Halo Infinite is the Halo game I didn’t know I wanted

Dec 23, 2021 Written by:Lane Prescott

As I touch down on the concrete, I hesitate for a moment. Sprinting straight to the Sniper Rifle usually ends with me on the receiving end of a frag grenade, but I disregard my caution and go for the power weapon anyway. Flanked by one of my teammates, we move forward a few paces to check why our opponents haven’t challenged us for the gun. I zoom into the 6X scope, look down the hall to their room, and pull the trigger. The announcer roars “QUIGLEY!” in my ears as I see two bodies falling to the ground from my single round. I had just earned the medal for the first time, and I spent the next five minutes telling the lobby how excited I was about it.


Image source: Microsoft

Halo Infinite has recaptured the magic. This is the 3rd main Halo title by 343 Industries since Bungie moved on from the franchise, and they have decided to lean heavily into the game's roots for inspiration. Halo Infinite feels like the perfect balance of respecting the past successes of the series without being afraid to try something new. The core gameplay feels exactly like what a longtime fan would expect, with exciting additions like a grappling hook. I now wonder why Halo Infinite was the first game to have such a simple and liberating tool added to the sandbox.

Halo has always had two key pillars: the single-player story and online multiplayer. While the original Halo Combat: Evolved only supported LAN connections, Halo 2 almost singlehandedly built Xbox Live and online console multiplayer as we know it. With two decades of pedigree preceding it, Halo Infinite has incredibly large shoes to fill, but the game feels polished and mechanical, hitting all of the right tones where it matters. 


Image source: Microsoft

The core multiplayer experience has always revolved around balanced starts and control of the power weapons to drive your team to victory. Old favorites like the Sniper Rifle and SPNKr Rocket Launcher make a return, with all of the right animations and sound effects, and are joined by brand new weapons like the Cindershot and Skewer for a more alien take on firearms. Hit detection and recoil feel great with the whole lineup of weapons, along with grenade physics and mobility. While clearly a modern title, with high resolution graphics and lightning fast framerates compared to the original Xbox games, Halo Infinite feels very much rooted by the earlier games.

Team SWAT makes a triumphant comeback, rebranded as “Tactical Slayer.” SWAT is the epitome of classic arena shooter, spawning all players with a precision rifle and no shields. Whoever has the better aim and faster reflexes wins. I’ve been grinding SWAT since Halo 2, and this rendition feels amazing. The netcode and hitboxes are so polished that I’ve had multiple double kills from a single three round burst of the Battle Rifle. If you haven’t ever tried the mode, I suggest you give it a shot. I’ve always found it to train me very well for sightlines, because if I overextend, I tend to lose my head.

Fiesta is another standout mode. A 180° tone change from SWAT, Fiesta is a Team Slayer-based mode where each combatant spawns with two random weapons. You are just as likely to have a Sniper Rifle and SPNKr as you are to get a Plasma Pistol and Needler combo. Fiesta has always been a favorite of mine, where you can let your hair down and let chaos reign. If I’m having a bad run in ranked or SWAT, this is the playlist I come to when I want to wind down. I hope to see other classic modes like Infection and Shotty Snipers return as the game heads into 2022 and beyond.

Buoyed by the amazing gunplay experiences I had had with multiplayer, I was eagerly looking forward to donning 1000lbs of MJOLNIR armor as the Master Chief once again. Here the game takes a significant break from tradition, transitioning from a linear on-rails shooter to a full open-world campaign. This is a breath of fresh air, well executed and logical within the universe. You still take the classic role of Master Chief, armed with his new AI companion (a copy of his previous sidekick Cortana), tasked with fighting the Banished to rescue missing marines across the surface of a new and mysterious Halo installation. But outside of some key story missions that move the game forward, you are free to explore Zeta Halo at your own pace.


Image source: Microsoft

Playing at Heroic difficulty felt ideal, with an excellent mix of quick kill potential while needing to be mindful of the damage the Banished were capable of sending my way. I rapidly learned that using cover was crucial, and I could always get a leg up with the new vertical movement offered by the Grappleshot. If I didn’t have a good angle to toss a ‘nade into a gaggle of enemies, I simply yeeted myself around the corner and dropped a frag right into their feet as I was sailing past. 

The open world also allowed me to be much more creative when attacking larger outposts scattered across the ring. Some locations had cliff faces that could be used to strategically snipe and whittle down the defenders before moving into the interior. Others had hidden tunnel entrances that could be abused to unlock key doors and make securing the base much more straightforward. If I was feeling a little lazy, I could load a squad of marines into my 5-seat Razorback Warthog while I was assaulting a position, letting my AI teammates take some incoming fire while providing their own DPS as well. Each location could be approached in multiple ways, making me truly feel like a super soldier left behind enemy lines with the weight of the UNSC on my shoulders.


Image source: Microsoft

Avoiding spoilers, I can say that the campaign is among one of the best in the franchise. While co-op is not yet implemented, I am eagerly awaiting the moment when I can revisit Zeta Halo with a buddy to try and grind out a campaign completion on Legendary difficulty, as is tradition.

With the multiplayer portion of Halo Infinite available for free, and the campaign available on Game Pass, I hope you give this incredible game a try. By mixing old classics with some great new ideas, Infinite recaptures the magic that made me fall in love with the Master Chief all those years ago.