The next Halo game which, assumedly, will be Halo Infinite, will be released on PC. It’s safe to assume this because of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere program, which has day-and-date releases for first-party Xbox One games on PC. The only catch—and it’s kind of big depending on how much this next bit makes your skin crawl—is the games have to be installed and played through the Windows Store.
Admittedly and thankfully, the Windows Store has come a long way since its inception, but it’s still not up to speed with the Steams, Uplays, and Origins of the digital gaming world. Still, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the reality that a single game purchase is playable across Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, and your saved data is automatically synced across, too. I’m a very big fan of that part of Play Anywhere.
The bigger problem is there’s currently no release date for Halo Infinite/Halo 6. For now, the only legitimate way to play Halo on PC is to dust off a copy of Gearbox’s Halo: Combat Evolved port or crack out Halo 2. Both of these require some finessing to play if you’re running Windows 10. The greyer way to play Halo on PC is via the ElDewrito mod.
For those unaware, ElDewrito is essentially Halo 3 for PC, albeit based on source code from the cancelled Halo Online, intended for free-to-play release in Russia. That’s where things start to get murky, as the game was never officially released, which means modding was never permitted for the game, so the ElDewrito mod is already in a pretty dark grey space. It also means you can’t easily obtain the mod, given that Microsoft has contacted the ElDewrito team to ask them to stop sharing it and to hold off on further development.
In fact, Microsoft wrote a pretty damn cool blog post about the challenges of ElDewrito. On one hand, Microsoft acknowledges the importance of its fan-created projects, but on the other, it’s understandably protecting its IP (particularly as it relates to code from a game that was never officially released). Because Microsoft was cool about it, all things considered, the ElDewrito team was, too.
The initial online reaction was that ElDewrito is dead, but the mod devs have clarified that while development has stopped, ElDewrito is still very much able to be played, for those people who downloaded the necessary files before Microsoft reached out to the team about potential legal action. This might change in the future but, for now, as one of those players who downloaded ElDewrito before the installation files were removed from the mod website, the potential for a new Halo game on PC is clear.
Hell, given that ElDewrito is based predominantly on Halo 3, there’s plenty of space for, say, The Master Chief Collection, or basic re-releases (fancy textures not required) of the better older Halo library on PC. The fact that there are hundreds of servers—including more than a few in Australia, and hundreds of players online whenever I check the server browser—shows that the interest in Halo on PC is high.
And having played a few hours of rounds, all on Aussie servers, ElDewrito plays incredibly well and runs like a dream. Sure, there are oddities like an absence of mouse controls in the main menu and the server browser is best left alone until it’s fully updated (which it recently was), but once you wrap your head around that, it’s all gameplay. The best thing about playing Halo on PC, as underlined by Destiny 2 on PC vs console, is the lack of auto-aim—which is otherwise a big part of the Halo series—which keeps fights fairer and the rewards for superior aim higher.
The slower movement speed and lack of sprint (not including certain custom servers) keeps the pace slower, and while the moderate time-to-kill creates some level of escapability, fights feel more focused on the player who can consistently land headshots. Alternatively, closing the gap with body shots and finishing with a melee attack is also a fantastic option. Like Halo’s older forms of online multiplayer, ElDewrito is incredibly easy to pick up and play.
Admittedly, there were a couple of matches where I spawned in late and was absolutely dominated, but whether it was free-for-all deathmatch or team deathmatch (including multi-team deathmatch), when I was playing a full match, I felt like a contender. And it was glorious. The best bit is how, for the most part, the community is really positive and helpful.
Instead of trash talk and name-calling, the vast majority of the text and VOIP lines have been really positive and supportive, almost entirely in the name of shared fun. And, really, that’s what online gaming is (or should be) all about, more so when it’s a mod for something that doesn’t practically exist on PC. Should ElDewrito go the way of the dodo, it’ll be sad but understandable, but hopefully the interest in Halo on PC has shown Microsoft the importance and viability of our beloved shooter platform for the right amount of care for Halo Infinite and beyond.