Let's Rank The Halo Games, Best To Worst

Let's say you're new to a series. Or are in a position where you're recommending a series to a friend who's never played it. Or just feel like debating the finer points of a franchise with a friend, and deciding which of a big gaming franchise is the best.

Since you can't play loads of different games at once, you'll invariably need to start somewhere. With the one game in a series you think is better than all others. Then, when you're done with that, move onto the next-best, and so on, until you get to that poor little game that, for whatever reason, stands as the worst entry. Worst sometimes being a relative term, and sometimes, an entirely fitting one.

We'll be doing just that in this new feature we're going to call "Pecking Order", and given the games out this week we figured the Halo series was the perfect place to start.

Excluding Halo Wars and Halo 4: King of the Hill fuelled by Mountain Dew, which so don't count, there have been six entries in the core Halo franchise, the first being released in 2001 and the latest, Halo 4, hitting shelves this week.

It's safe to say the series has had its ups and downs in that time, with things like franchise fatigue and some poor decisions on both Microsoft and Bungie's part giving us games that range from "OK" to "oh my Lord that's amazing".

Throw in the length of time between major releases, the platform divide between games and changes made to multiplayer over the years and if you asked 20 Halo fans for their rankings on the series, you'd probably get 20 different answers.

For what it's worth, then, here are mine. Note that I'm not trying to tell you which is the best, and that your pecking order is wrong. Just that this is mine! And yours? Why, you can leave those in the comments below.

1. Halo: Reach (2010)

Easily the pinnacle of the series. Freed from Master Chief's bombastic space opera plotline and stuck on a world with a finite amount of time to live, Halo: Reach is the tightest Halo game to date, in terms of both its story and its pacing. Its multiplayer changes, while resisted by purists, were also a necessary boost. Seriously, unlike any other Halo game, I can't think of a single level or section of Halo: Reach I'd want to skip.

2. Halo 4 (2012)

Is it too early to say this game is this damn good? I don't think so. Microsoft's first in-house Halo game doesn't just make the Master Chief a little more human, it peels back the series' skin and shows its fundamentals can thrive outside the old reliance on a UNSC/Covenant/Flood conflict. The fact it's one of the best-looking (and best-sounding) games of this console generation doesn't hurt, either. That soundtrack is a work of art.

3. Halo (2001)

Play Halo then Halo 4 back-to-back and you'll realise just how little has changed in the last 10 years. That's not a slight against Halo 4, either: it's praise for Halo, which was so special at the time it single-handedly thrust Microsoft into the console arms race. A decade later, though, its singleplayer lapses (The Library...urgh) have it sliding down the pecking order, even if many of its local MP maps remain the best in the series.

4. Halo 3 (2007)

Quite possibly the most-hyped (or over-hyped) video game of all time, Halo 3 was a blockbuster, and stands as the refinement of Bungie's original model for the game before it started making bigger changes. Still a great game five years on, it's this far down because its singleplayer story was perhaps the most overblown and self-indulgent load of crap the Xbox has ever seen. Five years later and I'm not exactly sure what the hell happened.

5. Halo 3: ODST (2009)

I loved what ODST set out to do - just tell the stories of some ordinary soldiers caught in an extraordinary war - but the open-ended structure just didn't do it for me. The whole thing felt more like an expansion pack than a full game, probably because that's what it sort of is. Its "Firefight" multiplayer game remains an example of how to do horde mode right.

6. Halo 2 (2004)

Ah, poor old Halo 2. The only one on the list I genuinely think is a poor game. It's not Bungie's fault, of course. Having the rug pulled out from under them halfway through development, when they basically had to give up and start concentrating on Halo 3, meant this game was always going to feel under-done. And it does. Deserves credit for pioneering online multiplayer, but the singleplayer was such a disappointment not even the surprise reveal of playable Covenant sections could stop the sighs.

So, in a nutshell, that's how I'd rank them. What about you? I'm guessing some of you might put ODST a little higher...if you would, drop it below, let's hash this out.


    Number 1. Halo:CE (and the remake, which addressed the library issue)

    The rest rubbish.. cant comment on 4 tho haven't played it yet.

    Last edited 08/11/12 5:32 pm

      This is by far the worst halo article I've seen. Even the halo-hater articles have an element of truth to them; but this ranking shows complete disregard for research. I doubt the author even played the games!

      Agree, but Halo 4 looks pretty amazing.

        Actually wouldn't call the others rubbish, but I wasn't a fan of any of them. Halo CE will always be one of my faveorite games ever.

    Halo 2 as last? I don't know how to feel about that.

      I know right! Banshees, energy swords and dual-wielding, amongst other things, made Halo 2 a great successor in my opinion. The arbiter sections weren't great, but I was willing to look past that and enjoy the combat/stealth mechanic.

      Halo 2 was great as a co-op game. Many good memories there.

      Agreed, crossing the bridge in the Scorpion, sending Ghost-mounted jackals flying over the edge is some of the best fun I've had in any game. Who didn't love that intro?

      Sergeant Johnson: Where's the rest of your platoon?
      Female Marine: Wasted, Sarge.
      Marine #1: And we will be, too, sir, if we don't get the hell outta here!
      Sergeant Johnson:[Puts a hand on Marine's shoulder] You hit, Marine?
      Marine #1: N-no, Sir.
      Sergeant Johnson: Then listen up! Usually the good Lord works in mysterious ways, but not today. This here is 66 tons of straight-up, HE-spewing, dee-vine intervention. If God is love, then you can call me Cupid!
      Marine: What about that Scarab?
      Sergeant Johnson: We've all run the simulations. They're tough but they ain’t invincible. Stick with the Master Chief, he’ll know what to do.
      Marine: Yes sir, Sergeant!
      Cortana: Thanks for the tank. He never gets me anything.
      [Sergeant Johnson boards the Pelican and pulls charging lever on gun turret]
      Sergeant Johnson: Oh, I know what the ladies like...

    HAHA. Halo 2 and ODST are my favourites and Halo Reach is my least favourite. To be honest Your list is my list in reverse. (taking out halo 4 as i havent played the single player yet).
    Halo Reachs' characters were bland and boring and alot of mistakes with the story and weapon design, ODST had the best score and characters in any halo game. Halo 2 had dual wield and the arbiter. Loved those games.
    I might me be alone here tho. hah.

    I'm pretty happy with this arrangement I would put odst a little higher to be honest I know halo ce was great and all but campaign aside I see no reason to replay it I would however happily replay Halo3 and Reach for particular maps and experiences

    HALO 2600

    Wow, that's probably the worst ranking I've seen haha.
    No way would reach be at the top, just because it strayed away from Master Chief; doesn't mean it gets some special bonus. Would be Halo 2, Halo CE, Halo 3, Halo Reach, Halo ODST, and you can't really comment on Halo 4.

    I'm not sure I'd rate Reach at the top and haven't played enough of Halo 4 yet to judge. The original will always be the best for me I think.

    Halo 2 is definitely the worst. It wasn't because Bungie had the 'rug pulled out from under them'. It was because they didn't have a solid development practice in place. Everyone building bits and pieces and when they went to put it together the parts didn't fit at all, so they had to scrap it and start over. That meant less time to build a solid campaign, less time to balance multiplayer and so on.

    I mainly rate it the worst because of the crushing feeling of disappointment I got when I played it after queueing up at midnight to get the game. While it does have its moments, it just wasn't very fun. Some of the magic was gone.

    This ranking list is way too subjective.

    I'd swap Halo 3 and ODST.

    And while I agree it's too early to judge 4 properly, early signs are that it's the best of the lot.

    Reach and ODST are tied last for me. Shouldnt even be called halo games.

      i hear this a lot from some people, personally i think they are both better then the trilogy.
      can i ask why you dont like them? is it because they dont star the chief?

    ODST shouldn't even be considered as a stand alone game it was more DLC.

    I'm so glad you put halo 2 last, completely agree. I'm currently playing them all again, and halfway through #2 I was bored, it's the first time in Halo I actually felt I was simply shooting with no immersion whatsoever! Good article Luke

    My order, but with no explanation as I'll be here all day, and it's not an article I'm typing, but a comment.

    1. Tied between Reach and ODST.
    2. Halo 3.
    3. Halo: CEA.
    4. Halo 4.
    5. Halo 2.

    1. Halo CE
    2. Halo 2
    3. Halo 4
    4. Halo Reach
    5. Halo 3

    All the Halo games are great. But if I had to rank them:

    1: Halo CE
    Because the first is always the best. It's the game that introduced us to the Halo universe, to the Chief, to Cortana, the Covenant, the Flood and the Rings themselves. It's the game that kicked off the best video game series ever.

    2: Halo 3
    The game that finished the fight. A really fun campaign, but the reason I'm ranking it second is for the multiplayer. It still remains one of my favourite multiplayer games to this day.

    3: Halo 4
    An absolutely outstanding campaign and fun multiplayer.

    4: Halo 2
    Really fun campaign that did things differently. Taking on the role of one of the enemies from the last game was a bold move by Bungie, and one I think was well worth it. This also introduced some awesome gameplay features, like the ability to dual wield certain guns and board enemy vehicles.

    5: Halo Reach
    Fun single player and a good last Halo game for Bungie. Multiplayer was fun, but I never really found myself getting into it.

    6: Halo ODST
    Okay game. Roaming the city as the Rookie was a bit boring. Playing as the other ODST guys was pretty cool though.

    1. Halo 4
    2. Halo CE (Very close between this and Halo 4)
    3. Halo 3
    4. Halo 2 ( Also close with Halo 3 this game essentially kick started online multiplayer)
    5. Halo Reach ( massive gap between Halo 2 and this)
    6. Halo ODST ( Not even a complete game just a large dlc sold in stories)


      Halo 2 was poor in some ways but it also introduced a lot of important things to the franchise that have since been refined.

      Also, MC and Cortana ftw. I don't give a damn about silent meaningless protagonists where you watch characters much cooler than you not get to do anything. Stupid nation Gillian and his romance in odst and reach where the best part is after the credits...

    1. Halo: CE
    I'll never forget the first time I played it, it was on one of the xboxs in a kids room at a local surfclub, someone had left as chief evacuated pillar of autumn. Exiting that evac pod and walking out onto the ring was probably my favourite video game moment ever :P
    Then a mate gave it to me on a USB at school, that shortcut was on my desktop for months.

    3. Halo 4
    Haven't played four yet, but from what I hear/see looks about here.

    2. Halo 3
    Probably my first "next gen" game experience, first game on xbox, with the crazy things people made in forge this game took forever to get old.

    4. Halo: Reach
    Kind of the opposite of 3. Great campaign, Average multiplayer.
    One thing stood out in this game for me, often neglected by 95% of the people that play halo...
    Forge, everything that was used as an exploit in 3 to get forge to work was implemented as an easy option. I made so many good quality maps, forge alone increased the longevity of this game by about 60% for me

    5. Halo 2
    nuff said

    6. Halo 3: ODST
    I hate expansions, for almost all games, and this game was so much like an expansion it wasn't funny. Firefight has always been an average feature in my opinion, it was good, but not great. Storyline was also a letdown.

    Reach is rubbish compared to the rest. Come on. The campaign wasn't bad but it had no story, and the multiplayer was clogged up with DMR spam and badly balanced armor abilities. Halo 2 easily earns the top spot, the multiplayer was almost perfect in terms of a Halo game and the campaign was the most memorable, what with the whole Covenant sidestory aspect.

    Oh hang on, Luke reckons it was "poor". My god, what the hell is wrong with you Luke? Halo 2 is the most revered game in the series by the community.

    i have a similar ranking. which im sure no one will read, but here goes. from top to bottom, best to worst.

    halo 4
    halo 3
    halo ce
    halo 2

    and no i dont count halo wars :P

    Terrible list. Heres mine.

    1. Halo 3
    2. Halo 4(Campaign)
    3. Halo
    4. Halo 2
    5. Reach
    5. ODST
    20. Halo 4 (Multiplayer)

    Holy shit Plunkett. ODST was the worst of the series by a plethora of county miles. Although you forgot to include Halo Wars. Halo 2 much closer to the top. The correct order is as follows:

    Halo 4
    Halo 2
    Halo 3

    ODST was just terrible.

      the corect order is actually

      halo 2
      halo 4

    Halo (Introduced me to sci-fi, FPS and console gaming. When the Flood showed up....!)
    Halo 3 (Conclusion to the trilogy, first next-gen, great multiplayer)
    ODST (In terms of art and atmosphere, outstanding. Firefly cast)
    Halo 4 (Can't rank higher till I've clocked it a few more times, MP is refreshing yet familiar.)
    Reach (Really solid overall, a little pretentious - "Noble". Messed with some of the book canon)
    Halo 2 (Still rank this above most games, but some repetitive levels and jarring storytelling make it my least replayed title.)

    I'm loving Halo 4 thus far, but I wouldn't call it the best - at least, not campaign wise. I'm loving the Cortana-Chief relationship expansion, but the boring, repetitive "press three switches, kill three power sources, eat three donuts" mission goals are fucking terrible. Is this 1999, or 2012? Either do something interesting, or make the old thing interesting. Don't just... do it, but same-old-ishly.

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