Microsoft recently held their 20th-anniversary stream to celebrate 20 years of Xbox and therefore 20 years of Halo. Rumors had been circulating the weekend before related to an early launch of Halo Infinite Multi-Player, and it actually happened. Today I’m going to look at Halo Infinite and go over my early impressions of the multiplayer after about 10 hours of playtime.
Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer has been released early, and it’s a nice surprise, even though it was slightly spoiled over the weekend. Keeping something 100% secret these days is tricky, however, I’m not sure there’s someone out there that was very confident in the release. If you are like me you may have heard the rumors, but I was very doubtful it was actually going to happen. Saying that it was a perfect time. It was Microsoft’s and Halo’s Anniversary, plus Battlefield 2042 had perhaps the worst launch possible. This was the perfect time to launch, and whoever made the decision to launch early, hats off to them. Halo Infinite has a beta badge at the moment, and its first season, Heroes of Reach, has officially kicked off and that will run until next May in 2022.
It was released early, but let’s have a look at what has been released. Halo Infinite is a free-to-play multiplayer arena shooter, for the majority of the time is 4v4 in Quickplay and Ranked modes. Everyone starts with the same weapons, a Pistol and an Auto Rifle and there are various game modes to either score the most points in the allotted time or complete the objective-based game modes. As well as 4v4, there’s also Big Team Battle with 12v12, which is pretty chaotic plus full of vehicles and heavy weapons. We also have various customization options for our Spartan, where we can change the appearance through color, attachments, AI, etc. Then there’s the battle pass and progression, but we’ll get onto that later.
Firstly, the feel of the game is distinctly Halo. For me, this is 343 knocking it out of the park in terms of how a Halo game should feel. The gunplay, the movement, the time to kill are all pretty much spot on. I’m a fan of the Bungie era of Halo, and then dropped off when it came to Halo Reach Multiplayer, and then 4 and 5 didn’t really sit well with me. There’s something about 343 era Halo games that have felt ‘off’ in some respect. Halo Infinite feels just right. I particularly appreciate the modern features like running, aiming down sights, and mantling. You may laugh hearing that list, as it’s a pretty standard thing when you think about other games like Apex, Call of Duty, Destiny 2, and Fortnite. But these features were missing from what I would call the glory days of Halo multiplayer with 2 and 3, and these features bring it right up to date.
The time to kill is longer than most games, meaning you can go into an encounter, have a gunfight with one or two opponents, and potentially come out on top. If you end up facing more than one player and the team shot you, then it’s highly likely you won’t survive. But this isn’t Valorant or Call of Duty, the time to kill is pretty high to focus on breaking those shields and taking down your opponent as quick as you can.
The fact that everyone starts the same is perfect, and there are no-nonsense starter abilities is very refreshing. It’s all about map knowledge, positioning, knowing where the weapons are, and also knowing where the abilities spawn. Abilities aren’t too oppressive here, you have things like a shield you can throw down, the Repulsor which allows you to reflect grenades, plus if you use it against the ground you can actually jump high into the sky. There’s an over shield, an invisibility cloak plus the grapple hook.
The simple grapple hook was laughed at when it was shown off in the 2020 Halo gameplay reveal. Everyone thought, “Grapple Hook… it that it? Is that all you could come up with?” but it’s one of the best additions to the game, which allows you to create those hero moments, which are infinitely shareable on social media. You can jump off a building and grapple onto your opponent, shooting them as you slide towards them and finish them with a swift melee to the face. You can grapple Banshee mid-air and chuck out the pilot, and then go on to kill their remaining teammates raining down lasers from the sky, and you can use the grapple to save yourself from falling off the edge. One of the best clips I have seen is someone grappling onto a warthog, taking over the driving while an enemy passenger is onboard, then driving off the edge of the map killing the opponent and grappling back to safety. If the grapple hook was a meme when it was first shown off, it’s not now… it has to be one of the best features added to the game.
Halo Infinite has a few game modes to start with which are split between Quickplay and Big Team Battle. Within Quickplay this is split further into Capture the Flag, Oddball, Slayer, Fiesta, and Stronghold. Capture the flag is where you have to get the opponent’s flag and return it to your base while trying to stop the enemy team from doing the same thing. Oddball is where you have to hold a skull and accrue points to win. Slayer is your standard deathmatch-style game mode. Fiesta is where you start with random weapons and it’s pretty chaotic, but a load of fun. Finally, Stronghold is where you have to hold down a zone, either A, B or C, and when you control 2 zones you gain points.
We also have Big Team Battle modes which are 12v12 gameplay. Big Team Battle tends to be played on bigger maps, and usually involves vehicles. I’ve seen feedback from players who think not enough game modes have been added. Personally, I think there’s plenty of game modes. Finally, there’s also a ranked mode, so if you want to get sweaty and competitive this is the place to be. You have to play a few matches to get ranked, but it’s great to see from 343 that the game is set up to be competitive from day 1.
There’s a mix of old and new weapons here including the trusty pistol and AR which you start with. The Battle Rifle returns and feels great. There’s the classic rockets, energy sword, and carbine too. Plus there are some new weapons which include Shock Rifle, Mangler, Disruptor, Bulldog, Heatwave, Stalker Rifle, Skewer, Cindershot, and the Ravager. Plenty of classic weapons to get nostalgic about, but also loads of new weapons too to play with.
Halo Infinite has events too and the first one kicked off on the 23rd November and runs until 30th November. The first event is the “Fractures” event, Tenrai. The introduction of the event brings its own Battlepass and loads of cosmetics, which include some awesome-looking samurai-style armor. As well as your regular battle pass the event introduces a dedicated event pass, which you have to progress to unlock the cosmetics. Unfortunately, the progression in Halo Infinite is in a tough place at the moment due to the slow nature of progression. Fractures Tenrai also brought Fiesta with it, which is a fun, albeit a little chaotic game mode where you spawn with random weapons. Fun, but frantic.
The main sticking point with the launch at the moment has been the progression of the battle pass, and this has been further exacerbated by the seasonal event. 343 wanted the progression of the Battle pass to be directly related to challenges, which would reward an amount of XP per challenge completed. The feedback from the audience was immediate, progression was too slow, the challenges force you to play a particular way and there was no way to passively earn XP through just playing. 343 have been on a short break since the launch as I imagine they’ve been crunching hard to get the game out on time. Unfortunately for 343 a bunch of feedback has come in from the audience related to progression and cosmetics, and their inbox is going to be bursting at the seams when they get back from their well-deserved break.
I think it’s a pretty good problem to have. The worst-case scenario would be the community complaining about the gameplay, gunplay, and feel. However, much of the feedback has been focused on the battle pass and progression, which doesn’t feel too difficult to solve. There are going to be a number of short-term fixes, and 343 have already responded by making XP available by playing matches. It does look highly likely a wholesale revamp of the battle pass system is needed. 343 have said they are open to feedback and working with the community. In the grand scheme of things, it could be a whole lot worse for 343. The reviews for the most important aspects of the game like gameplay are pretty glowing, and hopefully, through feedback and iteration, they can get the battle pass back on track.