Monday, December 13

Halo Infinite Review

I played on: Xbox Series S
I paid: £0 (Played on Xbox GamePass Ultimate)
Available on: Xbox One, Xbox Series S & X, Windows PC
Notes: n/a

Halo Infinite is the long-awaited sequel to Halo 5 Guardians. Infinite is a game of two halves comprised of the campaign and the multiplayer. I want to look at both here but let’s start with the multiplayer.

Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is a PVP arena shooter very much in the vein of Unreal Tournament or Quake Champions. This is a first-person shooter (FPS) like all other mainline Halo games. Unlike more realistic games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield you can take a lot of damage before being killed. See you play as a Spartan-IV Super soldier wearing advanced Mjolnir armour. What this means in terms of gameplay is that you have shields that regenerate after a few seconds of not taking damage. You’re able to make a mistake and recover from it unlike in other online shooters and I like this. With most similar games as long as you’re the first to fire and hit you will emerge the victor. I prefer Halo’s larger pool of health because it allows skilled players to turn an engagement.

The weapons in Halo Infinite expand on the series already strong lineup of fictional firearms. Then you have the deployable tools such as the grapple and drop-wall. These can be used a few times and then run out. Unlike Halo 4 & 5 you don’t start with a preloaded loadout. This means that understanding the maps is once again important for the first time since Halo 3. If you want a certain tool or weapon, then you have to know where it is and how to get to it quickly, so it’s not collected by someone else first. While liking this over the loadout system is personal preference it is what I would consider the better system. I’ve not enjoyed Halo’s multiplayer this much since Halo 3 was the current game in the series.

The progression system is where I have a few issues with the multiplayer. Each day you have both daily and weekly challenges to complete. These are things like getting 5 kills with the battle-rifle or winning a game of ‘capture the flag’. Completing these gives you XP that goes towards your ‘battle pass’ level. At each level, you unlock something new to customize your avatar or profile with. This is okay in itself but it’s when the paid XP boosters, premium battle pass and straight-up level skips come into it. Unless you have the paid-for premium battle pass most levels won’t get you anything at all. This means if you don’t pay then levelling up is almost pointless. Then if you pay extra, you can unlock XP boosts that double any XP you earn for an hour. Or if that’s too much work you could just pay to skip battle pass levels without even playing the game at all. I worked it out, if you spent £168 on the premium battle pass and enough level skips to get you to level 100 then you could unlock everything without even playing a single match. While this isn’t pay-to-win because all of this stuff is cosmetic it is pay-to-skip and that’s not great. By the way, this does not include the store that has exclusive items unavailable in the battle pass.

Now that we’ve talked about the pros and cons of online let’s talk about the single-player. This is the first open-world Halo game, and I don’t hate it as much as I thought I would do. While it’s not some groundbreaking new direction for the series it does allow you to approach situations with a level of freedom missing from earlier games. Do you clear this base out from afar using your grapple to quickly move from one vantage point to another, picking off enemies with your sniper and mapping out the base with your threat detector? Or do you rock up in a Scorpion tank and a squad of marines knocking the door down with one hella of a bang? The choice really is yours. On the downside, it leaves a lot of tasks feeling like repetitive filler. You will be rescuing captured marines, destroying propaganda towers and destroying bases over and over again. Your patience for this sort of thing will vary from person to person but for some, it may be an issue. Personally, I didn’t mind the open world but thought the campaign was at its strongest during the more linear missions.

These missions are where the majority of Infinite’s story is told, and I have really mixed thoughts on the direction the team decided to go with it. I won’t spoil anything past the first hours’ worth of gameplay but if even that’s too much then skip this paragraph. Halo 5 ended with Cortana taking control of the Forerunner guardian weapons and declaring war on the galaxy. Halo Wars 2 sets up the Banished, a group of the alien covenant that was exiled, as a new large-scale threat to humanity. Infinite combines both of these plots with the Banished gaining control over the new Zeta Halo. During the opening of the game, we learn that Cortana was trapped and killed on this new Halo ring before a section of it was destroyed along with her. At first, I didn’t like that the big bad threat from the ending of the last game was dealt with between games. Then I started to see Halo Infinite’s story for what it is, a tale of overcoming grief. This isn’t about Master Chief (John 117) having to kill his former ally and friend. It’s about him having to come to terms with the reality that she’s already gone and there’s nothing he can do to stop or change that. When Cortana died, she left behind pockets of data that John’s suit reads as visual and audio. Basically, these are literal memories of their time together that John has to witness. Both the player and John are forced to relive the highs and lows of our time with Cortana. As someone who has lost 3 family members and 1 friend in the last 5 years this is a really well-done story of grief. Seeing the Master Chief dealing with this loss is great and I loved this story. This is why it annoys me that the Banished add nothing to this and only get in the way. I understand that as an FPS game you need hoards of enemies to shoot at, but it gets in the way of a plot that needed to be slower and more personal.

Ultimately Halo Infinite is the best game in the series since Halo 3 and I don’t say that lightly. I consider Halo 3 to be one of the best games ever made. Am I saying that Infinite is better than Halo 3? Hell no, it’s not. The open-world nature of Infinite doesn’t match up to the perfectly paced missions of that more guided game. Then you have the fact that Infinite is missing a lot of stuff such as dual-wielding weapons, the ability to watch single-player replays, the multiplayer level editor forge mode and so on. You can’t even replay specific missions in Infinite. The classic campaign co-op that has been a series feature since even the first game is also missing. But the shooting, movement and story here are some of the strongest the Halo brand has seen in a while. The Master Chief is back, and it feels good.

Recommendation Rating: 9 out of 10

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