Halo is a series that helped to define a console and even a generation. First Person Shooters have taken many different forms over the years, from arena to more story crafted war epics. However, one of the most popular design styles has Halo to thank for its popularity. The original perfected the two-weapon limitation, rechargeable shields and vehicle usage in open maps.
However, no series can ever run off of a single idea, and Halo is no different. The latest game in the series, Halo infinite, has finally been released and it is truly trying something different. 343 Industries has brought a new design, new enemy, allies and even a new Halo ring to fans with their latest release.
Halo’s overall plot isn't restricted to the games alone, there are numerous different forms of media based in the universe. While multi-faceted lore is often a strength, it can lead to the more casual fan becoming lost. Halo Infinite wants to avoid that and seemingly wipes the slate clean. While this isn't a true remake, the plot steps away from any prior events. The game takes place sometime after the events of Halo 5, but the threat of Cortana has been dealt with and the Banished have taken her place.
Was this a good option? Hard to say really. The concept makes sense on paper at least. It is a chance for the developers to tell a new story while still offering a conclusion for anyone who was invested in the old plot. However, the disconnect here is jarring and leave so many unanswered questions it's hard to think of prior games as pointless. Thankfully this is somewhat improved by the new characters, all of whom bring a lot to the table. The pilot and the new AI are both well written and play off of Chief well. Chief is also better presented here than he has been in a while, with the character being given more depth than just a stoic badass.
The biggest change that the series has ever seen is really the main talking point here, and that is the change to an open world. Now the open world really is nothing new, Ubisoft has been doing it for years, but Halo had only ever dabbled. Infinite, however, dive headfirst in the genre and aims to bring Halo kicking and screaming into modern trends. For the most part, it works and the Halo that players find themselves on is an interesting enough environment to fight in. However, there are some major hiccups and 343’s lack of experience is apparent. Frankly, there really isn’t enough to do in the world and the lack of major settlements and variety means there's little to bring players back.
Gameplay, however, is one of the games major strengths. One of the main complaints about Halo 5 was the use of squad mechanics and ammo limitations. The weapons players had access to were always running low on ammo and the teammates added little to the experience. This is no longer the case in Infinite. Master Chief deals with most situations on his own and the ammo has been simplified by the implementation of universal ammo boxes. While this does mean there’s less inclination to pick new weapons and experiment, it was a necessary addition. Aside from the guns, the movement is fluid and gunplay is excellent. Each fight is exciting and each weapon feels impactful while retaining the nostalgia of prior games. However, some of the new weapons feel rather redundant.
Special mention should be made to the new gadgets on offer. While players used to have access to cores that would allow them to perform abilities in Halo 4, the idea was dropped for Halo 5. Now the chief can unlock several special abilities he can swap in the campaign. The best, and first unlock, is the grappling hook. No one realised they wanted the chief to swing around like a giant metal spider-man. Now they do. The gadgets use is fluid and, frankly, if this were the only addition it would have been enough.
The Banished make sure to show the intelligent AI that the series has become famous for. They will make use of the environment to flank the chief and show a definite improvement to Halo 5’s less interesting opponents. Another, slightly odd, addition is the inclusion of boss fights. These range from interesting to slightly tedious, and occasionally completely redundant. The game often introduces enemies of interest that the player can kill for more renown. At first, this is a challenge, but once you unlock flying vehicles it becomes completely pointless. This renown is used for unlocking new items and vehicles at the firebase but there are more events than there are items to unlock. Frankly, there isn’t much reason to bother doing all of the events other than to sate the completionist.
Multiplayer is one of the more…concerning reworks. First things first, the progression at launch sucked. There are no two ways about it. However, 343 is working to improve this and the unlock system is showing signs of improvement. Thankfully the card and battlepoint system have been tweaked to make it less pay to win. Other than that, there isn't really much to say. Shoot your friends in well-designed maps and have fun. The gadgets are more limited online, which is a shame, but it makes sense for balancing purposes.
Halo Infinite is a weird game but by no means a bad one. While it is new ground for the series, and for the company, there are only a few mistakes. A few things are missing for old school fans, there are no real cinematic battles for the player to engage in for instance and the marines are really little more than window dressing. However, for everything missing there is something that is done right. The gadgets are exciting and fun to use, the combat is fluid and the story is entertaining despite its weird timeline.
This game offers something for everyone, new fans and old. While there are mistakes none of them takes away from the main experience. Also, and this is a really important point, the Weapon (new AI) is an amazing character and, frankly, super adorable. So let’s all go and finish the fight, just not the fight we were expecting.
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