The Halo franchise is a tricky one to keep track of. It includes dozens of comics, books, and movies that complement the game. With the first release dating back to 2001, it's easy to see why gamers would have difficulty identifying the Halo games in the order they were released.
It's also worth noting that with the anticipated release of Halo Infinite, there's renewed interest in the franchise, and you might want to dust up your Halo skills as you wait for the new title to drop. Whether you're looking to boost your knowledge bank or give Halo a try a run, you will need a list of all the Halo games titles in their chronological order.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Release date: November 15, 2001
Developer: Bungie, Gearbox Software (PC), Westlake Interactive (Mac)
Supported platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Xbox
Originally, the first title was released in 2001 for the Xbox console. It would later be released for Microsoft Windows and in around 2003 for Mac OS X.
As with many hard-hitting games, the first instalment is always the deal-breaker and Halo didn't hold back. The game and its content were outstanding, making the game a gold standard for FPS games that followed many years to come.
The use of a split-screen put the game light years ahead and made it the go-to game when playing with friends.
The game was set in the 26th century when the human race collides with a collective of alien races known as the Covenant. Your job as the gamed Master Chief alongside your AI Cortana is to prevent the Covenant from discovering the earth's location.
Immerse yourself in a world of action and vehicular combat, making this one of the best titles in the series.
Release date: November 9, 2004
Platforms: Xbox console, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
In 2004, the second sequel in the franchise became available first for the original Xbox console and was then made available for Windows and Xbox one as part of the Master Chief Collection. Following the success of the first title, the hype surrounding the second sequel was massive, leading the game to break the sales record at the time.
Luckily, the second instalment did not disappoint. It featured a competitive multiplayer mode and an incredible storyline that would keep players glued to the game.
The events in Halo 2 follow those of the first game. In this sequel, players control the Master Chief and the Arbiter (the Covenant Elite) in a bid to try and fight the Covenant from the earth. The game's multi-viewpoint was quite the addition bringing a new perspective to an already fan-favourite multiplayer aspect of the game.
Most gamers will readily confess to having continued to play this game for as long as the servers could allow them.
Release date: September 25, 2007
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360
Riding on the success of Halo: CE and Halo 2, the release of Halo 3 was a carefully calculated move to get gamers to buy the newly released Xbox 360 at the time. And it worked like a charm.
The third title placed immense focus on the game's most loved feature, which was the multiplayer feature. It added a ranking system and updated the map packs. This got even more gamers to not only take part in the game but also opt to buy an Xbox 360.
Initially, the game was released for the Xbox 360, but later, it was followed by releases for the Xbox One and Windows as part of the Master Chief Collection.
In this game, the Chief was still at war with the Covenant and the added twist of the Flood. Your job is to prevent the discovery of the ark and stop the ring from being activated.
With just the right tweaks and a single-player mode, Halo 3 would go on to smash the records set by Halo 2 and set a remarkable record of over $170 million on its first day on sale. It went on to become the highest-grossing game on the Xbox 360.
Release date: February 26, 2009
Developer: Ensemble Studios
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
The fourth release came with a lot of changes, which signalled a new direction for the franchise. Initially, the game was released for the Xbox 360. Later, there was a release for the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows as the Halo Wars: Definitive Edition.
The franchise took a drastic change from an FPS to a Real-time strategy game. Using this approach, players could control entire armies instead of just the Master Chief. Also, there was a change in the developing team. For the first time, Bungie was not the developer. Instead, Ensemble Studios had taken over the reins. But only for this title.
The events in this sequel take place over two decades before the original release of Halo: CE. The storyline covers some of the first encounters between humans and the Covenant and sheds light on some of the questions gamers had.
Halo 3: ODST
Release date: September 22, 2009
Platforms: Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Halo 3: ODST wasn't a stand-alone game. It was an expansion to Halo 3's storyline, which meant the franchise was taking time to awaken the Master Chief.
The game returned the FPS shooter approach to the relief of many gamers but focused on five ‘orbital drop shock troopers’ (ODSTs) and not the Master Chief.
As expected, the first release was for the Xbox 360. Several years later, the Master Chief Collection made the game available on Xbox One and Microsoft Windows PCs.
While most gamers confess to having had fun exploring the city of New Mombasa and trying to find out what happened to their missing teammates, the game did feel sort of like a money-grab by Microsoft. This is because the game came in two discs. The first one featured the single-player mode. The second disc had another variation of the Halo: 3 multiplayer version. But there was a new addition in the Firefight mode, which gave up to four players the ability to fight off waves of Covenant attackers.
Release date: September 14, 2010
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Bungie had made a brief hiatus then come back to the franchise. But as it would appear, this was going to be the last game they developed.
This was yet another prequel to the first Halo Trilogy. Microsoft decided to stick with an FPS on this one and also decided to proceed without the Master Chief character once again.
The prequel did what it had done best since the franchise came alive. That was put together an excellent multiplayer feature that resonated well with avid Halo gamers. This time, the franchise improved the quality of the Multiplayer feature, and the fact that it was Bungie's last rodeo made the game more sentimental.
In Halo: Reach, you take Noble Six, who is tasked with defending a planet called Reach from the onslaught of the Covenant with his squad. For most hardcore Halo gamers, this was the last ‘actual’ Halo game because Bungie wasn’t involved in making the latter instalments.
Release date: November 6, 2012
Developer: 343 Industries
Platforms: Xbox 360
Halo 4 was the first game under 343 Industries. It was designed to start a new trilogy that would last over the next couple of games and with it saw the return of the Master Chief. The game was first released for the Xbox 360. A few years later, it was made available for the Xbox One and Windows through the Master Chief Collection.
Although the game had quite a number of fans, most loyal fans were quite disappointed with the new release, especially because they had a hard time relating the game with the quality of the previous instalments from Bungie.
343 Industries went with a plot that followed the events of Halo 3. The Master Chief and Cortana were exploring the requiem, and there was a new crop of enemies called the Promethean Knights. The deteriorating mental state of Cortana also becomes evident in the game as she thinks herself into AI death.
Halo: Spartan Assault
Release date: July 18, 2013
Developer: 343 Industries, Vanguard Games
Spartan Assault was another deviation from the norm of Halo. It was a twin-stick shooter game. The players could experience the game from an overhead view. Although the approach was different, the weapons and vehicles were from the main series.
The game, which follows the story of Sarah Palmer on planet Draetheus V was received with mixed reactions among fans. In the game, your character is under attack from a rogue group of the Covenant. Your job is to repel the invaders to give the remaining human forces a chance to escape.
Halo: Spartan Strike
Release date: April 16, 2015
Developer: 343 Industries, Vanguard Games
Once more, 343 Industries and Vanguard Games paired for another deviation from the core Halo series. Just like the first Spartan release, this was also a twin-stick shooter and there was no Master Chief as well. The game was only available on PC and mobile and was never released for the console.
This series takes place after the events of Halo 4, following the story of a Spartan IV soldier leading UNSC forces against the Covenant in simulation. In an exciting twist, you will also encounter a splinter faction of the Covenant as well as the Promethean enemies, and you must beat all of them.
Unfortunately, this was the least impactful of the Halo Series and didn’t receive as much hype. However, if you love top-down shooter games, it is worth a shot.
Halo 5: Guardians
Release date: October 27, 2015
Developer: 343 Industries
Halo 5 was a huge hit. It was a turning point for 343 Industries as they started to win over staunch Bungie loyalists in the Halo game after three harrowing releases. Halo 5 was seen as a massive improvement over Halo 4.
In the new title, a Fireteam Osiris is deployed to a planet controlled by the Covenant to retrieve Dr. Halsey. The multi-layered campaign also sees the Master Chief lead his blue team in an attempt to secure a research station for ONI.
Unfortunately, the split-screen was no more, much to the disappointment of fans. But 343 Industries made up for this by launching over 20 maps and a few more additional maps free. The new multiplayer mode also featured various modes like Warzone and Arena, which gave players a unique experience and gave the game a different feel.
Halo Wars 2
Release date: February 21, 2017
Developer: 343 Industries, Creative Assembly
Halo Wars 2 revisits the RTS instalment of Halo Wars, which was very well received in the gaming world. The game retains a top-down RTS strategy, which is a follow up on the original Halo Wars story.
The game is set 28 years after the events of the first game. The plot revolves around the Spirit of Fire crew as they fight off another alien faction called the Banished. Set on the Ark in Halo 3, there is no shortage of fights and battles to take part in the game.
The latest release of Halo called Halo: Infinite is expected to be released at any time in 2020. Most of the development is complete, and the game will act as the conclusion to the trilogy that involves the two previous games.
The game will be available on the Xbox One, Series X consoles, and on Windows PC. Expect the Master Chief to make a return as a protagonist as well as the Covenant, which has been a staple in all the Halo games.
That concludes the chronological order in which the Halo franchise titles have been released from the very first one in 2001 to the latest one which is currently available for pre-order.