It’s been a long time coming ladies & gentlemen (6 years in fact) although it does make sense why Halo Infinite took so long to release. A fully fleshed out open-world design is a dramatic step for the series, and as one could imagine, this approach definitely raises a few eyebrows. And so, in light of this big formula change, the burning question I had for uncle Phil was
“Why would an open-world design lend itself better to Halo?” As I felt that most of the game’s content could function A-OK within the traditional linear style of past campaigns.
Bringing Halo Infinite Into The Modern Era of Gaming
Now look, this isn’t to knock the game for trying out something new, because it does feel fresh. But at the same time, it almost seems like it’s jumping on the non-linear hype train just for the sake of it. Since a large portion of the main and side story missions almost always involve taking over a base, exploring a labyrinth, eradicating a target, assisting marines or… Taking over a base. So hopefully, you can see what I’m getting at.
That all being said, Halo Infinite’s campaign is still a lot of fun to play and controls as smooth as butter. Facing off against The Covenant and The Banished from Halo Wars 2 is just as fast and frenetic as you’d expect, and the sounds of combat pop with a huge visual and audible impact. There is a bit of AI awkwardness at times, but these moments are few and far between. The weapon selection feels quite varied though and I found myself utilising almost every single option available. Whether that be the classic Needler, Cindershot, Bulldog or Energy Sword, you’re bound to find something you’ll enjoy.
What’s also super cool is that there are tonnes of weapon pick-ups all over the map, as well as ammo recharge stations which actively encourage experimentation. But on the other side of the coin, the game also allows you to say “Nope, lemme spam my Plasma Pistol all day” letting players gravitate towards what they’re most comfortable with. A nice touch. Another aspect I really enjoyed was the new AI Scan ability. This feature helps to expedite the search for ammo pick-ups and recharge stations, along with other objects of interest and mission waypoints that assist in creating a consistent gameplay flow.
This Old Dog Has Learnt Some Neat Tricks
But even better is that throughout the campaign you can find these hidden Spartan Cores which lets Master Chief upgrade his equipment. And my most favourite addition, without a doubt, is the new Grappleshot which can absolutely ravage enemies. Not only is it a useful offensive and defensive tool for quickly closing gaps and escaping danger on a dime, but once you upgrade the Grappleshot it recharges faster, adds an AOE stun effect and even lets Master Chief full-on anime punch opponents into oblivion.
This is so satisfying! The amount of damage it does, combined with the AOE stun effect practically demands the Grappleshot to be an essential part of your toolkit. Combine that with the new slide mechanic, Drop Wall shield, quick-dash Thruster ability, as well as the Threat Sensor (which is pretty self-explanatory) and Master Chief suddenly has a whole range of utilities at his disposal.
In a similar vein, when tackling the higher difficulties of Halo Infinite, players will need to make use of their full arsenal because it can get ultra-intense at times. Especially when trying to invade a base, as they’re normally packed to the proverbial roof with enemies. Once a base has been captured however, they can then be used as fast travel points and can even summon weapons, vehicles and marines for immediate deploy. There is a limit to what you can spawn towards the beginning, as the available selection depends on your overall number of valour points from missions. But nevertheless, it doesn’t take long at all to expand the pool of potential load-outs.
How Does The Open-World Structure Fit?
Speaking of missions and the open-world structure in general; how they work is that the player will usually have to shoot down an object of interest, then gun it straight through a barrage of enemies to reach a target or boss encounter. Pure and simple. Because of the more freeform style of Halo Infinite though, you can actually avoid combat more often than not and head directly to a boss, if you prefer. Not that you couldn’t before, but it’s very much a legitimate strategy here, especially if there are way too many enemies on your tail.
Unfortunately, I can’t show any boss fights for embargo reasons, however they are really fun to go up against and will absolutely slap you silly if you’re not careful. My friend and I, who are both massive Halo fans died multiple times on NORMAL to a particular heavy-type boss early on. So for those who are going for a Legendary run, get ready to die… A lot.
Outside of combat, it’s mostly just about setting waypoints, hopping into a vehicle and moving from mission to mission. I must admit, these in-between sections are the only parts of the game that can start to feel a little dull over time. The player can find a whole stack of hidden Spartan Cores, audio logs and cosmetic items for multiplayer along the way, but there’s not that much else going on in terms of content. That’s part of the reason why I questioned the open-world design change at the start of this review. Because considering how everything else is set up, the more loose design starts to feel a little unnecessary at the end of the day.
Halo Infinite’s Stunning Lore… And Forgettable Story
Having said that, I will give props where it’s due. Running or flying around Zeta Halo in a banshee at a near-constant 60FPS on PC ultra settings looks amazing. Plus, there are a heap of neat visual and musical references to check out from past games in the series, specifically Halo 2 and Combat Evolved. Fear not, I won’t spoil them for you here… Or will I? No, I won’t. But in terms of music choices, Halo Infinite’s soundtrack embraces the original style of Marty O’Donnell’s iconic tunes. 343 have opted for more of a remixed OST and it honestly sounds great, really helping to amp up the action at just the right moments. I’m not sure what Halo Infinite’s new tracks are called but they very much capture that post-rock, tribal-drums-meets-big-orchestral-sound that the series is known for.
There’s also a vast number of lore references to other Halo titles in the world design, audio logs and the main plot, as Master Chief looks to stop Cortana and The Banished from continuing her plan from Halo 5: Guardians. All things considered, the tone of the story feels a bit different compared to the other mainline games. 343 have gone for a more personal approach this time around, with only a handful of characters involved in the proceedings. Although, I think it gets the job done because the focus is always on the core cast of characters.
It’s not the best story you’ve ever witnessed by any means, and the ending will probably drive you crazy, but there are some seriously poignant scenes here. In particular, Master Chief’s fractured relationship with Cortana and her new AI replacement known as the ‘Weapon’. Who, for some reason, looks almost exactly like her. Coincidence? I can’t say. Although I do think her dynamics and vocal performance alongside Master Chief works decently well, and they do complement each other with a variety of silly one-liners and quotes that’ll tickle your funny bone at least once or twice.
Master Chief feels amazing to control and all the new additions like the Grappleshot and Thruster only further strengthen the addictive combat. The music, voice-acting and presentation are all top tier and the abundance of Halo lore is nothing to scoff at. However, the game does fall a bit flat in the story and can’t help but feel lacking in terms of content with its open-world design. Although, after all’s been said and done, Halo Infinite contains a solid 15+ hour main campaign full of tough encounters, boss fights and memorable moments that are more than worth checking out.
Halo Infinite features the same great gameplay and control from past campaigns, merged together with some awesome new additions like the Grappleshot, slide mechanic and AI field scan ability to bring the series up to modern FPS standards. The story and open-world design ultimately feel a bit lacking, but it’s still tonnes of fun regardless. Let’s finish the fight!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Microsoft. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.