Master Chief is back with a new Weapon – and one literally called Weapon. This one is Halo Infinite and it brings a new style of Halo to Xbox gamers. Let’s discuss whether that holds up.
What Is It?
Infinite takes place about a year after Halo 5: Guardians and focuses entirely on Master Chief and the lingering impacts of Cortana’s mutiny in the last game. Stationed on Infinity, the ship is attacked by Brute-led forces known as the Banished. Chief is completely bested by their leader, Atriox, and is left for dead in space. Six months later, Chief is found by a lone UNSC pilot (Echo 216) and they head to Installation 07, aka Zeta Halo.
The Banished have taken control of damaged Zeta Halo and are working with another group to spread their control of the Halo structures and bring a seemingly more sinister force to the foreground. Meanwhile, Chief retrieves a new AI, the aforementioned Weapon, and works with scattered UNSC resources to stop the Banished from fixing Zeta Halo and activating the ring.
Why Should I Care?
There’s something about the simplicity of this game that really hit home for me and made me like it quite a bit. Over the last few years, I haven’t paid much attention to anything Halo outside of some brief time with the Master Chief Collection. I had fallen off because it wasn’t as interesting. Straight up, I forgot what the story even was and that I had reviewed Guardians back in 2015. Diving into old memories, I had stopped caring about the complicated setup. A wild, messy story. Multiplayer that was good but maybe too big for me. But with Infinite, the entire scope has changed into a much smaller story with a semi open-world setting and a new approach to multiplayer. The new package feels fresher for the franchise.
The story is tightly centered on Chief, Weapon, Echo 216, and the Banished leadership. I can’t say I was overly interested in a lot of rehashed items, like really caring about the Banished, but I did appreciate the straightforward approach to telling it. And diving more into Chief’s mindset and how impacted he was by the loss of Cortana was something that was a worthwhile investment. Seeing him connect with Weapon and Echo 216 works well as they can tend to be good foils for his stoic approach. Though I didn’t dig the forced mystery to those characters. The truth about Weapon is incredibly obvious so the reveal to the audience falls a little flat, but the emotion within works. And the big reveal for Echo is his name, so the culmination of Chief showing him more respect? It seemed weak. But the camaraderie works well enough to mask it just a bit.
The semi open-world format is what really gave Infinite that fresher feeling that I liked a lot. The map is fairly expansive and beautifully crafted. The story will still follow a linear format, but the map includes side quests to build up your resources and abilities. Freeing captive UNSC forces, securing forward operating bases, taking down high value Banished targets, and destroying Banished strongholds will generate Valor points that unlock more weapon and vehicle options at forward operating bases and give you the ability to fast travel to get across the map easier. Collecting Spartan cores enhances your gameplay abilities in an RPG style. You put core points towards upgrading your drop wall, thrusters, shields, and my favorite, the grappleshot. You’ll also be able to unlock multiplayer cosmetic options by finding lockers around the map. With this setup, it created a more casual, drop in-and-play approach that wasn’t an option with past Halo games. It was either play the campaign or multiplayer. Now, I can pop in and cruise around the map to complete the side quests or simply explore.
So let’s dive into the tricky beast of multiplayer. It’s a completely reworked system but maintains a lot of the Halo-ness to it. It’s free to play, so it kind of exists outside of the main game, but your customization options will be better off if you do own the entire game and collect cosmetic options. It also offers cross-platform play and progression, so while I play on my Xbox One, I’ll be matched with those on Xbox Series X and if I were to move onto one myself, I wouldn’t lose my progress. But, currently, there is no online or local campaign multiplayer nor is there Forge; both will be added as features at a later point.
In ways, the value of multiplayer is weakened without those latter options. But in other ways, I found the multiplayer to be far more accessible than past games. Though, admittedly, I’m not the type of Halo gamer that loved getting into Forge or focusing so much on building my rank, so this style is going to be more inherently for me. I can simply pick up and play. For those newer, there are plenty of training options and bot battles that can help you progress outside of a ranked platform. With fairly straightforward options, I found myself enjoying multiplayer more than I have in years.
That straightforwardness does come at another literal cost through Premium Battle Pass. Where the Master Chief Collection included Battle Passes through in-game currency and experience, Infinite has the Premium option to pay one-time to unlock more cosmetic options and generate more experience to progress further within the Battle Pass. It’s fine and not so differently priced than what you may see with other shooters. But I did find myself wondering why I was progressing my general Battle Pass if I wasn’t really being rewarded for it. In one way, it took any pressure off and just had me focus on having whatever fun I could. But in another, there’s nothing I’m really working towards unless I pay for it, so, eh? I generated most of my cosmetics via the campaign map and was fine with that, though the winter season unlocks were fun and easy to get.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Absolutely. There are a handful of ways to take advantage of playing Halo Infinite to the degree you may truly want. A huge opportunity is through Game Pass. Infinite was available day one on Game Pass, so if you have that, might as well play it. Of course, if you only really care about having another multiplayer game, then just download the multiplayer for free and have at it. If you don’t have Game Pass but still want it, then drop the $60 for it. No matter how you get to it, you get a solid game. A campaign that tightens its scope and hits the right emotional beats. A multiplayer mode that gives key offerings now with the promise of more later. The ability to play it “for free” via Game Pass. It’s an incredibly solid and fun game that I would highly recommend, especially if you’ve been any bit of a Halo fan in the past.