Halo Returns to PC With Halo Online, But Only in Russia for Now

Free-to-play multiplayer game enters closed beta later this spring; no plans to bring it to North America or Europe, but not ruled out.

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Halo is returning to PC.

Microsoft has confirmed that a new installment in the sci-fi series, a multiplayer-only title called Halo Online, will be released on computers as a free-to-play game. A beta will be available this spring only in Russia.

2007's Halo 3
2007's Halo 3

Halo Online runs on a "highly modified" version of the Halo 3 engine, and Microsoft says it is "optimized for smooth performance" on lower-end computers.

"While there's no campaign mode, Halo Online is set on a secret UNSC space installation called Anvil, where Spartan-IV soldiers train together in war exercises to sharpen their battle skills and test experimental technology," reads a line from Microsoft's announcement.

A closed beta for Halo Online kicks off this spring, and Microsoft hopes to gather feedback from the pre-release period to improve the final game. "We will continuously adjust and modify gameplay, features, and the in-game economy. We're looking forward to getting feedback from gamers living in Russia when Halo Online enters closed beta later this spring," the company explained.

Microsoft went on to confirm that it has no plans to bring Halo Online to Xbox One. And regarding a potential release in North America or Europe, the company didn't rule it out, but made no promises.

"Right now our focus is on learning as much as we can from the closed beta period in Russia," the company said. "Theoretically, any expansion outside of Russia would have to go through region-specific changes to address player expectations."

The game is being developed by Saber Interactive, the studio behind the TimeShift and Inversion franchises. The studio also worked on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Halo Online will be published by Russian MMO company Innova Systems.

The Halo franchise isn't the only blockbuster shooter series that has a version made specifically for an international market. Activision's Call of Duty Online, a free-to-play version of the military series, is now available in China.

Halo Online will be the first core Halo game for PC in years. Microsoft ported Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 to the PC, but all subsequent entries in the series have arrived only for consoles.

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