“Halo Infinite” multiplayer first impressions

Michael Tracey, General Assignment Reporter

As the holiday season quickly approaches, gamers feel the pressure of choosing between a mountain of major AAA titles. With many new-gen releases increasing to a price tag of 70 dollars or more, it’s challenging to afford them. It’s even trickier trying to find the free time to play them all.

Since Aug., developers of upcoming holiday titles have raced to accommodate players with preview events. The trials are the best way to try out the latest video games before committing money to a preorder. 

Over the past weekend, American video game developer 343 Industries hosted another multiplayer test flight of the highly-anticipated upcoming first-person shooter, “Halo Infinite,” for those registered in the Halo Insider program. After spending the better half of my Saturday and Sunday partaking in the event on my Xbox Series X console, I can now safely say that the “Halo” multiplayer is back and better than ever.

“Halo Infinite” is a welcomed return to form of the multiplayer experience fans have wanted since the previous developer of the franchise, Bungie, split from Microsoft in 2007. Previous Bungie employees who wanted to stay with “Halo” formed 343 Industries to move on with a second trilogy for the hit science-fiction shooter. Since then, most “Halo” fans can agree the series has seen its fair share of low points until now.

Within seconds of customizing my spartan and joining the arena, nostalgia kicked in, and I felt like I was home. 

Photo courtesy of Halo Insider.

During the recent test flight, 343 Industries allowed players to enjoy the return of an infamous multiplayer playlist: Big Team Battle. The map of choice, Fragmentation, is a well-designed arena fitting for all the modes of Big Team Battle, such as Capture-the-Flag, Control, and Slayer. Players jumping into Fragmentation for the first time should also expect familiar weapons and vehicles waiting for them, except for a couple of new additions to the multiplayer experience. 

The stand-out addition is a grappling hook. At first, it may seem odd having a grappling hook in “Halo” multiplayer, and trust me, I thought the same until I put it to use. The simple satisfaction of hooking to an enemy banshee and hijacking it in mid-air as it looms over the arena with its intimidation and gravitas is enough for any fan to come back for more. Not only is it useful against enemy vehicles, but it presents the opportunity to perform incredible feats in any arena. 

A few of the weapons I used: the Battle Rifle, the Assault Rifle, and the Needler, all felt finely tuned and had clean target acquisition. However, it took me a while to warm up to the new kids on the block: M41 SPNKR Shock Rifle and Skewer. The Shock Rifle is a mighty medium-to-long-range weapon that blasts an enemy into oblivion, but only if you properly land your shots. The Skewer is an anti-vehicle blaster that shoots out high-velocity spikes. It sounds fantastic and looks pretty on the screen; the drawback is that it uses your primary weapon slot and isn’t the best choice to use aside from deterring enemy vehicles. 

Photo courtesy of Halo Insider.

It is astounding how far “Halo Infinite” has come throughout the years after a staggering amount of delays and whispers of development hell going on at 343. The skepticism is a safe bet considering the game has lost numerous creative directors since production began after the subpar launch in 2015 of the previous version, “Halo 5.”

After participating in the previous test flight, the time to be cautiously optimistic or skeptical about the new “Halo” multiplayer experience is over. As a result, the newfound validation has led me to endless daydreaming about “Halo Infinite” and how much fun I had playing the game over the weekend. The success of the recent test flight is a testament to the hard work and dedication 343 Industries has put in throughout the years. 

The state of the “Halo Infinite” campaign is yet to be determined, and the ability to have a co-op experience to play with others doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon. But rest assured, the multiplayer experience is truly something special.

343 Industries shifting the multiplayer experience to a free-to-play model is the best decision to make. The best possible outcome is reinvigorating the franchise by establishing new “Halo” fans amongst the younger generations as I was 20 years ago when it all began. I believe it’s the only path to success if 343 and Xbox Game Studios want to take the franchise further than “Halo Infinite,” especially if the campaign arrives as a disappointment. 

“Halo Infinite” will release on Dec. 8, 2021, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Microsoft Windows PC.


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