued over the years, most recently with Halo 5: Guardians , which was both the biggest Halo launch ever and the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive game at release. It helped bring the series to over $5 billion in global lifetime sales, proving that Halo has always been more than a passing fad. Congrats to everyone involved with the series over the last 15 years, and here’s to its continued success.