The road to Halo Infinite has been a bumpy one. It’s gameplay debut with campaign footage last year was famously underwhelming, so much so that the widespread negative response to it drove Microsoft and 343 Industries to delay the game by an entire year.
Starting early this year though, 343 Industries had really started to turn opinion around, first with the encouraging details about multiplayer they unveiled at regular intervals – such as the battle pass system, their plans for seasonal content, and more – and then making a really strong impression with the game’s first multiplayer beta, or technical preview, as they called it. Of late, however, some skepticism has snuck its way back into the conversation around the game, with a few recent developments (or, in some cases, the lack of developments) that have raised some concerning questions. As it stands, there are reasons to be both excited and concerned about Halo Infinite, and in this feature, that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about.
WHY WE’RE EXCITED
Making Halo Infinite’s multiplayer free-to-play was frankly the best decision 343 Industries could have made. Guaranteeing a massive player base right from day one (especially with free-to-play multiplayer no longer requiring an Xbox Live Gold subscription) is a huge boost for the game in and of itself. And as some games have proven all too well, being free-to-play doesn’t preclude a multiplayer game from providing delivering excellent content.
What’s encouraging is that the model 343 Industries has adopted for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer as a whole seems like a great fit considering its free-to-play nature. The game will receive a new season of content roughly every three months, which could include everything from multiplayer story developments and new maps to new modes and more. Then, of course, there’s the battle pass system, which will add new challenges and cosmetics and rewards on a regular basis- and better yet, battle passes won’t expire either, which means you’ll always have the option to tackle older battle passes as well. 343 Industries did recently say that completing battle pass challenges will be the only way to gain XP in the game, and it’s a little strange that you won’t get XP from playing and winning matches. But then again, with enough quantity and variety in challenges, that progression method could work out fine.
THE MULTIPLAYER IS SHAPING UP GREAT
If there’s one thing even Halo 4 and 5’s biggest detractors will agree with, it’s that when it comes to gameplay, 343 Industries has generally had a great track record. Both of their games, Halo 5 in particular, feel excellent to play in terms of movement and combat. If there’s one thing the recent Halo Infinite beta instantly made clear, it’s that they’re going to deliver something equally good, if not better.
The beta for Infinite was a very limited test, in terms of what it had on offer and how many people got to play it, but it’s evident that in terms of things such as gunplay and weapons and movement, things are looking really encouraging. The grappleshot in particular is looking like an excellent new addition- from movement to combat to interacting with the environment, the grappleshot effects nearly every part of the gameplay in really interesting ways, and is clearly going to be a very robust tool, given all the different ways it can be used to your advantage. Future betas will be larger in scope, in terms of both content and player counts, and we’re definitely looking forward to those, because the first one made a strong impression.
WHY WE’RE CONCERNED
NO CAMPAIGN CO-OP AND FORGE AT LAUNCH
Here’s the things- even if just one of either campaign co-op or Forge was missing from Halo Infinite at launch, it still would have been a pretty big loss. Both are a crucial part of the Halo experience, especially in a game that’s being billed as the ultimate Halo experience. Co-op is how a sizeable chunk of the Halo community likes to experience the campaign (Halo 5 not having local co-op was a big knock against it, in fact), while Forge is hugely responsible for helping Halo maintain its longevity thanks to all the community-made content it enables. The fact that both of them are missing from Halo Infinite at launch is just a bit too deflating.
With co-op, we can at least take comfort in the fact that 343 Industries plans on bringing that with season 2, roughly three months after launch- so at least it won’t be too much of a wait. Forge, however, won’t arrive until season 3, which would be another three months. More than anything else, what this means is that there is all the more pressure on Halo Infinite’s multiplayer and campaign to be excellent, because what’s there at launch needs to be top-notch, especially given all the context surrounding this game’s launch in particular. The multiplayer, as we discussed, is looking solid. The campaign, however- that’s where we’re more than a little skeptical.
It’s been a year since we last saw Halo Infinite campaign footage. It didn’t look great back then, and now, just four months away from launch, we haven’t seen anything else since then. 343 Industries has shared some new screenshots, sure, but that’s not really anything. We need to see the campaign in action, we need more details about how the open world elements will work, we need to see how much better the visuals look in action than that rough first showing. 343 Industries delayed the game based on the response to campaign footage, so to see them announcing a new launch date and showing nothing of the campaign is a little weird. And it’s made even weirder by the fact that the campaign is the part that people will actually be paying for (barring Game Pass), since the multiplayer is free.
And it’s not like 343 has a great track record with Halo campaigns. Halo 4 and 5 both have significant issues where their campaigns are concerned, which means Infinite has a lot to live up to, and even more to make up for. So far, 343 has said the story will be more self-contained, and they’ve said the campaign will evoke Combat Evolved in several ways, and they’ve said it’s the largest Halo campaign ever- but they’ve shown very little, and even what they’ve said has been quite lacking in actual detail. Given how fresh the Cyberpunk 2077 wound still is, being just four months away from Halo Infinite’s launch and seeing so little communication from its developers about the campaign raises some flags.
This, honestly, is a concern with any major multiplayer game that adopts a live service model and promises regular console updates. More than a few times we’ve seen major releases promising consistent and meaty post-launch support and detailing elaborate roadmaps- and then, to varying extents, failing to live up to their promises. From Anthem to The Division 2, there are a lot of examples of this out there.
To be fair, 343 Industries does have a good track record in this area, seeing as they did a pretty good job of regularly releasing meaningful new content for Halo 5 for a good while after its launch. Halo Infinite, however, has much more ambitious plans. Every three months, 343 Industries plans on introducing a new battle pass, new multiplayer story content, new events. New maps will also regularly be added, and in all likelihood, even new modes and ways to play- like campaign co-op and Forge in seasons 2 and 3, for instance. Juggling all of this at the same time can’t exactly be an easy task (especially seeing as Halo Infinite might apparently receive campaign expansions as well), so it’s crucial that 343 Industries manages its pipelines properly and ensures that it keeps up a steady stream of content.
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