Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

Written by Edwin Francisco

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

Halo Infinite is a soft reboot to the Halo franchise. 343 Industries had a rocky start when they took over development from Bungie.

We wonder how they fared with their third installment in the series. 

The Halo games were made by Bungie when they were under Microsoft.

Halo was the launch game that MS needed to show off their original console. The game was also planned as a launch title for Microsoft’s latest console last November. It was a terrible hit to Microsoft when it was announced that they’ll be delaying the game for a year to refine the game. Now, after a year of refinements, has it lived up to the hype?

An Early Unexpected Fun

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

It was a good surprise that Microsoft released the multiplayer component of Halo Infinite weeks early. 343 made the multiplayer free to play and can be accessible to anyone with an Xbox One, Xbox Series and a PC which is available on Steam and on Windows. The multiplayer component has been tested in closed beta tests months before this, and it shows that in terms of the actual gameplay, it has been refined. 

In terms of the multiplayer, I admit, I’m not an expert on. But from my experience with it, I really had fun. Regardless of what game mode I was on, with or without friends, the gameplay was very tight and it kept me playing longer than I expected compared to most other multiplayer combat focused games. I didn’t experience any bugs, graphical issues, or anything that drew me out of the experience. 

My only issues with the multiplayer aspect is not about the game, but the progression system and the cosmetic upgrade cost. Leveling up to unlock certain cosmetic upgrades takes a really long time to do, at the same time the tasks that you need to do sometimes will affect other people’s gameplay. Just because you need to do a specific task, you can unintentionally mess up missions or goals of other gamers within your team.

So, in terms of multiplayer, the gameplay itself is really good and it keeps you playing for fun. No buggy codes, nor is it rare for me to have any technical issues. Most of my disconnected problems only happen when I use the quick resume function. A simple restart of the game usually fixes it. But in general, the game is very smooth.

What Multiplayer Campaign?

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

It was promised to us, but it’s not out. 343 promised that the cooperative multiplayer will come with the release of Halo Infinite.

Unfortunately, it’s not here upon release.

This is another major blow to Halo.

The franchise is well known for putting Halo cooperative mode as a highlight.

Even though I love the gameplay of this game, the missing component is just a disappointment overall.

Yeah, I am excited to get to play the game with a friend. But this scores a bit lower than I would have wanted it.

Mainly because it feels like the game needs more time to be refined to be able to deliver its promises.

It’s Not A Visual Masterpiece We Hoped For

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

Another point that is disappointing with Halo Infinite is that this was supposed to be the Xbox Series X/S highlight. In terms of graphics, you do feel that 343 is experimenting on Halo Infinite. With whatever detail that they have in the game, in general it looks good. Weapons look great, surfaces look detailed. Vehicles look incredible. Even the Forerunners plain looking architecture, looks absolutely stunning. But it was still quite a let down mainly because I’ve seen what the console can do especially with Forza Horizon 5. 

It really doesn’t feel like a next generation console game. It doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from the new systems like ray tracing, no graphical pop ins, and such. Visually, it feels like a step forward, but a few steps back. Okay, I can forgive the ray tracing part since you only need to be creative to actually make a game look like it has ray tracing. But the graphical pop ins were terrible. You won’t notice it when you are on the ground in an intense action, but when you reach a point where you can fly, it’s glaringly noticeable. I’m bothered that there are bridges that from afar are broken up, but the closer I get, it just immediately shows up. It’s quite jarring to see it. 

Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

I know this game is a soft reboot as it is supposed to replicate that feeling of the first. If you’ve played the first game, you’ll initially play in a rocky valley with plants all around with only pine trees. So, it’s okay if this is replicated in the game, but wouldn’t it be great if the visuals was only the intro to the open world. Not the entire game! Even going back to older games like Halo 3 which starts in a forest or Halo 5 Guardians which has areas full of vegetation. In this game, you can really count the variety of plants in one hand, and there’s only lots of pine trees. There are no other types of trees for some reason. 

There is not much selection to Halo Infinite’s open world. Once you’ve seen the outside world, the caves, some Banished structures, the Forerunner structures; that’s pretty much it. Every area has a little bit of everything. For an open world game, it’s disappointing. Most open world games, they give a bit of a number of features and you get to know where you are based on how things look. In this game, it’s really hard to tell where you are since everything looks the same. Personally, it would have been fine that the game doesn’t have several biomes, but still, at least they could have made different trees and plants for each area to give it some personality and uniqueness.

If you have to compare Halo Infinite to other open world games, like Horizon Zero Dawn or even Red Dead Redemption 2. Infinite definitely looks like it still needs work.

You Must Have Control

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

With all the issues that I have with Halo, gameplay is the one that has the highest praise. A lot of Halo fans know that 343’s take on Halo hasn’t been smooth sailing. Even though a lot of the 343 team came from Bungie, they basically tried to continue a game that is actually finished. Bungie told a wonderfully crafted story with a tight gameplay mechanic which they popularized. You’ll notice too that 343 experimented on innovating Halo’s game mechanics which wasn’t bad. It’s just not interesting enough to make you excited for it.

When 343 released the Halo Infinite gameplay trailer, what people got excited about was the grappling hook. And once you get to see the intro, the grappling hook is even highlighted. So, as soon as I was able to use this feature, I enjoyed the heck out of it. I can move faster with it, I can attack with it, I can get weapons from afar, it can even be used to overtake vehicles. It was just a versatile add on. Halo Infinite did add some other features, but it’s just not as useful as the grappling hook. However, the added feature made Halo’s gameplay improve immensely. 

Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

I even enjoyed the boss fights, since it was more varied than playing Halo 5 Guardians. Guardians only had the repeating boss over and over with no change of difficulty except for the number of opponents showing up on screen. While Halo Infinite had more diverse bosses and it kept the progression a bit fresh. Although most of the boss fights were basically upgrades from known types of enemies, at least it had differences. 

I do wish that they incorporated more bosses that can use the features that you had, which forces you to figure out which type of upgrade you need to use to get through a situation. But no. The only time I was forced to use a specific upgrade was when I was fighting this enemy that had a stealth ability. 

Regardless of my issues with the gameplay cited above, it is still an amazing feeling to play. This is because it has been done to perfection. It really draws you in and it keeps you playing. This part, it is undeniable that they have perfected the controls identified with Halo.

From Linear To Open

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

Halo games have been generally a linear experience. Mainly because it’s trying to tell a story and it’s giving you a very engaging experience. If you think about it, this is why Call of Duty is memorable as it is, it gives you that moment to moment experience that feels very cinematic. It is like you are in a movie. 

But an open world game is basically a sandbox. It’s where you do what you want, when you want it. This is generally all fine, I like open world sandbox games. What I only worry about is the difficulty spike. But it turns out that the game is pretty good from start to finish. The thing that disappoints me is that in terms of gameplay, it feels like the places that you can go to are very limited. If you thought you’ll get to access the entire Halo, no. Sorry, but you only can roam around a very small section of Zeta Halo. After playing many hours of the game, the game actually feels quite small compared to other open world games like the Witcher or Grand Theft Auto V. 

What surprised me is how the open world sandbox really works with Halo’s mechanics. The grappling hook really made Master Chief more mobile than before. Because of this, he can get to areas impossible for him to reach before. And the vehicles now have more sense since you can really take advantage of their mobility.

Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

Review Halo Infinity by 343 Industries

Once you enter the open world, the first target suggested to you is the Forward Operating Base, also known as FOB. After defeating the enemies in the location, you’ll have access to vehicles, weapons, and you can even have some NPC’s support you on your journey. Actually, NPCs will just follow you if they can. 

In the map, you’ll also find important targets. Defeating them is an option, but what you are sure about is that they are protecting Banished weapon plans. If you find this, the weapons themselves will be available to your disposal at the FOB.  

Saving troops is another option. You’ll either find them fighting the Banished or they might already be captured. Saving them can upgrade the weapons and vehicles you can access. Another bonus thing is that the NPC’s that will follow you will get upgraded weapons too. So, once they follow you with state of the art weapons, they’ll be a little more effective.

Unfortunately, NPC’s are really unreliable. They are basically there just as a good distraction but I like using them when I drive a vehicle that allows the NPCs to use the turrets or rocket launcher.

You can look for upgrades which can improve your abilities. As I mentioned before, you will have the grappling hook by default, you also do have shields too. The other upgrades you can pick up by doing story missions. Look for Spartan Cores to improve the upgrades and your grappling hook can even stun enemies.

Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

Fast traveling can be done in all FOBs and some certain areas of interest. This will ease traveling throughout the entire lands you have access to. Although some areas will be locked out, especially with the ones that have a story element. Some areas can even be located in the map, but you won’t be able to reach them which is sad though. I hope that I can access old areas so I can sweep all the enemies out or look for items that I may have missed. 

These things that you can do are actually pretty fun and can keep you entertained for a while. And finishing these side quests will increase your strength to the point that you feel a bit overpowered. But the number of hours that you play is a bit underwhelming if you compare it to most open world games like the Witcher and FarCry. But then again, it’s still very fun. 

Once you finish the main story and if you played every single mission before finishing the game, I am sorry to say that the game won’t add more things for you to do. 

Halo’s Legacy

The story itself as a soft reboot is a mix of being good and bad. This is part three, the final part of the Reclaimer saga trilogy. At the end of Halo 5 Guardians, you are put in a tight situation making Cortana the main villain with her having control over a lot of the Forerunner technology. The Master Chief and any organic race are all basically defeated. I think most fans were looking forward to how this will turn out. 

When I started playing Halo Infinite, I was shocked that at the start of the story, you are fighting this rebellious Covenant group called the “Banished.” And it even said that there were already events that took place that you already defeated Cortana. I mean, what the heck happened in between Halo 5 and Infinite?

And now you are near this Halo called Installation 07 or Zeta Halo. This location was introduced in a book called Primordium (2012) by Greg Bear. There are even several events that have taken place that require a lot of book reading. Yes, the majority of the lost story is in the books which the game will not tell you. And based on what I’ve researched about this, even major events that resulted in Master Chief’s predicament is not anywhere seen in current media.

Review: Halo Infinite by 343 Industries

This is really mixing up the different stories from different medias in Halo’s entire history. I do like the idea, but it’s really confusing for a person who really is focused on just playing the Halo first person shooter games. So, the events of Halo Wars and the books are important here. If you are a first time player looking forward to playing 343’s Halo reboot, it is going to be a confusing entry point.

I really like that they dove more into Master Chief, and how it affected him being this person made into a war machine. I also enjoyed that you can get snippets of details when looking for the audio logs. If you really want to understand the events before Halo Infinity, I suggest you look for these logs.

The jump from Halo 5 Guardians to Halo Infinite is quite disorienting. I had to watch a recap video on YouTube before I went into playing Halo Infinite. I wish they had a kind of a recap story like what Psychonauts 2 did with their introduction. 

At the end of it, the missing story is a major part of the Halo Infinite. Once the game ends, you kind of understand why they did what they did. But it is confusing for many people whether you have played some Halo games before or if you are new to the lore.

Taking It All In

There is a lot wrong with Halo Infinite. The graphics are a step back, the cooperative multiplayer is missing. At face value, I could have given this a bad score for missing things people were expecting. But at the end of the day, the gameplay wins hands down. The gameplay itself feels perfect. I had no issues with it, it was absolutely fun to roam around the new Halo and the combat is insanely just as fun. The open world concept that has the number of side quests works with Halo’s first person gameplay. And the grapple hook made the game fresh again. The released multiplayer feature is just as refined, fun and it can keep you entertained even after playing the single player campaign. 

Halo Infinite is available on the PC (Steam and Windows Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Game released on December 8, 2021

Developer: 343 Industries

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

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