Halo series hits Steam as DirectX 12 comes to Windows 7

Microsoft, what are you even doing? Two interesting-but-probably-unrelated bits of PC gaming news came out of the Redmond complex early this week. The most exciting part is that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is not only coming to the Windows Store, but in fact it's also hitting Steam. Most folks anticipated that when Halo finally did make the jump, it would be a Windows Store exclusive, so seeing it show up on most PC gamers' selected storefront is a treat to say the least.

The Master Chief Collection includes the Anniversary Editions of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, as well as revamped releases of Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4. 343 Industries—the current stewards of the Halo series—says the collection represents "67 campaign missions plus more than 120 Multiplayer maps," including the bonus maps from Halo:CE's PC release.

The company also assures buyers that this version of the collection isn't going to be a lazy port, either—Ruffian Games and Splash Damage are assisting with the conversion, and the store page promises full mouse and keyboard support as well as "4K UHD and HDR" capability. In its own press release, Microsoft assures fans that the games will be updated to 60 FPS even when the original titles were locked to 30. There's no word on whether they'll be able to exceed that mark, but given the company's course corrections in that area with patches to Gears of War and Forza, we think it's likely.

There are still many unanswered questions about the upcoming release. The Steam store page says that the game will require a Microsoft account but doesn't explain the purpose. We don't know if the account will be required to play the games' campaign modes, nor if online play will require an Xbox Live Gold subscription as it does on the Xbox One. Likewise, we don't know if the game will support cross-play with players on the Windows Store version or perhaps even the Xbox version.

343 Industries says that the game will include all of the features of the Xbox version, but it's believable that the PC release may not support local multiplayer. We can at least assume that it will probably include the alternate game modes like co-op and "Firefight." We're also curious whether it will be delivered as a UWP app (and thus exclusive to Windows 10), or whether it will support older OSes like Windows 7. We've reached out to Microsoft with all of these questions.

Speaking of Windows 7, though, it turns out that DirectX 12 can in fact run on the nearly decade-old OS after all. In a post on the DirectX Developer Blog, Microsoft and Blizzard announced that the latest patch (8.1.5) for World of Warcraft brings the game's DirectX 12 client to Windows 7 gamers. 

This announcement raises all sorts of questions, the biggest one being simply "why?" I feel like I can probably answer that one for you. World of Warcraft may not be as popular as it once was, but it still commands an audience of millions of players, and a probable plurality of those players are positioned in Asia—China, to be specific. It's hard to find exact numbers on this topic, but Warcraft has always been huge there, owing in large part to its early availability among the PC-only gaming market of early-2000s China.

This may come as a surprise to those who haven't played it, but despite its lo-fi aesthetic, World of Warcraft (like other MMORPGs) has always struggled with consistent performance. This is because scenes can contain an enormous number of entities, which then creates a sharp single-threaded CPU performance limitation due to API overhead. Switching to DirectX 12 has led to performance upgrades of 50% or more for some WoW users after a round of multi-threading optimizations came last October, and so it's no surprise that Blizzard wants to extend these benefits to more of its user base.

Note, then, that some half of Chinese PC users are still on Windows 7. Hmm. We're speculating here, but the pieces fits together rather neatly. One does have to wonder whether Blizzard's decision to adopt DirectX 12 over competitor Vulkan was motivated by anything other than convenience. Vulkan, after all, was supported on Windows 7 from the start, and implementing it wouldn't have required Microsoft's involvement.

For its part, Microsoft says that DirectX 12 on Windows 7 isn't exclusive to Blizzard, and that the company is already working with "a few other game developers" to bring their DirectX 12 games to Windows 7. Of course, the company is also quick to note that it won't work as well as on Windows 10 due to "a number of OS optimizations."

As for the upcoming Halo release, 343 Industries says that the games will be rolling out separately, with Halo: Reach coming first for PC gamers. However, the company hasn't given us a release date or price yet, so if you're interested, follow the title on Steam and wait impatiently for more info like the rest of us.

Comments closed
    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 months ago

    [quote<] Halo: Master Chief Collection to support Windows 7 and possibly mods on PC [/quote<] [url<]https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/03/19/halo-master-chief-collection-to-support-windows-7-on-pc/[/url<] lots more info there from the reddit Q&A

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 months ago

    Speaking during the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Invitational, 343 Industries members provided insight into ongoing work on the project. According to Halo Community Director, Brian Jarrard, cross-play remains a topic the team “wants” to make happen; but is focusing on releasing its PC versions “the right way.” It indicates that while open to the concept, cross-play isn’t in development for launch day.

    I think people have asked a lot about cross-play. And I think there’s two different discussions there. I should say on PC, you’re going to get the same great experience regardless of which store you buy it from, right? [We] want players to have a choice there. Certainly, whether you pick it up on the Windows Store or Steam, you’ll play together, that’s not a problem.

    The real question on people’s mind is can I play Xbox against PC? And truth be told right now, we are really focused on making sure that we can bring these games to PC in the right way. But the team would love to hear feedback on this and as we get further down the road, it’s something I think we’re going to have to evaluate, and if it’s something that the community wants and makes sense, I think the team wants to make it happen. But right now, we really need to focus on getting these PC products out the right way.

    Further expanding, Bonnie Ross, studio head at 343 Industries, detailed its current plans surrounding Xbox Play Anywhere. While stating the title predates Microsoft’s cross-purchasing initiative between Xbox One and Windows 10, the team is exploring “appreciation and recognition” for existing fans.

    I think one of the questions we’ve gotten is will MCC PC support Xbox Play Anywhere. And first off I wanted to say, we so appreciate all the support we’ve had from Xbox One community with MCC, and we’re obviously bringing Reach to MCC. And while MCC shipped before the XPA Play Anywhere [program], we are exploring ways to make sure we show our appreciation and recognition for the support we’ve had from the amazing fans on MCC. And we’ll have more to announce once we get closer to launch.

    From [url<]https://m.windowscentral.com/halo-master-chief-collection-pc-team-talks-cross-play-xbox-play-anywhere[/url<]

    • Rza79
    • 8 months ago

    What about Windows 8?
    It might sound crazy but I was about to ‘upgrade’ to Win 8.1 (from Win 7) after being disappointed in how MS is handling Windows 10.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 months ago

      Don’t. Upgrade to 10.

        • superjawes
        • 8 months ago

        This. Getting 8 or 8.1 is basically just getting a worse version of 10.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 8 months ago

      So far based on what i can tell, 7 and 8 will be supported. they haven’t explicitly confirmed or denied that, but when i signed up for the Halo Insider program, it didn’t seem to have an issue with me having Win 7.

        • Ninjitsu
        • 8 months ago

        Confirmed [url<]https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/03/19/halo-master-chief-collection-to-support-windows-7-on-pc/[/url<] Actually they say: [quote<] Currently our focus is on Win10 and Win7. Win8 is still being investigated. [/quote<] [url<]https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/b2yhk8/mcc_pc_halo_reach_and_halo_insider_ama/eivuo5v[/url<]

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 months ago

      You’re right that does sound crazy.

    • Mr Bill
    • 8 months ago

    Sort of wish I was still playing WOW just to see how smooth a raid might be with DX12. We always blamed the servers. But this might have helped.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 months ago

      DX12 API will just reduce the graphical overhead to aid weaker CPUs. It’ll do next to nothing on modern chips. Raids are going are going limited on the server-side (mainly bandwidth/traffic shaping/routing.)

        • Redocbew
        • 8 months ago

        I doubt there’s many people playing WoW on “modern” hardware while still running Windows 7. 🙂

          • Mr Bill
          • 8 months ago

          Up till the end of 2014 I was running a phenom X6 1100T and XFX HD7870 on WinXP-64pro. Have Win7pro but have not upgraded that system to Win7pro yet. No plans to go to Win10.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            That sucks for you. 7 is eol and not nearly as capable.

    • DPete27
    • 8 months ago

    I’d wager that nearly all of the Chinese Win7 users are using pirated OSes.

    • danny e.
    • 8 months ago

    DirectX 12 can only run on windows 10.
    Straight from Microsoft.

    They wouldn’t lie, would they?

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 months ago

    GFWL utterly destroyed Halo 2 on PC, and that was basically it for me.

    By the time it was working properly again, Halo 2 was so dated and ugly that all the magic had faded 🙁

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 8 months ago

      The funny part of Halo 2 on PC was the ridiculous performance requirements. The game didn’t really look much better than the console version (other than the resolution improvement) and it recommended cutting edge PC hardware. To add insult to injury, the game didn’t even run very well.

        • Ninjitsu
        • 8 months ago

        The funniest bit was that the cracked version ran on XP just fine, but the legally purchased one was forced to be a Vista exclusive. 10/10 would MS again

      • DoomGuy64
      • 8 months ago

      Not only that, but the original Halo PC had better graphics. Halo 2 was a straight port, while Halo 1 was slightly improved. Neither one had CO-OP, and I doubt the remasters will either.

      PS. There are already community Halo remasters via Halo CE, and if the 343 remasters suck, we still have those.

        • RAGEPRO
        • 8 months ago

        As I noted in the post, the remasters are confirmed to have all of the game modes of the original games. The only question is whether they’ll support [i<]local[/i<] co-op (i.e. same-screen), because that's a bit fiddly on PCs.

    • Waco
    • 8 months ago

    Soooo many hours will be re-sunk into these titles if they all have the online co-op portion intact. Best kind of gaming right there.

    • superjawes
    • 8 months ago

    Here’s a question…if I buy the Steam version, does that let me play this on XBOne, too?

    I ended up getting a digital copy of [i<]Forza Horizon 3[/i<], and that was available seamlessly between my console and PC. Even included the cloud save/online profile without the Gold subscription.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 months ago

      Play Anywhere status is unconfirmed at this point, AFAIK but wouldn’t work for Steam/xbox. It’s only available for the MS store and Xbox, since the licensing is shared.

        • superjawes
        • 8 months ago

        Kind of what I assume would happen, too. It just makes for an interesting value proposition (if [i<]MCC[/i<] gets Play Anywhere status).

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 months ago

          tbh i’d be surprised if it did, but only because it’s already been for sale for so long on xbox. going forward MS has said they’d like as much as possible to be play anywhere.

      • MrDweezil
      • 8 months ago

      They’re usually quick to tout that feature but they haven’t said anything about it for this, so I would interpret that as a “no” until they say otherwise.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 8 months ago

    [quote<] We're also curious whether it will be delivered as a UWP app (and thus exclusive to Windows 10), or whether it will support older OSes like Windows 7. [/quote<] Could they deliver a UWP app via Steam? Why would they sell on Steam if they wanted to make it Win 10 exclusive? Haven't heard anything about Windows 10 exclusivity. Probably matters less now that Win 7 is almost past the Jan 2020 support date, of course, but there's still Win 8. And given that the original Halo and Halo 2 were both XP/Vista compatible...

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 months ago

      UWP apps can be deployed by any store and are not tied to the Microsoft store.

      • Redocbew
      • 8 months ago

      UWP its self is exclusive to Win10, so how they distribute it isn’t really the limiting factor. It would seem like using UWP as a wedge to force adoption of the store or vice versa has mostly failed at this point, but who knows. I make no claims of understanding what’s going on in Redmond these days.

        • LostCat
        • 8 months ago

        UWP has never been locked to the store. Desktop apps can use UWP APIs.

          • Redocbew
          • 8 months ago

          I guess you missed the kerfuffle Epic made when UWP was still something new. Since then we can sideload apps, but that’s just not good enough. Nobody is going to use your app if you make them jump through multiple hoops just to get the damned thing installed. That means you rely on a single channel for distribution, or you don’t use UWP.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            Sweeney made a collection of false claims which Microsoft repeatedly said weren’t true, and they weren’t.

            • Redocbew
            • 8 months ago

            Ok, then can you package a UWP application for installation the same way you would a win32 application? Is there a way to avoid the kind of shenanigans necessary to sideload an application? Are there features specific to UWP not available from other APIs? As far as I can tell the answers to those questions are: no, no, and yes. What part of that do I have wrong? I really would like to know.

            I will admit that there is some speculation involved in why Microsoft included X feature in UWP while not backporting it to previous APIs, and that it’s not at all uncommon for that to happen. However, it’s no secret that Microsoft has been trying to attract developers to the store for a number of years now. In the past year or so we’ve also seen them adjust the revenue share for some applications purchased through the store, and I have a hard time believing all of that is simply to make the lives of developers easier. These are concessions that Microsoft would rather not have to make in order to keep their walled garden intact.

            • psuedonymous
            • 8 months ago

            [quote<]Ok, then can you package a UWP application for installation the same way you would a win32 application?[/quote<]Yes. Microsoft even publish the process for self-signing your UWP packages. And last year (I think?) added support to the appisntaller for arbitrary non-store sources for auto-updates and dependency packaging, so you don;t even lose those functions with self-deployment. [quote<] Is there a way to avoid the kind of shenanigans necessary to sideload an application[/quote<]There are no shenanigans. The 'non MS UWP Apps' switch is not only user-exposed in Settings, but has defaulted to 'on' for the last few years. ::EDIT:: Enabled-by-default for signed apps. If you want to install an [i<]unsigned[/i<] app (bad idea, lets not revert security when we can help it!) Developer Mode does need a switch-flip. [quote<] Are there features specific to UWP not available from other APIs?[/quote<] Yes, the ability to use the WinRT API (not to be confused with the "WinRT" cut down OS version for ARM). You can also deploy Win32 applications within a UWP package to get all the package handling benefits without a total rewrite.

            • Redocbew
            • 8 months ago

            Cool. I figured someone here would have actually done this stuff before. 🙂

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            The misunderstandings around uwp are vast. You’re not alone in being unsure about it, which is really too bad as it does improve quite a bit for most consumers.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 8 months ago

            [quote<]If you want to install an unsigned app (bad idea, lets not revert security when we can help it!) Developer Mode does need a switch-flip.[/quote<]What if, say, a game developer wants to distribute a game package that users can modify? Wouldn't that necessitate an unsigned package?

            • Redocbew
            • 8 months ago

            Some quick Googling tells me that the signatures are just hashes generated for the files of the application. If that’s true, then I’d expect hooking into the runtime environment should still work since the files on disk would remain unmodified and the hashes would still match. However, that sort of thing falls pretty squarely in the realm of reverse engineering, and you may end up on the wrong end of a DMCA notice if the publisher has a mind to go that way with it.

            On one hand, I’m actually glad to see Microsoft using signatures in the store that are difficult to circumvent. Signed drivers in Windows are a joke, because you can just turn off the signature verification and install an unsigned driver anyway.

            On the other hand, I would say it’s a step too far for the Microsoft store to attempt to be some kind of watchdog for the applications installed through it. The only reason to generate a hash for specific files and continue to monitor it after an application has been installed is to gain more control over the environment in which they’re being used. If that’s being done in the name of functionality or security then I’d say it’s misguided at best. It’s not necessary if they want to verify that an application was in fact posted by X publisher, or that it hasn’t been the target of some attack that leaves a malicious application in its place for download. It’s also not necessary to verify that there were no transmission errors during the download.

            Despite everyone’s best efforts it’s also no secret that using software to protect software is not a sure thing. Game studios in particular are quite capable of bundling their applications with problematic DRM all on their own, and attempting to centralize the security of everything that gets installed through the store just makes it an even more tempting target.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 8 months ago

            Haha, hooking into the runtime environment is the least interesting type of modification. At least, the least common. I do like a bit of, say, Fallout Script Extender, but the usual “mod” that I do is to move a few files around and edit this or that file. From what you said, it does sound like that would be prevented by using a signed package, which is what I had thought.

            I agree with what you said besides.

            • Redocbew
            • 8 months ago

            Yeah, I’m not surprised. I’d think it would also be the least stable way to mod a game. Seems like it’d be easier for some update to break things in the mod.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            Mod support for uwp is incoming, and part of the official Microsoft plan.

            • Redocbew
            • 8 months ago

            I’m guessing we should expect support only for mods blessed by Microsoft?

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            Unclear at this point, they’ve just stated that they’re building in the ability to mod games. I’d hope it’d be something similar to steam workshop in how it works, but at this point not much is known afaik.

            • Ninjitsu
            • 8 months ago

            I’m assuming it’ll be Forge based?

    • ermo
    • 8 months ago

    Yeah, why not Vulkan indeed…

      • LewisForeman
      • 8 months ago

      Who has been able to sample the various products on this list and can be able to pick out the best one?
      [url<]https://musicalbuzz.com/best-computers-for-music-production/[/url<]

    • superjawes
    • 8 months ago

    Cautiously optimistic for [i<]Halo[/i<]. The two warnings are the Windows account requirement and the staggered release of the games. I am hoping that the Windows account thing is just for cross-play (which I have), and I am okay with that if it maximizes the number of people in multiplayer. The staggered release could also be fine. It feels weird, given that some of these games are heckin' old, but if it's to ensure better ports...good.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 8 months ago

      Windows account requirement? You mean Xbox Live account requirement?

        • superjawes
        • 8 months ago

        This bit:
        [quote<]The Steam store page says that the game will require a Microsoft account but doesn't explain the purpose. We don't know if the account will be required to play the games' campaign modes, nor if online play will require an Xbox Live Gold subscription as it does on the Xbox One. Likewise, we don't know if the game will support cross-play with players on the Windows Store version or perhaps even the Xbox version.[/quote<] I guess I assume this means we need some sort of Windows/Microsoft/XBL Silver (or whatever that is these days) regardless of multiplayer or not? And the Gold subscription would/could be an additional question. Again, it's one of the warnings that I am tracking. It could end up being a dealbreaker, or it could end up being nothing. I would like to pick this up, so I am hoping for the best.

          • Ninjitsu
          • 8 months ago

          Well, the steam page says:
          [quote<] Requires 3rd-Party Account: Xbox Live [/quote<] so... idk. i'm assuming this is for cross platform, but you make a good point, don't know if subscription will be a thing.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 months ago

            MS hasn’t required Gold to play for other mulitiplayer games on PC. Odd if they’d start now.

          • Ninjitsu
          • 8 months ago

          343 has confirmed there will be no subscription required.
          [url<]https://www.reddit.com/r/halo/comments/b0dc3f/halo_the_master_chief_collection_announced_for_pc/eidsq2i/[/url<]

    • Shinare
    • 8 months ago

    The interesting thing to me in that graph is XP’s refusal to go gentle into that good night.

      • NTMBK
      • 8 months ago

      So many pirated copies.

        • Krogoth
        • 8 months ago

        It is also from embedded/specialized systems where upgrading to newer hardware platforms/OS is literally impossible or cost prohibitive.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 8 months ago

          Software is such an ephemeral thing, I didn’t really appreciate that years ago, but now I just see how everything built with software is just so many sand castles. If you want something to last, do not include software.

      • jihadjoe
      • 8 months ago

      And no one likes 8 lol. It’s like the unremarkable middle child, next to the brilliant big brother 7, and the pampered and doted on youngest child 10.

      • NovusBogus
      • 8 months ago

      XP is, was, and always will be the high point of the Windows story.

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 8 months ago

        I have a each a WinXP and Ubuntu VM on virtual box. Win XP works and Ubuntu still won’t install chrome on the third failed attempt. It also crashes regularly. Hard to believe that ancient OS if still better than the several Linux do distros I’ve used recently. (Mint and Ubuntu and haven’t used Suse in awhile)

    • Krogoth
    • 8 months ago

    Bloodgulch 4ever

      • chuckula
      • 8 months ago

      I’m impressed with the RvB reference.

        • kvndoom
        • 8 months ago

        GRIF! Why the hell would you give someone CPR for a bullet wound in the head?

          • K-L-Waster
          • 8 months ago

          You’re right: here’s a leg cast. That should be better.

          • Mr Bill
          • 8 months ago

          [url=https://dx35vtwkllhj9.cloudfront.net/amazonstudios/dont-worry-he-wont-get-far-on-foot/images/regions/us/illustration.jpg<]Don't worry, he won't get far on foot[/url<]

      • drfish
      • 8 months ago

      Seriously, this is the only reason I would pick any of these up. Some of my best gaming memories are from Halo PC, tooling around in a Warthog with my nephews destroying everyone at CTF because we were all playing in the same room when matchmaking/voice chat was barely a thing. It was a huge advantage that doesn’t exist anymore.

      • cygnus1
      • 8 months ago

      YES. They need to hurry up and take my money.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This