Wed. Nov 30th, 2022
Coming to Steam.  But wait, where have the Xbox Live requirements gone?

Coming to Steam. But wait, where have the Xbox Live requirements gone?

Microsoft Studios

Maybe a main line Halo game receive a bona fide Steam launch one day? Microsoft Studios was tiptoeing ever closer to that possibility with an announcement Monday:Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (HWDE) is coming to Steam later this week.

You’re not smoking anything: Microsoft is indeed releasing its resolution-bumped, mouse-and-keyboard-supported version of the 2009 real-time strategy game on Steam on 4/20. The Steam version costs $19.99. In addition, it is the first online Halo game to eliminate key Xbox Live features and requirements in favor of Steam’s proprietary solutions.

The release follows other official, top-down Halo games, the twin stick shooters Spartan attack and Spartan attack. Those games launched on Steam in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Halo: Spartan Attack was originally designed as a Windows Phone game and only came to other platforms after the tepid launch cooled. HWDE, on the other hand, is barely two months old and the Steam launch will do a few important things. First, the game will officially support Windows 7 and 8.1, which could drive wider adoption than the original Windows 10-only launch, especially for a game with such low system requirements (Intel HD Graphics 4200 in short) that it could run in , say PC Bang cafes.

Additionally, the Steam version will break the game’s online multiplayer pools on PC. Steam owners of HWDE will not be able to participate in the “Xbox Play Anywhere” ecosystem of online battles between Xbox One players and owners of the UWP, Windows 10 version only. Interestingly, the game’s Steam requirements page doesn’t mention that Xbox Live membership is required for online multiplayer, but it does mention Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud, and Steam Leaderboards. These all run on a very different system than XBL, and Microsoft representatives confirmed to Ars that the Steam version of HWDE runs within the Steamworks framework. Xbox Live membership is not required and the players of the Steam game cannot log in to it. An announcement page confirmed that Steam online play will be limited to “a server browser, where anyone can create and host a game for others to search and join.”

The only other Halo game to offer online play without an Xbox Live requirement came in 2003. Halo: Combat Evolveda port of Gearbox Software, included Gamespy as an online matchmaking protocol. HWDE’s server browser solution on Steam will likely be more future proof than HCEwhich is very inconvenient to play online on PCs these days.

Ever since HWDE that shipped on Windows PCs earlier this year with DirectX 11 support as opposed to DX12, it’s a much easier candidate for a Halo game runs on older versions of Windows. (The sequel, Halo Wars 2runs in DX12 on PC.) Any future mainline Steam launch Halo game (for example one of the anniversary remasters of the series) should probably also run in DX11. An AMD Vega preview event last week teased an image of halo 3that made fans’ tongues wag about the possibilities of an unannounced halo 3 anniversary edition – and another on PC – but Microsoft Studios has yet to formally acknowledge the chances of a Halo FPS in the older, wider DirectX 11 format.

This article has been updated to clarify: Halo‘s history of online modes in PC versions.

By akfire1

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