Halo Infinite was first unveiled at E3 2018, and it was scheduled for release in late 2020 with the arrival of the new Xbox Series X console. However, after a preview of some of the gameplay, there was a massive amount of criticism due to the poor graphic performance. As a result of this backlash, 343 Industries decided to postpone the release until December 8, 2021 — a little over 6 years after the release of Halo 5.
From Highs to Lows
From the first Halo title to Halo: Reach (developed by Bungie), players praised the solo experience. The games were fun to play, and the stories were engaging. However, ever since 343 industries decided to follow Bungie’s lead by creating a unique experience, things have fallen short. Halo 4 and Halo 5 generated a lot of backlash. There was also some major criticism that the marketing campaign for Halo 5 was misleading and deceptive. It was hard to grasp how one of the most beloved series in the history of gaming was floundering.
It is not an exaggeration to say that for 343 Industries, Halo Infinite (which is not free) is either going to redeem the reputation of this series — or possibly wreck it beyond repair. This redemption arc begins with the promise that Halo Infinite will return to the core subjects of the series (before Halo 4 and Halo 5). Shifting from linear missions to an almost open world in which you can wander and enjoy what the universe has to provide could be amazing — or a disaster. There is a risk that players could feel a sense of purposelessness and boredom if there is not enough to do in between the main storyline, or if things get too repetitive. Expectations and hopes are very high — and not just for 343 Industries and the Halo series, but for AAA games in general coming out of big studios.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Released
Hard core gamers know that November 15, 2001, is a special date in history. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the original Xbox was released on that day. And the second is that Halo: Combat Evolved — the inaugural title in the Halo series — was released on that day. And so, to commemorate these milestones, on November 15, 2021, 343 Industries released the free-to-play Halo Infinite Multiplayer beta. To say that the gaming community was excited about this is an understatement. After six years of waiting, the anticipation was electric!
Overall, reviews have been quite positive, and the game met the expectations of many hardcore fans, new players, and critics. My opinion is that the gameplay feels good; the game is beautiful and fun to play. Also, it seems that the competitive scene is already in good shape. Big organizations have already signed players and have their own in-game skins, and the first tournament was followed by more than 50,000 fans.
Issues with XP
As I mentioned, Halo Infinite Multiplayer is a free-to-play game. However, there are still options to spend money. Players can buy a battle pass, which unlocks equipment, colors, and other esthetic/cosmetic things for the in-game character by completing challenges and gaining XP to move forward through the Battle Pass tier (1-100).
The problem with the progression system is that you don’t earn a lot of XPs for playing the game. You must play specific game types in order to complete challenges. Sometimes, this forces you to play game modes that you don’t like simply because you want to earn the rewards that you already paid for! The good news is that 343 Industries is apparently listening to players and taking feedback seriously. Updates are being made to fix these kinds of problems. Yes, it is a little frustrating. But I like the fact that the developers are striving to create an amazing experience. It gives me hope that things will get better. And hey, we must remember that the game is free.
In the past Halo was exclusively an Xbox console game. But now it is also available on PC, which triggers another huge concern: cheating. Unfortunately, cheaters are already damaging the experience, and if the problem is not taken care of quickly, we will see players leave in droves.
The Current State
Video games are in a weird spot right now. Upon release, some of them are complete with all necessary features, and they are polished and brilliant — so that players have the best experience possible. But in recent years, most of the time big studios (and to be fair, some players) are too impatient. Games are getting released a year or two after their last iteration, which is just too rapid. This is especially the case for online multiplayer games, and developers are releasing them in a “work-in-progress” state. Basically, it can take one or two years after an initial release to fix game-breaking bugs, server issues, and finalize the game’s content. The worst example of a rushed game in my experience is Battlefield 2042. The game is barely playable. It has less content than older iterations, and a month after launch it is one of the worst reviewed video games of all time on Steam. As of right now, 66% of the nearly 70,000 reviews are negative.
Will Halo Infinite re-energize the Halo series, or will it accelerate its downfall? Only time will tell. I know what I will be doing over the holidays, and I am sure many of my fellow players will be doing the same. Let’s hope that Halo Infinite will provide us with hours and hours of excitement, challenges, and most of all: FUN!