Box art - Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo Flighting | When does Halo Reach beta testing start?

Halo fans around the world were excited to learn that not only would the Halo Master Chief Collection be coming to PC, but the long-missing final Bungie Halo game Halo Reach would at last be making its way to the collection, on Xbox One as well as PC. Even better, developer 343 Industries also confirmed that certain players would get early access to Halo Reach in the Halo flighting program.

Of course, this wording has left a few fans confused. What exactly is meant by “flighting” and how is it applied to Halo? When is Halo Reach early access or beta testing due to begin? Has it been announced yet? Will this Halo flighting program with Halo Reach be on Xbox One or PC, and which is coming first? Will it happen for the other Halo games on PC too? How do fans get involved with the program? We’ve got the answers to all of these questions.

What is Halo flighting?

There’s been a lot of discussion about Halo flighting, along with news, social media posts, forum activity, and talk from 343 and Microsoft about it. The big question is though, what actually is Halo flighting? It’s Microsoft’s term for early access beta testing, specifically used in connection with the Halo series through the Halo Insider program.

A recent email specifically described flights as “in-development slices or builds of the game designed to test certain features and accomplish specific goals on the road to large scale retail release,” which is an apt description. The Halo Master Chief Collection on Xbox One was originally tested using these flights, and was obviously successful in making the collection better. The public flights are set at specific times, and are usually to test a specific thing with certain goals, such as certain multiplayer types or even the single-player campaign. Players will be able to give feedback to the developers too.

What is the Halo Reach beta testing start date?

Halo Reach PC

It’s been confirmed that the first set of Halo flighting tests will involve Halo Reach, the new game being added to the collection and the first game planned in the staggered release of the MCC on PC. This isn’t just because it’s the one players want most on both platforms, but also it’s the one the developers need to test most, so it needs the Halo flighting program.

Regarding the Halo Reach beta testing start date however, while there have been a few news posts recently about how Halo Reach flighting tests are due to start this month. This was recently confirmed in an email and backed up by a forum post on the Halo Insider website. The posts say both that the teams are “getting closer to kicking off the first flights” and that it will happen “later this month.” The developer makes it clear, however, that not everyone will be involved in the first flight tests.

Will Halo Reach flighting be on Xbox One or PC?

An initial forum post by Halo community manager Brian Jarrard suggested that Xbox One players, who had signed up for Halo Insider flighting, would be the first to receive testing invites. However, he has since walked back that, saying “as of this week I’m not so sure that will be the case,” so it’s entirely possible the PC version could begin testing first. Nevertheless, Halo Reach testing will be done with both Xbox One and PC players during the flight program.

What is involved in the Halo Insider flight program?

If you’ve signed up for the Halo Insider flight program, the first thing you’ll need is to have patience. You should receive a confirmation email, and maybe updates from Halo Insider, such as the one that was sent out earlier today simply titled “welcome to Halo Insider.” This is not an invite, nor is it an indication that Halo flights are starting, but it is an introduction to the program and a description of where things stand. However, it is a test of the email system, so if you haven’t received it you’ll need to check out this post.

Other than general updates from Halo Insider and community manager Brian Jarrard (aka Ske7ch on the forums and Reddit), once the flights are ready to begin you may be sent out an invite. This firstly depends on your system, such as whether you have an Xbox One or PC as each flight will be for a specific platform, but also on your settings. During sign-up you’ll have indicated specific times and days you can play, and as flights are conducted at specific periods this will be taken into account, as will whether you want to play multiplayer or single-player. If you’re planning on testing on PC, your PC’s specifications will also be part of consideration.

Ultimately though, Brian Jarrard and the team also remind players that not everyone will get into the first flight testing, and some people may not get to test Halo Reach at all. They do note that “it is our hope that eventually everyone who wants to participate in a flight will get a chance to,” but the first flight will probably start out small. It’s not guaranteed that everyone will get to test the game, ultimately. However, it also should be noted that if you get invited to a flight and miss it, you might not get invited back.

How do I get involved in Halo flighting?

We’ve previously detailed how to get involved in the Halo flight program, so check that out here. The good news is that if you haven’t yet signed up to test Halo Reach and join the flighting program, you can still do that and be in the running to test the game on Xbox One and PC. However, bear in mind that undoubtedly thousands of Halo fans have already done the same thing, so the ones who have already signed up for the program will probably get chosen first for any flights.

Will Halo flighting be done for the other games in the Halo MCC too?

Another big question is, will flighting be solely limited to Halo Reach? On Xbox One that will assuredly be the case, as the remaining games in the Halo Master Chief Collection are all already available on console, so if 343 Industries does decide to test them it will only need to do so on PC. So will the studio be doing so? That seems to be the plan. The recent Halo Insider welcome email sent out only says that “initial Insider flights will focus on Halo Reach,” but we assume that later flights will cover the other games in the Master Chief Collection to make them run well on PC.

The reason Microsoft has chosen a staggered release schedule for the Halo Master Chief Collection on PC is so it can get any problems ironed out, and have the PC releases as perfect as they can make them. Microsoft and Halo fans both remember how infamously poor the initial MCC release was on Xbox One, and how long it took to fix, so no one wants to see that repeated on PC. Once Halo Reach flights are concluded, or possibly even while those are still going on, Halo: Combat Evolved flights will assuredly begin, and so on through the entire collection. And it all begins this month.