If you didn't know, Halo 5 quietly made its way to PC this week. It's available through the Windows 10 Store as the Halo 5: Forge bundle, which is free-to-play.
You don't get the campaign, of course, and there's a lot of bells and whistles that are still exclusive to the Xbox One. But the principle of it all is a fantastic deal for gamers, once people actually start playing.
What's available is pretty solid: full access to any Forge levels created on Xbox One or Windows 10, proper mouse and keyboard support, and the ability to host custom matches with up to 16 players.
It's got just about everything you could want from the Forge level builder; in fact, it's got everything that Forge has on Xbox One.
The interface itself tailors quite well to the mouse and keyboard, with the ability to type in specific values for the coordinates of elements instead of using sliders, as you did on console.
There's already a bunch of maps and things for you to download and play, but where it really gets exciting — or will get exciting — is the multiplayer element.
Here's what that looks like right now.
Developers from 343 Industries have confirmed through various forums and livestreams that a "custom game browser" will be added to both Halo 5 on console and the Halo 5: Forge bundle on PC. They've noted that it'll provide "similar" functionality to what people have come to expect from a server browser, which could mean any manner of things.
The effect is that it'll give users a place to convene when they want to do some Warthog burnouts en route to capturing the flag. And that's a massive move when you think about it. For all intents and purposes, it means that Halo 5 multiplayer is coming to PC and you won't have to spend a dime.
It won't be as easy as what a proper matchmaking service will allow, and our good fortune with geography means the actual number of modes you'll be able to consistently find opponents playing will probably be limited to the basics (like Slayer, CTF and so forth).
Right now, if you want a 16 player match of Halo 5 for free, you'll have to bring 15 friends and get everyone together in parties. But that'll be made a lot easier soon enough once the server browser-like functionality is added.
And once it is: Halo 5 multiplayer. On PC. For nothing.
That might be one of the best gifts this year. If you've installed the Windows 10 Anniversary update, you can pick up Halo 5: Forge on Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store.