Halo Infinite, a glorious return to form for one of the most legendary game franchises, has already amassed a sizeable community of excited players numbering in the hundreds of thousands. This accumulated fervor has occurred weeks before the Halo Infinite campaign is even available, centering solely on the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Halo Infinite multiplayer experience. My oft-proclaimed love for the Halo campaigns over the years has yet to be tested against Halo Infinite, but I didn't expect the online portions of this ambitious title to hook me quite as Halo Infinite has.
I'm not shy about professing my aversion to online multiplayer games in general; being multiplayer-centric doesn't immediately disqualify a game from joining my rotation of frequent plays, but it does make it considerably less likely that I'll enjoy my time with it. Halo Infinite's multiplayer has surprised me in a way I didn't expect, and has made me fall in love with a multiplayer game.
Epic for years to come
Halo Infinite is the latest chapter in the legendary Halo franchise, and in many ways is the quintessential title for Halo fans. Halo Infinite's multiplayer is polished, crisp, and filled with fun and excitement at every turn. It also promises to evolve and grow for years to come.
A polished and action-packed multiplayer experience
Traditionally, I prefer to play video games solo rather than connect with other players online, a stance that mirrors my real-world tendencies. The few times I've spent any significant amount of time in a competitive online multiplayer game, such as various Call of Duty or Battlefield titles, or Counter-Strike, one of three things has happened: The game is merely a way for me to fill in the gaps between other activities; I have friends or family with whom to play the game; or I'm genuinely enjoying my time with the game.
It's not necessarily that I dislike all multiplayer games, as several in the past have managed to snag my attention (like Chivalry 2, for example), but those instances are few and far between. Halo Infinite, developed as a soft reboot of the Halo franchise by 343 Industries and Xbox Game Studios, has managed to usurp expectations to become a game I find myself genuinely eager to return to time after time, even without anyone else I know playing with me.
Halo Infinite is a pretty traditional first-person multiplayer shooter on paper, but its execution delivers minute-to-minute gameplay that rarely fails to excite. In a similar vein to past Battlefield titles (and even Battlefield 2042 to a degree, despite its rough state at launch), Halo Infinite is decidedly "shareable," with constant moments that make you feel like the super-powered Spartan soldier whose boots in which Halo Infinite places you. This remains true even if your FPS skills or experience with Halo titles is middling, since Halo Infinite places less of a focus on individual brilliance.
Ultimately, this is where Halo Infinite removes itself from the first-person shooter pack for me. While most other games in the genre have every player build out their abilities and loadout in isolation, Halo Infinite throws everyone into the throes of war on equal footing. Your personal identity is still maintained thanks to Halo Infinite's customization systems, but your performance instead relies on teamwork, employing strategy in every encounter, and your ability to take advantage of Halo Infinite's advanced, multi-layered sandbox environments to their utmost potential.
Even when I'm playing Halo Infinite alone, I don't feel cut off from the rest of my team. Without sources of communication like voice or text chat, Halo Infinite still manages to encourage team play in a way I feel other games lack. With visuals cues like pinging, seeing your teammates through your HUD, and, yes, the time-honored method of "teabagging," there are already countless tales of Halo Infinite players communicating with complete strangers, even on the enemy team, in a variety of ways.
Elsewhere, Halo Infinite simply delivers a premier first-person shooter experience. Movement and controls are tight and precise; weapons, vehicles, and equipment are (mostly) balanced and tuned to perfection; maps are visually stunning and well designed. All of this comes together to form a polished package, in stark comparison to other multiplayer games plagued with technical flaws, blatant imbalances, and more. When it comes to the core gameplay loop, there's next to nothing to complain about in Halo Infinite. Unfortunately, that's not true in every case.
Halo Infinite isn't without its imperfections
While Halo Infinite excels with its actual gameplay and the execution of its core game design pillars, the title has received a fair amount of criticism from the community for imperfections, incomplete features, and missing content. With Halo Infinite's progression feeling artificially extended and slowed (something that 343i has already improved tremendously and intends to improve further over time), customization systems being strangely restrictive, microtransactions and in-game purchases priced exorbitantly, and expected multiplayer features and content missing at launch, it's clear that 343i has its work cut out for it.
Even the game's aforementioned tendency to promote teamwork suffers from tying its progression systems to challenges that often take players away from objectives in matches, something that still needs to be improved.
Even with these reasonable complaints being levied against Halo Infinite, however, it's still a blast to return to time and time again. 343i has been transparent and communicative about collecting community feedback and working on improvements, and has already implemented several crucial changes to the game's progression systems. Halo Infinite is also designed to grow over time, with new maps, content, and quality-of-life improvements slated for release after the game officially launches. In fact, 343i has committed to adding new multiplayer modes and playlists before the end of 2021.
These issues also don't stop Halo Infinite from having sheer fun laced through every moment of gameplay, something that much more feature-complete or ambitious games miss completely. Halo Infinite is good enough right now that I'm more than happy to wait for improvements to come later; a product is only worth what it is right now, not what it promises to be in the future, and Halo Infinite is already a fantastic multiplayer title.
Looking forward to years of Halo Infinite
Above all else, multiplayer games tend to get under my skin and leave me feeling frustrated instead of fulfilled, mostly due to interactions with other players contrasting with the game's lackluster systems or gameplay. Halo Infinite has avoided these pitfalls so far, a testament to 343 Industries' dedication to reviving the Halo franchise as one of the most important first-person shooter franchises in existence.
Halo Infinite has been some of the most fun I've experienced in a game while playing with friends or family, and it continues to be enjoyable long after everyone else has already logged off. Knowing that Halo Infinite will only continue to evolve over time to live up to its ambitious name further deepens the love I have for this title. One of my other top games of 2021, Forza Horizon 5, is loved almost entirely for what it offers as a solo experience, and not for its often frustrating and imperfect online. I've yet to experience the Halo Infinite campaign (which may be equally excellent, according to our campaign review), but Halo Infinite is already ranking among the best Xbox games of the year solely on its merits as a multiplayer title.
In short: I've fallen in love with a multiplayer game thanks to Halo Infinite, due to its meticulously crafted moment-to-moment gameplay, the brilliant sandbox overlapping with well-designed game mechanics, and subtle touches to in-game systems that make it easy to communicate with your fellow players. Halo Infinite is far from perfect, but it's already secured its place as one of my favorite games of 2021—and one of my top first-person shooters or multiplayer games of all time.
Halo Infinite's multiplayer is already available to play across Xbox, PC, and the cloud as a free-to-play title. Its definitive campaign experience, also available through Xbox Game Pass, arrives on Dec. 8, 2021, and places players inside the helmet of the Master Chief for one more epic adventure.
Halo Infinite handles all of its in-game purchases through optional Credits, which can be spent on purchasing Battle Passes, Shop offers, and more. There are a variety of Credits options, with higher-end selections providing bonus Credits.
Embark to Halo
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.