After a six-year-long hiatus, the Master Chief has finally returned with Halo Infinite. It’s clear that the man likes his naps to be nice and long. With so many things left unspoken and unresolved after Halo 5, it really was only a matter of time. On December 8th, you’ll finally get the chance to pick up a battle rifle and become a Covenant Demon again. With our trusty Sierra 117 back in the saddle, we’re sure to blast through flooding hordes of Elites and Brutes without hesitation. Become the guilty spark that shatters the ring, show no regret when doling out truth and reconciliation! Forwards unto dawn Chief, it’s time to explore a new Halo ring, Installation 07!
We’ll keep spoilers light for the Halo Infinite campaign. Nothing you haven’t seen in the trailers. If you’re new to the franchise, Halo Infinite really is a fine entry to start off with. Don’t worry about missing too much context. But I would urge you to consider getting the Master Chief Collection once you’re done and yearning for more. After all, the entire space epic is worth the investment, even if it’s just for the story.
|Buy it if||Not for you if|
|You’re a huge Halo fan and managed to pick up on all my references above||You’re not a fan of shooting first, asking questions kinda never|
|You’re looking for a triple A shooter experience, both single- and multiplayer||You feel overwhelmed with the amounts of weapons, grenades, upgrades and kit equipment you’ll encounter|
|You feel a slight tendency towards racism against space aliens||You’re a pacifist and would really prefer to have a diplomatic sit-down with space aliens|
Halo Infinite: Gameplay
So without further ado, let’s dive into what everyone really wants to know. Did 343 Industries manage to make an authentic feeling Halo game? Did they succeed in making it feel fresh as well, using new tricks and expanded arsenals? Furthermore, is the semi-open world aspect something that works for a Halo game?
I’m happy to report that after spending a considerable time playing both the multiplayer and singleplayer parts of the game, the answer is a resounding yes. In the days of old, Bungie was the master of the Halo universe. While 343 gave it their best with Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, I never felt quite the same spark as I did before. Don’t get me wrong, they were fine games in and of itself. Halo Infinite, however, is quite clearly the result of distilling the best aspects of the past Halo games. Then, adding just a pinch of fresh mechanics and exciting new weapons, we’re left with a game that is a worthy successor to the throne.
Gun play: I don’t keep it loaded son
Right off the bat, the trusty assault rifle has gotten a bit of a make-over. While it’s undoubtedly a staple of the series, its performance and stopping power usually leave much to be desired. No more, says 343, you’re about to be using the most satisfying version of that weapon. It packs a punch, and is an absolute joy to use. It’s a weapon you can depend on now. Of course, as you progress in the campaign levels or on the multiplayer battlegrounds, you eventually start testing out whatever you encounter. And what do you know? It’s not just the assault rifle that makes you feel extremely powerful. Every weapon, from the unassuming plasma pistol to the VK78 Commando, feels like it was made in the Vulcan’ forge.
Dripping with tasteful design and a joy to fire into the heads of enemies, 343 really nailed the weapon design this time around. I loved using just about anything I could get my hands on. Grenades are also plentiful, although they seem to have lost a bit of their bite. Explosions seem to be toned down a bit more this time around, but it really is for the better. We’ll have enough difficulty getting our head blown off by Jackal snipers as it is, a barrage of the new energy grenades on Legendary is enough to make a grown man cry.
Gun play: You’ll have to find ammo as you go
The only gripes I could come up with, is the fact that some weapons feel somewhat situational. Obviously, you’re not going to be sniping with a shotgun anytime soon, but I do feel like the effective weapon ranges have taken a hit. Using a pistol to pop headshots across the map is not as evident with the Mk50 sidekick pistol. The battle rifle, Halo 3’s god-tier weapon, capable of destroying entire Covenant armies, is present. Yet, right away, you’ll notice you’re not scoring headcases even though you’re aiming spot on. Distance has become a limiting factor for a lot of the weapons, no doubt to balance it out and give some newcomers a fair chance. The Heatwave or Hydra, for example, are class-A weapons – but only when the need for them arises.
Spartan Equipment: Protect the pilot
Woops, wrong franchise reference on that header. Or is it? I cannot be the only one who notices that 343 went ahead and took a bit of Titanfall 2’s gameplay and made it their own? Canonically, the Chief in his amazing MJOLNIR armour comes in weighing about 1000lbs, or 453 kg. Yet, here we are, using the new grapple shot equipment like we’re a Titanfall 2 pilot looking to scale the map. You’ll have to explain the science to me about how someone managed to make a deployable grappling hook that can quick fire on most objects, and reel in hundreds of kilo’s like it’s a paperweight.
Batspart. Spartman? Batman in a tank.
Lore aside, I must admit that the decision to include this new plaything was the right call. By adding a quick and efficient way to climb the environment, the Chief (literally) soars to new heights. The map design keeps this in mind, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to be the most mobile, grapple-hooking, one-man tank on the ring. At this point, the Banished would be better off just laying down their weapons and surrendering. They already call John a demon, imagine what he’s going to do to you now that he’s equipped to Batman levels of tools. Oh! And you’re also equipped with a refreshable scan-pulse. This highlights weapons, ammo, and even collectibles in your vicinity. With the increased scalability of the levels, and open-world aspect, it really is a welcome addition to save some time.
There’s also the ammo canisters, consisting of three types, as there are three sorts of weapons. Kinetic, plasma and energy. You’ll need the corresponding type of gun to use said canisters, but it’s a welcome addition which allows you to keep your favourite weapon around for much longer. Although I’m betting that on a LASO run, you’ll still pick up whatever has rounds left in the magazine and be grateful for it. The ammo canisters should likely also make this experience a bit more bearable.
We’ve also gained something called armour cores. You can collect these specialty goods around the map, like from the corpse of a more modern Spartan. After all, with the Spartan-IV program on the Infinity cruiser active, we’ll continue to encounter new types of Spartan modifications. With a little luck, and some thorough scrounging, you’ll get armour bonuses, such as a basic, stronger shield. Or perhaps you fancy a grapple shot that can damage and stun your opponents when you whip them in the face with it? The choices are yours, but you’ll have to spend some time exploring installation 07 if you really want to make the most of it!
Open world aspects: In the shadow of intent
It feels weird to be describing an open world aspect to a Halo game. It’s never been really relevant, although in fairness, the level design has been pretty stellar in past games as well. Usually, you could take a few routes towards your next path, and the levels definitely never had the air of being constricting. You still got funnelled into the one correct path, though. That all changes drastically in Halo Infinite. Once you complete the first few campaign missions, you’ll effectively be dropped on installation 07. You have a Pelican and a pilot, so you’ll be able to get around.
What you do with this freedom, is up to you. There are ‘FOB’s’ or Forward Operation Bases which the Banished have conquered over the UNSC. As humanity’s finest protector, you can now declare all out war against these bases, in which you can find a lot of collectibles too. Armour cores, cosmetics for multiplayer, audio logs and the ever present skulls. Luckily, most hotspots on the map include a counter of which pick-me-ups are present, and how many you’ve already found. Take back the ring camps on these alien bastards, and you’ll start unlocking things like deployable marines too. Far Cry in space, anyone?
Halo Infinite: Graphics and cutscenes
This is where the campaign story really goes ahead and outshines every Halo that came before. In some cases, quite literally. The map design is absolutely stunning, it’s the kind of world you’ll love to revisit time and time again. With the new verticality factor added in, you’ll discover adjacent pathways and new ways to drop in on unassuming Banished aliens. The graphics are polished and feel breathtakingly vibrant, with some solid actor performances across the board. The camera work and cinematography have a straight triple A quality to them. It was sufficient to suck me in every single time, making me feel fully immersed and enjoying the ride along with the Chief. In a lot of cutscenes, you can even move the camera ever so slightly, by looking around. It’s subtle, but it makes it seem like you’re really there.
All my graphics were set to high, running an older Nvidia 1080 card. Even so, I have zero issues with frame drops or other graphical glitches. Everything runs incredibly smooth, and it serves the story and immersion tightly as well. No jagged edges or weird facial movements on my end to break the illusion, that alone deserves some praise for 343 Industries. Also, don’t forget. Xbox Cloud Gaming launched earlier this year, for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription owners. Halo Infinite will also be available through said platform, should you wish to switch platforms.
Halo Infinite: Story
Don’t worry, I’m not here to spoil the experience for you, just helping you set up the stage if you need it. It suffices to say that we’ll be fighting the Banished a lot. If you require a quick reminder, they’re somewhat of a splinter faction of the original Covenant. Not keen on following lying Prophets with a tendency on dying ironic deaths, which is understandable. The alternative? Become space pirates and brigands, of course! They’re led by Atriox, with a very questionable ‘vision’, bordering on the theocratic Covenant. The Jiralhanae (Brutes) have a tendency towards being violent leaders, don’t they? We’re also introduced to Escharum, supposedly Atriox’ mentor. You’ll have to play the campaign yourself to see just how them squaring off with the Chief turns out. Expect some fairly tough boss fights, so come armed to the teeth around every corner.
Some time ago, it was also revealed that Halo Infinite would feature a new Cortana model A.I. to assist our favourite Master Chief. If you recall, the real Cortana went bananas in a process called rampancy, where A.I.’s are in service too long and start looping on their own logic. It’s when the A.I. construct “develops a longing for godlike power,” as well as utter contempt for its mentally inferior makers. Generally unfavourable things, if you happen to be said mentally inferior maker. A fresh Cortana model could see service for quite a while, or could turn out to be a sham all together. You’ll have to play through the story to find out which it is.
Halo Infinite: Music and sound
A return to form here too. I felt genuinely nostalgic when the choirs and drums started to swell in battle. The music has lost none of its epic touch, guiding the story and exploration without becoming overbearing. I’ll definitely be adding some classics to my Halo playlist as soon as it is released. It’s really just the right amount of new and old mixed in. So a job well done to the composers.
Every gunshot sounds crisp and clean. The plasma and energy weapons make their own distinct buzzing and splashing sounds you’ve come to know and love. If you’re playing on a higher difficulty, expect to hear your shields beep a lot at you. I also noticed that the Banished are quite talkative. Elites and Brutes like to declare that they’re void of any fear. Challenging you and taunting you if you try to seek cover. Grunts have lots of panicky lines, and Jackals make it clear they’re going to be cashing in on that bounty on your demon head. All of it adds an extra layer of intensity to combat, making the Banished feel distinct from the Covenant. Looser discipline and more flexing, seems like a perfect fit for a pirate outfit.
Halo Infinite: Verdict
Halo Infinite is a strong entry into the franchise. I’ve been enjoying both the campaign and the free multiplayer experience in equal measure. If you are a fan of the series, you need to get this campaign ASAP. It’s the kind of ride you really don’t want to miss out on. My playthrough so far has been absolute bug-free, and is looking downright amazing. I have no doubt I’ll be spending countless more hours exploring installation 07. I’m also very much looking forward to the inclusion of the co-op campaign, slated for 2022. With the seasonal passes and all-round new freemium business model, I believe Halo Infinite has the capacity to be…well, infinite in its updates. If you’re looking for a triple A class shooter experience with a gripping story and a ton of polish, 343 Industries manages to deliver just that.
A massive thanks to Xbox Greece for providing us with a key to review Halo Infinite!