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“Halo Infinite” breathes new life into a 20-year old franchise

(Photo Courtesy of Xbox Game Studios) “Halo: Infinite” was released on Dec. 8, 2021 and succeeds Halo 5 in the line up.

Maxwell Valin
Connector Contributor

Just over twenty years ago, “Halo” fans found themselves emerging from their crashed life pod onto the surface of the vast, captivating landscape of a Halo ring for the very first time. Fast forward to this past autumn, and those same (as well as many new) players are feeling that sense of great mystery all over again in “Halo Infinite,” the newest installment in one of the most historic franchises in gaming.

Developed by 343 Industries and published by Xbox Game Studios, “Halo Infinite” had the tall task of winning back a severely divided fanbase after 2015’s controversial “Halo 5: Guardians.” As one of the many players who were left disappointed by the previous installment, it can be happily reported that “Halo Infinite,” while having its share of flaws, is the best the series has been since game developer Bungie left the franchise in 2010.

For a series that’s had a fairly linear single player  experience since 2004’s “Halo 2,” “Infinite” attempts to break the mold by thrusting the player into the completely open world of Zeta Halo, to overall positive results. There is certainly no shortage of things to explore or find in this sandbox, and everything feels rewarding in some way or another.

For achievement hunters and completionists, locating all 12 skulls on the ring should definitely serve as a more challenging adventure than in any other Halo game, due to the sheer size of the world you get to explore. For the lore nerds, data pads scattered around the map will allow you to piece together the events directly preceding the game’s story.

In regards to said story, the narrative of “Halo Infinite” acts as somewhat of a soft reboot for the Master Chief himself. While the messy, widely panned story of “Halo 5” is not outright retconned, it is evident that “Infinite” is trying to play recovery and give a more traditional Halo tale reminiscent of those from the Bungie era. While this sudden shift in tone and direction could be jarring for new players moving from “Halo 5” into “Infinite,” players still receive a refreshing product that makes such a drastic change forgivable. Anyone who is a fan of the greater Halo universe will surely be left intrigued by the places this story takes players and the exciting revelations it contains.

While the campaign of “Halo Infinite” is sure to please, single player is only half of what makes a Halo game great. And on the multiplayer side of things, the game is very clearly struggling to be as polished as it could be. After the news that the wildly popular forge mode would be left out of the game at launch (to be added in a few months later), fans were counting on the multiplayer to give a really good excuse not to be as disappointed by an incomplete launch. What was delivered hasn’t entirely met expectations.

While the multiplayer gameplay of “Infinite” is as smooth and refined as any other Halo game, it doesn’t quite make up for the severe lack of game modes given to start. Playing the same handful of objectives over and over again is only fun for so long before players want something new to do, and the variety that should be in this game simply isn’t yet present. For a game that spent six long years in the oven, the lack of content here is glaring. And while 343 Industries does intend to add in more modes later, it doesn’t excuse the lack of modes available at launch. Add that to a bunch of new weapons that often feel useless in comparison to the ones they replaced and customization that, while a step up from Halo 5, often feels very limiting. It’s fun, but far from finished.

“Halo Infinite” is quite a promising video game. While not a complete package quite yet, the game has the foundation for what could eventually become one of the greatest entries this beloved franchise has seen. 343 Industries definitely still has some work to do before they are truly proficient at crafting an excellent Halo game, but “Infinite” is without a doubt their best delivery yet and serves as a testament to how much they care about righting their past wrongs. The future of Halo hasn’t been this exciting in quite some time.

Grade: B+

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