Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye: Halo’s Multiplayer Saved

By Nathan Grayson on May 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

The tank won the shooting competition against Master Chief, but only just

Everyone, buckle up. It’s time to feel old. Here’s some history for you: Halo: Combat Evolved for PC has been up and running for nearly 11 years. Also, I had totally forgotten that it was handled by none other than Borderlands creator Gearbox back when they almost exclusively developed ports of games like Half-Life and, er, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. THESE ARE ALL TRUTHS, incontrovertible building blocks of the life you snooze your way through, blissfully unaware. Halo, however, was all set to get a halo of its own, courtesy of GameSpy’s impending closure. Fortunately, an Australia-based service called GameRanger has stepped in to save its online multiplayer at the last second.

GameRanger will offer support for Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo’s demo, and the mod and map oriented Halo: Custom Edition. So hurrah! Halo Anderson and all the rest of the series vibrant characters and settings are saved.

(I’m being facetious. I actually like Halo pretty well, all things considered. Halo ODST is the best game in the series, though YEAH I SAID IT.)

GameRanger has previously rescued similarly server-less games like GRID and Need For Speed: Most Wanted, so Halo will be in good company. In total, GameRanger – which sounds like the name of an unassuming disguise a GameSpy would don on a high-stakes mission – plays host to more than 700 games.

It is not, however, an official solution, and while I’ve never personally tried it out, I haven’t heard the best things about the quality of its service. But still, this is something. Maybe a stopgap until something better comes along? Does anybody know of any other efforts to salvage Halo from GameSpy’s weeping wreckage?

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47 Comments »

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  1. N'Al says:

    ODST IS the best game in the series, no mistake.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Henke says:

    Yeah ODST was great. I loved the atmosphere of New Mombasa’s deserted city streets at night. Reach or Halo 1 are my favourites tho. Never played 2 and 4 and didn’t care for 3.

  3. The Dark One says:

    GameRanger – which sounds like the name of an unassuming disguise a GameSpy would don on a high-stakes mission –

    It made me think of Games Radar, the almost-but-not-quite website for PC Gamer which still exists even though PC Gamer actually has its own website now. So. A good comparison then.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      In the beginning, I actually considered the GameRanger logo having a radar sweep within the ‘G’ since it was about finding multiplayer games (my previous server browsing app QuakeFinder had a satellite dish), but I couldn’t get it to look decent.

  4. rapchee says:

    if it has lan support, evolve should handle it
    https://www.evolvehq.com/blog/859

    • President Weasel says:

      who is this Ian, and why is his support so important? Is he the actual Game Ranger?

      • rapchee says:

        lan Smith is the local representative of the intertubes, how could you not know that

        • The Random One says:

          No, Ian Smith is the metalworkers’ representative. You’re thinking of Ian Internet.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    Senpai finally noticed you, Game Ranger! ~

  6. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Reach > ODST > 1

    The others are all a bit meh frankly.

    • Ich Will says:

      2 was good right up until the brutes, then it’s not worth playing.

    • Shodex says:

      Campaign:
      CE = ODST > Reach > 3 > 2
      – Combat Evolved ranks first because it was the first time we saw Halo, that skybox we learned to take for granted was very impressive then, and the Covenant was still exciting and unknown.
      – ODST is equal to CE because of how unique and fresh it was, and how scary it was taking on previously easy enemies.
      – Reach comes next because it was again, a new take. Elites, most notably, were much more challenging and it all felt nice. It was a great swan song for Bungie.
      – Halo 3 was a solid game, but Brutes can’t compare to Elites. It wasn’t bad by any stretch but didn’t do anything to make itself special.
      – Halo 2’s campaign was unfinished toss. The ‘boss fights’ were a joke.

      Multiplayer:
      3 > Reach > 2 > CE
      – ODST doesn’t rank because it’s multiplayer mode is not comparable to the competitive modes of other games. Reach also had the better firefight.
      – Halo 3 ranks ahead of Reach because Halo 3 was THE multiplayer Halo experience people remember best and Reach only improved the many things Halo 3 added. I do however think Reach was the more refined Halo multiplayer experience.
      – Combat Evolved takes last place because of the lack of online multiplayer (on it’s native system) and the poor balance regarding vehicles since they could not be destroyed in multiplayer only the driver could.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        The custom games in 3 were amazing. I had a lot of fun times with friends with max speed and rockets only. It also has one of the few good ranking systems.

  7. SomeDuder says:

    Wish they’d release all these games on Steam already… The initial hype is long gone and and any drive to use these games to sell hardware is past. Besides, Halo 1 and 2 are both available for Windows, and I very much doubt it’d be impossible to get the remaining games running on our boxes.

    I wouldn’t even buy them for multiplayer – just want to complete the storyline. Thin as it may be, it was well executed (First encounter with the Flood remains as great as ever). Hell, they might even make some money off it.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Halo 1 works without issues on x64 Windows 7 and 8. Only complains about 0GB RAM, which you can ignore.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Well, to be fair, it’s not as simple as hitting a switch. A significant amount of code would have to be rewritten to integrate the multiplayer for Steam.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I think most of us would pay for it, if only Microsoft would make an honest, decent effort…they did rework netcode for Halo: Anniversary, after all.

    • Shodex says:

      They just recently put some topdown arcade Halo game on Steam, I think that speaks for the kind of market Microsoft thinks exists on PC. That logic baffles me though. Microsoft is looking at a very profitable market that it helped create but refuses to make money off of it. I can understand if Microsoft wants to kill PC gaming and get us all paying for Live Gold on our Xbones, but it’s not even like Microsoft is really taking active steps to kill PC gaming. It’s just denying that it exists.

  8. SuicideKing says:

    Yes, I’ve been playing Halo on GameRanger for the last few days since support was announced, and it works well. Much better than Hamachi.

    Now if only Microsoft would still sell the damn game, and we could use a legitimate copy. :/

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Glad to hear it!

      I played a bit myself and was amazed how good the experience was, despite me being in Australia and the host and other players being in other countries.

      • SuicideKing says:

        You’re doing great work, man! Appreciate it.

        I was playing with friends in my city, but differnet ISPs. Managed to maintain 60-150ms pings most of the time, though i think their connections were at fault more than anything else. That said, none of us are on fiber, may be even better with that.

        p.s. Mandatory game request: FreeSpace 2 SCP! :P

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Best. Article. Title. Evrr

  10. Guvornator says:

    Better not be casting aspersions on Tony Hawks 3, great Scouser-Haired Writer From Across The Seas. That was a hell of a game.

    Speaking of which, is the Tony Hawks HD remake worth getting? I saw it on Steam but couldn’t find much info on it, which I took as a bad sign…

    • Mman says:

      I don’t know too much about it myself, but most of the consensus I’ve seen seems to be that it’s a completely butchered remake.

  11. Tom Walker says:

    I absolutely loved the multiplayer for this in its heyday. CTF on the big, PC-only vehicle-oriented maps was a joy.

    Unfortunately, when a lot of people moved on to newer games, the ones who stuck around only seemed to want to play ‘everybody has a rocket launcher all of the time’ mode.

    Which is stupid, obviously.

  12. Lemming says:

    It would actually be rather spiffy to see Halo:CE get the upgraded version that came out later on the X360, Steamworks and a rerelease on PC. But you know, Microsoft.

    Then again, they did Age of Empires 2 HD, so never say never.

    • SuicideKing says:

      They’re also going to ask us to buy an over-priced re-release of Age of Mythology soon! Aren’t we simply excited?!

      :/

  13. wcaypahwat says:

    I’d never even heard of this service before… and to think I spotted a brand new boxed copy of Halo at cash converters the other day

  14. lucilapbroadhurst says:

    Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do……. JOBS333.C­O­M

  15. Shodex says:

    In light of the whole Gamespy ordeal, I’d like to get something off my chest. Since EA said they’ll be transitioning Battlefield 2, 2142, and Bad Company 2 over from Gamespy.

    The vast majority the comments in the article I read this on said very similar things, “Thank god, 2142 is my favourite Battlefield.” “2142 is one of the best FPS games I ever played.” “I love 2142″ “When are they making 2143?” etc., etc. Mass praise for Battlefield 2142. This represents a large portion of older Battlefield players, we almost all love 2142 the best. I’m willing to bet some of the people reading this comment do to. It had all the goodness of Battlefield 2, with the addition of mechs and space ships.

    So if Battlefield 2142 is so good, and we all love it so much, WHY DOES NOBODY PLAY IT? IT’S DEAD, COMPLETELY DEAD. IT HAS BEEN FOR YEARS, BUT BATTLEFIELD 2 IS STILL GOING STRONG. IF WE ALL LOVED IT SO MUCH WHY DID WE PLAY IT FOR LIKE A MONTH, THEN JUST GO BACK TO BATTLEFIELD 2?

    There is 7 populated 2142 servers at time of writing, the most populated is 40/64, and four of these servers are Russian. I will for ever stay mad about the fact that 2142 was everybody’s favourite, yet nobody plays it. Even before Bad Comapny 2 when it was still the latest PC Battlefield, we all just went back to Battlefield 2.

    • uberhen says:

      We didn’t have broadband in my house until I was a freshman in highschool, believe it or not. 2142 happened to be the first game I played online from the comfort of my own home, and it was amazing (though anything would have beaten bot matches I suppose). As much as I’d love to see a Battlefield 2143, I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. Think about it from a business perspective: EA just published Titanfall. To a player who wasn’t familiar with 2142, it would probably seem similar in many ways. Consider also that 2142’s defining multiplayer mode was called “Titan.” I’m not saying EA values originality above all, but I think it might be a hard sell internally.

      On the other hand, COD is becoming more futuristic with each iteration. EA might end up making 2143 to compete with them.

  16. Jazzyboy says:

    This really doesn’t help much. A lot of gamers already use xfire, which offers pretty much the same thing: a third-party server list.

    However, both are third-party applications that have to be run seperately before playing Halo, so there is a level of awkwardness to using them.

    And they don’t provide an in-game server list. You’d have to get back into Gameranger every time you want to join a different server.

    I would say that a community-made mod, HAC(Halo Anti-Cheat) is a much more appropriate fix, as it’s just one little file that you can simply dump in your Halo install folder, and the creator will patch it to redirect players to a new master server.(a good few reputable community groups have already offered to provide a master server if needed)
    http://www.haloanticheat.com/

    It also conveniently provides fixes for FOV, HUD scaling, and bsp rendering limits. Oh and it has map downloading. It has several other cool features too.

    E: (I respect the need for GameRanger for some games ofc, but in this case, it’s a bit pointless because a lot of Halo players already use xfire, which does almost the same thing, though probably not quite as well. Oh, and yeah, HAC will probably provide a redirect to a new master server anyway, which will be a much more smooth transition, since it’ll basically work exactly the same for the end user once they’ve downloaded that one tiny little file)

  17. Faren22 says:

    Hooray! Now bored, understimulated teenagers will have something to play for free once again.

    • jo-shadow says:

      For free? You still have to pay for Halo: Combat Evolved, and if you say that they’d just torrent it, then it’s a moot point because they would already have access to basically all games anyways :P

      Not to mention the ‘understimulated’ youth would probably prefer one of the many free-to-play shooters like Team Fortress 2, Planetside 2, Warframe, Blacklight Retribution, Loadout, Hawken, Gotham City Impostors, Firefall, and countless MOBA’s over an old game like halo.

  18. Fattsanta says:

    Im just curious if the community will lift off again, I would love if it did but theres only around 2 to 3 games playing I notice at one time.

    • jo-shadow says:

      Actually currently there’s +100 people playing it at any time, with a good handful of 16/16 games (although this is probably because people know the servers will go down soon)

  19. jo-shadow says:

    Since GameRanger’s Scott Kevill seem to be browsing the comments, I have a quick question:

    How will this affect people playing the game? Will we need to use the GameRanger client now, or are you taking over the actual backend server? Will the in-game server browser still work? (It’s amazing how active it still is)

    Ideally I would want the GameRanger client to point the halo client to a new master multiplayer server so that we can still use the in-game server browser.

    To be honest, the last time I had the GameRanger client installed was back in 2003 to play multiplayer on Lionhead Studio’s Black & White, which sadly had basically no multiplayer community to speak of.

    Also, any word on Mavericks support yet?

    • SuicideKing says:

      It just works like this:
      1. Open a room for Halo
      2. Get people to join the room
      3. Click “start game”
      4. GameRanger automatically sets up stuff (except map and game mode) and just launch the server.
      5. Everyone else’s game starts and they join your game.

      Nothing changes in Halo itself, if you want to host a LAN or VPN game on your own you still can.

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    Devan says:

    Man, I still have Halo PC installed. Playing and modding this game is one of the earliest things that put me on the path to game development and now I’ve been in the industry for seven years. I’ve lots of great memories of this game so it’s good to know that the multiplayer will still be available for a while. Not that I can compete with the hardcore devout who still play it, mind you.

  21. sharkh20 says:

    Used to use Hamachi to try and get older games to work with multiplayer. GameRanger blows it out of the water. Simple setup and really high success rate.

  22. Jenks says:

    CE > 3 > 4> 2 > Reach > Wars > Spartan Assault > Risk Halo Wars the board game > ODST