Repeated Halo Infinite controversies are getting old

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Despite its status as the flagship series for Xbox and the franchise that originally put that console on the map, Halo has struggled to remain relevant in the first-person shooter space following the success of Halo: Reach in 2010. Both Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians featured controversial changes such as intrinsic advanced movement abilities, a less diverse sandbox, and gameplay-altering microtransactions that many fans felt were contradictory to the core of what made Halo great. As a result, both games were largely overshadowed by other titles.

With Halo Infinite, Microsoft and 343 Industries are looking to propel Halo back to its former glory with an expansive semi-open world campaign, a free-to-play multiplayer suite with a brand new customization system, seasonal Battle Pass offerings, and sandbox-focused gameplay that returns the series to its roots. Yet, despite the exciting potential that Halo Infinite has, I can't help but feel a twinge of disappointment about many of the caveats that we know the game will have.

The lack of co-op and Forge is painful

Source: Bungie (Image credit: Source: Bungie)

Co-op and Forge are core parts of the Halo experience, and they should be in the game at launch.

Arguably the biggest downside with the game is that Halo Infinite won't have co-op campaign and Forge at launch. These two features are a core part of what used to make the series so popular, and co-op in particular has been an integral part of the Halo experience since Halo: Combat Evolved launched in 2001. Playing through each Halo game as they release has become something of a tradition for my friends and I over the years, but with Halo Infinite, we won't be able to do that for three months after release. I'm sure I'll enjoy playing through the campaign by myself, but it's arguably unacceptable that a new Halo game is launching without a feature it has always had at launch since the beginning of the series.

The lack of Forge will also make it extremely difficult for a custom games community to form around Halo Infinite when it comes out, mainly because the feature isn't going to be added for at least six months post-release. Without the ability to make custom maps for fan-favorite custom game modes like Duck Hunt, Garbage Man, and Speed Halo, everyone will be forced to stick to Halo Infinite's vanilla maps, which cuts out a large part of what makes Custom Games special. As someone who loves playing community-made game modes on creative Forge maps, learning that Forge won't be in Halo Infinite for half a year was a real hype-killer.

A controversial customization system

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Another drawback is within the Halo Infinite coating system, which allows players to earn and use "coatings" — a combination of colors, textures, and patterns — to customize their armor, weapons, and vehicles. There's a lot of cool new stuff that you'll be able to do with coatings, such as add wear-and-tear to your gear, but the big downside to coatings is that you won't be able to customize your Spartan's armor color freely like you could in previous Halo games.

The coatings available in the first Halo Infinite beta test suggest that players will at least be given a default spread of coatings with basic colors to choose from, but players won't have the opportunity to customize their colors on a deeper level without also having to use the alternate textures and patterns built into many of the game's coatings. Fans have suggested separating coatings from colors so that players can use them without having to change their preferred armor color, but the developers have stated that this isn't a possibility. I don't doubt that coatings will offer some really cool options to players, but the fact that we don't get to customize our Spartan's colors separately is a huge tradeoff.

An unnecessary change to progression

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Recently, 343 Industries also announced that Halo Infinite Battle Pass progression will be limited to challenges, preventing fans from accruing experience and leveling up their Battle Pass by simply completing matches as you could do in Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5. The developers since confirmed that some challenges will require players to simply complete games, but based on what we saw during the first technical preview, we also know that there will be plenty of challenges with objectives like getting kills with specific weapons or finishing matches of a specified game mode.

The community's response to this news was overwhelmingly negative. Countless fans cited concerns about the system being designed to get players to buy the Challenge Swap microtransactions seen in the beta, forcing people to play a specific way to make progress, and that progression overall might be extremely difficult for new and low-skill players that struggle to do well in multiplayer. In the end, the developers caved, confirming that challenges requiring match completions would perpetually refresh after every game.

I'm glad the developers addressed the issue so quickly, but it's baffling to me that the developers thought moving ahead with this change was a good idea in the first place. It fills me with concerns about what else they think is a "good" idea going into the full game.

Will everything in Halo Infinite have a caveat?

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

It feels like everything in Halo Infinite has a downside.

Ultimately, it feels like everything coming in Halo Infinite has a drawback. It will have the franchise's most ambitious campaign and Forge mode yet, but you won't be able to enjoy the campaign with friends or use Forge until several months after launch. The customization system will allow you to personalize your armor in awesome new ways, but you can't change your Spartan's colors freely. Each seasonal Halo Infinite Battle Pass will offer plenty of cool cosmetics to earn, but progression may be heavily tilted towards challenges that may or may not be fun for your playstyle, despite the addition of progression for match completions.

At a time where competing multiplayer titles like Battlefield 2042 are offering players more features and content than ever before, the last thing Halo Infinite needs to do is make it feel like there's a downside to every part of the experience. I want to be excited to play Halo Infinite, but thanks to the absence of co-op and Forge at launch, the restrictions of the coating system, and the muddled messaging around Battle Pass XP, I'm left feeling overly concerned about the game (it doesn't help that the developers haven't shown the campaign at all since 2020, either).

If Microsoft and 343 Industries want Halo Infinite to put Halo back on the map, then the game needs to offer players new and exciting things without cutting or delaying features that are core to the franchise.

Your thoughts

What do you think? Do you agree with me that the frequent bad news about Halo Infinite is frustrating? Let me know. I hope that it ends up being one of the best Xbox games available, but a lot of my previous hype is gone, to the point where I'm not even going to preorder Halo Infinite like I usually do with new Halo games.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

39 Comments
  • One undeniable fact is...Halo Infinite is NOT out yet!
  • Ppl will whine about everything
  • Live a little and embrace change. It keeps you young. 😉 More seriously: avoid prejudgment. The world is ruined by it
  • What..? Embrace the change of "pay $60 for campaign, co-op, and Forge, but we're not going to deliver two of those 3 on payment?" That's a stupid thing to embrace, willfully celebrating being conned by one of the largest companies in the world. And this is hardly "prejudgment." It's responding to things that have been announced as reality. It's not reacting to a possibly delay of cop-op or Forge, it's a reaction to what 343 itself has said WILL BE HAPPENING. It's not assuming that armor coatings will be a weird solution, it's reacting to how 343 has said THEY WILL WORK, because fixing it isn't a technical possibility. It's not like the article is "new controversies are likely and that scares me," it's about how things HAVE HAPPENED. It's not prejudgment, it's judgment of presented facts and realities. It's decidedly post-judgment.
  • Ok, so you'd prefer them to delay the single player for another 6 to 12 months then ? Or you'd prefer them to launch it broken and bugged ? Don't answer, it's a rhetorical. You'd obviously be happier for them to release something broken so you could complain some more. Because they're not delaying for fun or out of spite ; it's being delayed because it's not ready. To argue that it SHOULD be ready after all that time is another matter entirely and one which only those directly involve can attest to. Not me, not you. Also, you should revisit your definition of being "conned" : you know exactly what your money will give you : whether that's acceptable for the price or not is another matter and not subject to making it a deceitful practice. You said it yourself : they aren't gonna deliver 2 out of the only 3 feature of the game upon payment, they said it themselves. Why the heck are you gonna buy it then ? If you're not gonna buy it, wtf are you even complaining about ? You pseudo-self-entitlement that Microsoft/343/the world owes you the Halo game you want and claim to deserve ? Flash news : they don't owe you shirts. You know what you are buying beforehand. If you're not happy, don't buy it. Period. Problem solved.
  • You aren't obligated to buy it! You're talking like you are being held at gun point.
    Nothing speaks louder than not buying the game until it is at an acceptable level.
  • So if you wait until those modes are available before you buy the game, are you still being "short handed"?
  • Typical neckbeards mancrying about non-issues.
    Forge was delayed in Halo 5 for example. Fanboys are acting like this is a completely new thing. We got multiplayer and campaign at launch. The main core of the game. Forge is always awesome, waiting for it isn't going to make or break my decision. I'm happy. And for those who aren't, you're getting it free on Gamepass. Just don't buy the game and shut the hell up.
  • Meh, I'm not buying this until they release Halo 5 on PC anyway. By that time, Infinite will be a full package.
  • I honestly don't think they are even thinking about doing halo 5 on pc. I hope they do though.
  • I hope it makes it way to the MCC as well.. It's the only one I haven't finished recently and I'm not buying an xbox to play it. (my old one died ages ago)
  • Firstly, this article feels like it's just showing up late to keep getting clicks on topics that have been discussed repeatedly. To call it "repeated controversies" is somewhat generous, given it really boils down to 2--the lack of a completed game at launch and the means of Battle Pass progression. Cosmetic preferences are hardly a controversy. The "skill is rewarded" concerns are annoying. Not every game needs everything to be a participation trophy. I agree that there should be a degree of accessibility to avoid leaving people bored or feeling shut out of enjoyment. However, this articles reads as if lower-skill players shouldn't be disadvantaged in their progression for accomplishing less. I disagree, as I think having faster progression as a carrot to keep people invested in their improvement is a good thing. Locking Battle Pass progression to a mode or a weapon is lame, but I'm fine with tying it to wins or having SOME incentives to judge people into occasionally trying new things. Lastly, I don't think Battlefield is a good comparable. It's caving to the "Operator" structure that's seeped into many modern shooters, where you have class-based stuff. People didn't like that in Halo 4, and having that would be a much worse solution, IMO (see: Overwatch, if you want to see a mess when that content dries up). Halo is at least trying to MOSTLY stick to being a different solution to shooters, rather than fully caving to fads that wouldn't serve it well. As for Forge, I personally don't think it's that big of a deal. It has its place, but it's not a great generator of money and it's probably got the most niche player base of any part of Halo. It's a highly complex mode that lends itself to being first on the chopping block, as much as that sucks to say. Heck, I'd go so far as to say that STILL having no plan to put the Halo 5 campaign on PC is a bigger blemish on Halo, as the most immediate story to Infinite won't be available to the PC community to which Halo is trying to expand.
  • I don't care for multiplayer. What's big for me/us is local Co op. The fact that it's missing WHEN THEY PROMISED it'll be included is deceptive since it's delayed. Stop using COVID-19 as a lame excuse as to why stuff is delayed. Every other company has to pick up its slack and produce results but not only is this a year later, it's worse to not love up to MSFT promises (typical of all things MSFT)... I'll play it eventually either in sale or game pass. I'm no longer eating money on it and I'll never pay for micro transactions. Huge turn off
  • Yep this! They did this to us with Halo 5. The whole point of their marketing behind Infinite is “going back to franchise roots” yet the MAIN thing people complained about at launch of Halo 5 still isn’t making it into Infinite at launch. It’s a core Halo experience, that’s what the roots of the franchise means. Not whether we can boost forward backward or sideways.
  • Things are ready when they're ready. The alternative to the lack of co-op and Forge at launch is to delay the release of the game until those components are ready. Would that be better? No one wants to wait - I get that - but if the alternative to waiting for part of the game is waiting for all of the game then I know which I'm choosing.
  • They have to change the way things are done otherwise they will be stuck with the same stagnant user base and the game franchise will die. Sure some changes will suck, but some will be great.
    Give them time to work things out.
    Coop is coming (be patient FFS)
    Forge - I'm sure that is on the cards as well. Games are compartmentalized these days. That's the business model every company has decided to use, so this is to be expected. Everyone is carrying on like entitled children... We're spoilt for choice and ungrateful.
  • Exactly. The entitlement and the raging fanboyism is not letting people see what are normal things in game release and development in 2021.
    I don't think people would exchange a later release date for incorporating campaign coop or "Forge"? Oh, even if they would, it's not their game to release, it's not their company. the only thing these rabid fans own is the self entitlement to be angry at the smallest details.
  • The experience progression system for Infinite is the exact same as MCC. Do you not like that?
  • Not necessarily, in MCC you do get season points for leveling or ranking up, not just challenges. But that's probably not clear because MCC has a terrible interface and guide.
  • ‪Halo Fans in 2015:‬
    ‪“No Splitscreen COOP?!?”‬
    ‪343i: ‬
    ‪“We apologize, we’ll go back to our roots for the next game and make Halo… Halo again.”‬ ‪*Halo Infinite Enters Conversation*‬
    ‪Thou shal not have COOP at launch, period. Local split screen OR online.‬ ‪Somehow this is acceptable to casual fans. But the majority of us understand how this is an issue and just proves to us they aren’t willing to change and see the true things the fans actually care about in Halo. The grapple is new, we could care less, it’s not a bout doing things differently, it’s about losing core Halo experience staples like split screen and COOP, and even for many fans now Forge too. The people that are the problem aren’t the ones complaining, it’s the ones defending these mistakes and complaining about the fans that want to see 343i stick to their word about going back to the roots of the franchise.
  • That might be valid criticism for features that are not coming at all but it isn't for those that are not ready at launch but are coming. Not sure about split-screen but the rest is coming, so you ARE the problem, or at least A problem. For those things to be available at release, the whole game would have to be delayed. That's a fine solution!
  • Clearly most disagree with you so. ;)
  • Most what? Most whiny fans? You'd be right on that. I'd suggest that you just listen to people who think the way you do and assume that that is representative of the rest of the world. It's almost not. The thing is, the people who don't care generally aren't taking the time to say they don't care. You only hear the ones who actually do have an issue. This is true in so many areas but definitely here. If you're going to claim that the majority of a particular group hold a particular position, I want to know where you got your numbers from. Your own arse doesn't count as a reliable source of more than one thing.
  • Dude. Chill. Your responses To some random person on the internet’s legitimate comment are unnecessary.
  • Your original comment was unnecessary too. You posted it because you felt you had something to say on the subject. Afford me the same liberty. If you don't want your comments responded to then don't post them on a public forum. There seems to be a pattern of whining here. If you care to, answer me this. The devs obviously had a release date that they wanted to hit and had presumably intended to have the game complete and ready to go by then. For whatever reason, they were unable to make that date. Perhaps there's grounds to criticise them for mismanagement but, regardless, the game just isn't ready to go for the intended release date. They now have a choice to make. As far as I can tell, that choice is between releasing core parts of the game now and other parts built on those later, or they could delay the game entirely until all parts are ready. Which do you think is better? If part of the game is ready and playable now, why should those who want to play that part have wait when doing so won't make the other parts ready any sooner?
  • It's exactly valid criticism. In today's age of gamers short attention span, 6 months can make a difference. Within those 6 months you could lose a sizable amount of the player base, especially when something like forge, an "end game" content sort of thing, is missing. SO YOU ARE THE PROBLEM JOHN. Because what you are advocating for is an unfinished game, and all your doing is encouraging more developers and publishers to ship games half finished and then finish them as free DLC.
  • Amazing level of nitpicking, and I say this as an informed outsider to the franchise. Nothing listed there will really detract from having fun in the game. Maybe coop, but most people are going to play it single player or in multiplayer anyway.
  • Halo is built on shared coop campaign experience. So as plan outside I understand how that doesn’t make sense to you, as you don’t know. :)
  • (A) If the solo campaign is ready, and the multiplayer is ready – then release them since they’re ready. (B) Those who play co-op, and those who use Forge – they can wait another few months. It’s no different for them if the whole game is delayed – they’ll still have to wait another few months regardless. Why delay it for the (A) players in order to satisfy the (B) players when (A) is ready? Let the (A) players play. The (B) players can play later (just avoid spoilers).
  • Only problem is when the 3 or 6 month delay becomes 1 year because of other bugs with the rest of the game (see Cyberpunk DLCs).
  • That's certainly a potential issue but I do think that Cyberpunk was a special case because the game was just sooooo broken. One would hope that the initial release of Halo Infinite is not in such a poor state.
  • There's still as many questions about whether if 343 can deliver on a full AAA quality experience that Halo has been lacking in since they took over. This is their 3rd try at it. We'll find out on 12/8 on way or the other.
  • IMHO, a lot of whining, that's much ado about nothing.
    1. Forge is coming, just later. So saying not having it is "painful" makes no sense. Especially when the solution to this "pain" is simply to wait to buy the game until that mode is available if it bothers you that much. I saw in previous articles where it was suggested to just delay the game entirely. Some of us (me), don't care and are fine with buying the game as is. Forge didn't get a ton of use in Guardians. Nobody complained that it wasn't there to begin with, and when it was launched as an update, for free....Nobody was crying tears of joy ether, it was more like "hey, cool" 2. The Battle Progression isn't really a big deal. Virtually every battle pass in every non-Halo game worked like this for the most part. There's a difference between leveling up your character, or account, and completing the PASS, and in most games, the worst way to complete the pass was by just winning. I'm almost positive the Halo Infinite works just like this. There's also the option of....don't buy the passes.
  • Literally this. Thank you.
    These cucks whining about literally anything to just find something to cry about. Finding random things to nit pick on. I waited for Forge in Halo 5. I can wait for Forge in Halo infinite. Gameplay is solid and it looks a lot more polished. I'm playing this game day one and I'm gonna love it. Haters can suck it.
  • 1. You're wrong, forge MIA at the launch of Guardians was a talking point and a disappointment. If you only stick to competitive multiplayer and your circle of friends does too, you might not be aware of how much the Halo community cherishes their custom games and forge. Halo isn't CoD where it's all about matchmaking, much of the community goes back and forth from matchmaking and custom games. This is a key feature missing from the game. Halo infinite was supposed to be console launch game, but now it's not supposed to be a finished product until 1.5 years into the console's life. People have the right to be disappointed. Yes the game has free multiplayer and is included in your game pass subscription, but there is no denying Halo infinite is a lesser product minus these features. 2. The only issue I have with the battle pass is that during the flight Season 0 had no armor pieces available for unlock unless you paid for the battle pass. I'm hoping it's just because it's for the beta, but the free season pass offerings were underwhelming.
  • To me Infinite has had only 2 controversies: 1) A little over a year ago when they demoed that horrible looking game that should have never been demoed. 2) The progression change. There would be a third (delay of co-op and forge) except, for me, I will have the game "free" on Game Pass. So, it is more like I get the game early until co-op is delivered 3 months later. If this get delayed more than 3 months, then we have a 3rd controversy! Simply put, this game is not one I will be playing much if it doesn't have local player split screen co-op!
  • Imagine complaining about a game that's literally free to play and on Gamepass. This has got to be the most entitled, first world problem of an article I've read from this site in a long time. If you're that bothered about "what if" and "potential downsides" of a video game, just don't play it and shut the hell up. No one if forcing you to play. Hell, not even 343 is forcing you to pay for the game. Get it on Gamepass and uninstall if you don't like it. Literally no inconvience to you. Co-Op was never intended... It's based on the older Halos. Forge was confirmed to come at a later date, just like they did with Halo 5... You get multiplayer for free... I've seen a hella worse from other games. I waited for Forge in Halo 5. I can wait for Forge in Infinite. Jesus Christ this author (and fanboys in general) are whiny as hell. Just wanting to find things to cry about. They can stay salty and seethe. I'll be sure as hell having a blast playing this game at launch regardless.
  • If anything you're the fan boy, trying hard to defend this game with nonsensical arguments about how something free is never bad because it's free. You're also assuming that everyone has game pass just because you have game pass. You may not believe me, but some people don't have gamepass (because they're crazy and don't know a good deal lol). Plus, only the multiplayer is free not the campaign. "Co-op never intended based on old halos".... dude have you even played the old halos? Couch co-op/multiplayer was always intended and planned with Bungie's Halos and was always incorporated into their games due to Halos legacy of LAN parties. And I also want to point out that Halo CE released on a console that prioritized accessibility for players (as you didn't need an adapter for extra controllers like you did with the PS2).
  • So new Halo/xbox fan boys are arguing that it's ok for halo to be missing these features so long as Halo infinite launches, while the old halo/xbox fan boys are arguing that 343 is still messing up Halo.