Halo Infinite overpromises and underdelivers.
Almost a year ago, I completed the Halo Infinite campaign. Although the online multiplayer is decent with friends or family, it’s not something that stuck with me. I played with my brother who lives in another state, so it was a good way to keep in touch.
So why review it now?
Simply put, Microsoft released an unfinished game. That’s not even an opinion. It’s a plain fact that they shipped a game with core modes and content that they promised as future downloadable content. Now that they have confirmed that local co-op is canceled, it seems that the game is essentially finished. Yeah, they’ll add more multiplayer content like maps, but this effectively closes the book on the campaign.
Bigger yet somehow smaller
In a strange way, going bigger makes Halo Infinite feel smaller. Past Halo games have seemed larger than life and grandiose, despite the relatively limited size of maps and a linear story arc. Strangely, Infinite feels small despite being the first truly open-world Halo. That’s because it is small relative to other open-world games. More importantly, though, it feels mostly devoid of life.
When I first started playing Halo Infinite last fall, it felt like Halo Skyrim or Halo Far Cry. Truth be told, I am not sure that I like it because it’s less focused and more repetitive. Those games in particular had better-developed worlds with plenty of things to do. It’s obvious that 343 Industries is just following industry trends instead of innovating. That’s in stark contrast to the first couple of games under Bungie’s leadership two decades ago.
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The disappointment doesn’t stop there. Infinite‘s story is mostly told through audio logs that you find in the world rather than the epic FMVs that we are used to in other Halo games. Again, even though the scale of the map is larger than anything we have seen in a Halo before, Infinite ironically does not feel nearly as epic.
Master Chief channels his inner Batman
That is not to say that Infinite offers nothing new. The grappling hook is easily the best addition to the franchise. It is incredibly useful as this game is the most vertical in the franchise to date. Not only can you use it to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, but you can also use it to grab weapons, latch onto enemies, and easily hijack vehicles (including banshees).
The grapple is clearly the signature tool. There are other tools like the drop wall for a shield and thruster to help you dodge, all of which you can upgrade. They just are not as useful, in my opinion. You’ll need to find Spartan cores throughout the world in order to upgrade your gear.
For the first time in the franchise, Halo Infinite offers free-to-play online multiplayer. In many ways, this is a brilliant strategy. For one, the full game is already free to play if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. Second, going this route means that the multiplayer mode has plenty of players online at all times.
The multiplayer mode is taking a season-based approach with new content dropping regularly every few months. There are also limited-time holiday events to keep the community active and reward players with free goodies like emblems and armor paint to customize your character.
Halo Infinite is a genuine disappointment on multiple levels. The campaign is lackluster and lacks the promised couch co-op. The open-world map is largely devoid of life. The multiplayer is decent, but it’s competing in a saturated market. Although I held out hope, that hope has evaporated.