Welcome back to Halo, Spartans. Zeta Halo is a fresh, familiar world, and it’s something new in the Halo franchise. Master Chief is walking in his own footsteps throughout Halo Infinite, paying tribute all the way back to the original game, but a lot has changed.
I’ve been playing the franchise from the beginning, and the best part of Halo Infinite is how much it still feels like a Halo game. The world is bigger and better, a lot of the gameplay has been enhanced and upgraded, but at its core, this is still a Master Chief story, and he’s front-and-centre throughout the entire game.
Leaping into action on Zeta Halo, you’ll come face-to-face with The Pilot, a man who’s ready to put this place behind him, but Master Chief won’t let him. Heading down to the surface, that’s where Chief meets The Weapon, an AI that’s been waiting for someone, and was supposed to be deleted when she finished her last mission, but has somehow hung on.
So, of course, these are Chief’s companions on the journey as he realizes that he has to stop the Banished, before they use the ring for something that’s likely to be terrible.
The biggest change in Halo Infinite is already in the multiplayer that most of us have been playing for a while now. Beyond weapons, Master Chief has new gadgets to bring to the fight, starting with the Grappleshot.
That single item changes a lot of the game because you can now almost instantly get to roof-tops, leap to an enemy, or make it a combo, grappling an enemy and then shooting them in the face. You’ll also get the Threat Sensor early on, an essential item for some battles when the enemy is using active camouflage.
New weapons, like the Bulldog shotgun and the Ravager plasma rifle, change the gameplay with new challenges when you’re facing a group of enemies that now are coming at you with four or five different attacks all at once. Sometimes ducking behind cover won’t help because a sniper is shooting at you, while another is shooting plasma grenades over the top of your cover.
Even the mix of enemies makes the game more interesting than any of Halo’s predecessors. You’re up against the Banished and their friends, and that includes Grunts, Jackals, Elites, Brutes, and a lot more. New attack styles make the enemy tougher and tougher in many strongholds, and that’s the best part of the game, aside from the whole open world concept.
Playing Halo has always felt a bit like a roller coaster to me, or leaping into a movie, or an amusement park ride. The experience is your experience, but you’re on a set track. Halo Infinite and the new open world game design gives you a purpose, and a place to play.
Master Chief may have to get to the next big objective, but there are lots of things to do on the way, and you can make each challenge as short or as long as you want to. Get right to the point, or stop and look around every corner, and shoot every little Grunt on the way; it’s up to you for a change.
Diving into the map, it still feels like a Halo game, but it’s expansive, and there’s a lot to discover, including vehicles, weapons, upgrades, and more.
Speaking of upgrades, Halo Infinite has made them a fairly big part of playing the game. You can find Spartan Cores throughout the maps, and they allow you to upgrade equipment, like Grappleshot, Shields, Threat Sensor, and more. Even just upgrading your shields, with the Fortress upgrade can make it a lot easier to get through some battles since it boosts shields by 15%.
Finally, it’s also amazing playing Halo and rescuing Marines, who will actively help you in your fights. They can die in battle, and they often are mostly just distractions when you’re facing a lot of enemies, but they make a big difference. When you take over Forward Operating Bases, they will join you on vehicles, and you can free Marines when you find them captured behind enemy lines, and they will start helping immediately.
And, look, the game also just looks phenomenal. The environments, the weapons, the armour, and the explosions are stunning, and stepping out into this world will give you some amazing views in every direction. It’s an immersive game to step into, and it’s the first game that makes me want to really get my hands on an Xbox Series X to see what it’s like on the new console.
Still, the game looks amazing on my Xbox One, and even the loading times were good between segments.
As far as the story goes, I loved it, and there’s a lot of great moments, right from the opening sequence. Master Chief feels like he’s more on his own this time, and more in charge in a way, too, even as the Marines step in beside him to help. The parallels to previous games are obvious and hit the right notes for me, in a way that’s inspiring. I also love the two new characters, and the way Chief balances between the two.
While the Pilot is a seasoned pro, ready to do the work and move on, the Weapon is fresh-faced and ready to do whatever Chief asks. She’s new to everything, and she’s often shocked or upset by the things she uncovers and finds. It makes her an easy character to relate to when Chief is ever the brave hero figure trying to do the right thing while saving humanity.
Halo’s multiplayer has always been a huge part of the franchise, and I do love it, but for me the game lives and breaths in the campaigns, and this is one of the best stories and experiences yet. And wait until you meet the Harbinger.
After so many years without Master Chief, Halo Infinite is a fantastic present for the next generation of gaming. For the gamers who have never picked up a Halo game before, it’s a great start before you dive into The Master Chief Collection on Xbox Game Pass, and for the gamers who have been playing for years, it’s a satisfying addition to the whole franchise.
Halo Infinite is available on December 8, 2022 at 10:00 AM (PT), and it’s included with Xbox Game Pass.
Xbox provided access to Halo Infinite to me for preview the game.
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