Halo Infinite, planned to be the flagship launch title of Xbox Series X|S, is finally inching towards its delayed release date. Can the title live up to its expectations? Is this truly the best Halo game yet? Let’s take a look based on Halo Infinite Multiplayer hands-on preview.
Halo is synonymous with the Xbox brand, so their rise and fall in popularity coincide. While the original trilogy and its spinoffs (Halo Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST) are highly regarded, the reception to the Reclaimer Saga games (Halo 4, Halo 5 Guardian) has been good to mixed so far.
Halo 5 Guardian has received the most flak for sidelining the legend himself, John 117, aka Master Chief.
Halo Infinite is doing many of the right things, be it Day 1 PC and console launch or a free-to-play multiplayer with never-expiring battle passes. However, the year-long delay, paired with a shift in leadership and a less than impressionable debut in 2020, had fans concerned about the game.
But after spending a couple of weekends playing the Halo Infinite Multiplayer hands-on preview for Halo Insiders, it is safe to say that Halo Infinite is shaping up to be one of the best games, and it is Perfectly Halo.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer hands-on preview: To Infinity and Beyond
In a modern-day video game market filled with pay-to-win unfinished games of popular IPs, Halo Infinite is setting the standard for doing a proper live-service game.
While fans were initially unsatisfied with the year-long delay, it is sure that Halo Infinite needed the time, and Xbox should be appreciated for allowing 343 the required time instead of rushing an unfinished product to hit store shelves alongside the flagship console.
343 Industries’ constant strive for improvement has made Halo Infinite a fantastic game. From the arsenal at the player’s disposal to the map design and game modes to customization, not once does the title lose its identity and provides a solid experience worth investing time in.
That being said, let’s take a look at how Halo Infinite plans to build upon its predecessor and take the series to Infinity and Beyond.
Iconic weapons with smooth gunplay
As a first-person shooter, the first item that needs to be addressed is the gunplay and the weapons. The Halo Infinite arsenal is a mix of old and new firearms, and each feels authentic to the universe.
From iconic weapons such as the MA40 Assault Rifle and BR75 Battle Rifle to the latest additions, like the VK78 Commando, each weapon feels unique and balanced.
As gamers load into the map armed with the iconic loadout of Assault Rifle and Sidekick, they can find more firearms spawning across the map. The weapon spawn location works simultaneously with the map design, and users need too often switch loadouts to better suit a specific location.
The real fun begins when they get hold of a unique weapon. There is something utterly satisfying about grappling with an enemy warthog, smashing the gravity hammer, or blowing it up with a skewer from a vantage point.
The map and the movement
Speaking of using the grapple to take down an enemy warthog, let’s discuss the latest tool of movement added to Halo’s world. Considering the series has always flourished as a high movement first-person shooter title, the grapple seems like a natural evolution of the Halo movement.
For lack of a better word, grappling in Halo Infinite feels satisfying. The fluid movement between land and air becomes second nature to any gamer within a couple of matches.
The developers could have easily gone overboard with the grapple but have kept it in limited quantity so that the players choose when to grapple and when not to. The grapple, along with the one-sided shield and location sensor, works as a pickup to help gamers out at challenging locations.
Halo Infinite has a variety of maps, from the large-scale Fragmentation to the tight corners of Bazaar. Each has been carefully designed to provide balanced gameplay.
Each match won or lost felt like a total responsibility of the users, and not once did any team receive any unfair advantage.
One part of the UI that goes hand in hand with the map is the radar, present since the first game. While it certainly does its job of pinging teammates and detecting enemies, it perhaps would have been better to include a map outline as well.
On the other hand, it does not distract players from the main gameplay screen by being overbearing like other franchise titles.
Customization and accessibility
Now let’s discuss the customization and accessibility in Halo Infinite. The former in this franchise has existed for quite a few entries and has also been retroactively applied to older titles with the release of Halo Master Chief Collection.
343 had previously proven how well they could do Halo customization while keeping it lore-friendly, and it is no exception in Halo Infinite.
With the in-depth customization available in Halo Infinite, players can have unique Spartan armor in a color of their choice. They can also have prosthetics as part of their ensemble, alongside custom armored parts.
Furthermore, Xbox and 343 have added a very in-depth UI customization menu as well as several accessibility features such as color-blind mode and menu narration. As such, Halo Infinite feels like a very inclusive title, tailor-made to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
Monetization and battle pass
Halo Infinite is setting the standard on how to monetize in free-to-play games right. The most prominent feature is that of never expiring battle passes.
This means users have the option to complete a battle pass at their own pace, and anyone who isn’t able to play regularly doesn’t miss out on limited windows and feel left out.
However, the most significant concern is regarding currency pricing. 343 provided all participants with a substantial amount of in-game currency, which players could use to purchase cosmetics from the store and unlock the Season 0 battle pass.
With that being said, they still don’t have any idea regarding the real-world pricing conversation of items.
In comparison with other upcoming titles
The Halo Infinite multiplayer will be free, which means it’ll be compared with other popular free-to-play FPS titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant. It’ll also be launching a couple of weeks after the launch of Call of Duty: Vanguard and Battlefield 2042, two of the biggest FPS gaming franchises.
However, comparing Halo Infinite with such titles is futile. Both CS: GO and Valorant are very much tactful with slow-pacing and calculative moves. On the other hand, Battlefield and Call of Duty are best described as fast-paced shooters where weapon skill and accuracy play a significant part.
The only difference between the two being Call of Duty has more concise tight corner action while Battlefield is a large-scale open area mixed-combat.
Halo, on the other hand, is more physics-dependent than weapons. Sure, weapons play a vital part in first-person shooters, but fluid mobility plays a more prominent role. The player not only has to be more accurate than the opponent but also has to be nimbler and more mobile so that the opponent doesn’t get any openings.
Since the Halo Infinite Multiplayer hands-on preview was on an early access copy, with the full release set for December 8, 2021, the game will not be rated at the moment.
That being said, Halo Infinite does seem to be headed towards a very high rating.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s views.