Halo Online returns with a bang as the fan-run ElDewrito

ElDewrito

Blasphemous as it sounds, I really like Halo. I like the floaty jumps, the slugfest combat where landing the first hit doesn’t always mean a win, the swooshy, slidey vehicles and the range of multiplayer modes. So naturally, Microsoft chose to release the free-to-play Halo Online in Russia only and cancel it before it could leave the early beta stages of development.

Legally fuzzy, perhaps, but thanks to a highly dedicated community and a lot of open-source poking around, development of Halo Online has quietly continued for years. Today, ElDewrito 0.6 is live, and it’s the best PvP Halo experience you can find on PC today.

The current version of the mega-mod project known as ElDewrito includes everything present in the final version of Halo Online, plus a good chunk extra. The Forge – Halo’s level/game-mode editor – is fully integrated, and you can host custom maps and modes on your own servers. Beyond that, more advanced modding is possible, although most of the several thousand active players are just playing the vanilla version of the game at present.

Halo Online is based on Saber Interactive’s PC port of the Halo 3 engine, so the competitive core of that is present and correct, minus the (excellent) Firefight co-op/horde modes. Sadly, it’s just human players only, but after a few minutes hopping between servers, I think this’ll remain well populated for some time to come, especially if updates continue.

Update: The server browser woes mentioned below are now entirely fixed, after they rolled out a new and far more aesthetically pleasing browser screen that appears to have none of the issues present in the original release.

There are some rough edges in the current build – the server browser itself is a bit clunky and slow, and I found myself accidentally joining games by clicking a little too fast through the UI. Also, the Forge, while powerful, only lets you remix the existing dozen or so maps that Halo Online had when Microsoft pulled the plug. The expansive creators sandboxes aren’t in the present version. While there is the possibility that Microsoft may bring the hammer down on ElDewrito at some point, it seems unlikely given how long the project has been active. Plus, Microsoft’s newfound live-and-let-live attitude towards Halo fan-works.

You can grab the latest ElDewrito installer off the project’s official site here, although if you want to poke through the source code and maybe lend a hand with the project, you can find the GitHub page for it here. Tangentially related, but if you want something a little more single-player oriented, you’d do well to check out Halo SPV3, which we previously covered here; A fan-made reimagining of the original game, integrating enemies and gameplay elements from as far into the series as Halo: Reach.

28 Comments

  1. Dominic Tarason says:

    Normally I’d be hesitant to cover fan-run projects like this on RPS, but the ElDewrito 0.6 release has already been covered by at least one other major site at this point, plus is the talk of the town across a lot of the Halo Reddit community. They’re not quietly trying to fly under the radar anymore with this launch, especially with a trailer that slickly produced.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Huh. I knew about takedowns, but I never really considered the balance that needs to be maintained. That sweet spot between “dead fan project” and “TOO popular” is a tricky one to stay in.

  2. N'Al says:

    Why would liking Halo be blasphemous? That’s just dumb.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      For the longest time, it was the most profane of four-letter words amongst the Very Serious PC Gaming crowd.

      Thankfully, times have changed.

      • int says:

        I will never forget the day MS bought Halo and ruined it all with a foul machine powered by demons and concentrated evil.

        • sinbad269 says:

          While yes, M$ did buy Bungie, it was before Halo: CE was released or even a beta. So it’s not really fair to say Microsoft bought Halo.

          Let’s also not forget it was first announced at a Macworld conference

          • Phasma Felis says:

            Huh? MS bought Bungie specifically to get the in-development Halo to release on the Xbox (and not the Mac, for some years after).

      • Xzi says:

        It’s not a terrible game, but there were plenty of FPS games that came before it which upstaged it. I’d also say there are a lot of FPS games better designed for PC, Halo is too floaty and slow and feels like it belongs on a console. Now, give me an HD remaster of UT2K4 and I’ll get excited.

      • brucethemoose says:

        I suspect many of us current Very Serious PC Gamers grew up with an Xbox or a 360 before graduating to PC, hence the changing attitude.

      • N'Al says:

        Anyone considering people who like Halo blasphemous isn’t part of the ‘Very Serious PC Gaming’ crowd, they’ve just got a stick so far up their arse there’s a risk of it coming out the other end.

      • po says:

        I’m a veteran PC gamer, and have played FPS games since Castle Wolfenstein (released 1981) mostly at LAN parties before broadband internet made online play common.

        By the time Halo CE was released in 2001, PC gamers had already been playing Doom (1993), Doom 2 (1994), Quake (1996), Quake 2 (1997), Quake 3 Arena (1999), Half Life (1998), Unreal Tournament (1999), and Counter Strike (2000).

        About the time Halo 2 was released in 2004, we’d also gained Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002), Battlefield 1942 (2002, with the Desert Combat mod in 2003), Soldier of Fortune 2 (2003), Call of Duty (2003, and the United Offensive expansion in 2004), Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004, Doom 3 (2004), and Half Life 2 (2004). Battlefield 2 was released only a year later in 2005.

        None of us who had played the single player campaigns or PvP in those FPS games could understand all the hype about Halo. Most of us owned Xboxes, or knew people who did, and it didn’t come anywhere close to being as good as what we’d already been playing, some of which was several years older.

        It may have been better than some PC FPS games, but no-one was playing those, given the above, better alternatives.

        • Titler says:

          This. I’m not going to say Halo was a bad game… but if you’d played anything concurrent on the PC, it was a completely mediocre experience in comparison.

          That isn’t to say Xbox or any other console was inferior, some of the games they had were miles ahead of the PC… we wouldn’t get a good Mario Kart game for maybe a decade, for example. I’d say Sonic All Star Racing Transformed was the first genuinely great one I played. Strengths and weaknesses and all that… it’s just that on console at that time, FPS games weren’t as good as on the PC.

          I think Halo was probably a benefactor of the infamous “everything’s better with friends” argument, and people had a genuinely good time local playing it; but then, all that is really saying is “I like spending time with my friends”, a tautology because they wouldn’t be your friends if you didn’t. And people say the same about Sea of Thieves today, and that’s got barely any content in it…

          Combine that with the usual over-adoration because it was a system flagship, and it was hard for even the most tolerant to not be tempted to say “Come on, it’s not that good” about Halo… like Bronies, and people who smoke pot, and anything else people are too over-enthusiastic about, you can drive people away with being too obsessionally positive.

          Just as the “PC Master Race” did to console fans in turn, I know.

        • Sandepande says:

          And yet Halo I remember fondly, unlike most of those other shooters.

        • gunny1993 says:

          As far as I can see not a single game you have listed there has the integration of vehicles and foot based combat that I always rated Halo for.

          Hell I don’t think a single game series has ever given me that integration as standard.

          • Amstrad says:

            How about Battlefield 1942, Unreal Tournament 2004 and the entire Tribes series? Vehicles alongside on-foot gunplay wasn’t exactly a unique feature.

        • Templar says:

          Amen. Consol managed to pull me away from the 2400 baud doom matches with Faceball 2000, Super Mario Kart followed by Golden Eye and Perfect Dark (Instantaneous 4 player hassle free split screen with the neighborhood pals was just to swéet). By the time Halo came out my little brother had the xbox and was doing the same with his friends. I did play it for two weeks singleplayer when we first moved to a new house with no internet. It really was to little to late at that point though. I did buy a 360 for the boxing games and some Forza but after that consols departed my life forever.

        • MrEvilGuy says:

          Yeah Po you’re not making much sense, unless you’re referring strictly to multiplayer. I played all those games too but Halo single player was fairly unique—more expansive landscape, vehicles included in the single player campaign, alien armies assaulting you in waves, cool weaponry and melee. The single player was a blast, but yeah I never understood why multiplayer was such a hit, and the hype was way overblown. Reading today’s Sunday papers reminds me that I was pretty confused that Halo made an appearance in Ready Player One yet none of the older PC games made it in.

    • Mr. Unpleasant says:

      Halo was supposed to be a really, really good – I dare say revolutionary – PC game. Then it became a console FPS.

  3. sinbad269 says:

    Halo Online returns? It never went away…

    Sure it went quiet while the guys worked on it [and probably had personal life issues arise], but 0.5.1.1 never went offline.

  4. SaintAn says:

    I miss Halo CTF on Blood Gultch. Hope this has that. And I hope the physics feel good.

    • SaintAn says:

      Just played a match, but something feels off about it. Might be because I’m using mouse and keyboard instead of gamepad with rumble though.

  5. FordTruck says:

    Halo was always a great game, it was one of those games where you get togethet with a big group of friends and you all play together, it’s one the best FPS games of all time, it also has the best gaming commercials in history….HALO commercials are something else.

  6. MazokuRanma says:

    How is this ‘legally fuzzy’ and not outright illegal?

    Before people start attacking me, I don’t personally care, I’m just genuinely curious what argument can be made for this to be legal. This doesn’t even seem to have the benefit of normal online games where people purchased it and the company stopped running the servers. In this case it never left beta, so no one paid for a product. And on top of that, they’re pretty clearly using the Halo trademark without Microsoft’s permission. So what makes this a grey area?

    • FtDLulz says:

      I think it’s mostly because of the fact that it’s non-commercial so they’re not necessarily ‘taking’ money away from Microsoft game sales.

      Taking a look at Microsoft’s Game Content Usage rules it does seem to follow most of the rules excepting the first one which seems like it breaks but IANAL.

  7. brucethemoose says:

    Holy moly, they weren’t kidding when they said the server browser is overloaded now.

  8. FtDLulz says:

    I really appreciate you willing to and taking the time to cover fanworks like H:O and SPv3 — they’ve had years of hard work put into them for no actual compensation except the enjoyment of others and they deserve the attention!

  9. DanMan says:

    Just go and play Titanfall 2. It perfected the formula.

  10. Zaxwerks says:

    I’m still waiting for Halo 3 to be released on PC. Microsoft release Halo 2 and then limited it to only running on Vista (Kind of like what they’ve been doing with the Windows Store)to try and FORCE users onto the “new and improved…lolololol” (sorry couldn’t keep a straight face there) operating system, and it left us on a cliffhanger, and that was 14 years ago… still waiting Micro-“we haven’t abandoned the PC for gaming”-soft.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>