Halo Infinite’s second public test has taken part this weekend, which allowed a bunch of people to jump in and play multiplayer early. I’d heard that the multiplayer component of the game was fun, but I can now say first hand I agree with them. This is an early build, and things most definitely will change, but I am more confident than ever that Halo Infinite is going to bring Halo back with a bang.
This weekend (and next) 343 Studios have invited some of their fans to check out Halo Infinite with a thin slice of the multiplayer game. There were a few core multiplayer game modes to choose from including Slayer, Strongholds, and Capture the Flag plus there were also a few maps available too including Live Fire, Recharge, Bazaar, and Behemoth. For a few hours over the weekend players went up against other players, and it really brought back that nostalgic Halo feeling for me.
Just a little bit of history related to me and Halo. I mainly played Halo 2 multiplayer at first, having missed out on the original. Halo 2 captured my attention ad I played it a lot with my housemates at the time, then Halo 3 pretty much took over our lives. We had two TVs with two Xbox 360s set up in the living room, so we could play with local comms against other teams. I look back very fondly on this time in my life, playing video games with some of my best friends. Fast forward to 2021, Halo, and the first-person shooter market is in a different place. Halo back then was the dominant player in the market, although Call of Duty was about to stir things up and take the lead in the market. Bungie was making Halo back then and has since transferred to 343.
I spent about 3 hours with Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, either playing against bots or human opponents. The game feels great running on my Xbox Series X, and this still is an early build and I imagine it’s only going to get better with the full launch. Halo Infinite’s multiplayer manages to capture that great feeling I can remember from Halo 3’s multiplayer. The game is fast, the controls are responsive and the gunplay feels excellent.
There’s nothing like running and gunning in Halo, chucking in a grenade and then speeding in and finishing people off with a swift melee to the face. The sandbox has been switched up with the introduction of the grapple, which allows you to grapple onto other players, shooting them in the face as you speed towards them, and finishing the fight with an elbow between the eyes. This takes the satisfying melee action to a whole other level. Add into the mix the ability to take over vehicles, it’s instantly great fun.
Halo Infinite invites players in with open arms, gives them the tools to create destruction and then fun ensues. There’s something about playing Halo multiplayer when you get into a rhythm. After a few hours I was getting to know the maps, I started to feel out the right spots to peek and take shots and also when to push and when to hold positions.
This is what Halo should feel like and it’s very satisfying for Halo Infinite to live up to expectations, especially given the delays. You can see and feel the work 343 has done, as the game looks and feels AAA, with gunplay that matches the early Bungie-era of Halo games. It’s early days of course, but from this very solid platform, hopefully, Halo is only going to get better and better over time.
Gunplay and feel is everything with games like this, especially given the competitive market Halo is going to be dropped into. Microsoft made the smart decision for the multiplayer component to be free on arrival, so it’s going to get out there to as many players as possible. You have to take into account the player base on PC and Xbox consoles too, so I imagine millions are going to be playing Halo Infinite days after launch. The player base is so important to the playlists out there, and if these early impressions are anything to go by then other arena shooters like Destiny 2, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty should be put on notice, that Halo is back.
There are a few new weapons and abilities in the game, and so far I think these are great additions and work really well. The grappling hook is something I have mentioned before, but it shouldn’t be understated how well this has been executed, and how good it feels to either attach onto an opponent and take them out with a melee, or using the grapple to save yourself if you get knocked off the map.
The maps I played so far feel great. My favorite is probably Bazaar, with different levels to engage with enemies, doors to hide behind, and jump the jump on your opponents. There’s also Recharge, which is a classic multi-level map set inside some kind of facility, and Live Fire that feels very much like a training ground. Behemoth is true to its name and is big, plus you have your vehicles on there for quick traversal around the place.
There’s still one more weekend to go for playtesting and I can’t wait to jump in again and play against other players. There’s a lot of positives coming out of this weekend’s playtest. The gunplay, the look of the game, the feel – all great in terms of feedback. Some of the weapons do seem a little underpowered when compared with their Halo 2 or 3 versions, and the new weapons don’t immediately jump out with personality, although I am sure that will come with time.
343 specially asked for feedback related to the battle pass and the Halo audience has been defeaning with their dislike for the current system. Halo Infinite doesn’t have per match XP, alternatively, the battle pass progression is based on challenges. There are plenty of challenges and you never really run out of things to do, however, it doesn’t feel great to have the battle pass tied to this 100%. This is going to ask players to play in different ways than they want to. I can see why 343 has done this, but it would be nice to get some progression by playing the way I want, 100% of the time.
The Flight Test this past weekend and next was only focused on multiplayer and there’s plenty of positives to talk about. The sheer number of Halo Infinite clips on my timeline and the shining reviews from the testers is great news for 343, I would imagine there’s loads of feedback here they can add to the slate and incrementally improve Halo Infinite over time.
It’s not long to wait now as Halo Infinite comes out on December 8th, 2021. The multiplayer mode is free for all players, and then you simply have to pay for the campaign if you want to. I am most definitely going to be jumping into the campaign, as it’s a day 1 release on Xbox Game Pass.
I really want 343 to succeed with Halo Infinite. It’s been years in the making, and the feedback of 2020’s E3 was shocking, leading to the huge delay for Halo Infinite. It looks like 343 have managed to turn it around, which should be applauded, as they have managed to create a great multiplayer mode that lives up to the Halo reputation. Can’t wait to jump in on December 8th, and hopefully see you there too!