Halo 2 online matchmaking returns in March thanks to community modders

While the official online servers shutdown in 2010, the team behind Insignia is bringing it back thanks to some clever reverse engineering.


For those that spent a good chunk of their life playing Halo 2, the shutdown of the online servers in 2010 was a moment of deep melancholy. It spelled the end of an era, but the talented team at Insignia are igniting the fires once more. Thanks to some reverse engineering, Halo 2’s online matchmaking is coming back via the Insignia platform.

An elite carries a flag as a Warthog explodes behind it

Source: Bungie

It’s not every day that I get to write about Halo 2, and what better year to make this kind of announcement than the game’s 20th anniversary? On March 13, 2024, the Insignia team took to X (formerly Twitter), to announce that Halo 2 online matchmaking functionality will launch on Insignia in public beta form on March 15, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. ET.

For those getting caught up to speed, here’s the short of it: Halo 2 fundamentally changed the landscape of online gaming and is responsible for how many online games function today. But the original Xbox Live servers were shutdown in 2010, ending all online support for OG Xbox games, Halo 2 included.

Cut to 2022, and Insignia was formed in a bid to provide a replacement for Xbox Live functionality for the original Xbox console. Though the team is not affiliated with Microsoft, it has been able to incrementally provide online support for these old games, with 169 now supported as of this writing.

How the team has managed to do this is beyond my scope of understanding. A pinned message on the X account shows the team asking for legal access to original Xbox game code, specifically any .xlast or .xms files. These metadata-only files apparently contain some information that would make it easier for the team to get more games online.

And now, in 2024 – almost 20 years after Halo 2 first released – Insignia is ready to let the general public start testing out the Halo 2 online functionality. Those who are interested in this will need access to an original Xbox. The team at Insignia have a comprehensive connection guide to step you through the process.

As for what will be available, the team is prepared with several of the original playlists that Bungie designed. Fans will remember the likes of Rumble Pit, Double Team, Team Skirmish, Team SWAT, and of course, Big Team Battle, along with a few more.

All 50 Halo 2 ranks

Source: Bungie

Rather amazingly, the team is working on bringing back Halo 2’s ranked system. This system is often touted as the best online ranking mechanic ever released. It saw players battling one another to rise through 50 ranks, with the last seven being represented by celestial bodies.

For those who still have an original Xbox and a yearning for old-school Halo 2 action, this weekend is no doubt going to be a good one.

Guides Editor

Hailing from the land down under, Sam Chandler brings a bit of the southern hemisphere flair to his work. After bouncing round a few universities, securing a bachelor degree, and entering the video game industry, he's found his new family here at Shacknews as a Guides Editor. There's nothing he loves more than crafting a guide that will help someone. If you need help with a guide, or notice something not quite right, you can message him on X: @SamuelChandler 

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