Halo Infinite Xbox Series X Review

Halo is why people got an Xbox and Halo Infinite shows us why that is true today but now you can play it on PC as well.

By Grayshadow, Posted 10 Dec 2021

Since Bungie left the Halo franchise 343 Industries has had trouble trying to find its place in this legendary series. Halo 4 tried new things with the sprint feature but the narrative felt off making Master Chief feel more like a superhero instead of a soldier and Halo 5: Guardians was seen as the black sheep of the franchise becoming too much like Call of Duty. Halo Infinite is 343 learning from the past and correctly balancing the game's systems and crafting an emotional tale that highlights how decades of fighting have molded Chief for better and worse. It has its flaws by introducing so many elements but often failing to deliver but the overall experience has been crafted for long-time Halo fans but including the entire series naturally through the narrative. Combine that with a dense and robust multiplayer and Halo Infinite is one of the best games in this franchise. 

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana, Cover

Halo Infinite takes place years after the events of Halo 5: Guardians with Cortana taking on the Mantle of Responsibility and demilitarising the galaxy. We see Chief getting destroyed by a Brute who leads the Banish, a mercenary organization that broke from the Covenant Empire. In due time Chief is found by a pilot, Echo-216, and must stop the Banish who seek to use the power of Zeta Halo. Master Chief will team up with a new AI named Weapon who was specifically designed to combat Cortana but not all is revealed.

Instead of both the player and characters unaware of the situation, it's just the player. Throughout the narrative, the game drops hints that everyone is keeping secrets and are unwilling to reveal them until the time is right. This is especially new for Master Chief who is shown to have greater character development here. Whereas in Halo 4 and Halo 5 the developers tried to force Chief's humanity forward here is done much more effectively. Chief still acts as a hardened warrior but the loss of fellow Spartans and Cortana's betrayal has affected him dearly. He's weary but cannot stop, he has a job to do and will see it done but cold moments of anger, distrust, and even fatigued are present. Long-time Halo fans will recognize these moments a lot easier than newcomers as his more confident and direct manners are interrupted for these brief moments, something Master Chief isn't known for and making them that more profound.

The supporting case also creates excellent dynamics between Chief and his actions. Echo 216 is scared and just wants to go home. He's not a brave soldier and gets annoyed with Chief for putting himself in harm's way but isn't a bad person as it's revealed why he is acting this way that brings his behavior into an understanding perspective.

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

The Weapon is the brand new AI that supports Chief. She's professional but also new to life, being unaware of things such as sarcasm and smitten by the beauty of Zeta Halo despite Chief knowing how dangerous these things are. She and Chief are great together and play off one another well, with Weapon trying to understand human actions as she constantly smiles and tries to be funny. She's not robotic and understands basic things including why Chief mourns his fallen Spartans who have died so as not to make her seem completely unaware. It's clear this game is focusing more on the long-time Halo fan and without that connection to Master Chief, those touching moments won't land as hard. It isn't a criticism of the developer, they did a great job, it's just a matter of how close the player is to the Master Chief.

Where the story falls short is introducing all these new elements. It's hard to discuss these without going into spoilers but many of the key elements introduced in the game are only touched on without fully explaining them. The classic, wait into the next game to find out or perhaps an expansion.

The Banish are the primary villains of Halo Infinite. Serving under Warmaster Atriox they're composed of Elites, Jackels, Grunts, Engineers, and other exiled races. They're loyal to their leader and willing to die for their mission, taking over Zeta Halo and imprisoning any humans who survived the Infinity attack. Taking reference from Halo 5 and Halo Reach there are classes between each race that offer distinct enemies such as specialized Grunts with more armor, General class Elites sporting cloaking, and more. Allows for more dynamic fights as the sub-classes provide more options for enemy encounters.

Instead of just making them into bad guys you get a perspective of why the Banish act the way they do. It all comes together in the end and you'll see despite the constant killing they act with reason.

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

The Banish are not stupid and fight extremely effectively. Weaker troops will charge your position but more seasoned and powerful warriors will often hold back and use cover. The enemy AI will swap between more powerful weapons along with higher elevation for better shots. Shockingly 343 made your AI allies just as effective. Usually, developers weaken ally AI to the point of being comedically bad but here your allies are effective fighters. Often times they'll come running into fights tactically using cover, distract enemies, and allow the player to get in hits. They are not unstoppable but 343 hit the right balance of help. This is such a relief as many developers do not take the time to make effective allies and for 343 to make sure you have some relevant allies and most importantly are a threat to the enemy AI so they target them instead of just targeting the player once they become aware of the player while the AI shoots styrofoam. MORE DEVELOPERS NEED TO DO THIS! Adding to the atmosphere are the terrific in-game voices that have both allies and enemies such as enemies that have fallen and the Grunts return with their great sense of humor.

The animations during combat are outstanding! Pieces of armor fall off, the enemies announce when they're exposed due to loss of armor, and shield jackals can now change positions of their shield to make it hard to shoot. The attention to detail to all of this is exceptional and having to be linked to gameplay is such an incredible move, making me want to fight every battle because they're so much fun.

Chief has some new tools for the job. Thankfully 343 removed many of the annoying mobility options from Halo 5 such as Spartan Charge and Spartan Ground Pound. The sprint is still here but they balanced it so there's no delay and it's only a slight increase in speed. The equipment makes a return but this time on a timer, with Chief having access to a grappling hook, dodge, deployable barrier, and threat scanner. Each one is upgradable and can be swapped on the fly, with the player rewarded with these upgrades through story progression. All of them are effective and on Legendary you'll need to maximize use for all of them to survive.

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The biggest change to Halo Infinite is the open world. 1/3 of the map is available from the start but the second half is provided through the story and the last amount is locked off for some reason. It's clear 343 learned from Ubisoft as they peppered the map with repeatable objectives such as taking over bases that serve as fast travel points and provide weapons, propaganda towers to destroy, bases to control, collectibles, Spartan Cores that serve as skill points for upgrades, killing high-value targets, and saving soldiers. All of these serve a purpose as you take over Zeta Halo with soldiers providing more potential allies to fight alongside you, new weapons available at FOBs, and vehicles. You'll be doing the same thing over and over but thanks to the terrain each area feels like an arena where you can choose how to take over the area and prepare beforehand.

Traveling through the world is not that difficult thanks to the grappling hook. This tool is not only effective in combat to dash in front of enemies or pick up weapons from afar but in climbing. Almost everything can be hooked onto making those vertical climbing sections a breeze. The frustration of having to locate specific points to go up or paths is almost nonexistent. This coupled with vehicles and decently placed fast travel points and traveling is not a problem.

The world of Zeta Halo is beautiful but don't expect a lot of variety. There's plenty of wildlife and destruction to highlight the war between the humans and Banished but 343 kept the themes of past Halo rings in previously released games. There's not a lot of environmental variety but given the entire game takes place on 1 Halo ring 343 did the best with what they had. Much of the game has you looking at the same incredible visas but the developers added some personality to the area. Players can find random encampments from both the Banish and dead warriors that add environmental stories. Sometimes you see dead soldiers surrounded by Banish but depending on what weapons are provided the bodies are placed to complement this. You'll find sniper rifles in high elevated camps, rifles in basic encampments, and sometimes shotguns with bodies within close distance. Showcasing a level of dedication from the developers to ensure this entire ring felt alive with active battles that pre-date your arrival.

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

The size of the world and the sheer amount of side activities does highlight how few story missions are available. Much of the game is about exploring Zeta Halo and gaining material. There are plenty of collectibles ranging from audio diaries from both the Banish and Humanity that provide insightful details, skulls, multiplayer cosmetics, and skill points but that's where a bulk of the content is. When comparing it to the story content about 4 hours were main story missions but they were much more eventful than Halo 5. This was done by NOT REPEATING THE SAME BOSS FIGHTS. Instead, 343 took that criticism and put more variety to make these fights feel more like a step forward from Halo 2's boss fights by increasing their health, adding new gameplay mechanics, and making them feel like unique encounters. Even the mini-bosses have distinct elements such as using vehicles, stronger, faster, or specialized equipment. 

The weapons are amazing, with 20 weapons that are classed between kinetic, plasma, shock, or hardlight. Prometheon weapons have been removed with some weapons receiving a massive boost. UNSC weapons have seen a major boost compared to the Banish weapons, with the assault rifle being the best it has ever been. Most of the time you'll have access to only Banished weapons but once you get a UNSC weapon you won't want to go back. In the campaign, the UNSC weapons all have a special variant that is way more powerful and can only be unlocked by completing specific side tasks that unlock it at bases. This also goes for Banish weapons but you can only access specialized Banished weapons once unlocked, with no regular variants. All the weapons have great feedback thanks to effective rumble and sound. This can lead to frustrating moments where you have to use Banish weapons but 343 includes pedestals that recharge 1 ammo type but these are rarely placed so it's up to you to choose whether it's worth it.

The visor scan is a new addition that makes locating items much easier. Like Ubisoft's Eagle Eye this reveals weapon and item locations. It has no charge so you can spam it as much as you want. It's incredibly helpful when locating specific weapons and since items do not despawn you can come back to them.

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

This is all brought together with the incredible visual design, voice work, and soundtrack. These things hold the entire experience together as you rush through Banish troops the soundtrack gives you that extra momentum of morale to take on the challenges ahead. The voices of the Banish quickly grow silent as the Chief shows why he's a legend, and the beautiful cutscenes that reward the player for a job well done. There are some technical issues such as frame rate drops in the animation during specific scenes or the reloading animation for the Rocket Launcher but these are small. I did encounter the game freezing a couple of times but never crashing. It's a stable game and a beautiful one.

On shooting and gameplay, the multiplayer is exceptional. 343's new mobility system removes all that fancy unnecessary movement for more tactical gameplay. The movement has always been a major system in Halo and here is the same. Sprinting, jumping, and using your equipment are just as important as shooting. The default weapon sets are more than efficient and most of the time better than the pickup weapons. The shotguns definitely need some work and the commando is just a C-grade BR. Balancing is subject to change but for now, the game's meta is strong but cheaters have become an increased issue as with most F2P games. The more pressing issue is progression, rewards, and custom games.

Forge is not available and creating custom games is a headache. Inviting people and saving games, I've yet to see a simple way to do this in this game and that's a major problem for something that Halo Combat Evolved didn't have. And since the multiplayer is free-to-play the progression system is balanced for that system. The theater, files, and bookmarks are available and easy to use if you want to share those epic matches.

Unlike every Halo after Halo 2 the armor selection is very limited. Many cosmetic options are locked behind the game's Battle Pass or premium content. Some armors can cost up to $20, which when compared to VALORANT would be considered cheap. I get they have to make their money back and this is a F2P system but they should balance the system for those who paid for the game and provide another progression option for free players. 

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

When looking through Halo Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5's options you can see a massive decrease in options. It's also strange that the armor does not change depending on your body type. There's no gender option and all voices come from the AI you decide on but in other Halo's the armor would shift based on the body, if you choose female for Halo Reach your Spartan's armor would be altered for that slender body type. It just looks odd seeing my slender-looking Spartan use the same breastplate as the more buff version.

At the moment Halo Infinite does not allow you to choose your modes, which is annoying. Instead, everything is on a random list that cycles through each match, which is ridiculous. I can understand this for Ranked but you should be able to choose what mode you want to play for everything else. There's also a strange glitch where if you try and Resume the game from the menu you cannot connect to servers until you reset the entire game. It's not a monumental problem but this means if you forget it's an annoying issue you have to do.

Halo Infinite, Xbox Series X, Review, NoobFeed, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Character, Cortana

In the words of Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Edward Kenway "You humbled me once, and I took that hard lesson, and I bettered myself". That's what Halo Infinite is, 343 looked at Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians and what the fans said and made something better. They refined the formula, took risks, and the result was one of the best games in the franchise. It feels like Halo but new elements give the franchise that much-needed boost without losing what made it great. The multiplayer will hopefully get more cosmetics not locked behind a paywall and the option to choose specific modes but the overall gameplay is extremely well-tuned. Halo is why people got an Xbox and Halo Infinite shows us why that is true today but now you can play it on PC as well.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Halo Infinite

90/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC
Publisher(s): Xbox Game Studios
Developer(s): 343 Industries
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Sci-fi, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2021-12-08

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