Halo Infinite multiplayer is fun, but where's the content?
Why does Halo Infinite only have three playlists?
The free-to-play Halo Infinite multiplayer experience is here, and its core gameplay mechanics are superb. Many have even declared that Halo Infinite's movement, gunplay, and sandbox are some of the best in the series, and since hundreds of thousands of players are consistently playing the game across the Xbox ecosystem, it's clear that Microsoft and 343 Industries have crafted a shooter that has the potential to dominate the industry and become one of the best Xbox games ever. However, for Halo Infinite to truly succeed in the long term, it needs content variety. And unfortunately, that's one of the things that the game currently lacks.
Halo Infinite launched with three playlists: Quick Play, Ranked Arena, and Big Team Battle (the game's "Bot Bootcamp" training mode doesn't count). Within these playlists, there are six game modes: Slayer, Capture the Flag, Oddball, Strongholds, Stockpile, and Total Control.
Compared to previous Halo games, this is a pitiful amount of content. Where's Team SWAT? What about Team Doubles and Team Snipers? Why doesn't Halo Infinite have staple Halo modes like Infection, King of the Hill, and Juggernaut? The game doesn't even have matchmaking playlists for playing specific game modes, and as a result, many players are forced to play modes they don't enjoy.
The lack of content at launch is baffling, especially since the Halo community vehemently criticized 2015's Halo 5: Guardians for having the exact same problem. Why is a new Halo game shipping with less content than Halo 3 and Halo: Reach had over a decade ago? Why couldn't the developers include creative modes from Halo 4 and Halo 5 that many enjoyed, such as Ricochet, Dominion, and Breakout? Where's Halo's beloved cooperative Firefight PvE mode?
The issue is made worse by the fact that Halo Infinite's Forge mode was delayed further into 2022, preventing fans from using Forge to create maps suitable for Custom Games that would no doubt help ease the pain of Halo Infinite's miniscule content offering. Not only do fans have to deal with barely having any content variety in matchmaking, but they'll also be unable to make their own fun with Forge and Custom Games until late 2022.
Some fans have fairly pointed out that Halo Infinite's multiplayer is technically being considered a beta build until Dec. 8, and that because of that, new playlists and modes may be added to the game when it officially launches. However, according to 343 Industries, that won't be the case; in a blog post, the developers confirmed that the Halo Infinite multiplayer beta launched "with all day-one maps and modes enabled." What we have now is what we'll have on launch day.
Notably, during the recent Halo Infinite Fracture: Tenrai event the developers added the Fiesta game mode, only to yank it out of matchmaking once the event concluded. This frustrated countless fans who were excited to finally have another mode to play, and it also got me worried about the future of Halo Infinite's content offerings.
Are the developers intentionally holding back core modes like Fiesta, SWAT, and Infection so they can pass them off as "limited-time experiences"? Are they only offering the bare minimum between events in an attempt to drive up Player Engagement™ whenever the next event rolls around? I understand that free-to-play games live or die based on their ability to keep players coming back over time, but stripping Halo multiplayer down to its bare bones and creating an artificial lack of variety is not an acceptable way to achieve that goal.
Ultimately, it's just frustrating that one of the best-feeling Halo games ever made is suffering because of the fact that it barely has any content at launch. It's simply unacceptable that Microsoft and 343 Industries shipped Halo Infinite in this state, and things need to change sooner rather than later.
Halo is back
Halo Infinite's multiplayer has launched a few weeks early, compiling classic arena multiplayer modes, expanded 24-player Big Team Battle, and more into one free-to-play package.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
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.