The dreams of many a PC player finally came to fruition in mid-March when, after decades of pleading with Microsoft, it was announced that 343 Industries finally got the go-ahead to port Halo: The Master Chief Collection over to Steam. While that was encouraging news, despite a listing for the collection appearing on Valve’s storefront in tandem with the announcement, nobody knew exactly when Halo Reach—the first in the planned series of games—would actually see release. If Halo community director Brian Jarrard's recent Twitter activity is anything to go by, beta access could be coming as soon as this month.
It’s definitely an exciting prospect. Microsoft has held the Halo series hostage to its console for quite some time, despite the fact that it was originally envisioned as a PC-exclusive RTS. While a few spin-off games did eventually make their way to Steam and similar storefronts, this will be the first time the personal computing master race will have access to these critically beloved games.
However, it is important to remember that 343 won’t be rolling out an open beta in which all curious consumers may partake. To gain access, fans will need to sign up for the Halo Insiders Program over on 343’s website, which was revived alongside the announcement of the anthology’s arrival on the new platform. From that point, users will be selected to take part in differing pre-release builds, or ‘flights,’ as 343 Industries has deemed them. It seems like nobody will be given access to each flight, so unfettered early access to a finalized build of the game this is absolutely not.
With that in mind, this probably won’t be one of the soft quote-unquote “betas” we’ve come to be used to. Games like Anthem, Fallout 76, and Red Dead Redemption 2’s online component issued private access to droves of eager players and communal influencers, but these were thinly-veiled publicity stunts. In sharp contrast, Halo Reach’s upcoming series of PC betas are likely to be mostly behind-closed-doors affairs intended to actually test the game rather than simply generate hype.
Jarrard’s tweet wasn’t even concrete in its assumptions; he simply stated that “if all goes according to plan,” beta testers can begin their work at some point later this month. It seems like the Master Chief Collection PC port could still be a very long way away at this point. 343 has made it known that the whole thing won’t drop all at once. They’ll be releasing each part of the anthology once they are ready to see commercial release. That’s a good thing, of course; most video game enthusiasts are growing tired of the release-it-now-patch-it-later mentality employed by many AAA publishers these days. Still, the wait will be increasingly difficult as weeks turn into months.
Happy April! If all goes according to plan, this is the month we start the first Reach/MCC flights. ✈️ 🤞— Brian Jarrard (@ske7ch) April 2, 2019
Some have speculated that we’ll be getting Halo Reach, canonically the first installment in the long-running series, at some point this summer. At that rate, of course, we could be well into 2020 before titles like Halo 4 finally see release on PC. At this point, it's pretty much anyone's guess.