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Halo Infinite's first flight has come to a close, and I'm devastated. Over the last couple of days I've sunk a good amount of time into the small slice of three maps, and I'm honestly so impressed with what 343 Industries have cooked up for Halo's slightly delayed return. At GAMINGbible, Dean Abdou and I are generally known as the very biggest Halo nerds, so it made sense that we'd sit down for a wee chat and gush about our experiences, both positive and negative, from the Halo Infinite Technical Preview...
You can read about our thoughts below, or watch it in video form right here!
Dean: The Halo Infinite multiplayer flight testing finally happened over the weekend and we've both been playing it. And it's been quite a wild ride! What do you think, Tom?
Tom: Genuinely, I'm a big fan. I had so much trepidation going into it because, you know, Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians... those games exist. Not to say they didn't have their audience - people did love those games. But 343 Industries' record with Halo and its multiplayer has not been banging. But somehow with this flight they've nailed that Halo feel with some fresh new flourishes and features sprinkled in.
Dean: Yeah, definitely. I think the Halo Infinite multiplayer has got a few flaws, but it's a technical preview flight, so that was expected. But for the most part, this kind of feels like the actual sequel to Halo 3; it feels like this is the next evolutionary step for Halo multiplayer. With Halo 4 and Halo 5, they tried to do some gimmicky stuff with it. Like you remember, in Halo 4, you had weapon drops. And then Halo 5 was full of more gimmicks like the advanced movement mechanics, which I think never had a place in Halo. And as we've seen with previous multiplayer games, like Call of Duty, they tried to do the advanced movement mechanics and then not long after they were back to the basics. The same happened with Halo Infinite. They've kept some things in, like the Smart Scope aim down sights, along with sprint and clamber.
I was worried about sprint and clamber - clamber especially because I thought that was still a bit too much of an advanced movement. But when you actually play it, it kind of just fits in rather well. I've been playing a lot of Call of Duty: Warzone and it has its own kind of climbing mechanics as well. So I think just from doing a year of Warzone, it felt natural in Halo.
Tom: It feels like it should be there, and they've nailed it, I think, at least for now on the three maps we have played so far. Maybe down the line when we play the inevitable Valhalla remake, clamber may just be a bit odd. But for now, for these maps, it's all good.
Dean: So, bots. I think we have some opinions on the bots. Obviously, when Halo Infinite comes out we're not always going to be playing against bots. It's going to be actual players. The bots in the flight right now, I think they have slightly ruined the experience for me. Because like you described them when we were playing earlier, they're at times too perfect. They're all in sync as a team and they've got each other's backs, like perfectly trained soldiers. And it's wild how accurate they can be! If you come up against two bots, especially at Spartan difficulty, you're done. Whereas if it is just the one bot, you could kind of get used to their scripting, you know that they're gonna throw a grenade at you...
Tom: And they will throw a grenade at you.
Following on from what you said, on the level Live Fire, at the start of every match if you take the left, and go to pick up the Battle Rifle, the bots will be coming straight at you because their spawn is across from there. And if you don't tackle that moment as soon as they go, you're dead, because they all just start shooting and in a second your shield and health are gone, and you're done. I've watched so many people run down there and just get blasted to oblivion because the bots are just so accurate, especially now they're levelled at their hardest difficulty, Spartan. In the end, your team will still win, the bots aren't that good, but their knowledge of the map and knowledge of everything is so ingrained in everything they do.
When they do work as a team, when you haven't split them away from each other, they can be brutal. Just I know this is gonna sound really stupid, but they do things that aren't human. They don't make human errors.
Dean: Every now and then they act weirdly. I remember in one of the games, the bot was just standing on a ledge, looking down. Obviously Infinite is introducing a variety of new things, so let's also talk about how they've dealt with equipment now that it is kind of like a mix between Halo 3's equipment and Halo Reach's armour abilities.
Tom: I do like them, and I love the Grappleshot. It's the most fun I've had in Halo for a long time. Grappling between enemies in a fight and beating them down is so satisfying, and of course the strategic advantage of being able to get the hell out of dodge when being swarmed by bots,
Dean: Another new element that they've introduced is the AI system. When you play through the games you'll hear when a power weapon or an equipment item spawns, and your little AI gives you the heads up about it, as well as highlighting it on your head-up display. So even if you're on the other end of the map you can see that there is a power weapon on the way and you can see its respawn time. It shows the perfect moment to pick up weapons like the Gravity Hammer - unless you kill me when I grab it.
Tom: I didn't kill you because team damage isn't turned on.
Dean: You just pushed me off the edge!
Tom: I altered the gravity around you with a grenade, so that you couldn't jump properly.
Dean: I tell you what, Active Camouflage is really good. I was trying to fire a rocket at an enemy player, but turns out you were invisible right in front of me. And I ended up hitting you in the back.
Tom: The invisibility is really strong in Infinite.
Dean: It was one of those moments where it's like, "I can't believe that's happened."
Tom: Moments like that never happened in Halo 5. I was having moments where I was cackling like a child at the sandbox. The grapple hook, oh my god. Pulling yourself across the map between enemies, giving them a whack on the back. So satisfying.
At one point I had grapples leftover, but managed to pick up Active Camo. So I was grappling around while invisible. I don't know if you're meant to be able to do that. But I was like, "I am the Invisible Spider-Man!" It was great.
Dean: Now that everything is more reliant on the sandbox, there is a lot more joy when battling it out. I found the Overshield a bit weak. I picked it up a few times, and each time I've used it, I just never felt powerful. Maybe that could link back to the bots, the way that they're programmed.
Anyway, let's talk about some of the weapons. I have to say that I think this is the best the guns have felt since 343 took the reins. In my personal opinion, the guns in Warzone are the ones that you can feel the power behind. But in Infinite, I get that same feeling.
Tom: The sound design is really good, When I launched into my first game and heard that iconic Halo shield renew sound, but with an extra pump behind it - so good. It felt weightier. Especially when I've been playing the flight on PC with headphones on. It just all sounds fantastic.
Dean: One of the last things I wanted to talk about was the Battle Pass and how armour works. We spoke about it briefly when we were playing earlier, and we both agreed that it was a bit boring with the options that we had available. It didn't seem that exciting. It's awesome that they've added prosthetic limbs for your legs and arms. That's really cool. And that there are three body options to choose from - there isn't just male and female. They're trying to do something that's balanced for everybody.
But yeah, just like when it comes to certain pieces that you could put on your armour, instead of specific parts...
Tom: It's a bit bland. Even when you see the starting line-up of your team at the start of a game, there's always two people, sometimes even three with the exact same armour coating. Whereas in Bungie-era Halo games, especially Halo 3 when you pick up your colours and style of shoulders and things like that, there was more creativity and ownership of your Spartan than anything I've seen so far in Halo Infinite. When you just choose your armour set and start picking those small changes to your chest or your shoulders, you can feel like a clone of someone else on your team, and that seems to go against how they're displaying Spartan ownership in the game. But obviously this may just be how it is in this first flight.
Dean: Halo Infinite's multiplayer is heading in the right direction. It's the first 343 Industries entry that actually feels like the next step for Halo. The other two felt like they strayed too far away. But Infinite is definitely making the right moves. It's going back to focusing on the sandbox. There's a lot of tweaking that still needs to be done and I need to experience the game, not against bots,. to properly see how things go. But I am enjoying it, and it's the first time I've really enjoyed a Halo multiplayer in a while... I just want to play more and more.
Tom: If I want to play Halo, I will turn the Master Chief Collection on, I'll matchmake on there. I never go anywhere near Halo 5, But this, I want to go back and play it more, too. I'm devastated that I'm not going to be able to play it now the flight has ended. It's the first Halo game that I've got excited about again.
I was so scared of being hyped about this game because we've been hurt so many times. But here we are, and they've kind of nailed it. The maps are great. I genuinely can't wait for vehicles and to drive around in some big team battle maps. I just want more because this is so good... And I hope they've nailed every aspect of it, not just this 4v4 situation.
Dean: Yes, definitely. Yeah, it's going down the right path. I'm enjoying it. I can't wait for the next few flights to happen, and I can't wait for the game to actually properly get released... which will happen sometime later this year. Still no official release date other than Holiday 2021.
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