Halo, Microsoft’s crown jewel Xbox franchise, has been squeezed like a tube of old toothpaste in as many directions as the company can manage. It’s been collated into a collection, spun off on smartphones and PC, and formed the basis of books, comics, a live-action television series, anime, and even a short film. After all these years, you’d be forgiven in assuming that the barrage of Halo products might diminish, but you’d be wrong — at Gamescom 2015 in Germany, Microsoft revealed a special edition Xbox One console to commemorate the upcoming release of Halo 5: Guardians, the newest entry in its flagship FPS series.
The latest sacrosanct object of Halo desire sports a gunmetal grey and blue design informed by Halo 5 lore. The $499 SKU ships with a custom controller that shares the same color scheme — a controller that’ll be available separately for $69.99 — and ups internal storage to 1TB. And, as you might expect, the bundle packs all sorts of Halo 5 goodies: a full Halo 5: Guardians download and in-game bonuses, Halo-inspired console sound effects, a Guardian model by Metal Earth, and a copy of Halo: the Fall of Reach animated series. The Halo Xbox One bundle is available for pre-order now and will ship on October 20, a week before Halo 5 hits store shelves.
A $100 premium for what amounts to a new coat of paint might prove a tough sell. The new Xbox One model significantly omits Kinect, an accessory that comes bundled with some standard, 500GB consoles at the same $499 price point. Eschewing Kinect nets an even better deal — $350 for a 500GB console. Assuming you’re willing to sacrifice some Halo memorabilia, it’d make far more economic sense to pick up a standard console and a beefy external hard drive.
Some might argue the Halo console confers value by exclusivity. The problem is that special edition Xbox One models just aren’t that special anymore. In an attempt to prop up sales, Microsoft’s released a metric ton of customized consoles over the past few months — a FIFA 16 bundle, Gears of War bundle, Halo Master Chief bundle, and Forza bundle. That’s not to say hardcore fans won’t derive some satisfaction from owning a piece of Halo history, but less diehard players might want to think twice.
A two-toned Xbox One isn’t the only new Halo-themed hardware Microsoft revealed yesterday. The $69.99 Master Chief Wireless Controller, which features green and metallic accents intended to evoke the subject of the series’ signature armor, will go on sale starting in early October. And Microsoft’s partnered with ASTRO to launch a limited edition, $220 A40+MixAmp M80 headset with a matte finish and blue accents. They’ll hit retail in September.