Halo: Infinite could easily be a return to glory for Xbox. Halo has long been the forefront of what Xbox is. Starting as a launch title for the Xbox in November 2001 this FPS blockbuster rocked the gaming world with its explosive story, vast world and iconic character, the Master Chief. Halo had a strange development period with Bungie. Back in 1997 the game was originally meant to be a real-time strategy game, then evolving into a third-person shooter.
Finally it ended up as a first-person shooter (FPS) in what would be classed as a staple of the FPS genre. It still stands as one of the greatest examples of a shooter to this day. Fast forward 19 years, 12 games, 60 million copies sold and 2 very well received remasters, Halo still stands as one of the greatest game series of all time.
The last few releases into the Halo franchise have been rocky to say the least. Halo 4 was not as widely received as possibly hoped. Helmed by a new Microsoft studio, 343 Industries, after Bungie let go of the Halo helm 6 years onwards from the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. 343 had the passion at the start but I didn’t love the way they tried to expand on the well-loved formula of the Covenant vs Humanity. 343 introduced the Forerunners, an ancient species which were responsible for creating the Halo rings to stop the Flood in their time.
In Halo 4, the Forerunners are now after humanity – and with a degrading Cortana, the story certainly takes a weird turn and direction which was not favored by many OG fans. So, in this article, I am going to discuss what Halo Infinite needs to do right to stop this not so popular streak 343 are on right now and bring the Halo franchise back into the forefront of AAA games and the FPS genre.
Halo has always been known for its solid campaign from Halo: Combat Evolved to the insanely popular Halo: Reach. The story of a lone wolf super soldier going against the odds and taking on a whole army of covenant, saving the planet/ galaxy and participating in large scale battle pieces has long been the identity of the series.
It’s indisputable that the Halo story so far is nothing short of incredible, from the first time you meet the flood on 343 Guilty Spark to taking out two Covenant Scarabs on The Covenant. These are just two of my favorite selections from a whole library of amazing moments. Halo has always been known for these Holy Sh*t moments and these were all on offer from Combat Evolved to Halo: Reach.
Halo 4 and Halo 5 didn’t offer as many of these moments. I struggled to think of events from Halo 4 or 5 that gave me the same feeling that the earlier games did. So, if 343 are going to win back old school fans and keep the current fans interested they need to have a handful of these moments on offer in Infinite. Whether it’s during game play or a cut scene, these moments make Halo what it is. They give players that sense of dread and power, the latter able to be ripped from the player at any moment – making you think about the next steps you take.
Halo’s multiplayer, like its campaign, has always been a staple for what FPS games should offer its players. There is a nice variety of casual multiplayer play, a very established competitive base and a sometimes-over-the-top series of fun game modes. Halo has always had its game play changes along the way.
The introduction of the battle rifle in Halo 2 made ranged game play a lot more accessible to those without a sniper rifle. Halo 4 introduced sprint as something other than the armor trait that was available in Halo: Reach. Finally, the extreme jump to speed boosts and ground pummeling in Halo 5 offered large changes to the experience. There has been a lot of changes from the original multiplayer we had in the Halo 2 days.
Now, what does this mean for Infinite? Personally, the ground pummeling and bashing were never really too much of a problem. Yes they felt out of touch in the game, but most new features do. They did offer some interesting vertical play when it came to tackling vehicles and groups of enemies,however. For Halo to take the better route this time it should forget the feature and go back to the simplified fighting style range of jump or crouch. The side dashing became irritating in a lot of scenarios and to have it removed would not be a missed feature for many players.
Let’s talk about the multiplayer modes. In Halo 5 we were introduced to Warzone. Halo actually did it before CoD – Warzone was a 24 player mode. This was a change in the dynamic as the largest mode previous to this was Big Team Battle which saw 8 players go at it. Warzone had a cozy 12. Warzone also introduced requisition packs, which were not received well on launch. They gave players a library of weapons and vehicles to purchase in-game at different checkpoints of the match.
Warzone was a brilliant mode – going up against 12 other players, all starting on a similar playing field with standard load-outs. From there, you’re able to fight your way to better gear which was always make or break in the mode. If Infinite offered a well-ranked mode, casual multiplayer with different sizes in teams. Also the action sack mode, an all-time favorite for me.
Let’s also not forget having forge mode and custom games which brought some incredible memories for me and my friends in the Halo 3 days. Looking at you here, Duck Hunt. Players also want a popular game-type that has arisen since the Halo 5 days, Battle Royale. 343 should follow an example from Dice and their attempt at the introduction of Firestorm, their Battle Royale game mode which was very poorly received and got abandoned by the developers not long after it was released.
I think it would be a bad choice for 343 to try to overstretch themselves with the introduction of a Battle Royale mode – just keep it simple. Although a Halo Battle Royale would be fun, don’t overfill Halo: Infinite with the mode. Instead, make it a separate game for free with its own team looking after it.
Halo has always been known for its iconic weapons, from the assault rifle to the spartan laser. Gamers everywhere know the iconic noise of the plasma pistol or even mowing enemies down with the energy sword. It’s fair to say that Halo has always been iconic with its weapon designs and the way the weapon feels when using it in-game.
Once again we get back to one of the changes which I was not a fan of, the introduction of the forerunners brought about their weapons as well. All weapons very similar in style to both the human and covenant options we were so used to. The Forerunner weapons felt a bit too far for me. I know we had just played 5 games facing an alien species using giant rings in space to defeat a parasitic race, but the way the guns played and felt were too out of touch for me.
The hovering design they had when you picked one up and it assembled itself in your hand. The way the bullets had a slight tracking when shooting at enemies and vice versa. Ultimately, the guns just felt like too much. I always preferred using the human weapons instead and generally had a dislike for game play when having to use the forerunner selection.
One other style of weapon that needs to go is the variants. In Warzone you had different variations of the assault rifle, battle rifle etc, and it just felt jarring in some scenarios. Having an assault rifle that could zoom or the very long-ranged battle rifles just didn’t feel very Halo for me and was a step in the wrong direction. Just keep the weapons simple but let us choose skins (not over-the-top) that fit with the games aesthetic.
What will easily make or break the new wave of next-gen games is the graphics. Xbox has been saying from day one that the Series X will offer 4k graphics at 60 fps if not more. There has been worry lately after Ubisoft came out and said that Assassins Creed: Valhalla will be running at 30fps.
For a next-gen console that is boasting 60fps it is a bit of a shock that Ubisoft came out and said this but we won’t know until later in the year if they are offering 4k at 30fps but 1080p at 60fps. A third-party developer doing this is acceptable, because they aren’t tied to the same standards that first-party studios will be. If Halo: Infinite runs at 4k with 60+fps would be a real game-changer for the series and establish exactly what the Series X is capable of in the right hands.
I know there will be elements I have missed, such as music. We all know that every Halo game has a killer soundtrack, including Halo 4 and Halo 5. It is reasonable to say that 343 will not mess with that area of the game. 343 has a challenge that no over developer has had to do for many years. They have to revitalize a game franchise as the forefront of the next generation and they have to pull it off.
There will be arguments that the game has to be great or it will be bust, with the work they have put onto The Master Chief Collection it’s obvious 343 are capable of great graphics and upkeep on a game, the effort is there are the latest 2 installments of Halo but didn’t quite reach the stars, all stops will be pulled out for this game and I am incredibly excited to see what happens.