The short answer is yes, you can play Halo on Steam for free but with some limitations. While Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer mode is completely free, the campaigns and some legacy Halo titles require purchase. Read on for a detailed look.
As a long-time Halo fan myself, I‘ve been eager to jump into the legendary shooter on my gaming PC. With Halo Infinite out now across Xbox and PC, I‘ve done a deep dive to understand exactly what‘s free or paid in the Steam version. I‘ll share everything I‘ve learned as a fellow gamer so you can decide if Halo on Steam is right for you.
The Epic History of Halo
Before looking at what‘s free, let‘s take a moment to appreciate just how groundbreaking and influential the Halo franchise has been over the past 20 years.
Halo: Combat Evolved first launched in 2001 as a futuristic shooter centered around the spartan super-soldier Master Chief, humanity‘s last hope against an alien threat known as the Covenant. It was an exclusive launch title for Microsoft‘s very first Xbox console.
At the time, established PC shooters like Half-Life and Unreal Tournament dominated the genre. Many doubted whether an upstart console like Xbox could compete. But Halo proved them wrong by delivering an exhilarating story-driven shooter tailored perfectly to a controller.
Features we now take for granted like recharging shields, limited weapon carry, vehicles, and offline multiplayer were pioneered by Halo. It showed the potential of console shooters and played a key role in the Xbox‘s success.
The Halo franchise went on to sell 82 million copies and earn over $6 billion in worldwide revenue. Halo expanded into books, graphic novels, and even a live-action series coming to Paramount+ in 2022. It‘s become part of pop culture and for good reason.
Beyond just commercial success, Halo has inspired a generation of gamers with its epic sci-fi universe. I have fond memories of pulling all-nighters with friends in split-screen multiplayer matches. The story and lore also captured my imagination in a way few games do.
Simply put, Halo made console shooters legitimate and its impact on gaming cannot be overstated. Now 20 years later, a new generation gets to carry on Master Chief‘s legacy.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer: Free-For-All Shooting
Let‘s focus first on the good news. Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer mode is completely free-to-play on both Xbox and PC.
On Steam, just search for Halo Infinite, click install, and you are ready to jump into online arena matches instantly. No purchase required.
You have access to all of Halo‘s signature multiplayer modes including:
- Slayer – Deathmatch pitting teams of 4v4 in first to 30 kills
- Capture the Flag – Classic mode with fast flag runs on Halo‘s large maps
- Oddball – Hold a skull to earn points for your team
- Strongholds – King of the Hill style control point capturing
Along with staple modes, you can enjoy new additions like:
- Attrition – Starts 4v4 but no respawns, last team standing wins
- Tactical Slayer – No radar and increased lethality for tactical play
- Land Grab – Domination with 5 capture points
Across all modes, gameplay remains fast and fluid with tight gunplay that Halo is known for. You have full access to customize loadouts, climb ranked ladders, and progress the free Battle Pass system.
Halo Infinite uses seasonal Battle Passes that never expire, so you can work through premium rewards at your own pace. This is a welcome change from the FOMO (fear of missing out) many other games push with time-limited passes.
Best of all, Halo Infinite multiplayer has no pay-to-win elements. All monetization is through optional cosmetics that don‘t impact balance. You can be just as competitive with the default loadouts.
According to tracker site SteamCharts, over 270,000 concurrent players were battling it out over Halo Infinite‘s opening month. For perspective, that exceeds the peak populations of Battlefield 2042 and Back 4 Blood combined.
Clearly the return to Halo‘s roots has resonated with PC gamers. And again, all this multiplayer access is 100% free. Quite a deal!
Campaign and Master Chief Collection – Worth Buying?
Now for the catch. While multiplayer requires no payment, enjoying the full breadth of Halo content does need some spending.
The Halo Infinite campaign mode is paid DLC priced at $59.99 as a standalone purchase. Xbox Game Pass subscribers get access included with their subscription.
The campaign continues Master Chief‘s saga months after Halo 5. A ruthless mercenary faction known as The Banished have defeated UNSC forces and taken control of the Zeta Halo ring. Throughout 15 missions spanning 11+ hours, you‘ll uncover mysteries of the ancient ringworld while battling The Banished chieftain Escharum and his forces.
Fans praise Halo Infinite‘s open world approach to the campaign for offering more flexibility. Side activities like destroying propaganda towers, rescuing marines, and capturing bases all expand your influence across the ring.
While certainly not required, the campaign provides rich lore and context for the state of the universe in Halo Infinite multiplayer. Those invested in the Halo story will find it worth the $60 price of admission.
The other major Halo offering on Steam is the Halo Master Chief Collection at $39.99. This includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4.
You get the full single player campaigns remastered in 4K resolution. Plus you can play the original multiplayer modes that defined early console online gaming. Going back through the original trilogy and prequel stories is a pure nostalgia rush for any long-time Halo fan.
Between the Master Chief Collection and Halo Infinite campaign, you have hundreds of hours of content showcasing Master Chief‘s journey across two decades.
Free-To-Play Wins Long-Term Engagement
From a content perspective, Halo hits the major beats between free multiplayer and paid single player. But focusing on free-to-play multiplayer specifically has clear advantages for maintaining a healthy player base.
According to a study by Google subsidiary App Annie, over 90% of worldwide game downloads are for free-to-play titles. Gamers prefer trying before buying.
By removing the upfront cost, free games attract much higher install bases. Fortnite and Apex Legends show how this engages players long-term.
Based on a report by GameIndustry.biz, 343 Industries confirmed their plan is to support Halo Infinite for 10 years. That type of longevity requires continual updates, seasons, and content.
A thriving free player base enables that long tail by funding future development and attracting new gamers through word of mouth. As long as multiplayer remains populated, Halo will stay relevant.
And again, allowing complete access to multiplayer for free is consumer-friendly compared to titles that gate progression behind season passes and battle passes.
Gameplay Tips for New Spartans
For those booting up Halo multiplayer on Steam for the first time, here are some quick tips to get you up to speed from a veteran player:
- Complete training – Tutorials walk through core mechanics like shields, equipment, and weapons. They offer XP rewards too!
- Focus objectives – Slayer K/D isn‘t everything. Win matches by playing the objective.
- Ping constantly – Use the communication ping system. Callouts win games.
- Change your reticle – Default aim reticle is huge. Try smaller Center Dot or Crosshair for accuracy.
- Utilize grenades – Learn grenade bounce angles to flush out campers and objectives.
- Try new modes – Step beyond Slayer to enjoy objective games like CTF, Strongholds.
- Party up – Queue with friends for bonus XP. Coordinate to dominate lobbies.
Stick with it even if the pace seems overwhelming early on. Once the gameplay clicks, you‘ll be pulling off perfect kill streaks and ridiculous trick jumps in no time.
See you on Zeta Halo, Spartans!
Is Halo on Steam Worth It?
At the end of the day, Halo‘s Steam offering provides strong value with its free-to-play multiplayer focus:
- Halo Infinite MP – 100% free, includes all competitive modes, maps, customization. No pay-to-win.
- Master Chief Collection – $39.99, includes 6 remastered Halo campaigns and multiplayer.
- Halo Infinite Campaign – $59.99, open world co-op continuing Master Chief‘s story.
While not every piece is free, you can enjoy Halo‘s best-in-class gunplay and progression at no upfront cost. Paying unlocks even more content from an iconic franchise.
For PC gamers, Halo Infinite also represents the most technically advanced version of the series yet. The gameplay polish combined with PC performance gives veteran fans and newcomers alike reason to jump in.
At over 20 years old, the Halo franchise keeps moving forward while staying rooted in what made it special. Now including Steam access, more players than ever before can become the Master Chief.