Halo Infinite: What Early Reviews Say About Master Chief’s Latest Adventure
Halo Infinite has been branded as a return to form for the franchise, but do critics agree that Master Chief’s return is a successful one?
Halo Infinite’s campaign is finally here, putting players behind the visor of Master Chief for the first time in six long years. Considered a “spiritual reboot” by developer 343 Industries, Halo Infinite has been set up as a return to form after the rocky reception of the last few Halo games. As such, Infinite looks to the franchise’s past for inspiration, putting the focus of the story back on the Chief and refining the varied sandbox gameplay that the original trilogy is known for.
That sounds great, but 343 has a tall order to fill with this newest entry. After years of built-up anticipation, Halo Infinite has the challenge of satisfying both old and new fans, who have been divided on the series’ direction after Bungie’s departure. Now that there are review copies in the wild, we can finally gain insight into whether Infinite overcomes these hurdles. Thankfully, it seems that critics agree it does, for the most part.
Halo Infinite’s Gameplay is Its Strong Suit
Halo has always been at the forefront of first-person shooter gameplay, and according to critics, Infinite is no exception. Game Informer’s Matt Miller claims that “Combat plays like a dream, and whatever else a player might enjoy or dislike, the action should motivate players to complete a playthrough.” Similar endorsements come from other sites, so it’s safe to say that Halo’s renowned gunplay returns with a triumphant bang.
While strong moment-to-moment gameplay is largely expected from a Halo title, boss fights have always been a sour point in previous games. Surprisingly, they seem to be a highlight of many reviews, building upon the already impressive AI that regular enemies possess and providing adversaries that are more than just bullet sponges. If players want to overcome these foes, they’ll have to utilize the sandbox to its fullest, a welcome change from the agonizing bosses of old.
Infinite does more than refine what came before; it also introduces new equipment into the sandbox. Throughout the campaign, players will have the ability to upgrade Chief’s gear to give him an edge in combat. The grappleshot, while not particularly unique in modern games, is one such addition that seems popular amongst critics, who praise the added verticality it adds to traversing the semi-open world of Infinite.
Halo Infinite Lets Players Explore the Ring Like Never Before
Speaking of the open world, Infinite radically shakes up the campaign structure that fans are familiar with. While the first few missions contain the narrow corridors that harken back to previous Halo titles, the levels open up dramatically once Chief lands on the ring. Each subsequent area serves as its own miniature open world. Sprinkled throughout these spaces are Forward Operating Bases that the Chief can liberate in exchange for Valor Points, which are used to unlock powerful combat options such as a friendly squad of Marines or the devastating Scorpion tank.
Fans concerned that this shift in direction would dilute the story into a series of boring fetch quests need not worry. Critics seem to think that Infinite does an excellent job of avoiding this particular open-world pitfall, with IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey stating that “the [optional] tasks are both varied enough and not so frequently repeated as to ever feel monotonous or annoying.” The main criticism of Infinite’s shift to a semi-open world is that there is a noticeable decrease in the variety of terrain compared to older titles.
Halo Infinite’s Story Can’t Escape the Past
Infinite’s story has the difficult task of continuing the badly received plot of Halo 5 while also being digestible for new fans, but sadly, this is where critics think the game misses the mark. It makes the right call to abandon many of the convoluted narrative threads from 5, but it cannot entirely escape from its predecessor’s shadow. As Sam Byford of The Verge puts it, “the fallout from the previous game’s big twist ultimately ends up driving the plot, and that’s where Infinite loses me.” While hardcore fans may find enjoyment in Infinite’s campaign, it seems that most newcomers will, unfortunately, be left scratching their heads in confusion.
Despite this blemish, it’s good to see that Infinite mostly succeeds in restoring the franchise to its roots while still incorporating new ideas. At least that’s what the critics think, but players can find out for themselves soon enough when the campaign goes live on December 8th.