HALO INFINITE [Tech Preview Review]: Pay Attention.

“Shepherd” Daniel Sorensen
@danielsoerensen

Halo 3 was the last game that I felt was the peak for the Halo franchise. Halo 4 had to duke it out with so many other big titles in 2012 like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Far Cry 3 and Borderlands 2. With stiff competition it didn’t make the impact it was supposed to. It didn’t really help that no real efforts were made with multiplayer maps as they were reused from campaign and Forge. And the gameplay just felt slow, old and stale. Gamers moved on from Halo. Halo 5: Guardians was supposed to bring the franchise back on track with the release on Xbox One…

The problem was that Xbox One launch was just so utterly disastrous. So it’s safe to say that the state of Xbox was in a terrible shape almost the whole generation. So even if Halo 5 did some things right (like finally getting 60 fps support) and tried to modernize the gameplay, the audience wasn’t there. Halo became irrelevant. Nobody really cared about the Xbox mascot when the Xbox brand was a sinking ship.

Things has changed since then. Xbox isn’t dying anymore; heck, it’s blossoming more than ever. But the Halo Infinite reveal was mocked and the Craig memes kept coming. And rightfully so. It was a bad look for Halo and its return. So bad that Xbox delayed the game a whole year and missed their promised launch window for their new next-gen consoles. When I got invited to the Halo Infinite Technical Preview (beta) my expectations were low. I have tested the multiplayer extensively during the three weekends I had access to it. I really didn’t expect to say this at all but…

Halo is back and what glorious return it is! The Spartans look, move, shoot and sound better than ever on two different generations of consoles (and launching on PC for the first time). What 343 has achieved here is marvelous. The game looks and runs buttery smooth up to 4K 120 fps. 343 shows us that they understand what kind of game Halo is at its core– a highly competitive arena/sandbox shooter with clean aesthetics that appeals to both the casual and hardcore e-sports scene. But it’s faster, it flows better and without losing its own established identity in the sea of shooters.

The beta let us play on 4 arena maps and 1 Big Team Battle map:

Bazaar, a small East African arena map with focus on QCB.
Behemoth, a large circular symmetric arena map with vehicles.
Live Fire, a small arena map set at Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science.
Recharge, a small indoors arena map set in a hydroelectric facility.
Fragmentation, a classic Halo outdoors style BTB map (12vs12) with lots of vehicles

Most of the weapon types you would expect to find in Halo is there, like the trusted MA40 Assault Rifle, the BR75 Battle Rifle, the Needler and so on. There’s also a bunch of new weapons introduced in Halo Infinite like VK78 Commando (think AK-47), Ravager (Banished burst weapon), CQS48 Bulldog (UNSC shotgun) and many more.

343 also threw in a few new equipment items into the sandbox that will forever change how Halo is played. My favorites are Grapplehook and Repulsor. The Grapplehook allows you to sling your way through the maps so graciously that even Peter Parker would be jealous. The Grapplehook is a fantastic addition to Halo as you can highjack all vehicles with it, pull yourself in high-speed towards an enemy and smack them or just snag weapons from a distance.

The Repulsor is also a multi-use piece of equipment. Timed properly and you’ll deflect projectiles with it and send rockets back to sender. Or push vehicles over the cliffs. You can even aim it at the ground and boost yourself to higher ground in a clutch situation. And I’m sure we will see people find more new creative ways to utilize the new toys in the Halo Infinite.

So far the multiplayer feels very balanced. The classic gunplay/grenade/melee trifecta feels spot on. And 343 managed to overall speed up the game, add sliding and mantling without sacrificing “the Halo feel” and turning it into a sci-fi Call of Duty. The map designs, at least so far, really hit the spot with a good combination of small QCB action and more open spaces where we can go nuts with all the iconic vehicles like Ghost, Scorpion Tank, Warthog etc. It’s rumored that Halo Infinite will have 26 multiplayer maps. My GodHatesGeeks, I hope that is true.

Halo Infinite Multiplayer really surprised me. This is not what I expected. Halo Infinite Multiplayer is not only good, it’s great. And considering the multiplayer is 100% free-to-play with cross-play on Xbox and PC, it will make a bigger impact than I first guessed. Halo even managed to have more viewers on Twitch than Fortnite and Warzone, the two giants that seems untouchable. And it’s not even a Battle Royale game. The trend is clear. Halo Infinite appeals to new and old fans. They’re loving it.

Until the full version launches it’s hard to give all the good, bad and uglies but so far it has been a great multiplayer experience, probably one of the best I’ve had in years. No disconnect issues, no lag. Not a single game-breaking bug experienced. It almost pains me that the tests are over as there’s currently nothing else out there that excites me like this beta did. It’s evident that the extra year of development time Microsoft gave 343 paid off. And I hope that holds true for the campaign as well. This must be one of the best comebacks stories in a long time. I went from being most excited over Battlefield 2042 to Halo Infinite. Take notes DICE/EA. 4.5/5 Pre-Launch Whiskeys.

-Daniel Sørensen

Halo Infinite releases on the 8th of December on Xbox One / Xbox Series / PC.

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