343 Industries mostly impresses gamers with Halo Infinite Multiplayer

Written By Dan Russo, Staff Writer

4.5 Globes

It’s no secret to my friends that I am a massive fan of Halo. My formative years were spent in the now offline arenas of Halo 3 and Halo Reach, Bungie’s swan song. I wore a Halo Reach shirt every week in the sixth grade, much to my dear mother’s chagrin. Ever since 343 industries took the reins of the series, there have been thorns in the side of their releases. Halo 4 had a decent campaign but a messy, unbalanced multiplayer mode, and Halo 5: Guardians was the complete opposite. Halo 5: Guardians had a fantastic multiplayer mode in my opinion but a very poor campaign.

343’s latest effort, Halo Infinite, has had a rocky development cycle to say the least. There have been rumors swirling around of a complete developmental reset. The game was slated for release last year to coincide with the release of the Xbox Series X and S. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the game was pushed back an entire year. A move that I am incredibly happy about. During the livestream to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Xbox as a brand, they surprise-released Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode. This is only a review of the multiplayer mode. The game’s campaign does not release until December 8.

Let’s talk gameplay. 343 has absolutely nailed the core Halo gameplay experience here. The weapons are all satisfying to shoot and most of them are well balanced. My personal favorites among the new weapons are the Heatwave, a shotgun that fires energy balls that can bounce off walls and the Skewer, a glorified harpoon gun. Some weapons, like some of the forerunner weapons, have no real place within the Halo sandbox. I’ve been told that some of these weapons were better in the prerelease demo weekends, but for the most part they could use a balancing pass.

New pickups like the GrappleShot and Repulsor are super fun to mess around with and add to the Halo sandbox quite a bit. Finally, additional armor abilities feel like they’re adding to the game, rather than making it more restrictive like they have been since Reach. Reflecting a rocket or grenade someone hurled at you and nailing them with their own weapon is incredibly satisfying.

Now earlier in the review, I mentioned there always being a thorn in the side of 343’s Halo releases. There’s always a catch, and unfortunately Halo Infinite is no different. Halo Infinite’s armor customization is the worst in the series, and it is not even a competition. One of the benefits of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode is that it will be completely free for anyone to play. That is still a net positive. Halo games have been renowned for their customization, and Infinite’s armor sets are super restrictive. I have no issues with spending $10 to unlock a battle pass full of customization options for a free-to-play game, especially since the battle passes in Infinite will never expire. But the battle pass progression is pitifully and deliberately slow, and, after a solid two weeks of play, I am only at tier 13.

While some changes have been made to fix the progression, a ground up overhaul seems unlikely. I understand that concessions had to be made to compensate for the free-to-play model, but the fact that I am not able to fully select what color my Spartan is without a preset color when the original Halo in 2001 had this ability makes this progression system a lot less fun to engage with.

Why the customization in a first person shooter game bothers me so much is that 343 Industries is so close to having the game that could easily take all my attention for years to come. I haven’t had this much fun in a first person shooter since the golden era of Rainbow Six Siege and Titanfall 2. If this stuff doesn’t bother you personally, then go crazy. Infinite is a very fun game and certainly worth your time. I just wish the monetization was done in a little less of an egregious manner.