This past week I got to attend the Halo: Master Chief Collection midnight launch at the Microsoft store in Beachwood. While I didn’t pick up my copy there (preordered from Amazon), I did want to experience the joy that is a midnight launch party again. Why would I attend a midnight launch of a game during a “school night”? The answer lies roughly 11 years in the past.
My first introduction to the video game Halo was in 2003, during my first semester of my freshman year in college. Several people on my floor played the game and I was no different. Multiple times a week, a CAT-5 cable would be thrown down the hallway and a 4v4 multiplayer game would begin. As someone new to Xbox, it was a brutal set of training. It took me weeks to get used to using dual joysticks. During my free time, I slowly cranked through the single player story on my roommate’s Xbox. I grew up on Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Goldeneye so I gravitated to Halo. The great story and long single player campaign captured my attention quickly.
By my sophomore year (2004), I had acquired an Xbox (a birthday gift) and enjoyed my small library of games. Since I worked at the local mall at the time, I noticed the Gamestop was doing a midnight release of Halo 2. Halo 2 was a game I was really looking forward to and I decided to not only preorder, but pick it up at midnight.
November 9, 2004 came around and I drove up to the mall to pick up my copy. Since this was upstate New York (Ithaca, to be precise), there were about 10 of us waiting in line. I splurged and went with the limited edition steelbook copy of the game. Once back at the dorm, I fired up the game, plugged in my free Xbox Live code, and had a blast. Over the rest of my college career I would slowly build my collection of games, but Halo was always my favorite. I still have that copy and the “Do not sell till 11/09/04” sticker on my college mini-fridge.
When I graduated in the summer of 2007, I knew the launch of Halo 3 (for the Xbox 360) was coming up soon. September 25th, to be precise, which was an excellent “birthday gift” from Bungie. With some financial help (read: birthday) from my brother, I preordered the “Legendary Edition” from Best Buy. Two important aspects to note here:
-At the time I didn’t own a Xbox 360 (bought in October with one of my first paychecks).
-The “cat helmet” that came with the game serial number started with 33.
Halo 3 kicked off my Xbox 360 experience and my game collection grew even faster through the year. That model would last till I moved to California in 2012, in which it RRODed (Red Ring of Death) around the end of the year. Thanks to my wonderful (now) wife, my Xbox 360 was replaced with a brand new model, kinect and all. In 2014, I picked up a copy of Halo: 4 (no preorder this time) and went to town with the new campaign and multiplayer.
Now approaching present day, I was on the fence about picking up an Xbox One. While I knew Halo 5 and Halo:MCC would drive me to get the console; I didn’t know what bundle I should get or when I should pull the trigger (pun intended) on purchasing a new system (as I would be selling my 360 and games when I did). When the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle was announced** (featuring an Xbox One with a HDD that was 2x the space of a typical one) I knew I should spring for one now. After that system showed up (and I spent 24+ hours downloading COD:AW), I got a ping from Meetup that the local Microsoft store would be having a midnight launch event. Since I haven’t attended a midnight launch event in a decade, I jumped at the chance.
Upon arriving around 9:45PM (doors opened at 10PM), I was greeted by a line of people 30+ deep. Clearly, things had changed over the past decade. They had a raffle several times during the night, some sweet preorder only swag (whoops), and even an employee dressed up as the Master Chief himself! They had 8 (!) Xbox Ones in the portable TV cases on a couple of tables with people rotating in and out while others munched on pizza and checked out the other devices there. It was a ton of fun!
So, in 2015, when Halo 5 launches (to massive fanfare I can only assume): I’m preordering from the Microsoft store and attending the (inevitable) midnight launch event. 12 years of enjoyment can’t be wrong.