The Halo franchise is part of the Microsoft gaming world for its Xbox series of video game consoles. This particular franchise falls into the science fiction genre as a military-style first-person shooter, or FPS.
Originally created by Bungie, Halo is now managed and developed by an Xbox Game Studio division known as 343 Industries.
Much of the franchise revolves around the character of Master Chief John-117, a supersoldier Spartan, often accompanied by his AI, Cortana, as they battle a religious theocracy of multiple species known as the Covenant.
In the article below we are listing almost all Halo games (both main titles and spin-offs) in order of chronological release. This order is actually the recommended order to play for someone just starting out on this game series.
Table of Contents
- 1) Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
- 2) Halo 2 (2004)
- 3) Halo 3 (2007)
- 4) Halo Wars (2009)
- 5) Halo 3: ODST (2009)
- 6) Halo: Reach (2010)
- 7) Halo 4 (2012)
- 8) Halo: Spartan Assault (2013)
- 9) Halo: The Master Chief Collection (2014)
- 10) Halo 5: Guardians (2015)
- 11) Halo: Spartan Strike (2015)
- 12) Halo Wars 2 (2017)
- 13) Halo Infinite (2021)
1) Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
The first installment of this franchise was released on November 15, 2001 for the original Xbox console. It would also see eventual release for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.
This game substantially grew Xbox console sales, giving Microsoft a badly needed boost as they tried to compete with existing video game console makers.
The content and caliber of the game were astounding enough to players that it set the standard for FPS games for years to come.
It was even honored with a remastered graphics re-release a decade later with an ‘Anniversary’ edition.
Man fans were drawn to the split-screen mode where two players could sit side-by-side and play with each other in front of the same television.
2) Halo 2 (2004)
The sequel and second game in this franchise came out in November of 2004 for the original Xbox console, with later releases for Microsoft Windows and even the Xbox One, as part of the Master Chief Collection.
The story and events of this game take place after the first one, and broke sales records at the time.
Earning $125 million on just its first day, it went on to be the highest-grossing video game for the entire original Xbox line.
Many fans enjoyed the multiplayer side of the game, continuing to play this one over later installments as long as the servers were up.
The inclusion of that MP in the Master Chief Collection was celebrated for bringing back the Halo 2 MP maps once more.
3) Halo 3 (2007)
Given the success of the Halo franchise, Microsoft relied heavily on Halo 3 to get consumers to buy its second console, the Xbox 360.
In September of 2007, Halo 3 came out, followed later by Xbox One and Windows releases as part of the Master Chief Collection.
The story campaign of this game was usually finished much faster by players than Halo 1 or 2, but the big selling point of this one was an emphasis on multiplayer, which had new maps rolled out for some time after the initial game release.
The single-player mode did conclude the trilogy arc of its predecessors, and smashed sales records that Halo 2 set.
Halo 3 earned $170 million on day one, and almost double that in one week. Like Halo 2, it went on to be the highest-grossing game of the Xbox 360 console.
4) Halo Wars (2009)
In February of 2009, the franchise took a new direction with one installment with the release of Halo Wars.
This game changed genres, as it was not a first-person shooter, but instead a real-time strategy game, or RTS.
Originally released on the Xbox 360, it later saw release for both the Xbox One and Microsoft Windows as the Halo Wars: Definitive Edition. This game’s story took place about two decades prior to the original Halo, covering some of the first encounters humanity had with the Covenant.
5) Halo 3: ODST (2009)
Halo Wars was not the only franchise installment to come out in the year 2009, as Halo 3: ODST was also released.
It returned to the FPS roots of the series, but it did not focus on the Master Chief character, instead following five ‘orbital drop shock troopers’, or ODSTs.
This game first came out for the Xbox 360, before the Master Chief Collection made it available to Xbox One consoles and Windows computers.
While many fans of the franchise enjoyed the game, they did note that it seemed like a bit of a money-grab by Microsoft.
Disc one had the single-player mode, which was originally intended to be a downloadable content or DLC expansion to Halo 3, and disc two just had another variation of the Halo 3 multiplayer.
6) Halo: Reach (2010)
2010 was the year that saw the last Bungie-developed Halo game, as their partnership with Microsoft ended, and they turned their attention towards their eventual Destiny franchise.
Reach was a prequel to the first Halo trilogy, again an FPS without the Master Chief character. The multiplayer side of this game struck a good chord with franchise fans, partly for its high quality, but also largely because it was Bungie’s last involvement.
The Reach multiplayer was retained and used for the Anniversary re-release of Halo I. Many hard-core fans of the franchise consider Reach the last ‘actual’ Halo game, since Bungie didn’t have anything to do with later installments.
7) Halo 4 (2012)
Halo 4 was the first franchise installment done by 343 Industries, first for the Xbox 360, and later the Xbox One and Windows as part of the Master Chief Collection.
It was intended to start a new trilogy story over three games. While this game had some fans, the players of previous Halo games largely had a hard time recognizing this as being on par with previous installments.
8) Halo: Spartan Assault (2013)
Halo: Spartan Assault might not seem like much at first glance. Halo is, of course, renowned for its story and world-building. And Spartan Assult tends to be fairly light on those themes.
On top of that, the game isn’t even a first-person shooter. It instead offers a very different take on the Halo formula by presenting players with an arcade-style shooter that’s rendered in a top-down perspective.
It’s hardly surprising that many fans of the series didn’t quite know what to make of Spartan Assult. However, there are some things to love about the game.
Halo: Spartan Assult does offer up some interesting pieces of lore despite not being nearly as plot-heavy as most other games within the series.
The game takes place between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4 and helps to fill in some of the gaps that many players had issues with.
In particular, it gives players a chance to learn about the Forerunners before they take on a bigger role in Halo 4. This makes Spartan Assult a significant part of the franchise’s larger story given that the Forerunners created the titular Halo array.
9) Halo: The Master Chief Collection (2014)
Halo: The Master Chief Collection isn’t a standalone game. It is, instead, a compilation of Halo games in a single package. These include Halo 1 to 4, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach.
It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t just a simple collection of games within the franchise. The Master Chief Collection also comes with a significant amount of quality-of-life improvements.
Halo 2 sees the largest number of improvements and can now run at 1080p. But every game in the collection has been updated or upgraded in some way.
The Master Chief Collection also makes it easier to play the definitive version of every game represented within it.
The Halo franchise has so many pieces of DLC, updates, and ports that it’s often difficult for newcomers to know which version to play. But the Master Chief Collection makes it easy to jump into the series with the definitive version of every game found within it.
10) Halo 5: Guardians (2015)
This sequel for Halo 4 came out for only the Xbox One in 2015. The single-player campaign was widely received as an improvement over Halo 4, although perhaps not back to the level of quality associated with Bungie installments.
The removal of the split-screen feature upset many fans who had spent years playing Halo with friends like this.
Numerous improvements and additions were made to the multiplayer side to keep up with current gaming. The influence of the Halo series over other shooters had long since worn off.
11) Halo: Spartan Strike (2015)
Halo: Spartan Strike is a follow-up to Halo: Spartan Assault. And most of the pros and cons of that game apply to Spartan Strike as well.
Players once again take control of an arcade-style top-down shooter. And they can once again enjoy some interesting pieces of Halo lore.
However, as with Spartan Assault, those pieces of lore and story tend to be spread rather thinly. But anyone who enjoyed the gameplay of Spartan Assault will find a lot to love about Spartan Strike.
This sequel builds on a foundation laid down by the polished, post-patched, version of Spartan Assault. As such it plays like a lovingly polished version of its predecessor.
12) Halo Wars 2 (2017)
This sequel to the first RTS Halo game continued that storyline for Xbox One consoles and Windows PCs.
Released in 2017, the end of the solo campaign started tying the RTS storyline into the Reclaimer trilogy of Halo 4 and 5.
13) Halo Infinite (2021)
Halo Infinite is something truly rare within a franchise as old as Halo. The game displays a thoughtful consideration of where the series has gone over the years.
Infinite gets rid of some gameplay elements that most fans of the series would agree just didn’t work out. It adds back some that fans have been begging for. And it lightly sprinkles in enough new ideas to make it stand out as a truly modern game within a long-lived series.
The linked areas typically found in Halo games are gone and a new open world is out there waiting to be explored.
This creates a feeling that really does evoke the idea of an “infinite” Halo experience. However, that sense of freedom isn’t just handed to the player.
It’s something that gradually opens up over time as you really get into the spirit of the game. In short, Halo Infinite is a game that will actively surprise and delight long-time fans of the franchise. It provides a feeling of exploration and excitement that harkens back to the very first game.