When it comes to Xbox, Halo is their biggest franchise and it’s fair to say players have been left wanting for more with the last few entries from 343 Industries. After a troublesome development, Halo Infinite has now dropped and I’ve been spending my last few weeks seeing if Master Chief is ready once again to finish the fight and explore the vast Zeta Halo Infinite.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, although I have been able to spend a little time on both the Xbox One X edition of the game and Xcloud (which runs on Series X hardware via the cloud). Also, honest admission, I’ve never been much of a First-person shooter gamer, with only brief stints in Call of Duty and Titanfall 2 (as far as I’m concerned this is the GOAT FPS btw….). I think that lets me look at the game for what it brings to the table and not be swayed by previous memories and fanboyism.
Halo Infinite was due to be the headline release title for the Xbox Series X and S at launch all the way back on November 10th 2020, that was before the overwhelmingly negative feedback after the first full look at the gameplay at an Xbox event during the summer. I thought the game looked ok… but most people agreed that it didn’t look as polished as a headline title should.
Not long after this, it was confirmed that the game would be delayed to give 343 the time to make sure the game was up to the high standards fans were expecting and released in 2021. This was later confirmed to be December the 8th 2021 although the Multiplayer part of the game was released into beta a little earlier.
I’ve played a good bit of both single-player and multiplayer and I’m glad that the game was given a bit more time in the oven to be ready. Although the game isn’t the best-looking game I’ve played all year, it still has its moments, unfortunately, on PC this comes at the cost of hardware requirements. This isn’t the type of game that’s been made for ageing graphics cards, and anything older than the last 2 or 3 years is going to struggle to run the game at higher settings and the sweet spot of 60 frames per second.
I’ve had no issues at all in terms of crashes or anything like that (however a few players do seem to be experiencing this accordingly to feedback online), but there is a strange issue relating to the frame pacing of the game. This results in the game feeling like it’s almost stuttering even at high FPS and is a bit frustrating. Yet, It’s still incredibly playable and I imagine some players might not even notice. But if you’re used to high refresh rates, it is noticeable and can take time to adjust to, hopefully, this issue will be addressed in a patch soon.
Now on to the good stuff, the open world of Zeta Halo feels like a great move for Halo Infinite and helps a 20-year-old series feel a bit fresher than I expected. It’s one of the first games in 2021 that’s had me going… ”maybe just one more mission” or I’ll capture one more FOB (the bases of the game or spawn points) before bedtime. This is something I haven’t had for many titles in recent memory.
Please note, however, you might want to have a recap of the story from previous games before you play. Although I have tried all of the earlier Halo games, I don’t know them inside and out and was a little lost with the story to start with. It would have been great to see a video recap of the story so far similar to that which was used in Psychonauts 2 earlier this year. Although you’ll be able to find this easily on YouTube it’s an oversight on 343’s behalf as it could be the first touchpoint in the franchise for a large number of gamers.
The shooting mechanics feel great and have recently tried some of the older games like Halo 3 and 4, it’s a massive improvement. Weapons all have an individual feel and weight but I haven’t strayed to my much from the MA40 assault rifle. This time around Masterchief also has abilities and skills to be upgraded once you found Spartan core in the open world which is a smart addition and fills out the quite sizable open world. The upgrades have been good and feel meaningful and it definitely adds an additional layer to the campaign experience. However, there’s really only one ability you need, the grapple hook/shot.
It’s not a new idea from 343 but it’s been implemented to such a great level, it’ll be hard to play older games that don’t have it. I can’t wait to have this upgraded to the max and see what it’s fully capable of.
As much as I was a little lost with the story, to begin with, I’m keen to keep playing and experience it in full. The games audio is fantastic and the voice acting is top end. The supporting characters are fun and I’d like to learn more about their stories, but make no mistake this game is all about Masterchief and Steve Downes is on top form once again as the voice of the Chief and main star of the game.
For the players still struggling to get the latest Xbox consoles under their TV’s, Halo Infinite is still available on the base systems. The Xbox One X version of the game still looks good and feels great but you’ll have to choose between quality (4k at 30fps) or performance (60fps target) depending on your preference. The biggest surprise while playing away from my PC was the performance on xCloud.
Even from my hands-on with this in beta earlier this year, xCloud seems to be coming on leaps and bounds. For anyone with Internet speeds of about 30mps or above, it’s a really great experience. Could cloud gaming actually be viable?
The Halo Infinite campaign is great and it’s nice that a first-person shooter gets a good showing here as it is often tacked on and not much care given, or even worse (for me at least), totally left out like Battlefield 2042.
Over on the multiplayer side of things, there is good stuff and bad stuff. I’ll give you my thoughts on it but I can’t lie and say I’m a multiplayer Wizz kid that can give you the best insight into it all.
First up, it’s free. If you are unsure about it, just give it a go and make up your own mind. All the great gunplay and movement from the single-player carries over here. Even as a noob, I’ve really enjoyed my time in the multiplayer and be jumping back in when I can. This is as high praise as I can give, as normally multiplayer would be one and done for me.
The maps are really good, with a good variety and more will be added over time. Unfortunately, there has been quite a bit of fan feedback regarding the XP system and also the Battle pass and monetization sides of the game.
The developers appear to be fully aware of this and have made a couple of changes already to how this all works and have confirmed they will continue to make changes to improve this going forward. With them being quick to respond to the players on these issues, Infinite’s multiplayer could be getting played by huge numbers of players for the foreseeable future.
Although there have been complaints regarding the cost of some of the skins and items available in the store, I’d be quick to remind everyone of two pints, first the game costs nothing to start with and secondly these all remain entirely optional items. It’s only very occasionally that I dip into my wallet to buy stuff like this, and so far I haven’t felt the need to do so.
Halo is back and I couldn’t be happier. It’s also a strong end to what has been a great 2021 for Xbox.