Ever since it came out in 2001, the Halo franchise has become one of the most popular titles of all time. There are plenty of people who are fans of the games, but more people love the story instead of the actual multiplayer aspect which is quite prominent in Halo as well. So, if you are looking to follow the entire Halo series based on when they were released or the lore based on the timeline of events in the series, we are here to show you all of those.
Halo Games By Release Date
One of the best ways for you to appreciate a good storyline is to follow the plot in terms of release dates. It’s like Star Wars in the sense that you start with the original movies and then the prequels before you go to the sequels because that is the order of their release dates. That said, if you want to play the Halo games in terms of their release dates, take a look at this list:
- Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)
- Halo 2 (2004)
- Halo 3 (2007)
- Halo Wars (2009)
- Halo 3: ODST (2009)
- Halo: Reach (2010)
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (2011)
- Halo 4 (2012)
- Halo: Spartan Assault (2013)
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection (2014)
- Halo: Spartan Strike (2015)
- Halo 5: Guardians (2015)
- Halo Wars 2 (2017)
- Halo Recruit (2017)
- Halo: Fireteam Raven (2018)
- Halo Infinite (2021)
Halo Games In Chronological Order
It is undeniable that Halo has one of the best storylines in the first-person shooting game genre. The story mostly follows Master Chief, but there are plenty of spin-off games that happen in between and before the main games. So, if you want to drown yourself in Halo lore while learning more about the history of the different conflicts in this series, you might want to take a look at our list.
1. Halo Wars
Halo Wars is the game that the first Halo game was supposed to be, as the franchise actually contemplated beginning with a real-time strategy game. After all, games like StarCraft were quite popular at that time. Thankfully, Halo took a different turn.
Then again, the franchise still released an RTS game in the form of Halo Wars. This game happened in 2531, and that makes it the very first Halo game in terms of its chronology. It took place around 21 years before Halo: Combat Evolved.
The game focuses its story on a group of UNSC soldiers and scientists that were trying to stop the Covenant from getting ahold of some ancient Forerunner ships because of how this could give them the advantage.
2. Halo: Reach
Halo: Reach happened in 2552, which is the same year that the Halo Trilogy took place. However, this game happened right before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, as it can be quite difficult to put a finger into when this game actually took place. But what we do know is that Reach fell before the events of the main Halo games, and that means that this game happened before Combat Evolved.
The thing about Halo: Reach is that those who know the story of the franchise would understand that this game takes on a somber tone, as it is inevitable that Reach would fall. You are controlling a group of soldiers that are fighting a losing war against an overwhelming Covenant army. And that means that it is quite tragic, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great game with a robust story and gameplay.
3. Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved was the very first Halo game ever released and is also the game that first introduced Master Chief, who also became one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. This is also the game that jumpstarted the entire Halo main series timeline.
This game revolves around Master Chief in a battle between the Covenant and in his travels around the mysterious Halo Ring, which he later learns is actually a superweapon that can decimate all life within the galaxy. As such, it becomes a race between humanity and the Covenant to get hold of this weapon.
4. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition should be the game you should be the game that you should be playing if you want to play Halo: Combat Evolved in today’s era. That’s because this is a remake of the original Combat Evolved game, as it carries updated graphics and visuals that are far better than what the first game had.
Aside from the updated graphics, there aren’t a lot of differences between the anniversary edition and the original one. And that means that it might be best to start off with this game, especially considering that it did get a PC release in 2020.
5. Halo: Fireteam Raven
Halo: Fireteam Raven is Halo’s attempt at an arcade game, as this game is only available in arcades. It follows the on-rail shooter style that is quite popular in shooter arcade games. But while it was made to be an arcade game, it still belongs to the Halo continuity.
This game is set during the same time as Halo: Combat Evolved but doesn’t involve Master Chief. Instead, you are controlling Fireteam Raven, which is also in the middle of its battle against the Covenant.
6. Halo Recruit
Halo Recruit is probably the most obscure game on this list on this list in terms of where it belongs to the Halo continuity. That’s because there was never a setting or plot regarding this game, as it is simply a lot shorter than all of the other Halo games. But we believe that this happened during the war against the Covenant, and that means that it likely took place in 2552 as well.
Released in 2017, Halo Recruit is a VR game that allowed people to immerse themselves in the Halo universe. And because it only lasts around five minutes, this game is meant to be some sort of a trial that was only created for players to see what it’s like to be in the shoes of a Halo soldier.
7. Halo 2
Halo 2 is the game that directly follows the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. That means that the game still happened in 2552, as not a lot of time has passed between this game and the first Halo game.
The events of Halo 2 follow the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, as Master Chief is now on Earth to protect it from an impending Covenant attack after the aliens learned of the location of the planet in the galaxy.
However, when Master Chief learned that there was another Halo superweapon, he had to work with a disgraced Covenant leader called the Arbiter to try to stop the weapon from activating. But, near the end of the game, the remaining covenant leader called the Prophet of Truth sought out the Ark so that he could remotely activate the Halo superweapon. The game ends with a cliffhanger to set us up for the events of Halo 3.
8. Halo 3: ODST
Halo 3: ODST follows an entirely different group of characters, and that means that it doesn’t involve Master Chief. It was meant to be a side project that was supposed to be played in conjunction with the main Halo 3 because of how the stories converge in a way. However, it became a full game that was actually quite popular because of how refreshing it was.
As mentioned, Halo 3: ODST was supposed to be a supported game for Halo 3, and that means that it also takes place during 2552. But the difference is that it takes place during the events of Halo 2 and just before Halo 3.
9. Halo 3
Halo 3 happens right after Halo 2, and that means that it takes place in 2552 as well. The time gap between the two games isn’t a lot because Master Chief’s mission to stop the Prophet of Truth demanded him to take no time to rest. This is why the first three Halo main titles are called the Halo Trilogy, as their stories happen right after one another.
The game follows the story of Master Chief’s immediate pursual of the Prophet of Truth, who sought to activate the Halo weapon from the Forerunner installation called the Ark. Master Chief and the Arbiter used a portal found at the edge of the galaxy to teleport themselves to the Ark.
While Master Chief in the Ark, a ship belonging to the Flood crashed into the installation. But, despite that, he was still able to stop the Ark from activating the Halo. Still, the installation started constructing another Halo, which Master Chief and Cortana used to destroy the Flood without affecting the rest of the galaxy.
After destroying the Flood, Master Chief and Cortana escaped through a ship called Forward Unto Dawn. But they ended up drifting in space, as the fans of the game saw the end of the Halo Trilogy. And because the hero was left in space without any means of coming home, fans were left wondering about Master Chief’s ultimate fate and whether he was going to survive or not.
10. Halo: Spartan Assault
Halo: Spartan Assault is a twin-stick shooter game that was meant for mobile phones during a time when mobile games were beginning to take over the gaming industry. And this game follows an entirely different story that is different from the main Halo continuity, as Master Chief is still somewhere in space drifting.
The game happens somewhere between 2552 and 2557, as it happened near the end of the war against the Covenant. In this game, you control a Spartan named Sarah Palmer, who is tasked to fight the Covenant. And while it wasn’t the best Halo game, it still was good enough to get a sequel.
11. Halo 4
The original Halo Trilogy games were released in a span of six years, but it took five years for Halo 4 to happen. Of course, the same time also passed in between Halo 3 and Halo 4, as the latter game happened in 2557, which is five years after the events of Halo 3.
Halo 4 marked the return of Master Chief to the Halo franchise, as he wasn’t in the two games that were released after Halo 3. The game revealed that he survived his time in space because he was in cryonic sleep for five years. And he was woken up by Cortana when their ship was drifting into a Forerunner installation called the Requiem.
Unknown to the duo, they awoke a Forerunner called the Didact, who wanted to wage war on humanity because of his hatred towards humans. This prompted Master Chief and Cortana to stop him, but at the cost of Cortana’s “life” because she needed to sacrifice herself.
12. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection belongs in this place on this list because it is actually just a collection of the first four main Halo games that featured Master Chief. Of course, it had Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition instead of the original game.
While Halo 3 and Halo 4 didn’t receive any upgrades in this collection, Halo 2 received the same kind of update that Halo: Combat Evolve got when it was remade. As such, the visuals of Halo 2 improved so much. So, if you want to play the first four Halo games, you should go for The Master Chief Collection.
13. Halo: Spartan Strike
Halo: Spartan Strike is the sequel to Halo: Spartan Assault. This game follows the same twin-stick shooter style that was used in the original Halo mobile game, as their styles are quite similar to one another. However, this game has improved graphics.
The thing about Halo: Spartan Strike is that it actually follows two different timelines. It partially happens during Halo 2 and then after the events of Halo 4. That means that it is once again somewhere between 2552 to 2558.
Your goal here is to hunt down an artifact called the Conduit, which is located in the ruins of New Mombasa but was transported to a Halo Ring. Obtaining it is basically the main objective that you should achieve as you play the game. But the game is quite short, as it doesn’t really focus too much on its story.
14. Halo 5: Guardians
It is interesting to note that, before the events of Halo 5: Guardians, Master Chief reunited with the Blue Team sometime after the events of Halo 4. This means that this game happened in 2558, which is just about a year after the previous game.
In Halo 5, Master Chief got a vision from Cortana, who told her to go to a planet called Meridian. He and the rest of Blue Team disobeyed orders and went on a personal mission to Meridian to check whether or not Cortana was indeed there. This prompted the UNSC to declare Master Chief dead while also giving Fireteam Osiris, led by Jameson Locke, the task of hunting Blue Team down to bring them in.
When Blue Team reached Meridian, they found an ancient Forerunner installation that transported them to Genesis, a planet formerly inhabited by the Forerunners. It was on this planet that Master Chief learned about how Cortana survived and how she was planning to use ancient weapons called the Guardians to bring order to the entire galaxy.
Not agreeable with Cortana’s authoritarian plans, Master Chief and Blue Team were imprisoned until they were rescued by Fireteam Osiris. Both squads had to retreat when Cortana started to put her plan into motion. These events opened up the plot for the next main title in the Halo series.
15. Halo Wars 2
Halo Wars 2 is the sequel game to the original Halo Wars game, as it still follows the same RTS style that made the first game quite popular. It takes place after Halo 5 and is set for 2559. The game follows the Spirit of Fire crew dealing with an entirely different enemy called the Banished, which rose up in response to Cortana’s authoritarian rule over the galaxy.
The best part about Halo Wars 2 is that it has gameplay mechanics that are easy to learn for those who are new to the RTS genre. It might not have the same kind of Halo experience as the other games, but it still is a great entry to the franchise, especially if you value its contribution to the Halo lore.
Of course, the story of Halo Wars 2 also allows us to see the events that happened after Halo 5 and Halo Infinite, as it is important for us to understand how the Banished rose up and how Atriox, the leader of the Banished, plays a role in the next game.
16. Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite takes place in 2560, but the early portion of the game happened in 2559. In the beginning, Master Chief fought with Atriox, but the leader of the Banished defeated him and dropped him in space. This opened up the entire plot for Master Chief, who was in space for six months until a pilot found him.
Master Chief and the pilot decided to fight back against the Banished while also searching for other UNSC forces scattered all over the galaxy. They found out that the Banished have teamed up with a being called the Harbinger, who belongs to a group called the Endless. The Harbinger became the ultimate antagonist of this game.
Meanwhile, when Cortana got captured and realized that the Banished were going to use the Zeta Halo against the rest of the galaxy, she decided to delete herself and damage the Zeta Halo. She was essentially renewed, as she sent a recorded message to Master Chief, who now has a new AI called The Weapon (a copy of Cortana) in his possession, to apologize to him for his mistakes. After defeating the Harbinger, you will be able to see a post-credits scene that opens up the plot for the next Halo game.