For die-hard Halo fans, playing the Halo campaigns on legendary difficulty is a rite of passage. Halo fans must sanctify every new Halo game through the ritual of a campaign run on legendary. Halo 3 ODST is the easiest game on legendary mode. Halo 5’s biggest crime is its bullet sponge enemies that make legendary difficulty artificially more challenging and a slog to play. Halo Combat Evolved is among the most balanced of all the campaigns, and is the most difficult to complete one of the most demanding ones.
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In a gaming era where first-person shooters are abandoning single-player campaigns in favor of multiplayer experiences, Halo is still upholding its roots as the old guard for high-quality shooter campaigns.
For die-hard Halo fans, playing the Halo campaigns on legendary difficulty is a rite of passage. Halo fans must sanctify every new Halo game through the ritual of a campaign run on legendary difficulty, and it truly is a rewarding experience like no other.
Because I enjoy doing things the hard way, and my hype for Halo Infinite is through the roof, I played all the Halo campaigns on solo legendary; here is how I would rank them in terms of difficulty.
Ranking the Halo Legendary Campaigns by Difficulty
- 7. Halo 3 ODST
- 6. Halo 3
- 5. Halo: Reach
- 4. Halo 5
- 3. Halo 4
- 2. Halo Combat Evolved
- 1. Halo 2
7. Halo 3 ODST
By far, the easiest Halo campaign on legendary is Halo 3 ODST. Being the shortest of the Halo games, ODST already has a leg up on difficulty based on time to complete alone, but it is also one of the series’s fairest feeling games. Every death was justified and could have been avoided; getting one-shotted by enemies is actually pretty rare in this one compared to the other games. I am looking at you Halo 2 jackals. Overall, the most challenging part of the game was the highway finale simply because of the crazy amount of enemies thrown at you at one time; otherwise, this game is a breeze.
6. Halo 3
One of the most iconic Halo games is also one of the easiest on legendary mode. Halo 3 was the third shortest legendary campaign run for me with the second least amount of deaths. Halo 3 does have a few challenging missions, namely Cortana, thanks to the ubiquity of the flood; however, the key to having an easy time is just zoning the flood properly and zipping to the next area. Really, that’s the name of the game with Halo 3; you can mostly juke past a lot of the enemies and find yourself at the next checkpoint quite easily, thanks to the level design.
5. Halo: Reach
Reach is a contentious Halo game. Some say it’s one of the most difficult; others think it’s one of the easiest. Personally, I believe Halo Reach is in the middle of the stack. There are some excruciatingly tough sections, some of the worst in the whole series, such as Long Night of Solace which took me no less than two hours to complete thanks to the grueling flying section. What eases the difficulty curve of this campaign is how strong the Halo noob combo is in Reach. For those unaware, the noob combo is the plasma pistol and DMR/Magnum combo; one charge of the plasma pistol will destroy an enemy’s shields, and then it’s a one-tap headshot with the secondary weapon. This combo isn’t unique to Reach but is a lot more powerful here, primarily due to the number of elites you’ll find yourself fighting throughout Reach compared to the other Halos. This combo is their kryptonite and can get you through most of the game just fine as long as you stay in cover.
4. Halo 5
Admittedly, Halo 5 is the one game I have the least time with. It is not a campaign I see myself playing legendary again simply because it is not very fun. One of the worst aspects of this game on legendary is the AI which ends up feeling utterly useless. Halo 5’s campaign was designed with co-op in mind, and as the difficulty rises, the flaws in the campaign balancing become more evident. Halo 5’s biggest crime is its bullet sponge enemies that make legendary difficulty artificially more challenging and a slog to play. This, coupled with a bevy of missions featuring seemingly endless waves of enemies, makes Halo 5’s legendary campaign feel like a chore and difficult for all the wrong reasons.
3. Halo 4
Halo 4 is much the same as Halo 5 in terms of difficulty but outranks Halo 5 because of one reason, the enemies are even bigger bullet sponges than in 5. Thanks to these bullet-devouring enemies, ammo feels even more scarce. I counted 3 full assault rifle clips just to take down one knight; they have more health than a hunter. It was simply not fun and had me constantly scurrying for more ammo. Halo 4’s campaign relies greatly on enemy prioritization and resource management, making it the most tactically demanding Halo game on the list and one of the most difficult ones to complete.
2. Halo Combat Evolved
Halo CE is among the most balanced of all the legendary campaigns, if you ask me. Every weapon is viable, which is not something that can be said about most of these games. The aforementioned “noob combo” is here and as effective as ever, but that doesn’t stop Halo CE from cementing itself as one of the top dogs in terms of difficulty. Halo CE’s difficulty comes from the enemy AI aggression being cranked to 11 and the health replenishment system contingent upon finding health kits in the world. The enemies absolutely do not fear or respect the Master Chief in this game and will chase you down to the ends of the earth. Any gunfight will easily shred your health down to a sliver and leave you praying that your shields recharge in time to deliver some pop shots and make progress. Not to mention The Library, a true test of patience and a war of attrition for every Halo player.
1. Halo 2
Halo 2 on legendary should be considered hazardous to your health. Going into this one, I thought that everyone was exaggerating about how challenging this game is. But nope, it really is that difficult. Jackal snipers can one-shot you from a mile away, and most combat scenarios feel more like you simply got a lucky break that time around rather than outright winning a fair fight. Halo 2 simply does not give you enough health; Master Chief has the penetrability of wet paper. The opening sequence alone took me about 20 minutes to complete. I’ll leave off my thoughts on Halo 2 by saying that the mission, “Gravemind,” is one of the most intense and challenging sequences in a video game ever. If you can manage to survive the first ten seconds of that mission, you’re off to a good start, and if you can complete Halo 2 on legendary, you deserve a UNSC service medal.
Final Thoughts on Halo Legendary Campaigns
Completing the Halo campaigns on legendary is not for the faint of heart, especially if you plan on doing a solo run. However, accomplishing this feat is one of my proudest achievements in gaming. I implore any Halo fan to try it; you are rewarded with a newfound appreciation for the design philosophies that went into these games when they were created. Halo CE and Halo 2 are such challenging campaigns because these are older games with design choices that we just don’t see today, but it loops back around to being a breath of fresh air because of it. There’s still plenty of time before Halo Infinite is released; if you’re looking to tackle all of the Halos on legendary, hopefully, you are now equipped with knowledge on what to expect.
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