After dropping a conspicuous and very nostalgic trailer yesterday with no other context, Microsoft and 343 Industries has announced that the original Halo's remastered version, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, is now out for PC via Steam and the Microsoft Store for $9.99. It can also be played through Xbox Game Pass for PC.
Perhaps the plan was always to do a short PC "test flight" period and release the game today. The official Halo Twitter notes that March 3 marks an important day in the series' fiction: the day the UNSC erects a monument to all those lost in the Human-Covenant war. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary joins Halo: Reach, which received its PC port late last year.
This thrice-upgraded version of the first Halo carries forward improvements made by Saber Interactive for the remaster's first release in 2011, the port released on Xbox One for the Master Chief Collection in 2014, and adds new features made for both the PC and Xbox One versions in 2020. On PC, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary now has variable frame rate and adjustable field-of-view options as experimental features, supports 4K and ultrawide resolutions, and even has text chat implementation.
Halo: Combat Evolved first made its way to PC in 2003 thanks to Gearbox Software, and it's actually that version that was used as the basis for the first Master Chief Collection port. Since the Collection's troubled launch, 343 has gradually made improvements to all the games in the collection. The first Halo is receiving some highly anticipated changes with this release: chief amongst them are options for toggling between the sound effects Saber re-recorded for Anniversary in 2011 and the original audio.
The continuing work on the Master Chief Collection titles, for both Xbox and PC, is far from over. Next up, the PC will get a port of Halo 2: Anniversary, followed by Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and—343's first installment in the series after taking over for Bungie—Halo 4.
Meanwhile, other parts of 343 are hard at work on Halo Infinite, which will be the first mainline Halo title to launch simultaneously on PC, along with Xbox One and Xbox Series X. We've still seen very little of Infinite, but as E3 and the launch of Series X draw closer, more new info may trickle out from the upcoming line-up of Halo toys and other merchandise.