Halo Infinite has been all the rage over the past few weeks and rightfully so. With the multiplayer beta dropped as a surprise at the end of the Xbox 20th Anniversary stream and the campaign going live in less than six hours, fans of the franchise have had a first taste of what 343 Industries have cooked up, with more to come.
While released later than expected, given that the sixth main entry into the Halo franchise was originally slated to release as an Xbox Series X|S console launch title, Halo Infinite’s release being tied to the franchise’s 20th Anniversary is certainly welcome.
Why? Well, what better way to celebrate two decades of Xbox’s flagship title than releasing the highly anticipated next iteration around the time of the franchise’s anniversary? This is also while ensuring the game is at its best for gamers to enjoy.
For most gamers who have been part of Xbox’s twenty year journey, having experienced Halo from day one, Halo Infinite’s release is going to feel incredibly special and a throwback to their childhood, playing Halo with their siblings or attending LAN events with friends. For me, it’s a completely different experience altogether.
My introduction to Halo was synonymous with my introduction to Xbox, having received Halo 5: Guardians as part of the Halo 5 Xbox One limited edition console bundle, the very first Xbox console that I ever purchased and owned. Without having that history with Halo, nor being very adept at FPS games, I struggled to really get into the Halo 5 gameplay. Instead, my time with Xbox very early on was focused more on Rise of the Tomb Raider and other such action-adventure titles that were more ‘my kind of game’ at that time way back in 2015.
That changed when I became more involved with the Xbox community, joined the Xbox Ambassadors and started spending more time with all those who absolutely adored Halo. Through listening to others’ stories on what Halo had meant to them, learning about the lore and dabbling in some of the online multiplayer, I quickly learnt that Halo was much more than just a game. It was a holistic experience.
As a fan of collectibles, the fact that my Halo 5 Xbox One console was beautifully made and with there being several Master Chief collectibles in the market that looked amazing, I too began to fall for Halo, but in a very different way. In fact, I was so taken with the Locke controller that came with my Xbox One console that it set me on the path of becoming an Xbox controller collector, something that I really enjoy.
While most adore Halo for the gameplay and childhood nostalgia, my love for Halo stems from the excitement from the community, my own nostalgia with Halo setting me up for a very long-standing love for Xbox, and of course being amazed at the multitude of incredible collaborations and collectibles that have been made over the years.
So taking all this into account, I want to make absolutely clear that I have not played through all the various Halo games, am in no way a hard core Halo gamer and while I love the franchise, it’s from a very different perspective.
My review of the Halo Infinite campaign, therefore, comes from the perspective of someone who is a casual gamer, who hasn’t had a long history with the franchise, and is, to put it very bluntly, a terrible FPS gamer.
So what exactly is the Halo Infinite campaign like for someone who’s a gaming ‘noob’ in almost every way and is new to the gaming franchise?
343 Industries has definitely done a fabulous job to make the Halo Infinite campaign a game that even someone completely new to the franchise can enjoy, from a gameplay perspective. For starters, the campaign comes with numerous accessibility and difficulty modes, which allows players to pick and choose the playstyle that suits them best. Given that it’d been a long while since I played an FPS single-player title and given the struggle I had back in 2015 when Halo 5 released, I decided to play the game on the most noob friendly level of difficulty: Easy Mode. That’s right, Halo Infinite’s campaign has an ‘Easy’ mode and it really does help the game feel much more enjoyable.
Right from the get go, the game gives players the lay of the land and explains what’s happened by way of a cutscene. If you’re completely new to the franchise, this somewhat helps explain where you are in the timeline, though you may be slightly confused like I was, if you aren’t completely aware of the story from previous games. Fret not though, as all begins to be revealed as you progress through the game. It’s a very intriguing style of narrative, almost as if you’ve suffered from amnesia and need to piece together events in order to recollect the moments leading up to losing your memory. I personally found it fascinating as someone who loves an enticing story.
The narrative of a game is a big deciding factor on whether I’d invest my time to play it through. Halo Infinite’s story was captivating and had me interested to learn just what happened to Cortana, the role of the Banished and how I ended up where I am as Master Chief.
Gameplay wise, I was initially really worried that I’d have a hard time progressing through the game given that I often run in guns blazing and fail to read instructions properly (yes, I’m THAT kind of gamer!). Having the game on Easy was definitely a big help, with clear markers on the map helping me find my way easily and identifying enemy locations much more quickly. The entire map was also littered with all kinds of weapons, making combat a breeze.
One of my biggest gripes with FPS games is often to do with a lack of ammo and weapons, or rather, that I need to go hunting for them or craft upgrades. With these being scattered around wherever I went in Halo Infinite, I found that I was never without a weapon for too long and timing my attacks with hiding behind cover to replenish my shield, meant that I didn’t need to get frustrated with constantly dying, something that I suffer from when playing multiplayer games.
When it comes to choosing a weapon of choice, I could NOT put down my Mangler. I used it as my secondary weapon predominantly, mostly as the trusty gun I could rely on whenever my primary weapon, which varied between the Disruptor, Plasma Pistol and the M40 Assault Rifle, ran out of ammo and I couldn’t find a suitable substitute. For someone who is terrible at FPS games, I found these variations to be the best at easily taking down enemies. Let me tell you, it was a LOT of fun striking the lowly minions, called Grunts in the game, right after their big talk of taking me, a “puny human”, down.
That was definitely one major aspect of the gameplay that I really enjoyed. The dialogue of the Grunts were absolutely hilarious. There were so many moments where I would attempt to approach the enemy with total concentration on how I would take them all out, only to end up blasting away at them while laughing. I’m not sure if that’s just me, but I just found some of the comments so amusing.
Gameplay isn’t all point and shoot, of course. There are several mini puzzles of sorts to solve, such as finding power shields to power up an elevator, and you can drive around the map in your Warthog vehicle, which you’re able to summon. There were a fair few misadventures of me in my Warthog, especially given how used I am to holding the right trigger button to accelerate (thanks Forza!), whereas in Halo Infinite you simply use the two thumbsticks to drive. I got the hang of it in the end though, thankfully. I told you I was a terrible gamer!
If upgrades and skills are your thing, Halo Infinite certainly has those too. Throughout the game there are various crates and items that can be picked up, which allow you to upgrade your suit, shield and much more. I’m still working my way through the upgrades so I can’t speak too much on this just yet.
Worried about getting bored by a ‘linear’ and constrained experience? No worries there either. Halo Infinite’s open world map allows you to explore various areas on your own, allowing you to investigate every nook and cranny on Zeta Halo, the installation in which the game is set. With plenty of exploring to do and collectibles to collect, the game feels a lot less restricted to what I’d originally expected, that is, that I needed to stick to the script in order to enjoy the game.
It was the careful pacing between the game’s narrative and its gameplay, that is, the pacing between gameplay and cutscenes, that really helped keep me engaged. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of cutscenes at all, though I have to admit that I found the pilot of Echo 216, who was supporting me as Master Chief, quite irritating at times with his slightly sarcastic remarks and his desperation to get home. I suppose that adds an extra layer to the game, to show the perspective of a real person, who had been through a LOT and just wanted to go back to where he belongs, rather than that of just Master Chief.
That being said though, Halo Infinite is 100% all Master Chief all the time. As someone who has never played through a Halo campaign to truly appreciate the character of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, having this much time playing as the character helped me better understand exactly why he’s such a beacon for the Xbox community. It was like playing a character who was a mix of Captain America and Superman, but without any super powers.
Visually speaking, the game looked exactly like what a next-gen game should. I played the campaign on my Series S and was astounded at just how good the entire game looked. From the open world of Zeta Halo to the detail on Master Chief’s suit.
343 Industries clearly put a lot of care into how the game looked as much as how it felt playing the game. There were many moments, especially in the cutscenes where I felt as if I was watching a cinematic film. This, coupled with decent audio quality, helped shape the experience of playing the game and truly added to the immersion of playing Halo Infinite. The only critique I have is that there wasn’t nearly enough of the epic Halo soundtrack throughout my playthrough of the game, because that would have truly helped make the experience all the more enjoyable.
That being said, I’ve not completed the entire campaign, so who’s to know. I might be in for a surprise.
Overall, as a relative newbie to Halo, particularly from a gameplay point of view, I found myself addicted to playing the Halo Infinite campaign. I haven’t had this much fun playing a game to the point where I looked forward to my work day ending just so I could jump into more Halo, since Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which released in 2019.
With the cinematic quality of the visuals, matched with captivating storytelling and exhilarating gameplay, Halo Infinite is a must play title, especially when it comes to all around enjoyment for all levels. It’s also one that has me wanting to go back to where it all started and play through the older campaigns, which of course, thanks to my Xbox Game Pass subscription, I can easily do, given that all the previous Halo titles are available to download and play.
For now though, I’m keen to complete Halo Infinite’s campaign mode and continue to take out all my daily stress on the Jackals, Elites, Hunters and Brutes, the four tiers of enemies above the Grunts, who I have not been able to kill with just one shot as yet.
*An early access build of Halo Infinite’s campaign mode was provided by Xbox ANZ, a week ahead of release, for review purposes.