Breaking down Master Chief’s long-awaited return to Xbox and PC with the latest installment in the “Halo” franchise.
Today is the day. After years of waiting and teasing the return of Master Chief, Halo Infinite is finally available for everyone to play on Xbox and PC. The cornerstone game of the Xbox empire, the Halo franchise is largely responsible for the Xbox becoming a mainstay gaming console and, while the series has certainly evolved many times throughout its history, Chief’s story keeps gamers coming back.
Here’s everything you need to know about the latest installment in Master Chief’s galactic adventure, Halo Infinite.
When Does ‘Halo Infinite’ Come Out?
Available to purchase as a standalone game on December 8, 2021 or included day-one with Xbox’s subscription service, Game Pass Ultimate, Halo Infinite breaks down into two main components; the online competitive multiplayer, which surprised everyone by showing up early with a pre-launch beta and the solo campaign.
The Opening Sequence
The solo campaign is what will draw longtime fans into right away. In true Halo fashion, the game begins with an action-packed sequence for Master Chief, reminiscent of the pre-credits action normally found in a James Bond movie. Acting as tutorial, adrenaline injection and setting the framework for the story to come, Chief immediately insists on getting back into the weeds on a Halo ring that’s full of enemies, allies and, ultimately, the next installment of a story that began 20 years ago.
The Open World of the Zeta Halo Ring
This is where things get good and where Halo Infinite stands apart from its lineage. Once Chief touches down on the Halo ring, the paradigm shifts to an open-world game, one where a map is readily available and waypoints can be dropped on a huge variety of missions. This is a first for the series that previously only featured linear gameplay through consecutive levels.
Side Missions Galore
The world is vast and littered with a ton of content, from squads of allies to save to enemy strongholds to capture to high value targets to take down. There are also secrets hidden along the way for the scavengers among us to pick through.
Of course, the story missions–the ones that progress the plot–are front and center and everything else can be ignored but when a game is this good and this hotly anticipated, it makes sense to play everything it has to offer. Conquering each mission comes with rewards, but they’re all damn fun and feel like less of a grind than many open-world games.
Master Chief Gets Upgraded
To help get around and explore this new world, Halo Infinite equips Chief with a grappling hook, another first for the series. The novelty of this new gear doesn’t wear off soon. The world of Infinite has an excessive amount of verticality to it and seeing walls that once kept Chief penned in now becomes an opportunity to climb high and explore seemingly unreachable places.
Guns. Lots of Guns.
Digging into the nooks and crannies of the map pays off in terms of weapons, ammo and upgrades to Chief’s Spartan armor. Only a few additions have been made to the otherwise familiar arsenal and most players will feel right at home with a battle rifle and pistol anyway.
The Spartan Cores
Master Chief doesn’t just benefit from the guns he picks up along the way but a new system of Spartan cores that can be spent upgrading armor and gear. For instance, cores can be spent on the grappling hook to turn it into a charged weapon. These upgrades make combat more complex and Chief more deadly.
Halo Infinite mixes all this together with the supremely satisfying gunplay honed over the course of several Halo games. Shredding through legions of Covenant aliens, now with more variety than ever, is both gleefully nostalgic and cutting-edge intense. As Master Chief’s story progresses, everything 343 Studios has done here is evidence it’s headed in the right direction.
Among many of the smart choices made by 343, possibly the brightest idea was releasing Halo Infinite’s competitive multiplayer mode early as a beta. The two week head start has created worthy hype for the game but also been an opportunity to iron out the kinks with progression, rewards and game modes. Still this is the Halo multiplayer, full of familiar maps and game modes (if limited) that will expand into something undoubtedly great.
Room for Improvement
Halo Infinite isn’t without its problems but the team at 343 has already responded to several criticisms with plans to correct them or, more importantly, add what’s missing. Campaign co-op is coming, as is replayable missions though that may be farther away than expected. Multiplayer progression is being tweaked for the actual launch. Game modes, including the e-sports favorite Swat, is incoming.
It’s slightly sad that even a huge blockbuster like Halo can fall prey to launching incomplete, a symptom of the current gaming landscape. What Halo Infinite brings to the table right now is a huge leap forward for the franchise and should keep gamers well satisfied until the rest arrives. Awaiting improvements while having all of this is still welcome over more delays.