Master Chief returns on a new mission in the latest installment of the Halo series. Find out what we thought in our Halo Infinite Review!
|Release Date||December 8th, 2021|
*A preview copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Xbox for review purposes*
It’s hard for a series like Halo that has been around for so many years and is so beloved by so many fans to truly reinvent itself without losing its identity in the process. You’re always going to have the fans that want it to stay true to its roots and not stray too far from the formula that made this series so great in the first place. This version of Halo brings the campaign to the open-world giving players more freedom than ever and endless activities to complete. The environments aren’t incredibly varied and the story doesn’t have quite the impact that the original trilogy did, but the multiplayer is as good as ever and it really feels like a return to form for the series after a bit of a lackluster effort in Halo 5.
The transition to an open-world environment was something that I wasn’t incredibly interested in when I first dove into it in Halo: Infinite. I’ve been pretty burned out on open-world games as I feel that they all generally feel the same and one of the things I like about Halo was the linear story that each game had. As soon as I jumped into it, I felt like it was more of a natural fit for the series than I thought it would be. It helps that the world isn’t littered with points and collectibles. There are plenty of activities to complete and things to discover but it doesn’t feel like sensory overload like some games I’ve played recently (Ubisoft, I’m looking at you).
The game doesn’t fully take place in the Zeta Halo open-world, though. There are a lot of indoor sections that felt more like dungeons than anything. They all felt pretty uninspired but it was also a good change of pace from running around the same outdoor biome the whole time. The first couple of hours really focus on getting the story off of the ground and getting you accustomed to using the new Grappleshot (which is so fun). You might look at that as a gimmick but to me, it feels like something that Master Chief should have had since the first game. It feels so organic to use and opens up so many new combat and traversal options instead of just run and gunning. You can pull yourself away before your health is fully depleted, grapple right up to an enemy and hit them in the face, or grapple a vehicle to steal it from an enemy. It’s crazy how much something so simple expands the gameplay.
Some of the best encounters in Halo: Infinite center around the boss battles. There’s plenty of variety here and it can be painstakingly hard to defeat some of them depending on your difficulty level. A lot of these battles require quick-thinking and precise movement as well as utilizing your Spartan Cores and gadgets to your advantage. Some bosses and mini-bosses have gravity hammers/energy swords, others have jetpacks, and some can even cloak. There’s always some type of weapon or ability that you have to figure out how to counter while staying away from weapons that can kill you in a hit or two.
Going back to the open-world, it really feels pretty daunting when you first set foot into the world and have to make your way around on foot and learn to use your Grappleshot to move around quicker. There are tons of opportunities to get into trouble on Zeta Halo. You’ll encounter propaganda towers to destroy, UNSC Marines to rescue, Forward Operating Bases to capture, and gear/audio logs scattered all over the world. I felt pretty good with the different activities and nothing felt like it overstayed its welcome which was important to me. You can’t go everywhere at first, you have to complete story missions to gain access to new areas but none of them feel all that different from the rest. It’s literally forest and stone across the whole game world. I don’t know if they plan on creating some expansions as this game ages but it’s screaming for an urban, desert, or snowy area to break things up a little bit. There was never a moment that really wowed me about the game world.
The story is perfectly serviceable but not one that really gripped me as I expected it to. Master Chief being the focal point was a big positive but the focus on The Banished which was last seen in Halo Wars 2 didn’t really satisfy me very much. I feel like they really should have tried to explain the events of the previous games for people who are new to the series. Even for me, I felt lost at times because it’s been a long time since I’ve played the last few campaigns. A brief synopsis of where we’re at canonically would have done wonders for returning players and new players alike but there’s nothing of the sort here. I really enjoyed the up-and-down relationship between Master Chief and The Weapon. Jen Taylor does a great job adding such a great personality to the weapon and Steve Downes really nails the struggling Master Chief who is more broken than we’ve seen him in past games. I really enjoyed their dynamic.
Capturing FOBs are the heart of the gameplay and they’ll unlock more points of interest on the map. Finding Spartan Core points is equally as important as it allows you to upgrade your equipment in whatever order you’d like provided you’ve found the core. Upgrading the Grappleshot proves to be imperative as you can shock enemies with it after a couple of upgrades. There is also a Shield Core upgrade that allows you to take more damage which didn’t feel like it made much of a difference in all honesty. Thrusters allow you to dash and eventually cloak and dash but I didn’t use that very often. There’s even a Drop Wall shield that you can shoot through that became pretty important as the game went on.
As you complete open-world activities, you’ll gain Valor points which allow you to unlock additional weapons and vehicles at FOBs. You can also gain special weapon variants by defeating High-Value Targets scattered across the map. Having access to some of these vehicles and weapons really makes a lot of the battles a lot easier. Being able to take a Warthog full of marines into an enemy base or taking a Wasp to the skies and taking out enemies from above is particularly satisfying. The variety of battles really push you to use all the types of weapons and vehicles available. You’re not just stuck on the Battle Rifle. There are times when you’ll want Snipers while other times you’ll want to rip off a turret and mow down everyone in the base. Enemies are all over the place so you have to be pretty strategic in how you approach things or you’ll be dead in seconds.
Moving on to the multiplayer portion of the game, it’s classic Halo multiplayer at its finest. I really enjoyed my time online with Halo probably as much as I ever have. I love the fact that the multiplayer is free to play and accessible to anyone with a Series X or PC. I think one of the things I enjoy so much about Infinite’s multiplayer is that whether it’s 4 vs. 4 matches or a 12 vs. 12 Big Team Battle, everything feels nice and fluid. It helps that the maps in multiplayer are generally beautiful and much more varied than the campaign. I haven’t had one server issue since I’ve started playing and I’ve spent probably 20 hours or so in multiplayer games so that’s fairly impressive.
Halo: Infinite does a great job bringing new players up to speed with its Academy mode. This mode allows players to try out different weapon drills or jump into a Training session against bots with customizable match settings. It allows you to get a handle on all the mechanics before jumping into a match with humans. Training mode allows you to try out different Spartan Core items like the Grappleshot instead of trying to obtain it in a multiplayer game and promptly getting killed before you can mess with it. It also helps you get more acclimated to the maps which is what I primarily used it for.
The game modes included in multiplayer are: One Flag Capture The Flag, Capture The Flag, Strongholds, Oddball, and Slayer. The playlists don’t allow you to choose one specific game mode but I would think it’s only a matter of time before 343 adds that in. There’s nothing revolutionary here but I don’t think there really needed to be. Halo multiplayer has always been at the top of the pack so reinventing that wheel wasn’t really necessary. Slayer is a traditional team deathmatch. Strongholds have teams fighting to control three control points on the map and was my personal favorite. It was fun to see how quickly you could jump between the control points to keep them all. Oddball you’re battling over control of a skull and that was easily my least favorite for how slow and useless you are with the skull. Admittedly, I’m just not good at it but it still never grew on me at all no matter how much I played. Capture the Flag is probably my second favorite match type, especially in 4 vs. 4 matches. It’s something that required a lot of coordination and was so satisfying when you have a team that works cohesively. One Flag CTF is fun too if not a bit chaotic at times as one team defends while the other attacks. All the game modes are good in their own right and there isn’t one in the entire bunch that I absolutely hate even if Oddball isn’t my favorite.
The weapons in Halo: Infinite feel really solid. It takes a long time to kill someone with an Assault Rifle whereas something like the MK50 Pistol actually tends to be stronger. This is something that isn’t new to Halo but players coming from the more fast-paced Call of Duty and Battlefield series might have to get used to it. You’re better rewarded for precision in Infinite than just flowing bullets into someone. I generally avoided the Plasma Pistol and Pulse Carbine because they just didn’t seem to be doing much of anything but the Needler was fun to use in short bursts. The power weapons like the Gravity Hammer and Energy Sword don’t last too long but they’re fun to grab and get a few kills with before you need to swap to something else. I love that 343 has managed to keep those kinds of weapons in check. The grenade play is as fun as it’s always been with the multiple types of grenades and a whole lot of afterlife kills. The one issue I seemed to have was the inconsistent melee kills. There were times where I’d smack someone in the back and nothing would happen. There were others where I’d smack someone twice and then they’d hit me once and kill me. It’s not a HUGE issue, but it was something I noticed here and there that ended a few of my sprees a bit prematurely.
Halo: Infinite is the return to form the series sorely needed. I’m not sure Halo could have survived another outing like Halo 5. Infinite is definitely a most own for any Halo fan or Xbox owner out there. There’s tons of value in both the single-player and multiplayer and I can’t wait for the eventual release of the co-op campaign.
|Great, well-rounded campaign with plenty to do||No co-op campaign yet|
|Classic Halo multiplayer with a few new additions||Open-world mostly looks the same all the way through|
|Grappleshot is a game-changer|