After 6 years, Halo returns

Game design returns to form

Sam Tews, Chief Graphic Designer

2021 had many big name game franchises receive new installments such as Call of Duty Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 but by far the most anticipated release is the return of possibly the most recognizable franchises in gaming. Halo has been a big game in the industry ever since the release of the first installment, Halo Combat Evolved, on November 15, 2001. The original game has sold over 1.29 million copies in the US since its initial release. After the success of this game they would continue to make 5 more main installments and 4 more spin off games. These games have been staples in the gaming community and have upheld a quality standard equivalent to other beloved franchises. So it’s no surprise that Halo Infinite’s release is a big event, especially because it’s been six years since the franchise’s previous installment.

Unfortunately even with all of this anticipation for these new games, basically all of these titles have received incredibly mixed reviews when compared to the older installments due to a large variety of issues. Halo Infinite has had arguably the most positive reception but has also received the most criticism from new and legacy fans alike. Most of this criticism comes from the fact that this installment of the Halo franchise is vastly different from all previous titles. One of the biggest changes is that the online multiplayer is now free to play instead of being included with the purchase of the main game. This has created the problem of how the game will be monetised. The solution that the developers decided to implement was a battle pass system, which is how many current free to play games earn revenue. Most game’s that offer battle passes have you pay about 10 dollars to unlock the “premium” rewards and you earn those rewards through playing matches. Halo Infinite has a similar system but the complaints started when people noticed that they were getting basically no progress towards rewards by actually putting effort into playing the game. Other games also supplement progress towards rewards when you perform well in gameplay, but at launch Halo infinite had a completely fixed rate of progress. Complaints about how hard it actually was to earn rewards kept piling up and unlike many other title’s dev teams, 343 industries has continued to put community feedback first. So a series of updates mostly fixing the progression issue were quickly rolled out. 

Forgetting about all of the issues and complaints, at its core, Halo Infinite has incredibly fun and well made gameplay along with stunning visuals. Likely due to the fact that the current developers seemed to take more inspiration from the original 4 Halo games rather than their previous 2 installments. The original 4 games were developed by Bungie Inc., but in 2010 they split off from microsoft leading to 343 taking over the Halo franchise. Many fans did not like how drastically 343 changed the entire feel of the next 2 installments. With a complete overhaul of the art-style and gameplay along with some major changes in the direction of the story. However, Halo Infinite is not the same. It appears they went back to the drawing board to create something new but also familiar. Unlike Halo 5’s over the top and fast paced combat, Infinite has a slower more grounded feel that is a lot more like Halo 3. Likely due to movement changes such as sprinting being much slower than how it was in 5 along with the directional thrusters being changed into an ability. Weapons and health have also been balanced differently to make firefights last longer and be more engaging. The game definitely isn’t just a rehash of the old games though, far from it; new mechanics have been added to make the game more interesting. The grappleshot is one of these new features and it functions as a powerful grappling hook that opens up completely new ways of fighting. It gets you to see the environments you’re in a completely different way with a new sense of verticality and new offensive and defensive capabilities. You notice new positions where you can engage enemies or just pull yourself towards them instead. It can also be used to pull a weapon towards you, extremely effective if you have just ran out of ammo but are still busy dealing with enemies. You can even pull yourself towards vehicles and instantly get in them, even the flying ones. Just the addition of this single piece of equipment has honestly completely changed the game in an amazing way, really adding to the already incredible experience.

343 really did an incredible job with Halo infinite, they managed to capture some of the magic that made the Bungie games so special. The gameplay feels distinctive and incredibly fun, the visuals are amazing, plus the story is a massive improvement over the previous installment. Unlike many of the games that AAA studios have been releasing over the past couple of years, Infinite feels like a breath of fresh air and manages to stand out in an oversaturated crowd. Certainly a must play game for new and old fans alike.