Tuesday is a special day for Xbox gamers. There's another Halo game coming out, and it's a sequel to the criminally underrated Halo Wars. Halo isn't your standard video game franchise, in that there's a lot more than shooting enemies and getting insulted by a 13-year-old proto-neckbeard. There's a lot of stuff out there to enjoy, and here's a list of some of the best bits you can buy.
Halo Wars 2, from £40
Obviously the first one to mention is the new game, which returns to the crew of the Spirit of Fire after 28 years of drifting in deep space. Drifting that brought them to the Ark, the Forerunner installation located outside of the galaxy that we first saw in Halo 3. While there they end up facing up against a Covenant splinter group known as The Banished, who want the installation for themselves. It's also the first Halo game to be simultaneously released on Xbox and PC.
The Ultimate Edition of the game (available digitally, or physically at Game) is also available, which comes bundled with a remake of the first Halo Wars game, and the DLC season pass. It also lets you play before the official release date (Tuesday 21st February). That's also available on Xbox One and PC. [Buy it here]
There are plenty more games to enjoy in the Halo franchise, including The Master Chief Collection (Halos 1-4 with ODST as paid-for DLC), Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Reach, and the top-down shooting titles Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike. If you aren't getting the Halo Wars 2 Ultimate Edition, you can also buy the original Halo Wars. Halo Wars and Reach are only available as Xbox 360 games, but they are backwards compatible on Xbox One.
Unlike a lot of games, Halo has an extensive expanded universe for people to enjoy. The main brunt of that comes in the form of books. There are a lot of books. Recommended reading includes The Fall of Reach, which covers the Master Chief's life from childhood until the first game, Contact Harvest focuses on Sergeant Johnson's backstory and the first days of the Human/Covenant War. The Forerunner Trilogy (Cryptum, Primodium, and Silentium) focuses on the Forerunners and their war with the Flood, the Kilo-Five trilogy (Glasslands, The Thursday War, and Mortal Dictata) looks at post-war Humanity and sets up a lot of plot points for Halo 4, and finally New Blood details the fate of Buck's ODST squad and the Gunnery Sergeant's eventual initiation into the Spartan programme.
Also available are The Flood, First Strike, Ghost of Onyx, The Cole Protocol, Broken Circle, Hunters in the Dark, Last Light and the digital-only Smoke and Shadow, each of which focus on different areas of the canon during, and after, Humanity's war with the Covenant. Evolutions (Vol 1 & 2) and Fractures are compilations of shorter stories that wouldn't fill a whole book by themselves.
Books aren't the only Halo literature out there either. There are plenty of comics to enjoy. They include: Uprising (set between Halo 2 and 3), Helljumper (a prequel to Halo 3 ODST), Blood Line, Fall of Reach (an adaptation of the book split into three parts, Boot Camp, Covenant, and Invasion), Initiation (Sarah Palmer's backstory), and Escalation (set between Halo 4 and 5). Also available are two compilation graphic novels, the aptly named Halo Graphic Novel, and Tales From Slipspace.
Halo Mythos, £17
If you want the absorb the canon in more bite-sized chunks, then Halo Mythos might be for you. It's a guide to the universe, from thousands of years in the past all the way up to the post Human/Covenant war galaxy. It incorporates information from the books, games, comics, and other media, so you won't have to worry about missing a thing. There's also plenty of amazing art to enjoy. [Buy it here]
Halo wouldn't be Halo without the soundtracks enhancing the experience. So make sure to check them out on their lonesome, without all that gameplay distracting you. Available on CD are Halo, Halo 2 (Vol 1 & Vol 2), Halo 3, the Halo Trilogy, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, Halo Anniversary, Halo 4, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 5, Halo Wars, Halo Legends, and Halo Wars 2. Available on vinyl are Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 4 Special Edition (this includes the original soundtrack on CD), and Halo 5.
Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn and Halo Nightfall Double Pack, £12
There hasn't been a Halo movie yet, but there have been live-action tie-ins for everyone to enjoy. Both of them are available in this bundle, showcasing the backstories of the UNSC Infinity's Captain Laskey, and Halo 5's Jameson Locke. Forward Unto Dawn is distinctly better than Nightfall, but they're both incredible glimpses into the Halo universe. [Buy it here]
Also available is the anime compilation Halo Legends and the CG-animated Fall of Reach. The latter of which covers the Master Chief's backstory, and somehow manages to avoid the actual story of how Reach falls. I recommend reading the book instead. Cliched as it may sound the book is a lot better.
Halo has some great weapons, and finally, finally, you can buy replicas of your own. They're BOOMco, not Nerf, but that shouldn't matter. They function the same, and they have the same excellent designs that you'll find in-game. You can get the pistol (in red and green), the plasma pistol, the Needler, the Covenant Carbine, the SMG, and the Brute spiker.
Needler Replica, £348.02
The BOOMco Needler might not be detailed enough for you, even though it can actually fire. If you want something that looks like it just flew out of the game, and you have too much money to spend, this replica Needler is for you. It doesn't fire when you pull the trigger, but it does have light and sound effects for you to enjoy. It's also incredibly detailed, and would look incredible on display. [Buy it here]
Energy Sword, €77.49/£66.27
There are plenty of replica Halo weapons out there, but if you want the granddaddy of them all (that don't cost hundreds of pounds), the Energy Sword is the one for you. It's a Gamestop exclusive, which means you have to order it in from Ireland, but the extra shipping isn't that much more. It's out on 17th March. [Pre-order it here]
If you're a serious fan, or Halo enthusiast, you shouldn't miss out on the Halo Lootcrate subscription. Every two months is comes with a new selection of goodies, including t-shirts, figurines, in-universe information, and more. It's £41 per crate, £40.17 per crate if you buy three, and £39.95 per crate for six. [Subscribe here]