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Limited testing for Halo: Combat Evolved begins next month

Brand new, never before seen.

With Halo: Reach firmly securing John Halo's boots on Steam and the Windows Store, Developers 343 Industries are preparing to bring the rest of the Master Chief Collection to desktops over the coming year. Halo: Combat Evolved is next on the batting stand, with devs announcing that flighting (testing) for the series-starter should kick off next month, letting PC players get their mice and keyboards behind the big green lad's visor for the very first time.

Gearbox whomst?

Posting on their ever-updated flighting info thread, 343 noted that they're "currently working towards having the first Halo: CE PC flight to Rings 1 and 2 by the end of this month with the goal of expanding to Ring 3 in February." Being whopping great Halo dorks, "Rings" are how the team refer to various external testing groups. The first two Rings are limited to special friends of 343; long-time collaborators, third-party firms and veteran Halo experts who can make sure builds aren't totally busted.

Ring 3 is where you might come in, with 343 pulling from the Halo Insider program. You'll need to be signed up here for a shot at playing a 19-year-old game a few months early. There's no guarantee you'll get in - 343 will be picking Insiders based on whatever they're trying to test - but low chance is higher than no chance, right?

The closed beta will be testing all parts of the game, including both solo and co-op campaign play alongside competitive multiplayer, customisation and progression.

'Course, it's not worth ignoring any longer. The best Halo's been on PC all along. It's hard to build excitement for another rerelease, especially when it's draped in the garish cloak of 2011's Anniversary edition. It's not quite fan mod SPV3's garish horror (*shudder*), but the brighter look kills the tension in some of Combat Evolved's surprisingly nerve-wracking horror moments.

Besides, 343 would have a tall task in upping Halo 1's modding support. Gearbox, who ported Halo to Windows and Mac before Borderlands was a cel-shaded twinkle in their eye, took the unprecedented step of shipping a free "Custom Edition" alongside Halo, packed with a suite of tools used to build the game. Some of the best Halo maps you've never played came out of Custom Edition, and modders are still pushing out incredible new work to this day.

343 also noted that upcoming flighting includes testing some fixes for Halo: Reach. They only mention a tweak that'll let you move while crouching, but Reach's PC port gave some players bizarre audio problems that are in dire need of attention.

Personally, I just hope they've come to their senses and removed the DMR from the game entirely - my poor skull can't take another headshot.

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