Halo Infinite features a captivating story, tying up loose ends from previous entries while introducing strong new characters. Combat is basic, but it’s still just as fun and satisfying as ever, especially with the introduction of the Grappleshot. And while the new generic open-world segments fail to elevate Infinite to the best in the series, they at least offer welcome breathers between each action-packed linear level that offers the classic Halo experience.
- Hugely enjoyable gunplay, with great weapon variety
- Grappleshot is incredibly fun to use
- Compelling dialogue and engaging new characters
- Fantastic multiplayer mode
- Open-world sections are generic
- Boss battles can be frustrating
- Story’s conclusion is anti-climatic
- Story campaign:The campaign features an open-world map, as well as more traditional linear Halo levels
- Free-to-play multiplayer:Halo Infinite also features a free-to-play multiplayer mode.
- Platforms:Available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC
How do you keep a first-person shooter series feeling fresh after 20 years? This is the dilemma 343 Industries faced when developing Halo Infinite, while also dealing with the pressure that comes with creating a flagship game for the Xbox Series X.
343 Industries’ solution was to create a new open-world map for players to explore, as Master Chief lands on the Zeta Halo ringworld in his latest efforts to protect humanity from an alien threat.
It’s a fascinating move to take for a series which has previously stuck ardently to the conventional linear format. But I’m not convinced such a move has been entirely successful, falling into the same pitfalls of the likes of Far Cry, with recycled objectives and filler content doing little to elevate the overall experience.
However, 343 Industries has smartly made the majority of missions in the open-world map entirely optional. In fact, Halo Infinite remains a linear shooter at its core, with the open-world map mainly acting as a hub to seamlessly connect all of the traditional story missions together in a bid to create a more immersive world.
It’s a clever way to freshen up an aging series without losing the classic level designs that makes Halo feel like Halo. And even though the open-world format fails to take the series to new heights, this is still a great experience with an engaging story that successfully ties up loose ends from previous entries.
Campaign – Story
- Continues the Master Chief story
- Features some fantastic new characters
- Dialogue is gripping, even for series newcomers
Halo Infinite is the sixth mainline entry in the Halo series, continuing Master Chief’s story. Cortana is missing in action, with rumours suggesting she may have been captured and deleted off screen. Despite this, she still plays a significant role in Infinite, as we explore her relationship with Master Chief, and what kind of impact the prior years have had on the Spartan.
Infinite begins with a lot of promise, as the Banished – a bruteish alien species that debuted in the Halo Wars 2 series – emerge as a new major threat for Master Chief and the human race. However, I was underwhelmed by the Banished’s role in Halo Infinite’s story by the end, as 343 seems more intent on setting up future storylines than creating a memorable self-contained plot with an epic climax.
Halo Infinite is also hamstrung by the decision to feature an open-world map, as Master Chief spends the vast majority of his time on the same planet. I’d have liked to visit a larger variety of locations, with so many planets and spaceships worth visiting in the Halo universe.
I’d argue that the latest Halo entry doesn’t really feature many jaw-dropping highs in the story aside from the fantastic opening mission, making it a less cinematic outing than the likes of Uncharted or God of War. But Infinite instead excels in the quieter moments, with fantastic, engaging dialogue between Master Chief and his new companions: an unnamed pilot and AI called ‘The Weapon’.
The pilot is evidently fatigued by war, with a clear desperation to return home following the near destruction of the UNSC Army. It’s a refreshing viewpoint for the Halo series, reminding us of the emotional toll that many soldiers have been burdened with – we can’t all be as resolute and unflinching as the Master Chief.
Meanwhile, The Weapon has been designed for the sole purpose of containing and destroying Cortana, yet Master Chief has acquired her to help out with his fight against the Banished. Despite her somewhat dark reason for existence, she comes across as being very optimistic and inquisitive, proving to be a great contrast to her more war-weary companions.
The Master Chief returns as the chief protagonist, and while he’s hardly a chatty character, his motivations are clearly illustrated by actions and body language: he wants to save humanity by defeating the Banished, no matter the sacrifice.
He’s also now less trusting following the events of Halo 5, which frequently creates a strain on his relationships with the new characters. 343 Industries has done a fantastic job of making Master Chief feel like a well-rounded human character rather than just a walking, talking suit of armour, reminding us all why he’s one of the most iconic characters in video game history.
Campaign – Gameplay
- Simple, yet incredibly fun shooting mechanics
- Grappleshot is a fantastic new addition
- Open-world segments feel generic
In a major departure for the series, 343 Industries has introduced an open-world hub area, allowing the player more freedom but without compromising on the classic linear level designs that Halo is renowned for.
Set on the ringworld Zeta Halo, the open-world map is littered with mission objectives, from taking control of enemy bases to assassinating specific targets. Completing such activities will gain you access to new weapon loadouts, as well increasing the strength of your shields.
Fortunately, there are no fetch quests or story-focused side missions here that would conflict with Master Chief’s status as a super soldier. Most of the content here is optional too, allowing players to power up Master Chief if they’ve been taking a beating during the campaign.
I have to say I’m not a fan of the open-world format here, as it feels very generic and repetitive, with very little incentive for exploration. And if you find yourself without a Warthog – or any other vehicle for that matter – moving from point A to B can be a very tedious experience.
I can understand that 343 Industries likely introduced this open-world map to provide more variety to Infinite’s gameplay, but I’d argue it instead feels like needless padding that stretches out the time it takes to complete the story, but without adding anything substantial to the experience.
Fortunately, the open-world sections don’t intervene with the more traditional linear levels that Halo is renowned for. When starting a new story mission, you’re often ushered into a previously inaccessible area that’s designed with a more linear structure. This provides the more familiar Halo experience, as Master Chief blasts his way through tight corridors and self-contained arenas, climaxing with a challenging boss encounter.
The core gameplay is hardly innovative here, using the same shoot-and-repeat loop as previous Halo entries. But I really don’t mind this, as the shooting feels great, with a superb variety of weapons from the bruising shotgun-pistol Mangler to the Pulse Carbine that can fire plasma bolts across the battlefield.
Infinite also introduces the Grappleshot, and while this mechanic is hardly new to the first-person shooter genre, 343 Industries has managed to seamlessly integrate it into the Halo combat with some outstanding results. I absolutely loved grappling onto far-away enemies, whizzing me across an arena for a super-satisfying elbow to a grunt’s face. While the Grappleshot’s main appeal is for reaching high places or escaping gunfire, it can also be used to stun enemies, knock aside shields or even pick up a weapon that’s just out of reach.
You’ll also unlock other tools throughout the campaign, including a Thruster that allows you to dash away from an enemy attack, and a Drop Wall that can absorb incoming fire. But honestly, the Grappleshot is so fun and useful that I rarely bothered with the rest of my equipment.
Halo Infinite features automatic health regeneration, so you don’t have to worry about acquiring health packs or the like. This arguably makes combat fairly easy, as you can simply hide behind a pillar to replenish your health bar and shields. But on the positive side, this also encourages you to play aggressively and repeatedly jump into the heat of battle.
I enjoyed the combat in Halo Infinite, although it’s admittedly very simple. Other modern first-person shooters such as Doom and Titanfall 2 require a little bit more strategy, as you need to be more mindful about health and ammunition. But if you’re craving a shooter that’s fun to play and doesn’t require too many mental gymnastics, then Halo Infinite fits the bill very well.
I was less impressed with the boss encounters though, which often feel frustratingly unfair. Such encounters include large brutes that can empty your health bar with a single swing of the Gravity Hammer. And since most arenas in Halo Infinite are claustrophobically small, it’s very difficult to avoid getting hit, even when zipping around with the Grappleshot. When finally defeating a boss in Halo Infinite, I rarely felt any kind of rewarding satisfaction – usually just relief that the ordeal was over.
I was also disappointed by the level designs in Halo Infinite, as they all look so similar and bland that I have real trouble separating them out in my memory. While I can look back at the likes of Titanfall 2 and Metro Exodus and pick out my favourite story missions, I’m really struggling to do the same with Halo Infinite, with 343 Industries instead relying on its excellent combat and varied enemy types to keep players engaged until the end credits.
- Lots of games modes available to play at launch
- Shooting feels great, with lots of weapons to use
- Progression feels needlessly slow
Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is free to play, so can actually be experienced without paying for the single-player campaign. Nonetheless, I’ve included my thoughts on the multiplayer mode here for convenience sake.
There are two main multiplayer modes available, split between Arena and Big Team Battle. The former sees two 4-player squads face off against each other, but instead of just having team deathmatch (called Slayer here) on repeat, 343 Industries has varied it up a bit with Capture The Flag, Strongholds and Oddball. The latter requires a team to rack up points by having a squadmate hold onto a ball for as long as possible without dying – it sounds silly, but it’s great fun.
And then you have Big Team Battles, which sees you playing on larger maps to accommodate the 24 player count. These larger scale skirmishes feature similar game modes such as Slayer, Capture the Flag and Total Control, but also throw in vehicles for even more carnage.
I’m impressed by how many game modes there are on offer here, especially since the multiplayer is free to play. There admittedly isn’t anything very innovative here that will redefine online multiplayer, but Halo Infinite still excels thanks to its fantastic shooting.
I had a lot of fun playing the various modes on multiplayer. Players have just enough shield strength to be capable of reacting to a sneak attack, and there’s a great range of weapons to choose from on the battlefield. I personally like the fact every player spawns with the same starting weapons, but still has the chance to equip other guns or melee weapons by scouring the map or waiting for more powerful weaponry to appear.
Abilities such as the Grappleshot, dashing and active camouflage can all be picked up on the map to make the action a little more unpredictable, but 343 Industries has clearly nerfed these upgrades compared to the single-player experience. Not having the Grappleshot at default feels really jarring when swapping between single-player and multiplayer, but I can appreciate the decision to make it a temporary power-up since it’s such a powerful tool.
There are no pay-to-win unlockables here, but paying £7.99 for the battle pass will grant access to additional cosmetic upgrades to make your Spartan stand out that little bit more. The way you gain experience points feels a little artificial though, as you need to complete specific daily and weekly challenges in order to rise through the ranks. This effectively means you could have a stormer of a game round, taking down more enemies than anyone else in the match, yet still be awarded with a small number of experience points.
This also consequently means that teammates will sometimes be more focused on completing daily challenges than actually working as a team to win the match, which can prove to be incredibly frustrating.
Fortunately, 343 Industries is aware of the problem and has already introduced improvements such as increasing the number of experience points you receive during the first six matches each day. That hasn’t completely resolved the issue, but the company has also announced “larger changes” will arrive in the future.
On the plus side, you’ll be able to continue unlocking rewards in a battle pass once a season ends, which I’m very happy about. I’ve often purchased a battle pass in the likes of Apex Legends, only to run out of time to unlock all the new items, which has put me off future purchases.
Just like with previous Halo instalments, I can see Infinite acquiring a huge player base for the long term. There are basic mechanics here with nothing particularly innovative compared to other online shooters, but Halo Infinite’s simplicity is arguably its greatest strength, making it more accessible for newcomers and a great multiplayer option to jump into after a stressful day at work.
- Looks great, even on the Xbox Series S
- Supports up to 120Hz in multiplayer mode
- Encountered no major technical issues
I played Halo Infinite on the Xbox Series S, and while I sadly missed out on a 4K resolution, I was still impressed by the visuals.
Reflections on Master Chief’s helmet look fantastic, and character models have an impressive level of detail whether it’s individual strands of facial hair on the Banished, or the flashes of emotion in the pilot’s eyes.
Is it the best looking game on the latest Xbox consoles? Probably not, but I’m still a big fan of the slightly cartoonish art style here, resulting in bright and punchy colours that look far more appealing than the dark, gritty colour schemes of the likes of Gears.
You also get the option of 120Hz for multiplayer mode on the Xbox Series X, so if you’ve got a compatible display with an HDMI 2.1 connection, then you’ll be able to boost those frames for faster screen performance.
I didn’t encounter any obvious technical issues during my time with Halo Infinite, which is rare these days ahead of the Day 1 patch. Halo Infinite feels incredibly polished, to such an extent that you’d never be able to tell that it has been delayed countless times afraid of launch.
Should you buy it?
If you’re a fan of the Halo series:
Halo Infinite’s story features a lot of references to previous entries, while also tying up loose ends to conclude the 343 Industries trilogy. Most of the shooting gameplay is very similar previous instalments, so should please those wanting more of the same.
You want to play an open-world shooter:
Halo Infinite features an open-world map, but it’s not the main focus here and features optional objectives that feel generic and recycled. Don’t expect Halo Infinite to be a big departure from previous entries.
Halo Infinite is at its best when sticking to the basics. The shooting feels fantastic, especially when paired with the new Grappleshot, and its story is well written and engaging, even if it lacks an epic conclusion to sign off the 343 Industries trilogy in style.
But while I’m happy to see 343 Industries experimenting with new ideas, I’m not a fan of the open-world format, which feels generic and features repetitive objectives. Fortunately, this doesn’t negatively impact the more linear missions, so you’re still getting the classic Halo experience for the most part.
It’s multiplayer that’s the main highlight for Halo Infinite though. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the series, but its superb gunplay and simplicity make it hugely enjoyable.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Played both story mode and multiplayer
Tested on Xbox Series S
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The multiplayer mode is free to play, but you’ll need to pay to unlock the story campaign.
Kind of. Halo Infinite features an open-world map that you can explore, but the majority of the story missions take place in self-contained linear levels that provide the classic Halo experience.
Halo Infinite will launch on 8 December. It will be available to play on Game Pass on this date too.