Halo Infinite launching without co-op and Forge is a huge disappointment

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite (Image credit: 343 Industries)

In a surprise developer update video, 343 Industries delivered some bad news to fans: Halo Infinite won't have campaign co-op or the series' beloved Forge map editing and creation tool at launch this holiday season. Additionally, neither feature will be added for several months. Specifically, co-op campaign isn't being implemented until three months after Halo Infinite's release in Season 2, and fans won't have access to Forge mode until six months post-launch in Season 3.

As someone who considers both co-op and Forge to be core parts of the Halo experience, this news left me feeling incredibly disappointed. And while I still ultimately believe that Halo Infinite will be an excellent game, these feature delays definitely don't reflect well on the franchise as a whole — especially since the Halo community has already had to deal with a game launching without core features once before with Halo 5: Guardians.

Co-op is an integral part of the campaign experience

Source: Bungie (Image credit: Source: Bungie)

Engaging with Halo's sandbox in co-op is a blast, and I hate that I'll have to wait to do so in Halo Infinite.

Ever since the launch of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001, cooperative play has been an integral part of Halo's campaign experience. Both local splitscreen play and online co-op have always been fan-favorite avenues for enjoying Halo's sandbox-driven gameplay, and the reason why is because working with a buddy to combo various weapons, vehicles, and pieces of equipment together against AI enemies is a blast. Halo's sandbox is a ton of fun to engage with by yourself, but when you throw your friends into the mix, there's endless potential for enjoyable and creative gameplay.

You can sometimes even discover funny exploits that only work with multiple players, too; one of my fondest Halo memories is working with my friend to "fly" a dumpster prop onto a Covenant Scarab using a jump-spamming glitch.

Even though I wholeheartedly believe that Halo Infinite will be a great game to play solo, many are said they have to wait a full three months to be able to enjoy it with friends. Co-op campaign is something every Halo game has had at launch (even Halo 5 had it available online, though it lacked local splitscreen), and I expect that the lack of co-op will make a lot of fans hesitate to get the game when it releases.

Given that fans have already had to wait an entire extra year for Halo Infinite to come out, the fact they have to wait three months longer for one of Halo's most basic and beloved features is unacceptable.

Forge is crucial for the success of custom games

Source: Bungie (Image credit: Source: Bungie)

The six-month delay of Halo's Forge map editor is a massive bummer, too, and it also potentially threatens the health of Halo's multiplayer custom games scene. A Halo game's custom games community ultimately lives or dies based on whether or not Forge is available. With it, fans can build creative maps that fit classic community-made game modes like Duck Hunt perfectly, or even make entirely new game modes such as Halo 5's Flapjack Frenzy. Without it, players will be forced to try and make the game's stock maps work with custom games, which usually leads to a mediocre experience.

It wouldn't be that bad if Forge was coming soon after launch, but the fact that 343 Industries is delaying its arrival by a full six months is troublesome. This means that the custom games community basically won't exist for half of Halo Infinite's first year, which is terrible for the health of the game. Halo Infinite is supposed to be a live service game that entices people to keep playing over time, so the decision to launch the game without the Forge mode that kept people playing Halo 3, Halo: Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5 for years is baffling.

This is not a good look for Halo

Source: Electronic Arts Halo Infinite is going up against Battlefield 2042 and Call of Duty: Vanguard this holiday. (Image credit: Source: Electronic Arts)

Halo Infinite needs all the help it can get, and these delays aren't helping at all.

Finally, these delays reflect very poorly on Microsoft and 343 Industries, especially since many fans are already skeptical of the game's quality due to the disappointing gameplay debut in 2020 and the subsequent delay into 2021. Considering Halo hasn't been seriously relevant for close to a decade and both Battlefield 2042 and Call of Duty: Vanguard look poised to attract countless players with advanced features like the Portal mode that revives classic Battlefield maps, the last thing Halo Infinite needs to do is offer less to its players. Competition in the first-person shooter space is extremely fierce, and if Halo isn't able to keep up, the franchise will struggle to claw its way back into relevance.

It's true that Halo Infinite will likely perform well despite these delays. After all, it's one of the only big games coming out on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S soon, and based on what fans thought of the first Halo Infinite beta test, I expect the game's multiplayer will be received positively. For Halo to truly challenge juggernauts like Battlefield and Call of Duty, however, the game needs to fire on all cylinders. I sincerely hope that these are the only content delays that the game will have, because if Microsoft and 343 Industries announce more, I'll be very worried for Halo Infinite's future.

Your thoughts

What do you think? Do you agree with me that the lack of co-op and Forge is incredibly disappointing, or do you think it's not that big of a deal? Let me know.

For more on Halo Infinite, don't miss our coverage of the Halo Infinite beta schedule. Also, check out our guide to Halo Infinite preorders if you're looking to get your copy of the game ahead of its Holiday 2021 launch (keep in mind that the multiplayer will be a standalone free-to-play experience). Ultimately, we're hoping that Halo Infinite ends up being one of the best Xbox games ever, and we can't to get our hands on the game when it launches.

Brendan Lowry

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.