Xbox and Microsoft players alike were given a special treat yesterday at the 20th anniversary of the Xbox gaming company. November 15th 2001 was when the first Xbox coupled with Halo: Combat Evolved and Fable hit the stores for mass purchase. In a special move (though not at all unexpected) 343 Industries and Microsoft as a whole released the highly anticipated Halo: Infinite multiplayer to the masses.
I’ve played over 4 hours of the game so far and I am very happy with the release. Coming on the front end of Battlefield 2042’s release, the Halo: Infinite multiplayer is free to play on Xbox and PC. The core game itself which is set to “finish the Chief’s story” is still set to release on December 8 2021.
This game immediately blew the 2042 Beta and Call of Duty Vanguard out of the water. There are some technical glitches that can make the experience a little less than stellar but it still released in a much more polished state than some games have been in the last few years. Having played the beta when it released on July 29th 2021 there were some minor adjustments to weapons and the like with the new release. One of the standout weapons from the beta, the Commando assault rifle, received a large accuracy and fire rate drop to help balance the weaponry available to all players. 343 also introduced some new weapons that didn’t make it into the beta either, like the stalker rifle and the disruptor pistol.
The game itself runs extremely well with only minor lag spikes on the bigger games (Big Team Battle). Perhaps the most aggravating thing (for me personally) is the lack of XP given for completing a match. In EVERY OTHER halo game, when you complete a multiplayer match, you get awarded some XP to help level your character up and unlock new cosmetics. It was never much, probably 1,000 points on average, but when you need 250,000XP to go up some levels as you get higher in rank, its negligible next to the amount required. In Infinite (so far) the only way to gain XP is to complete the challenges given to you randomly by the game. They’re not difficult to accomplish, but it’s just annoying that you don’t get anything for completing the game. The challenges I was given last night centered around CTF (Capture the Flag) and Slayer (Team Deathmatch). Normally these wouldn’t be any issue to get, play a game of each and knock them out, easy peasy. My issue was that they didn’t have designated lobbies for each game type. So I was required to play a randomized playlist to try and complete the challenges. The issue came where every single game I got put in was either oddball (Keep Away) or strongholds (king of the hill); which didn’t help me complete any challenges in my 4 hours of play.
The only time I got a straight up slayer match was when I joined two of my friends to play together cross platform (they were on PC and I was on Xbox). Even then, it was ONE slayer match and probably 20 of the other two types. I understand that it’s the first day of the game and there are bound to be glitches and hiccups that need to be dealt with. That being said, if you’re going to make slayer a challenge then allow the players to pick that specific game type.
The weapons feel great. I love the new pistol the “sidekick”. It has a quick firing without being dead accurate like the pistols from Halo 5 :Guardians. The clip is a moderate size and the damage output is nice to balance out the small hand cannon. The shields animation did take a little for me to get used to. In older games the shields were a yellowish glow around the body until they dropped and then it was akin to static being discharged. In this game, the shields appear as red and when depleted the other Spartans look almost like they have red electricity swirling around them. Not a deal breaker, just took a little more to get used to. The standard assault rifle is back to the style that was made famous in reach. Gone are the days of needing to empty a full clip into someone and then hit them with a melee strike to finish them off. The accuracy takes a dip with sustained fire, but by controlling the shots and firing in small bursts (which is standard practice for most) you can drop an enemy player in half a clip max.
One of the new features that they added was the ability to hold your equipment until you want to use it. This includes the likes of active camo and overshields. Traditionally, in Halo when you picked up those two upgrades, they were immediately equipped to your Spartan. Since they are both timed upgrades, depending on where the flow of game is, you could spend half the upgrade just getting over to the fight. In Infinite, you pick these upgrades up like any others: grapnel launcher, deployable wall, thrusters, etc. and they become equipped to your Spartan. You can then maneuver yourself into a good position and activate them at your leisure letting you get the most play time out of the overshield and active camo.
The power weapons received a new updated look but they have the same classic feel and functionality. In the larger game modes, there are weapons caches stationed around the map. You can approach those stations and use your equipped AI to hack into the security system and open the cache. The hack takes about 30 seconds of real time and once you start it you must stay in the designated area until the hack is complete otherwise it faults out. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If you try and hack the cache and then the enemy shows up, you are generally stuck in an open area to try and defend your AI for the duration of the hack, making it very difficult to finish the breach and get the power weapons. Each of these caches comes with a grenade type, a power weapon, a regular weapon and an armor ability (normally overshield or active camo). Once you get the weapons, the door locks behind you and another passage opens up leading out a door onto a small ledge above the main hackable door to enter the cache.
343 Industries gave us the customization that I feel was missing from Halo 4 & 5. We’re taken back to the days of Halo Reach where each individual player could customize every single piece of their armour or equip full sets if they wanted to. You can mix and match pieces to make your Spartan your own and that is something that I really love.
The first season of unlockable customization is called “Heroes of Reach”; a fitting description given that all of the content you can unlock will allow you to model your competitive Spartan after any member of Noble Team. Personally, I am very excited to unlock all of the Emile-A239 armour pieces and model myself after my favourite member of the doomed Noble Team.
The visor colours are crisp and the animation style on the armour make it all look top notch when compared to the likes of Halo 5: Guardians. Halo 5 had a lot of customization but for me it looked way too shiny at all times. For example, if the Spartans are supposed to work on stealth missions, there is absoloutely NO WAY they would ever be able to hide. The smallest bit of light hits you and you light up like a fireworks display on May2-4 or Canada Day. That being said, there is a lot of the customization that you can’t access unless you buy their battle pass, which is something every single FPS style game is moving towards. They charge real money for credits to unlock cosmetics. This isn’t as bad as some “pay to win” models where you can purchase XP boosts for real money to level you up and unlock weapons faster for use against everyone else, but it’s still annoying. Halo: Reach let you earn all the credits you needed simply by playing the game, which is what I was hoping for with this game, apparently that’s not the case. While they are going the right direction in my mind, using real currency to make yourself look fancy in the game is ridiculous. That being said, I am a die hard Halo fan and a bit of a hypocrite so I did buy the Battle Pass and I have no regrets, so far.
Overall, I would give this multiplayer a 8.5/10, It’s really good and part of my favourite franchise so I do have a bit of a bias but there are a lot of games that can’t even come close this this level of completion at launch. *cough* Battlefield 2042 *cough*
If you’re a fan of Halo and are looking forward to the next installment in 3 weeks, hop into the multiplayer which is already released and join the rest of us in some good old fashioned Halo multiplayer.
See you on the ground!
The multiverse awaits..