Halo Infinite has officially launched and players are finally getting a look at everything the game has to offer, and perhaps more importantly what it doesn’t. Since Halo Infinite was announced at E3 in 2018, fans have been eager to see the direction that 343 Industries was going to take the Halo series. Although Halo 5: Guardians was successful, 343 deviated from the traditionally linear Halo formula and embraced the open world genre with Halo Infinite.
Halo Infinite drops players into the open world of Zeta Halo, the oldest surviving halo ring within the Halo universe. Of the original 12 ring worlds created by the Forerunners during their war with the Flood, Zeta is the last ring that stands. This is where the majority of Halo Infinite‘s campaign, broken up into 14 missions, takes place. While players are free to explore sections of the mostly open world, the mission structure and story remain linear.
Many core Halo gameplay mechanics make a return in Halo Infinite, but many elements have been left out. 343 has made some surprising choices regarding what it has opted to exclude from the initial launch version of Halo Infinite. The omissions include co-op gameplay, the beloved map and custom game creator Forge, and a variety of multiplayer features.
Co-op gameplay has been a mainstay in Halo since it was first introduced in Halo: Combat Evolved. In earlier campaigns like Halo 2 and Halo 3, players would spend endless hours taking on Covenant forces with friends, upping the difficulty level with each run of the campaign. Completing any Halo campaign on Legendary difficulty with a partner is still an incredible feat, and makes for a rewarding gameplay experience. With the co-op experience being so core to the overall enjoyment and replayability of Halo titles, it was assumed that when Halo Infinite was announced that co-op gameplay would be returning. Inexplicably, it has not made a return and has been excluded from the launch of Halo Infinite.
When the preview embargo broke on November 19, it was quickly revealed that 343 had opted to exclude this long-time core Halo gameplay element. The open world of Halo Infinite seems as though it would support co-op gameplay even better than its linear predecessors, which makes its absence even more disappointing. 343 has confirmed that it does plan to implement co-op gameplay, but not until the conclusion of Halo Infinite’s first season which is currently scheduled for May 2022.
Some key story missions are not able to be replayed in Halo Infinite. Players will be allowed to revisit a select number of missions that have less of an impact on the overall storyline, but will be locked out from going back to replay the crucial ones. Items can be retrieved when replaying these select missions, but the storyline cannot be altered. The ability to unlimitedly replay any mission in the Halo series has always added to the overall gameplay experience, so it’s unfortunate that this feature is not made available.
The Forge game mode, first introduced in Halo 3, gives players the ability to customize and share maps for use in custom games. Forge was originally created with the intention that players would make small tweaks to maps to alter their gameplay experience and test new potential playstyles. Thanks to the passion and creativity of the Halo community, the game mode took on a life of its own. Players could now alter spawn points, move teleporters, and rearrange map layouts leading to unforgettable multiplayer experiences.
343 has decided not to include Forge with the launch of Halo Infinite, however, there is still chance that it will eventually be included. Forge was not included in the initial release of Halo 5, but was later implemented with the release of Cartographer’s Gift as a completely reworked and improved game mode. In the updated version, Forge is no longer a simple map editor, but a sandbox allowing players to even color and texture individual objects. 343 missed an opportunity by not including the overhauled version of Forge from Halo 5, and many in the community are rightfully disappointed.
A well-developed multiplayer system has always been the key to Halo’s longevity, but Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer is missing classic features. Epic all-out wars in Big Team Battle and the rush of being the dominant player in the Slayer arena have kept players returning to experience PVP combat in the Halo series. In previous entries in the Halo series, multiplayer kept players engaged with large-scale battles on a variety of diverse maps. Emphasis was on gameplay, not cosmetics which unfortunately has become all too common in the gaming universe. In Halo Infinite, 343 has players grinding out battle pass challenges to unlock armor pieces that are hardly distinguishable from the base set. Additionally, no armor customization can be unlocked by simply playing the game as all cosmetics require the purchase of a battle pass and the completion of challenges.
Points accumulated during matches appear to have no effect on experience gained, or anything for that matter. If a player wins, loses, puts up a high score, or has a poor match, they will receive the same amount of XP to level up in Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer as everyone else in the lobby. There is no incentive for team play and really no incentive for personal performance either, both of which are key elements in retaining a player base and keeping players engaged.
Multiplayer in Halo Infinite is also missing key game modes. Community favorite SWAT has not been included and there is currently no Slayer playlist in PVP although 343 has confirmed it plans to add these game modes and more by the end of the year. In yet another glaring omission, there is no career stat or medal tracking system in Halo Infinite. Previous Halo games allowed players to keep track of their killtackulars and grenade sticks while Halo Infinite is missing a basic performance tracker, a feature provided by most other FPS game these days.
Halo Infinite is certainly a deviation from the more traditional Halo experience that players have come to expect. Going forward it will be interesting to see what elements will be added as the game evolves, such is the nature of live service titles. By attempting to take the franchise in a new and more open world direction, 343 excluded many features considered to be staples of Halo, but more should hopefully return as the game develops.