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Earlier this year I wrote a feature on how Halo Infinite is make or break for the franchise in the hands of 343. After getting my hands on the new open-world campaign and playing the multiplayer beta the last few weeks, I feel pretty confident in saying that this is a return to form for the series. It’s the first time I’ve felt like I’ve been playing a Halo game since Bungie left the series behind with Microsoft back in 2007.
The campaign is all about the Master Chief, there’s no Spartan Locke this time round. There are a plethora of new characters such as the new AI ‘The Weapon’ and pilot Echo 216 who accompany you throughout this new adventure. Infinite’s campaign is very much a throwback to Halo: Combat Evolved, with the Chief once again exploring a mysterious ring world and shooting alien foes.
As for the wider world, this is the first Halo game in the series to take place in an open world setting. While the main story is all very linear, you’ve got the freedom to just explore this section of Zeta Halo. There’s a mix of side missions across the world such as hunting special mini bosses and taking over enemy bases to claim them as your own. Each of these missions helps you further upgrade the Master Chief’s armour so that his shields are better, unlocks new abilities and more. Despite all this though, the world can feel a little empty when you’re just casually roaming around. There are small things that you can find such as Forerunner Artifacts and even skin unlocks for the multiplayer, but it isn’t quite enough to make the world feel busy.
The lack of co-op also brings down the enjoyment that could be had in the campaign. Although this is a feature planned for later down the line, it is a shame that I couldn’t explore this new open-world game with a partner. It feels perfectly built for co-op play and so I have no doubt that when it does release, it’ll be a lot of fun. In the meantime there are NPC UNSC soldiers that can provide you with backup. At one of the many bases you reclaim, you can call in a vehicle and when it drops some of the NPCs hop into it to join you on your wild adventure. This would be great, but they’re comically the dumbest NPCs I’ve ever seen. There are moments where they stand right underneath where a vehicle is about to drop, inevitably leading them to get crushed or sometimes despite honking the horn dozens of times, they’ll just stand in front of the Warthog clueless.
As for the main story, 343 played it very safe by avoiding linking it back to Halo 5’s campaign too much. Many of the story beats are quite similar to Halo: Combat Evolved and it very much leans hard into nostalgia for some long time fans. It recaptures that mystery from the first game, where you’re exploring these ancient places that were built by a long dead advanced civilization. Throughout the campaign I was enticed, but it felt like it ended in a rather abrupt manner which could be due to DLC that’s planned for the future. Nevertheless it just didn’t feel like the whole package.
When it comes to the mechanics, advanced movement has been completely binned off in both the campaign and multiplayer. Halo Infinite returns to its roots, but with a fresh shiny 2021 paint job. In the campaign, you unlock a variety of new abilities such as the grapple and drop shield, but in the multiplayer these are just item pickups that you find dotted around the map. Each ability has its positives, but it’s the grapple hook that’s the most standout. In the singleplayer, when you’ve got it maxed out it’s just a great way for exploring the new open world, but in the multiplayer it’s the perfect tool to help you escape near death or zip straight into another player to finish them off.
All the weapons in the game feel pretty solid and are quite distinct from one another. You can feel the power of a grav hammer when giving it a swing and hear that booming thunder. The BR, which is a personal favourite of mine, feels sharp and precise when you land those headshots. I could go on and on, but the whole list is strong. The same goes for the grenades and item pickups too, especially within the multiplayer as it feels like a throwback to the Halo 3 multiplayer.
The current offering of maps and gamemodes though in the multiplayer is pretty disappointing. After locking down the multiplayer in the Master Chief Collection, it’s a shame to see that none of it was used for Halo Infinite. While this could all change, right now it’s quite annoying not being able to select just Team Slayer or Oddball. While I’m really enjoying the games, the experience is dampened by the lack of game menu navigation.
On top of this the current Battle Pass system, while currently being updated, is an absolute chore to progress. Without a proper ranking system except for in the Ranked playlist, it just doesn’t feel all that worthwhile. The core gameplay is a lot of fun though which is what makes me keep coming back to it and hopefully the future updates that are planned will tweak how all these systems work.
Overall, Halo Infinite is definitely the game that will make 343 Industries. After a few rocky attempts, this is a fun and much needed return to form for the franchise. While the campaign feels a little empty, there’s huge potential for things to come in DLC and despite some of the issues with multiplayer, the core gameplay itself is extremely enjoyable. I look forward to seeing where 343 takes the series from here.
Pros: Return to form, Fun to explore the open-world, All about the Master Chief
Cons: Multiplayer needs work, Campaign ends abruptly, Open-world can sometimes feel empty
Fans of: Halo: Combat Evolved,
Halo Infinite is released for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on December 8th. Review code for Xbox Series X was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.
Featured Image Credit: Halo Infinite / Xbox Game Studios
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