Like many other players across the Xbox and PC ecosystem, I've been having a blast with the Halo Infinite multiplayer experience. Movement is smooth, gunplay is tight and snappy, and Halo Infinite's sandbox is easily one of the best in the series. The game is simply a ton of fun to play, and that achievement alone makes it one of the best Xbox shooters available right now.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Halo Infinite's core gameplay is stellar, the customization system that players can use to personalize their Spartan supersoldiers between multiplayer matches is unacceptably shallow, restrictive, and underwhelming. Microsoft and 343 Industries promised Halo fans a deep and rich customization system for Halo Infinite, but now that the game is actually here, the system has proven to be one of Halo's worst.
The primary reason this is the case is because Halo Infinite's armor cores — basic armor foundations that players can add different armor pieces, armor attachments, visor colors, and coatings to — prevent you from equipping an unlock unless it's an item that is specifically designed for that armor core. Want to use a chestpiece from the Mark V (B) armor core on the Mark VI armor core? Too bad. Did you unlock a cool helmet from the Fracture: Tenrai event that you want to put on your Mark V (B) armor core? You're out of luck. You can't even use color coatings or visor colors across cores, either, which is unbelievably restrictive.
Presumably these restrictions are in place to prevent potential issues with armor pieces clipping into armor cores they weren't designed for, but players have noticed that AI bots often have cross-core cosmetics equipped and look completely fine. Because of that, the decision to severely hinder the ability to mix and match cosmetics feels completely unjustified. The fact that bots can equip customization combinations that players can't is baffling, and frankly, it feels like a slap to the face.
It's a slap to the face that bots can use customizations that players can't.
These restrictions also apply to Halo Infinite's armor kits, which are collections of specific armor pieces and coatings that are available in the Battle Pass as well as the Halo Infinite Shop for $10. You're not allowed to mix armor pieces or coatings from armor kits with other cosmetics; you either use everything in the set or none of it.
Creating a unique look has been an enjoyable part of the Halo multiplayer experience since Halo 3 released 14 years ago in 2007, so seeing the latest Halo game be this restrictive in 2021 has been massively disappointing for franchise veterans like myself. It's antithetical to what made personalizing your Spartan so fun in the first place, and I'm shocked that Microsoft and 343 Industries would even ship a system like this for Halo Infinite.
Another big issue is that several of the armor coatings available right now are barely any different than what the default coatings look like, which is something that the Halo community was quick to notice. There are some cool and unique coatings, too, but overall, it just feels awful to grind your way through the $10 track of the Halo Infinite Battle Pass just to unlock coatings that are only slightly different than what every player starts off with.
Recycling coatings to sell them over and over again is unacceptable.
What's especially insulting, though, is that Microsoft and 343 Industries are recycling armor coatings for each armor core and are selling them for money via the Battle Pass and/or Halo Infinite's microtransactions shop. For example, the Noble Principle coating for the Mark V (B) armor core that you need to buy the Battle Pass for looks identical to the default Cadet Blue coating you can use with the Mark VII armor core. A particularly egregious example of this is the Lucky Blue coating for the Yoroi armor core, which looks just like Cadet Blue and Noble Principle and was recently sold for $8 in Halo Infinite's shop. This has been done with the color red as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens with other simple colors in the near future.
I understand that some compromises need to be made since Halo Infinite's multiplayer is free to play, but nickel-and-diming players by recycling basic color coatings and selling a version of them for each armor core is not an acceptable way to monetize the game. It's one of the worst microtransaction models I've ever seen.
It's not all bad, of course; the fact that you can customize a Personal AI, your weapons, and your vehicles in Halo Infinite is awesome, and I love that you can give your Spartan prosthetic limbs if you want to as well. But at the end of the day, the game closes many more doors than it opens, and it sucks to see a Halo customization system that's this shallow, restrictive, and greedy.
I'm not going to avoid playing the game just because of these problems; I care a lot more about the core gameplay experience, and Halo Infinite's is fantastic. It's just unfortunate that a franchise once praised for its excellent customization options is now home to one of the worst customization systems in gaming. Hopefully Microsoft and 343 Industries can turn this ship around.
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