Halo Infinite is the next in a long line of Halo titles and while many may say that the multiplayer beta is a supporting piece to the main game, others play Halo more-so for the multiplayer than they do the campaign. So how does the surprise launch of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer stack up against other Halo games and other free to play offerings?
Wind back 12 months and we can admit that Halo Infinite wasn’t in the greatest place for its pending launch. Some of the criticism fair, some possibly a bit harsh but it all led to the tech tests throughout the later part of this year and into the improved product that gamers received in beta form in a (not so) surprise launch back on November 15.
The multiplayer beta, although leaked, was a nice surprise to see drop in its free to play form prior to the launch of the main game and I’ll admit that I haven’t been able to put it down.
At its core, the game feels very much like what players would expect from a Halo game. The movement, gun play, time to kill, core weapons and vehicles all feel very Halo, and fans will feel right at home as soon as they jump into their first game. Early on players will also begin to see some of the new additions that 343 Industries have brought to the next iteration of Halo multiplayer, including a new range of weapons and tools to help the player accomplish victory. These range from the new weapons like the Heatwave, Cindershot, Disruptor and Skewer through to tools including the Grapple, Threat Sensor and Repulsor.
These new and returning tools of the Spartan trade can currently be used by players in several game modes and seasonal events, testing the players skill through different training, bot and player-based matches all in the name of victory. Currently on offer are:
- Academy – This is the place where players test their skills with individual weapon drills and compete to obtain a high score through skilled and efficient use of weapon and ammunition. Each challenge is rated from 1 to 3 stars once compete. This also provides the player with the ability to replay tutorial and a customisable training mode where the player can customise every aspect of a match for training purposes only.
- Bot Bootcamp – Players take part in competitive matches against bots across various game modes. The bots offer 4 levels of difficulty.
- Quick play – This is the main versus player offering that has two teams of four face off in a random game mode on a random map in a battle for victory.
- Ranked Arena – This is the competitive ranked P v P playlist that has two teams of four face off under competitive rule sets in a battle for self and team to obtain a ranking amongst all players within the Arena.
- Big Team Battle – This is the ultimate battle of two teams of twelve players who face off in random game modes across 3 maps in search of victory.
- Seasonal Events – Currently the game offers a seasonal event that brings its own season pass and cosmetic rewards which are tied to a specific game mode. The first seasonal event being tied to the Fiesta game mode.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer brings a decent variety of game modes, but game mode selection is restricted to the categories above and does not allow players to select exactly what game modes they wish to play. I feel that this is possibly by design for the beta period to ensure testing and balancing of maps and game modes, but it is frustrating when all the player wants to do is play some Capture The Flag but gets stuck with 5 Slayer matches in a row. I would hope that this will change once full launch hits, or at the end of the first season as variety and choice in what to play would be a welcome tweak going forward.
A good game mode is nothing without decent map design and the maps on offer in Halo Infinite fit perfectly. The maps look very much as players would expect for the Halo universe, while the design fits well with their intended purpose. The smaller maps are the perfect size for 4 v 4 competitive gaming, providing a perfect sized multi-tiered map that leads to regular engagement with the enemy without the feeling of being spawn trapped. Where the larger BTB maps are built for the heavy machinery and long sight lines that a 12 v 12 battle requires, while not feeling too large and empty. All maps have been well designed to allow for multiple play styles and methods of traversal to ensure that’s a place for all types of Spartans.
Variety in game modes and maps is one thing, the other is variety in Spartan design and most players like their Spartan to be theirs and reflect their accomplishments through flaming skulls, samurai swords or more. Returning players will be happy to know that customisation is back again and this title brings with it the latest version of the Spartan customisation system. This time around the customisation system offers rewards through the latest version of Halo’s Battle Pass and offers a new take on what the previous Master Chief Collection brought players. Instead of challenge points, this battle pass falls more in line with many other titles and sees the player earn experience by completing challenges to progress through the ranks. The more experience earned, the more levels unlocked, and level unlocks equal rewards. These rewards are based on a free tier and premium paid tier system that is common in most free-play titles now days. The rewards within the free tier bringing a variety of challenge skips and level boosts with a scattering of armour pieces and shader designs. The premium tier brings more armour, shaders and custom effects and players looking to fully customize their Spartan would be happier with the customisation options on offer in the premium season pass.
There are a few negatives that come with this updated battle pass system, which 343i have already identified and are continuing to address. The primary concern being the level of experience required and the way in which experience is earned, leading to a less than enjoyable process for those focused on the rewards, with the highest tier rewards not likely obtainable for most gamers.