Friday, November 19, 2021
This past week, it’s safe to say we’ve become obsessed with Halo Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer, following its surprise launch as a so-called 'beta' on Monday evening. Despite being briefly presented with nothing but a blue screen initially, it’s safe to say that things have been fairly smooth since, and, Halo Infinite is back to its best, especially where its minute-to-minute gameplay is concerned.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer seems to have struck a perfect balance between the Halo: CE, Halo 2, and Halo 3 gameplay of old, and some of the more fast-paced action from Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. Indeed, within minutes of playing your first game, it’s clear that Halo Infinite Multiplayer is indicative of a return to the top of the FPS tree for the series. Little things like not making the sprint too fast, not overcomplicating things with too many power-ups, and putting a big emphasis on the pick-ups, mean that the flow of Infinite is right on the money.
Everything about the combat just feels like it should. The Battle Rifle bursts, the melee dash, the visual representations of how much your opponent has left on their shield - I honestly can’t really fault it. My only criticism would be that a lot of the weapons feel redundant, and everyone inevitably gravitates to the old faithfuls like the M6D Magnum pistol, the Battle Rifle, Infinite’s take on the DMR (the Commando) and, of course, the formidable power weapons.
From a competitive perspective, players have numerous modes that they can tuck into, including standard Quick Play fare, Ranked Arena, and the infamous Big Team Battle, with each mode consisting of various traditional game-types including Capture The Flag, Stronghold, Oddball, and Slayer. Big Team Battle also boasts Total Control and Stockpile variants, both of which prove gloriously chaotic – even if the overtime does need some work, as it's possible to get stuck in a 40-minute stalemate match (which is exactly what happened to me). My only gripe has to be the lack of a Big Team Battle ranked playlist, especially as someone who makes a beeline to the bigger maps and vehicles, in a bid to ramp up the mayhem.
While a lot of Halo Infinite’s maps are pretty solid, however, none of them really are as iconic or memorable as those found in previous Halo titles. Halo Infinite doesn’t have a Lockout, an Ascension, an Ivory Tower, or even a Zanzibar. Sure, it has its own Blood Gulch-style Big Team Battle map, as always, but when we look back in five years’ time, no one is likely to be talking about how cool 'Recharge' is, or how iconic the 'Live Fire' map is. Streets, Bazaar, and Deadlock seem to be the strongest of the bunch, but as a Big Team Battle player, having only three maps at launch is a touch disappointing, but it’s early days yet. One thing I will say, is that despite a dearth of maps that feel or look iconic, they've undoubtedly been carefully thought out and meticulously designed, with plenty of cover, nooks, crannies, different levels in which to engage, and so forth. What I’m saying is: the maps feel incredibly balanced, as do elements like spawns, placements of power weapons, etc.
The one thing that I was planning on making a big issue of in this mini-review – ahead of the full-game release on 8th December – was that developer 343 Industries had got the Battle Pass progression completely wrong. Well, thankfully, 343 has acted fast, recognising the issues - in that some games you could literally gain no XP - and have worked to rectify that somewhat, as well as removing some of the more awkward weekly challenges. Whether it's a permanent solution to the game's relatively slow Battle Pass progression, we're not entirely sure just yet.
There are minor details, too, which I think could improve the overall Halo Infinite MP experience - aspects like being unable to equip armour, weapons, cosmetics, and other gear while searching for a game and waiting in the lobby (this could be implemented even if the changes don’t take effect until the next match), issues with spawning into a 4v4 match with only three players on a team (which especially sucks in a ranked match), and, too many instances of Oddball, which seems to be the only thing I played a lot of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Oddball, but not all of the bloody time! Maybe I was just unlucky with matchmaking, though, who knows? As a Halo player for the last two decades, I’m over the moon with how well Infinite’s multiplayer has shaped up, despite the niggles. I imagine people will moan about the cosmetic items and their costs, but you know what? It’s free-to-play, so I’m not sure anyone can have any real grievances with that.
And if the Battle Pass turnaround is anything to go by, it seems that 343 Industries has brought its A-game this time around. Was it the one-year delay? Was it the studio listening to the community during development? Has 343 finally found its groove, three mainline Halo games in? Who knows? All I know is that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is a banger - the best multiplayer experience of the year, without a shadow of a doubt.
Friday, November 19, 2021 @ 03:32 PM
Friday, November 19, 2021 @ 11:17 PM
Saturday, November 20, 2021 @ 06:43 AM
Saturday, November 20, 2021 @ 09:29 PM
Sunday, November 21, 2021 @ 02:38 PM