Who would have thought we’d ever say that about Halo Infinite, a few years after Bungie left the series and developer 343 Industries took over? It feels like a long time ago, also because instinctively little has happened in the series in the meantime. Halo 4 may be a good shooting game, but it’s not a good Halo game. Halo 5 is a better shooting game, but it is far from the best Halo.
Halo Infinite feels like a new beginning to the series, not the last part of the second trilogy. In fact, it’s not actually a game, but a platform – a service that has to last another ten years. A game that wants to try that can only succeed if the foundation is good. In this case, the foundation has been there for a while. Halo has always been good and future-proof. At least the old Halo.
343 Industries seems to have realized that itself, because Halo Infinite is, at least in terms of multiplayer, a real Halo game. That goes for the competitive firefights, but also for the stupid, bizarre moments during a game of Big Team Battle (12 versus 12). It’s hard to explain exactly what that is. After all, the movement is quite fast, by Halo standards, and some guns fire more like Call of Duty guns than the typical Halo arsenal. Stuff like that feels “new” to Halo.
Still, you can’t ignore the fact that Halo Infinite simultaneously consists of highlights that are directly reminiscent of Halo 2 and 3. From the design of the maps and the triangle of hitting, grenades and shooting, to the green dunes you thunder over with your Warthog while berating your buddy in the passenger seat for forgetting to take the enemy flag back from the enemy base for the second time in a row. It feels like coming home.
The maps are delightful, especially the small ones, the vehicles are once again like butter in a hot pan, headshots feel like an achievement you’d want to write entire trilogies about, and the bizarre, delightful close-range duels are time and again. Entertaining enough to not stop playing. Especially when you’re playing with friends, Halo Infinite ticks all the boxes that a good competitive shooter should tick. And then you also have the option of chaos with Big Team Battle.
While the pacing is high in all those modes, it takes a very long time for someone to die after you start firing. That high time-to-kill is Halo’s own. It’s the reason Halo is a little more playable when you might not be very good at shooting games. Teaming up by shooting one person with two people can decide entire matches. That will be nice to hear for the older generation of gamers, but yes, they already knew that, because they played Halo 2 at the time.
Anyway, the praise has been given, but that doesn’t mean that a lot can’t be improved. For example, the progression on the Battle Pass is very slow. 343 Industries has said it is aware of this, has already made adjustments this week and continues to tweak where necessary. In any case, adjusting the appearance of your character is a very muddled affair. This can and should all become much better and clearer. And the microtransactions are quite expensive. Ten euros for a skin on a weapon? Stupid.
Furthermore, it is strange that you will not be on the same team when you play Big Team Battle with your party. And maybe it’s just us, but the hitting doesn’t feel quite the way it should feel yet. After you hit, you have no idea where your opponent is next. You are then hastily looking around you for your target. It seems that there is less of a lock-on when hitting than before.
If you now think: those are serious downsides. Correct, and they need to be addressed. Halo Infinite has to prove itself not only as a video game, but also as a service. Although 343 Industries still gives the impression that it wants to show that commitment, the end result remains to be seen. That does not alter the fact that Halo Infinite, still in beta, already looks and feels extraordinarily polished. This game feels off.
But to be honest, that is also allowed after so much delay. And that Halo really feels like a Halo game under 343 Industries should in principle not be a surprise. Ultimately, what is especially clever is how Infinite bridges the gap between old and new. You really don’t have to be with Halo to like this, but at the same time, playing this game makes me feel like I’m 14 again. I cannot give a greater compliment to 343 Industries.