How the Halo SPV3 mod breathes new life into Bungie’s classic shooter

Few franchises in gaming change as much as Halo from sequel to sequel. Looking over the six main entries so far, each one stands along with distinct mechanics, enemies, and visual design. But in any case, such vast variation in sequels does lead to a lot of issues when you’re reconciling the entire franchise as a whole. One group of fans set out to make a version of the original Halo that reflects the entire franchise as a whole. With the recent release of a huge new update, the Halo SPV3 mod (or Single Player Version 3) is an amazing trip back to Installation 04 for fans of the franchise and one of the best additions to the classic shooter thus far.

Halo SPV3.2 | Detecting Covenant movement

SPV3 is a mod built on top of the original PC release of Halo: Combat Evolved. In order to bring that 2001 game in line with the rest of the franchise, SPV3 overhauls pretty much everything about the combat sandbox. There are weapons returning from old games as well as new weapons, enemies and even a couple reimagined levels. The beloved M6D three-shot pistol is gone, replaced by the more standard Battle Rifle and DMR. Brutes and Halo: Reach‘s Skirmishers join the fray, bringing Brute weaponry as well as several new Flood forms. Hunters and Sentinels drop several varieties of usable weapons, and the Flamethrower returns to Combat Evolved to make the Library a bit more tolerable.

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It’s a lot to take in, especially when you remember how limited the first game is. However, SPV3 does a great job of making weapons from other games feel familiar in Combat Evolved. It’s not perfect, especially in the case of the Brute Shot’s less than bouncy grenades and the Focus Rifle damage output. Some of the newer weapons also seem a bit overpowered in comparison to their native counterparts, but that’s par for the course when it comes to fan additions. For the most part, you know what you’re getting when you pick up a gun, and the newly refined battles make Bungie’s levels shine in a whole new light.

Halo SPV3.2 | Reminding us of what we’re fighting to protect

Alongside the new tools of destruction, the graphics and interface also got a facelift. Your visor now has an optional overlay that makes you feel more like a Spartan than ever. Character models have been upgraded, and there are lots of subtle additions to the user interface that add some Halo authenticity to this fan mod. There’s also a technological leap over the original game, with support for 4K visuals and plenty of wide resolutions and other graphical features that just didn’t exist back in the day.

But there’s so much more beyond just graphics and gameplay. New terminals add a lot of the lore that has been built up over the years into the game proper. You’ll get to see 343 Guilty Spark consider the new visitors to his ring, as well as the Covenant display all their religious zealotry. Expanded levels feature new mechanics like low gravity switches. The cut blind wolves and other wildlife appear on Halo’s surface when you first arrive. You can board wraiths to take them out and pilot a human flying vehicle across Two Betrayals. When combined with the massive upgrade to the combat sandbox, it all makes SPV3 into a full-on new experience set in a familiar world.

Halo SPV3.2 | You know our motto. We deliver!

The list of cool additions and hidden features of SPV3 (the Needler has a proper reload animation!) can go on forever and this shows how deep the mod is and how much work has gone into it. There’s a reason this is “version 3,” as work on similar mods goes back years and years. As a longtime fan of the series, the work was impressive even before the SPV3.2 update. The team behind this conversion nailed what makes Combat Evolved so special. Toying around with the Reach Grenade Launcher or the new Brute Plasma Pistol against unmatched AI opponents in huge open levels is a blast and is what captures the Halo in a way fan mod probably shouldn’t be able to do.

Halo Infinite‘s two brief E3 appearances are reminiscent of Combat Evolved. Bungie’s first Halo was years and year ahead of its time, something that even its developers couldn’t properly understand. With the gift of hindsight, the makers of SPV3 are able to bring forward that experience and tap some of its rich potential in the modern age. Hopefully 343 Industries can tap into that same potential with its Project Scarlett launch title. Bungie’s games were “open world” before it was cool, and SPV3 goes a long way towards showing that the formula is still brilliant in 2019.