Halo Infinite hasn’t exactly had the easiest path to launch, having been delayed a few times since being revealed all the way back at E3 2018. It was clear from the outset that 343 Industries planned something different and more ambitious for the next entry in the long-running shooter series. With the promise of the largest map ever to feature in a Halo campaign and a reworking of the fundamental gameplay, has 343 managed to reinvigorate the franchise? Well, yes and no. The multiplayer is the jewel in Halo Infinite’s crown, just about reviving classic Halo with an experience that has genuinely set the gaming world on fire so far. The campaign is less of a success, and does little to justify its massive open world-inspired sections. Let’s dive deeper on each.
Halo Infinite Campaign Review - Hints of Greatness
Halo Infinite’s campaign follows 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians, starting off with a tense interstellar battle between The Banished and the UNSC Infinity. Master Chief fights his way through an enemy warship, in a sequence which will be par for the course for anyone who has played Halo before. It’s not until you land on Zeta Halo that Halo Infinite truly shows its hand. It’s all seriously impressive at first, an expansive playground for Chief to barrel through while systematically taking down enemies. As time goes on though, it becomes clear that this vast open area lacks some of the finer details you might expect from such a huge map, offering very little to do outside of shooting and blowing things up.
You’ll spend the majority of your playthrough in Halo Infinite on the Zeta Halo map. Occasionally dipping into more linear missions as part of the campaign. There’s a hefty open section of the ring for players to explore, with plenty of verticality to make the most of vehicles and the new grapple hook. If you’re going in wanting Halo to have gone fully open-world with Infinite, temper those expectations. There’s a lot of ground to cover as you play, but most of it contains little more than small groups of enemies to take on. There are high value targets to kill, bases to capture, and marines to rescue as you travel, each rewarding you with Valor, which in turn unlocks new weapons and vehicles back at bases. Aside from the occasional firefight and quick side activity however, there’s very little reason to explore in Halo Infinite. The world is a sterile one, lacking any kind of weather changes or visually distinct landmarks, and while its design harkens back to Halo: Combat Evolved, it could’ve done with a shake-up to make things more visually engaging.
This lack of meaningful ways to interact with the world of Zeta Halo is ultimately Halo Infinite’s undoing. Every military installation, all of the high tech bases and encampments that pepper the landscape, they all offer the same objective of shoot, blow up, hold X to interact with the terminal, and very little else. For a game with such fun and creative combat, it’s a shame that you’re given very little opportunity to actually do anything interesting. The main campaign missions that do take place out in the open tend to be a similar mix of clearing enemies and sending your AI in to hack and blow up the area. There isn’t much of the classic Halo bombast to any of it, meaning that most of the missions on Zeta Halo feel like distractions that would likely be relegated to side-content in other games.
All By Myself
One of the most frustrating aspects of Halo Infinite’s campaign is just how much co-op would elevate it. Cruising around with friends, tackling objectives in whatever order you wish, might just be what’s needed to fill in those gaps in content. Luckily, co-op is on its way next year, but at launch its omission looms large. Without other players to squad up with, Infinite is a lonely place at times, with only the odd marine to keep you company. To their credit, they’re as funny as they’ve ever been, spouting cheesy one-liners as they cling on for dear life on the back of your Mongoose.
Fight Like a Spartan
Halo Infinite has overhauled combat, introducing the Grapple Hook which can be used to zip around, grab weapons and explosive tanks, and stun enemies. Put simply, it’s now hard to imagine Halo without the Grapple Hook, it’s that damn good. There’s an effortless fluidity to the way Master Chief fights. The result is that every combat encounter feels fresh and dynamic, with small moments of genuine brilliance shining through as you fight like a true Spartan. I absolutely adore how Halo Infinite feels to play, with rock-solid fundamentals that reward experimentation and creativity. I have no issue in saying that this is the best Halo has ever felt.
Given how much work has clearly gone into perfecting Halo Infinite’s combat, it’s disappointing that it isn’t given all that much time to shine during the campaign. Lengthy linear missions bookend the campaign, with some areas making great use of the grapple hook and suit upgrades. There are very few set-pieces throughout, and many of the missions blend together as a result. You get a little more wiggle room to experiment in the open Zeta Halo sections, but again there isn’t all that much to test you as you fight. I feel that by splitting the campaign up into distinct open and linear segments, it ends up feeling pretty disjointed. As a Halo campaign, it’s lacking those badass cinematic moments, where vehicles, weapons and story combine into something greater. There is a mission towards the end that gets so close to being great, tasking you with taking down a gauntlet of Banished enemies as you jump from vehicle to vehicle blowing stuff up. It’s over pretty quickly however, and what follows is yet more Forerunner hallways and rooms to clear.
So, What Now?
Halo Infinite’s main storyline will take you around 10-15 hours to complete, depending on how much of the side activities you plan on taking on. This is fairly meaty for a Halo campaign, but feels low for a game with such a huge map to explore. You’re placed back onto Zeta Halo once you’re done with the story, and can spend hours cleaning up enemy bases and collecting upgrade points. The problem is that there’s really not much of a reason to do so. You could replay some of the main missions, sure, but for now Zeta Halo feels pretty empty once you’ve cleared the campaign. With the way the story ends, and just how much work has gone into Zeta Halo as an area, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t more to come later down the line for the campaign. Here’s hoping.
Halo Infinite’s campaign is a strange beast, representing a good effort by 343 to mix up what was fast becoming a stagnant franchise. It has some of the best combat of any shooter I’ve ever played, and every now and then it bumps up against classic Halo greatness. By placing Master Chief into such a huge and open map however, some of the series’ signature action has been diluted somewhat, with the onus being placed firmly on the player to make their own fun most of the time. What’s there is a solid foundation to build upon, so I do hope that there’s more of a reason to return later down the line. For now though, with the lack of co-op and meaningful reasons to explore, I feel very little pull to head back down to Zeta Halo. I’ll honestly probably leave the last few bases for another time.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Review - A Stellar Return to Form
As I mentioned previously, multiplayer is absolutely THE reason to play Halo Infinite at launch. Last month’s surprise early release (though it’s still technically in beta) opened the floodgates for players to dive in and get a taste for the next evolution of Halo multiplayer. In short, Halo is back, baby!
Many had scratched their heads when Halo Infinite’s multiplayer went live as a beta on November 15, to coincide with the series’ 20th anniversary. What’s clear since then is that it couldn’t have launched at a better time. The main rivals of Call of Duty and Battlefield have completely dropped the ball this year, allowing Halo to muscle in as the main success story of the Holiday season. Hell, even Sony is nowhere to be seen.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the internet so collectively into an online shooter, let alone a Halo one. The smart gameplay changes present in the campaign are given further context in multiplayer, with the grapple hook standing out as a masterstroke in game design. I’ve barely been able to go a day without seeing some clip, some TikTok or Tweet that shows just how creative Halo Infinite’s player base is being with the tools on offer. I’ve seen flags grapple-hooked across canyons, power cells inched towards home using the Repulsor, and more sniper no-scopes than I’ve seen since 2007. Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is rife with players having some good old-fashioned fun.
There are ten maps currently in Halo infinite, and a mix of objective-based, team deathmatch and ranked modes to take on. It’s a light offering so far, but more is being slowly drip-fed into the game as we near closer to launch. Gripes like not being able to choose what modes you play in a group will likely go away in the coming weeks, as will certain balancing issues and bugs. I’ve found the small selection of modes to be decent so far, bolstered by consistent gunplay and great weapons. It’s hard to bemoan the lack of content available at present when you’re having this much fun.
The launch of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer hasn’t been all smooth sailing, with concerns cropping up regarding the battle pass and XP progression systems. At first, players needed to complete challenges to level up, with 0XP given for completing matches. Since then, 343 has implemented fixes that reward players for playing each day, with progression no longer tied solely to challenges. It’s clear that there’s some work to be done to make Halo Infinite a long-term sell for players, but changes are being made quickly in response to feedback. One issue that has yet to be addressed is the contents of the battle pass itself. There’s not much worth levelling up for at the moment, with rewards ranging from small shoulder pad bits to slightly different coloured helmet visors. When compared to its competitors, Halo Infinite’s battle pass simply doesn’t stack up.
Back to the Old-School
Even if Halo Infinite's multiplayer falters in the finer details, it nails its moment to moment combat. It’s a decidedly different type of shooter than what modern gamers might be used to, requiring a mix of melee, shooting and grenades to properly dispatch enemies. It’s been fun seeing new players adapt to this slower, more methodical brand of warfare, as they complain about high time to kill and the poor accuracy of the assault rifle. Halo Infinite is classic Halo through and through, and once you learn its oddities and particular style of gunplay, it opens up into an engaging shooter that rewards player skill and creativity.
Halo Infinite’s longevity will depend on how 343 implements changes, and on what timescale. In the meantime, the gameplay is so good that players will likely stick around. I’ve certainly found myself sitting at work, itching to jump into a Big Slayer match with my friends. It’s genuinely been quite heart-warming to see so much excitement around a Halo game again, especially given how much nostalgia many of us associate with the series. The future is bright for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer. All 343 has to do is build upon the fantastic core that they’ve created here, and give players a little more of a reason to keep coming back. For now though, I’ll be jumping back in most nights to see what else I can do with the grapple hook.
Halo Infinite Review Verdict
At launch, Halo Infinite is a somewhat uneven bundle. The multiplayer is outstanding, and free to all players, even those without a Game Pass subscription. It recaptures that classic Halo magic from the early 2000’s, and has managed to inch out its competitors with its cleverly re-imagined gameplay. The campaign is less consistent, and harder to recommend unless you are really itching for yet another Chief/Cortana story. It’s a step up from Halo 5, absolutely, but its experiment with a larger map doesn’t quite land as well as it should. There are few memorable moments throughout, but its excellent gunplay makes it worth a try, even if you just mainline your way through the story missions.
I have no doubt that Halo Infinite's campaign will be a much easier sell next year, once the co-op campaign is released and hopefully we hear more about possible story DLC. Even so, the multiplayer is well-worth jumping into. The small issues that are present currently are already being worked on and ironed out, paving the way for a very bright future indeed. Message some pals, squad up for some Big Team Battles, and allow yourself to be transported back to a better time. You’ve earned it, chief.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
Review code provided by publisher
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