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Review – Halo Infinite: Winter Update

Halo Infinite has been in a sorry state since its launch in November last year. Initially the reception of the first new mainline Halo game since Halo 5: Guardians in 2015 was stellar. It was deserved too. Halo Infinite boasts the best multiplayer game play since Halo 3… at least in this reviewer’s opinion. The campaign is also great, being Halo’s first foray into a semi open world system. The problem was not with these excellent parts of the game, but with the stuff that was missing. Campaign Co-Op, a Halo staple, was not included at launch. Nor was Forge, the series’ map, and game mode editor. The cracks began to show as the poorly designed UI seemingly didn’t allow for the rapid changes needed in today’s live service style games. On top of that, Halo infinite’s seasons have been six months long, twice the length of the average FPS season. Content barely trickled in, and the Halo Infinite population began to wane.

All of that brings us too today. One year after the initial release of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer comes the “Winter Update”, a massive content drop that the developers hope will bring players back en masse.

I have spent several hours over the past few days playing Halo Infinite’s Co-Op campaign and the new Multiplayer additions, as well as an hour or so in forge, and sadly I don’t think this update is going to help with Halo Infinite’s population woes much at all. Yes, Co-Op campaign will have friend groups playing through the stellar campaign together and causing havoc. The new achievements will keep players interested for a little while, especially with mission replay allowing them to easily get missed collectibles and try for those achievements. The main issue with the population was not the lack of Co-Op campaign however, it was the lack of content in Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer. And it still is.

343 Industries introduced a new 30 tier battle pass that is free for all players. The problem with this is the battle pass is set to last for over 100 days, the length of what should be a normal 100 tier battle pass season. 30 tiers – especially with the amount of double XP players have amassed with nothing to use it towards – will only last a week or two for most players. After that, the only new content available to players will be obtained via a few event passes coming up, and through the in-game store. Event passes sound fun, but if you look at the last year, they have been steadily trickling through, and they aren’t keeping players’ interest.

In my opinion, the first step to getting players back into Halo Infinite should be implementing an account level system that is outside the battle pass. Many players were baffled by the decision to leave a similar system out at launch, given that pretty much every FPS game ever – including the last few Halo games – have had one. They exist for a reason, and not having one in Infinite is a huge issue. There are so many games to take players attention, and a lot of players would prefer to play a game where they feel as though they are progressing and unlocking things all the time, not just with a battle pass. Some would argue that the classic halo games that are universally loved didn’t have systems like this, but that was a long time ago. This is the way the gaming world is going, and developers should know this.

Another change that the developer should make is to allow players to party up for social Free for All game modes. Some players may disagree with me here, but Every other Halo game has allowed this for social FFA playlists. Free for all is a favourite game mode for many players, but not being able to play with friends detracts from the experience.

There are many other social features that should be added to help bring the community together, such as pre and post-game lobbies with chat, proximity chat in game, custom games browser (which is on the roadmap) and others. Some of these features likely will never show up because players can abuse them, but we can all hope.

The two new maps are a lot of fun and show off what forge can do. Playing the new game mode, covert one flag, is a lot of fun on Detachment, the cat and mouse feeling that 343 has created is exciting. Unfortunately, there are “bugs” in detachment that is keeping it from being playable in ranked. Hopefully these “bugs” are resolved promptly.

Playing campaign with some friends was a lot of fun, trying for new achievements was great fun as well. I also have no doubt that the community will do wonders now that forge is available to the masses. That will be hampered by not yet having a custom game browser, but hopefully we will see that soon enough and maybe the population will creep back up.

I hate to say it, but “when battle royale”? No one would catch me wanting a Halo battle royale mode before this year of frustration with Infinite, but alas I think it is time. Battle royale would bring the massive fanbases that games like APEX Legends, Fortnite, and COD Warzone have into the Halo community, and potentially boost populations of other Halo multiplayer game modes exponentially. We know that a Halo battle royale is in the works, but from rumours and comments going around on social media it seems as though this is a year or two away at least.

All that aside, Forge may just be the saving grace of Halo Infinite. It is really the only thing in this Winter Update that gives me hope for the multiplayer side of the game. The creations coming out of the map builder already are astounding. It really shows how amazingly creative the Halo community is, and that maybe, just maybe, we will be the ones that make Halo Infinite great!

My only worry is that Microsoft will decide that Infinite is not worth saving, and force 343 Industries to move on to another project. I hope this doesn’t happen and we get the 10 years of Halo Infinite that we were promised, with massive content updates and new stories.

Sam Russell – View ProfileView more by this writer

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