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    Halo Infinite review

    Need to know

    What is it? Halo, but with an open world.
    Reviewed on RTX 2070 SUPER, Ryzen 5 3600, 16GB RAM
    Price $60/£50
    Release date December 8
    Publisher Xbox Game Studios
    Developer 343 Industries
    Multiplayer? Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer came out last month (opens in new tab).
    Link Official Site (opens in new tab)

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    Does an open world work for Halo? Since its announcement, that question is one that’s been constantly asked of Halo Infinite. Six years after the sour note of Halo 5, 343 Industries has dusted off the Master Chief’s armour for a throwback to Bungie’s original, pointedly nostalgic for a time when Halo was just a big green man, his blue holographic girlfriend and a wide open ring full of possibilities to explore. 

    What this results in is a game that could be a true return to form for Master Chief—but I’m just not convinced Halo really needed to be an open world.

    Let’s make one thing clear though: this is some damn fine Halo. Having played Halo 3 with the lads every weekend for the last year, Infinite comes as a breath of fresh air. Running and gunning in Halo has never felt this good, Master Chief moving with a real heft even as he slides and mantles his way across ancient alien amphitheatres. 

    Halo Infinite’s multiplayer gave us a taste of this, launching a month ahead of the story proper. But where the game’s arsenal feels a little flat in team slayer, the campaign helps even the flimsiest weapons shine thanks to a menagerie of alien baddies with unique behaviours. Weapon types have never felt more important, especially on harder difficulties (I played through on Heroic), and juggling between bursting shields with plasma, busting skulls with kinetic and stunning foes with shock weapons becomes crucial. I hate the Pulse Carbine in multiplayer, but in the campaign it became a brutally efficient Elite-slaying machine.

    It helps that every weapon feels great, snapping and popping and busting with satisfying sounds. Infinite’s firefights feel electric, hectic, a constant grab-bag of finding the next best tool (even if that means tossing a nearby plasma barrel at a pack of Grunts).

    None of this comes close to the sheer absolute thrill of the grappling hook. Infinite immediately hands you a Titanfall 2-style length of rope with which to fling yourself around Zeta Halo with. At first you’re pulling yourself out of enemy fire and grappling vehicles, but a few upgrades will turn it into a deadly electric wire that shocks unshielded baddies and lets you slam-dunk entire packs of foes with a tap of the melee button. 

    This does come at the cost of making the rest of the equipment feel a little redundant, mind. Changing equipment on the fly is a hassle and—besides using the threat sensor to reveal cloaked Elites—you’re always best served with the utility (and shockingly-fast cooldown) of a hooked rope.

    Ring road


    I’m only looking at Infinite’s campaign in this review, but that’s only because we’ve already been playing multiplayer with the rest of you for the past month. It’s incredible stuff (opens in new tab), but one that’s hindered by limited modes, somewhat flat weapon balancing, and a progression system that straight-up sucks. The game’s first limited-time mode only exacerbated problems (opens in new tab) with an uninspiring cosmetics pool and frustrating challenges, and while 343 says it’s listening, these are errors free-to-play games learned not to make years ago. 

    Playing with my regular Halo buds online is still a blast, but I’m quickly burning out of Infinite’s arenas.

    That grapple is also essential for exploring Halo Infinite’s open world. Introduced after two more traditionally linear missions, Infinite introduces you to the open-ish plains of Zeta Halo. But while your AI sidekick (more on her later) immediately floods your map screen with icons, don’t be fooled. This isn’t Far Cry: Ringworld—in fact, you’ll find the open world to be surprisingly small.

    Instead, these activities feel more like diversions between main story missions. While heading to your next plot beat you might find a squad of marines to rescue or an FOB (bases from which to fast travel and summon weapons and vehicles) to capture. They’re fun, but incidental—and while the larger strongholds provide a more structured, traditionally ‘Halo’ challenge (shut down a refinery, demolish a weapons cache, punch through a blockade), I rarely felt the pull to break off from the main path to devote time to them.

    See, Halo doesn’t lend itself well to a drip-feed of unlocks. Main story missions are tightly controlled and rarely let you just rock up with a tank. Powerful weapon variations can be acquired by taking down high-value targets in the open world, but levels are constantly throwing completely different challenges in your face. Why cling onto a long-range Sidekick variant when a mission just tossed you into a pit of beefed-up Elites?

    The sun sets over halo

    Infinite’s Banshee might be hot garbage, but it’s the best way to soak in the view. (Image credit: 343 Industries)

    Halo Infinite really is good Halo. For lapsed fans of the Bungie games like me, Halo Infinite is a strong return to form, and in the heat of battle it’s the best running and gunning the series has ever had. It’s painfully easy to imagine a world where Infinite could have easily been one of my favourite entries to date. But between an open world that feels largely redundant and a story that can’t shed the series’ baggage, Halo Infinite’s campaign falls just shy of being great Halo.

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