It is no secret that Halo Infinite was a huge game for Microsoft and the Xbox brand, in fact it could be called the game for the company and when the game was delayed from last years Xbox Series launch it could have signaled the end of a twenty year run in the video game industry. Ever since original Halo developer Bungie left Microsoft to create its Destiny game, 343i has been charged with the caretaking of its most prized property and to say it has struggled would be generous. Its Halo Collection was almost unplayable when it launched, Halo 4 was received well but Halo 5 was polarizing to the fanbase with its additions to the series, and lack of Master Chief.
There is no pleasure to be gained by a video game icons slow decent into irrelevancy (see: Sonic the Hedgehog) and with a one year delay announced for Halo Infinite after a poorly received reveal it was not looking good for our hero. Against all odds and expectations, what 343i finally released was, while not perfect, still has managed to be one of the best games released in 2021.
The game controls like a dream, the grapple hook is a top notch addition to Master Chief equipment and the story grabs you immediately and takes you for a ride. Gone is the level structure from all previous Halo games and in its place is a wide open area allowing the player to explore, unlock warp points, kill most wanted enemies, and pretty much poke around until you want to co tin the story. It is one of the most “Zelda-like” experiences I have had on an Xbox console.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though. There is no co-op campaign or Forge features available yet (they are promised in a future update) and the battle pass system is the only character progression in multiplayer. You work towards the battle pass by completing specific objectives and your actual performance in the match doesn’t add anything to it. Finish a game first on your team in kills? Doesn’t matter. This is very strange considering the series thrives on these stats. Previous games would give XP for kills, for getting medals and for overall performance; this was a shocking change for the system that has already been adjusted twice with further improvements promised in the coming months.
Despite all of that Halo Infinite remains a crowning achievement for 343i, it is a game that just feels right and gives the player the ultimate “just one more game before bed” feeling. It is a game you will think about while you are at work and will be excited to play when you get free time. Your friends will all be playing it (the multiplayer is free-to-play) and if you are old enough it will bring back memories of the Halo 2/3 era when it seemed like everyone in the world was playing the games. Everyone that mattered anyway. Halo Infinite brings Halo back to greatness and this is just the beginning of a stated ten-year life cycle for the game, where 343i goes is up to them but their foundation had been built to great something classic.
Xbox Series X/S
$59.99 (Campaign) – Included with Gamepass – Multiplayer is free-to-play