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Halo Tier List: Games & Factions

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For our Halo Tier List, we’re ranking every game in the renowned franchise.

The Halo series covers a lot of ground in terms of story — from extraterrestrial beings to religious fanaticism, all the way to (spoiler alert!) abominable AI programs. Players enter the world of Halo as Master Chief John-117, a human supersoldier. And each main title tells of his trials and tribulations.

But Master Chief’s story isn’t over yet. With Halo Infinite soon to be released, we thought it’d be fitting to share our Halo Tier List. That way, everyone’s hyped for the Halo franchise’s newest installment.

Scroll down to see our picks for the best titles in the Halo franchise!

 

HALO TIER LIST: SERIES RANKED

The Halo franchise is an extensive series, with six main games, seven spin-offs, and a few remasters. It also has multiple repackages and bundles, like the Halo History Pack and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. But for this Halo Tier List, we’re focusing on the main games (remasters included) and the spin-offs, ranking them based on their handling and playability. S-Tier titles are the best of the best as they have the greatest replayability factor. As for titles in C-Tier, they still bring some fun to the table, but are ultimately lacking in the overall gaming experience.

 

S-Tier

  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Halo 2
  • Halo 3
  • Halo: Reach

A-Tier

  • Halo 4
  • Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
  • Halo 3: ODST

B-Tier

  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Halo Wars

C-Tier

  • Halo Wars 2
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Halo: Spartan Strike

 

HALO TIER LIST: THE DETAILS

 

S-Tier

Halo: Combat Evolved
It should come as no surprise that the first Halo title is in the top tier. The best FPS of its time still holds up twenty years later. It’s an excellent introduction to the series and a great nostalgia trip for long-time fans.

Halo 2
The sequel to Combat Evolved deserves a spot in S-Tier as well. It improved on its predecessor, adding new abilities, such as dual-wielding and online multiplayer. If you’re looking to experience Halo 2’s multiplayer again, now is the best time because 343 Industries announced that they’d be shutting down multiplayer servers for Xbox 360 Halo games by the end of 2021.

Halo 3
Of course you’d find the Halo trilogy in S-Tier. As the final entry for Halo’s original story, Halo 3 takes what Halo 2 did and makes it even better. Players can get their hands on more weapons and vehicles. Plus, it had a theater mode where people could save recordings of their games. Pair that with their Forge feature, which allowed players to edit and design their own maps, and you could pretty much make your own Halo movie.

Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach was a prequel to Combat Evolved, and it pretty much perfected the franchise’s FPS multiplayer game mode. It introduced new armor abilities, adding an extra layer of player strategy. Additionally, the main campaign offered a compelling story that shed light on Halo’s interstellar war.

 

A-Tier

Halo 4
Halo 4 provided players with another fun Halo game, but where it really shined was its story. The title shifts the focus from the interstellar war to Master Chief’s relationship with Cortana. And players got to see the familiar AI program struggle with coming to terms with her existence. As for the gameplay mechanics, there wasn’t really anything new, but there also wasn’t anything to complain about.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
A remaster of the first title, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was released ten years after the first. It featured upgraded visuals and smoother handling. But since the game levels were pretty much unchanged, the high-quality environments now seemed repetitive, compared to the original.

Halo 3: ODST
Much like Halo 4, Halo 3: ODST’s gameplay didn’t change much from Halo 3. But its captivating storyline made it well-worth playing. Players took the role of a rookie soldier who had to find out what happened to their missing teammates. The action-packed missions paired with a strange mystery made ODST distinct from the other games, and a great entry in the franchise.

 

B-Tier

Halo 5: Guardians
Halo 5: Guardians was undoubtedly enjoyable in terms of gameplay and shooting. However, its biggest downfall was its main campaign. The story made multiple twists and turns centering around Master Chief’s companion, Cortana. And a lot of players weren’t happy with how it went. Plus, you don’t even play as Master Chief for most of the game. That said, the game is still fun, if you can get over the storyline.

Halo Wars
Halo Wars was the first Halo game to feature real-time strategy, rather than the usual FPS style. Despite being different in its playstyle, many enjoyed the new experience. In addition to that, it introduced new characters, expanding the Halo universe and giving players another perspective.

 

C-Tier

Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 was the sequel to the Halo Wars title. It featured an engaging storyline, with the characters from the last game, with gorgeous cinematics. However, it isn’t as challenging or compelling as the last game, or other real-time strategy games, for that matter.

Halo: Spartan Assault
As a game primarily made for smartphones, you can imagine why Halo: Spartan Assault falls so low on this Halo Tier List. It provided fans with a new, accessible title in the franchise, yes. But it lacked the scale and storytelling from the older games.

Halo: Spartan Strike
Much like Spartan Assault, Halo: Spartan Strike was primarily made for smartphones, so the drawbacks of its predecessor apply. Even so, it had improved handling and more weapons and vehicles to play with. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t as captivating as the bigger titles.

 

Now that we know all those fantastic series, let’s now talk about the different factions in Halo and their functions.

 

HALO TIER LIST: FACTIONS

With Halo’s vast franchise, its lore can be quite a deep dive. But if you’re one of the series’ long-time fans or an interested gamer looking to invest in the story, it is worth introducing yourself to the lore by taking a look at one of its foundations: the factions.

One of the things that made Halo such a successful gaming franchise is how engaging its universe is. Part of the series’ charm is the existence of various factions that make up the intense narrative of this alien world. Below are the main factions introduced throughout the games:

 

THE BLUE TEAM

Anyone who’s spent some time on the gaming side of the internet has seen memes, videos, and photos of supersoldiers clad in cybernetic combat armor and sporting laser weapons, running around and shooting aliens. In fact, you may even have heard of the Red Vs. Blue web-based machinima series from Roosterteeth, spanning 18 seasons, which shows just how popular the franchise has become.

These characters you’ve seen are largely from the Blue Team, which is the main faction where the Halo universe’s narrative is mostly centered around. Led by tactical genius Master Chief, a role that players will embody throughout the franchise, this is the faction you will spend the most time learning about as you progress through the games.

The Blue Team is comprised of operatives known as “Spartans”, which are cybernetically-enhanced soldiers that are deployed to solve some of the most challenging missions assigned by the United Nations Space Command (UNSC). They are considered the most successful strike team within the organization, and have historically logged in about 220 successful military operations as of 2553. It is currently comprised of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, Fred-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058.

United Nations Space Command (UNSC)

The Interplanetary Wars saw the need for a military force that can help give Earth an edge against the Covenants. The UNSC was born out of this need, comprised mainly of the Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, and Spartans. The Human-Covenant War pushed UNSC toward full autonomy, making them a full-fledged military organization that can plan and execute missions throughout the galaxy.

Unified Earth Government (UEG)

Originally working under the UNSC after the Interplanetary War, they became an autonomous organization with the goal of maintaining Earth’s power and sovereignty with its various colonial pursuits throughout galaxies. Led by a President, the UEG is a civilian force that maintains checks and balances with an executive, legislative, and judicial branches, primarily housed in Sydney, Australia in Planet Earth.

Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)

The Office of Naval Intelligence is UNSC’s premier department for intelligence acquisition and leveraging through means of subterfuge, manipulation, and stealth. With the sensitive nature of its missions, they require highly-trained officers such as the Spartans. They have various ongoing projects and involvements throughout the Halo lore, including Project: MJOLNIR and Forerunner site investigations.

Spartans

The Spartans are comprised of cybernetically-enhanced soldiers that are considered the most elite infantry force under the UNSC. They have virtually no hierarchical structure within the faction, preferring to rank soldiers according to skill and success rates alone. The Spartans have many sub-teams deployed throughout the galaxy, one of which is the Blue Team.

Fireteam Osiris

Halo 5: Guardians features Fireteam Osiris, a Spartan-IV fireteam that is regularly tapped to handle complex, sensitive missions under UNSC purview. Led by ONI Acquisitions Specialist Jameson Locke, Fireteam Osiris is a group of supersoldiers of various specialties that can tackle any high-level classified mission with an almost-guaranteed success rate.

The Covenant

An alliance of alien species, the Covenant is a theocratic empire that mainly serves as an antagonist in most of the Halo games. They worship the Forerunners, an ancient galactic species whose history is only vaguely mentioned in the lore.

The Covenant aims to discover Halo, which is a collection of ringworlds that can give them access to legendary divine powers once activated and used to their benefit. Because the humans have proved to be an obstacle in achieving this, the Covenant saw them as something to be eradicated in order to proceed with their ultimate goal: divine understanding of their gods, the Forerunners.

The High Council of the Covenants

The High Council is a triumvirate organization that leads the Covenant, which is comprised of the San’Shyuum and Sangheili species.

The Covenant Honor Guard

Mainly comprised of high-ranking, highly-skilled Sangheili soldiers, the Honor guard is a hand-picked force by the High Council that aims to provide its utmost protection, which spans the High Prophets as well as its other important officials. Within their ranks is the Lights of Sanghelios, the most elite group of honor guards charged with the role of protecting High Prophets.

Zealots

If the humans have Spartans, then the Covenants have the Zealots. They are an elite, ruthless military force that also has a large religious influence within the Covenant. They are known to be cruel and merciless, comfortable with violence and other forceful means if it meant contributing toward the success of the discovering and activating Forerunner arrays throughout the Halo worlds. They are also excellent in subterfuge and stealth, which makes them a very formidable force against the Spartans in the Human-Covenant War.

The Forerunners

Little is clearly known about the Forerunners through the games. Players get bits and pieces of their history and lore as part of the Covenant narrative, with their relics and ancient installations constantly found throughout the Halo ringworlds. It is said that the Forerunners built the Halo array as the last resort against the Flood, which is a galactic parasite that threatened their existence during ancient times. After activating the array, the Forerunners were said to have vanished, leaving the worlds they’ve created in their wake.

 

HALO TIER LIST: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Why is it called Halo?

In the game, there are huge orbital stations that are shaped like rings. They are central to the plot as they were supposed to wipe out a specific species of parasite known as the Flood. These megastructures were called the Halo Array.

Why is the Halo franchise so popular?

The Halo series was the first of its kind. It was released long before Call of Duty and other contemporary shooting games, which is why gamers fell in love with it so quickly. Its graphics were ahead of its time, the gameplay was smooth, plus it had an excellent co-op mode to boot. All these contributed to Halo’s popularity and eventually cemented it as one of the most renowned gaming franchises today.

What are the main games in the Halo franchise?

There are six main Halo games. The games in the original trilogy are as follows:

  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Halo 2
  • Halo 3

After which follows the Reclaimer saga:

  • Halo 4
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Halo Infinite

How many Halo spin-offs are there?

There are 5 spin-off games in the Halo franchise:

  • Halo Wars
  • Halo 3: ODST
  • Halo: Reach, Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Halo: Spartan Strike
  • Halo Wars 2

Which Halo title has the longest campaign?

Halo: Combat Evolved has the longest campaign. This is most likely because the game doesn’t have online multiplayer. Due to technological constraints, the first game in the series only had local multiplayer.

Which Halo title has the best campaign?

Many players agree that the best campaign in the main Halo series belongs to the third game, Halo 3. As the finishing act to the original trilogy, Halo 3 delivers beautifully. Despite its narrative issues, Halo 3 provides a satisfying end to what Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 began.

That said, some fans also cite Halo: Reach as a great contender for best campaign. Even though it doesn’t follow Master Chief’s story, players loved Halo: Reach for crafting an excellent story that served as the prequel to the original trilogy.

Which Halo title has the best multiplayer?

Bringing in new guns, vehicles, and gear, Halo 3 is considered by many to have the best multiplayer in the franchise. Though some might argue that Halo 2 has the best multiplayer, they can’t deny that the title’s mechanics feel somewhat dated. And when compared to Halo 3, it seems to pale in comparison. Halo 3 even lets players customize maps, compete in them, then watch replays afterwards. So, that stands as yet another reason why Halo 3 has the best multiplayer mode in the franchise.

When is Halo Infinite’s release date?

Halo Infinite’s initial release date was on November 10, 2020. However, it’s been delayed and has been rescheduled to come out on December 8, 2021.

Where can you play Halo Infinite?

Halo Infinite will be available for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

What will Halo Infinite be about?

Halo Infinite will follow Master Chief’s story as he tries to find an AI known as “The Weapon.” It is said that this new AI will help him find Cortana. The game will feature an open world and players are expecting new gear, mechanics, and features.

 

Summary

Halo is a long-standing game series, well-loved by gaming fans all around the world. In that sense, it’s similar to series like Fallout and Call of Duty. But it holds a special place in gamers’ hearts for being one of the most critically acclaimed franchises in the gaming world.

To learn more about the titles in the Halo franchise, check out the official Halo website. You can also get a glimpse of what to expect from Halo Infinite!

Dan Western is the founder of Gaming Gorilla, as well as several other infotainment blogs. When he's not working on his business, he's likely in the gym or playing video games. Dan's current setup is a PS5/Nintendo Switch living room setup, and a custom RTX 3090, I9-10850K inside the Lian Li 011D Mini for his office setup.

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