It has been 7 years since we saw the release of another Halo game, the longest any one of us have waited, and it has been 12 years since we saw that release of a good Halo game.
Anyone with an Xbox back in the day will tell you their fond memories of coming back to school one day, firing up their consoles and donning their crappy included headset that came along with it and start to play Halo multiplayer for the rest of the day. Fragging both sweaty veterans and newbs with rocket launchers from up-close, soaring through the air and sniping them off one by one with the ever-overpowered S7 sniper rifle, and of course, flipping your M808 Scorpion tank over and over again until it finally lands on its tracks upright.
There is absolutely no doubt in everyone’s mind that the Halo series is a household name in the world of gaming. Many a memory have been made over countless generations of consoles by Xbox players all over the world, from the complex worldbuilding, deep lore, and fantastic storytelling that keeps players’ faces glued to the screen and butts on the carpeted floor as they explore the world of Halo to the chaotic multiplayer where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. In fact, I dare you to name one game from any console that has a big of a cultural impact than Microsoft’s greatest hit in the video game world.
I, like many a gamer in the dark, dark year of… 2015. I was highly disappointed of the latest entry in the Halo series developed by a new studio who had taken over the name from Bungie, 343 Industries, Halo 5. Not only were we disappointed by this entry of the series, but we were also insulted by the absolute disrespect directed onto Master Chief by the developers and made him out as a scrub who gets absolutely bodied by no-name Spartans that we have never even heard of up until this point.
Now, 7 years later and a men’s bathroom worth of preteen boys singing the iconic opening theme of the Halo series with bone-chillingly good acoustics and reverb of the bathroom walls, 343 Industries have fully redeemed themselves by honoring a legendary character in the world of gaming and giving us the best possible version of Master Chief yet: The one that we all know and love from the Halo lore and absolutely tearing up Grunts, Covenents, Banished, and more of our favorite alien adversaries from the previous games in an open-world setting in Zeta Halo!
The story of Halo Infinite starts off with a bang with Master Chief squaring off against Atriox of Halo Wars 2 fame in the UNSC INIFINITY super carrier and being left for dead in the vast, cold emptiness of space as the Banished proceed with the next step of taking over Zeta Halo with the only thing that is able to stop gone from the equation.
Time skip 6 months later and a short cutscene from the only survivor of the 7,150-strong warship, ECHO 218, locates a distress signal from Master Chief and successfully brings him back to life. Only to have him immediately jump back into action and discover that not only the war is lost, but Atriox has also been dead for quite some time and the whole operation is being run by Escharum.
Very early on in the first moments of the story, you encounter a new A.I. that will become your companion for the remainder of the game known simple as ‘The Weapon’, created with the express purpose of containing Cortana and deleting herself once the objective is complete and her purpose is served. Alas, the mission was not successful and is the first time that Master Chief has heard about it, before telling her that the mission has changed and welcomes her aboard in his helmet to finish the job and figure out what really happened while he was left for dead in space.
Throughout the years of great story development in the Halo franchise (with the exception of Halo 5) told through linear campaign missions, the new open world concept 343 Industries have created in Infinite is the definitive way that Halo is meant to be played.
If you look through the rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia when you play back the previous Halo games of yesteryear, you’ll come to find that there is an abundance of large areas that either take too long to traverse across of feeling like wasted potential to squeeze in another interesting element to add to the atmosphere of the map.
The new addition of the Grapplehook may draw some sense of familiarity if you are coming from other fast-paced games such as Just Cause or Titanfall 2, and will prove to be an essential tool to not only give you the extra verticality you need to scale tall structures to gain a better vantage point, move to cover to cover quickly, grabbing new weapons from fallen enemies should you need to, and pulling yourself towards them to close the distance and deal large amounts of melee damage to finish them off.
In typical open-world fashion, you will not only have the main story mission to focus on to progress further into the game, but also other miscellaneous optional objectives that you can complete in your own time to get access to newer pieces of equipment, weapons, cosmetics, and areas to spawn in vehicles complete with NPCs to assist you in the fight against the Banished. And in typical open-world fashion, the game doesn’t punish you for tackling an objective the ‘wrong’ way, so whether you want to stealthily pick off enemies one by one and barge through the front door with the Scorpion, or making multiple passes with an aerial vehicle for deadly gun runs. The sky is the limit to create your version of a truly lore-accurate Master Chief of your dreams!
During my first hours of gameplay, I thought that I didn’t like The Weapon as the new version of Cortana and being more chipper, sarcastic, cynical and one-sidedly positive most of the time. But after time, I realized that The Weapon isn’t just a firebrand of an assistant that helps you out in the worst of times, and I saw it more as a father-daughter bond instead between a man who has been through the worst parts of war and looking for a relatively-young A.I. who still doesn’t know any better and still wants to helps out in any way and form.
But that’s enough of the campaign side of things from me. We all know why we really bought Halo Infinite for!
Jumping into Halo multiplayer for the first time in forever in Infinite, the biggest wave of nostalgia just crashed into me as I entered into a completely full lobby of TDM and scoring kill after kill before getting instagibbed by another kid with basically too much free time in his hands. Even with new mechanics being introduced to make the gameplay experience to be as fluid, dynamic and fast-paced, the overall Halo experience has not changed a single bit and I still enjoy every moment of it whenever I come back from work and fired the game up on my Xbox Series X. Only minus the screaming kids from years ago.
Alright, let’s just get things out of the way. No pussyfooting around, just storming into church and ripping the band-aid off. Halo Infinite is by far the best Halo first-person open-world shooter in the series, by far.
343 Industries really nailed in not only making a solid Halo game after their blunders from Halo 5 in 2015, but they also redeemed themselves in making a Halo game that we desperately need.
The newly added mechanics add a new layer of combat for veterans of the series to enjoy and quickly utilize in the early parts of the game and multiplayer, but still offering a very familiar gameplay experience while still being easy to learn for newcomers of the series. Topped off with a great story that will be remembered as one of the best in the franchise. In addition to that, there are more updates steadily coming throughout the year to enhance both single player and multiplayer content, with more maps and game modes begin released and even campaign co-op mode for two players and join in the shenanigans! This is a new age for 343 Industries, and there is nowhere for them to go but up from here on out. And I look forward for the next entry in the Halo series with excitement.