Halo Infinite, unquestionably one of the most anticipated games of the year, had its second multiplayer beta last weekend. Being a console defining franchise for Microsoft with its roots dating way back to 2001, fans were naturally beyond excited to jump in and experience the new generation of Halo.
Having spent over six hours with what 343 are calling their ‘Technical Preview’, I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised by my time with the game. However, as you might expect from a beta of this kind, there’s still plenty of underlying issues that need to be ironed out before the December 8th release date.
A Spiritual Reboot
You might have heard already, but there’s a new Halo game on the way. After initially being announced in June 2018 as a sequel to Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Infinite is a big deal, especially given the fact that it’s been nearly 6 years since the release of the last game involving the Master Chief, as well as swirling rumours of a $500 million budget.
Straight out of the gate, it’s clear to see 343 aren’t holding anything back in the gameplay department. First off, the base movement is fast. So fast that I didn’t find myself using sprint too much, something that encouraged me to keep my gun up and ready-to-fire more often. The weapon handling is superb and just about every weapon felt satisfying to use.
The equipment system is a pivotal part of every game. They seem inspired by the way equipment works in Halo 3, only this time equipment can be better used for traversal. For example, the grappling hook is a standout new addition to the franchise and works in a similar way to the grapple in Titanfall 2, which means flinging yourself across the map is as fun as ever. The Dropwall and Repulsor can also be very useful if you find yourself in a tricky combat situation.
The four maps previewed in the flight, Recharge, Bazaar, Live Fire and Behemoth were exceedingly well designed. It felt like they were ripped straight out of Halo 3 or Halo: Reach and flowed so well with Infinite’s movement and gunplay. I was worried that I would miss Halo 5’s movement with many of the controversial ‘Spartan Abilities’ now missing, but I never felt the desire to Spartan Charge anyone or Ground Pound them into next week.
As someone who has been playing Halo religiously over the past ten years, Halo Infinite felt like a real treat to me. The blending of all my favourite Halo elements coupled with a diverse sandbox gave me one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I’ve had in a while. It certainly has a more ‘classic Halo’ feel than the last two mainline instalments in the franchise.
The Bot Revolution
Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer Technical Preview had two modes, Bot Arena and Social Arena. As the name suggests, the former lets you go head-to-head with bots of varying difficulty. I wasn’t expecting much from them the first time, but over the course of the game I started to notice how the bots were moving. They were strafing, jumping, and accurately shooting in a manner that was almost human-like. Before long, I was wondering if I had joined a multiplayer lobby by mistake.
It was at that moment that I paused the game and realised I was in an offline game. I then noticed I had the option to tweak the weapons I was carrying, my choice of grenades and equipment, and most importantly the difficulty of the bots I was playing against. These difficulty levels range from easy to expert, starting with Recruit, Marine, ODST, and going all the way up to Spartan.
Without thinking I instinctively cranked the difficulty up to Spartan, only to get destroyed for the next few minutes. I had to quickly adapt, seeking out power weapons and strafing to avoid incoming projectiles as I would in a normal online game. I don’t consider myself the best Halo player, but I at least thought I could hold my own against bots.
They surprised me. The bots are excellently designed and far more intelligent than I anticipated, at least on ODST and Spartan difficulty. They weren’t too challenging, but they were just enough to keep me on my toes.
A Little Longer in the Oven
It wouldn’t be Halo without a few bugs. There have been lots of hilarious moments making their way around the internet over the weekend involving bugs in the flight, and some were more significant than others.
One of the more notable exploits is one that involves tackling your enemies with a barrage of melee attacks. If you fancy giving it a go yourself before it inevitably gets patched out of the game, it can be done by switching your weapons while rapidly performing a melee attack. The result launches the player into a flurry of punches that looks like something out of a Street Fighter match.
There was another bug that wasn’t quite as game-breaking, but still just as hilarious. The bug in question takes one wet floor sign and duplicates it into an infinite (pun intended) number of signs when a grenade is thrown at it. The game will clean up and despawn them after a few seconds however, and surprisingly didn’t seem to create any lag at all.
But those weren’t the only issues; I personally found the lack of collision between friendlies and enemies to be quite irritating and the act of phasing through other players was something I wasn’t used to. Additionally, the UI was messy and could’ve been clearer. For example, I feel the grenades icon could have been positioned better, perhaps in the top left instead of bottom right. The radar also never tells you whether enemies are above or below you, which left me feeling slightly disorientated during gameplay.
The Verdict… So Far…
Overall, my first impressions are extremely positive. Despite my above gripes with the game and a few stuttering problems, I didn’t encounter too many issues with the beta that distracted me from the whole experience.
Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer beta is continuing this weekend from 1st – 3rd October, with the addition of Big Team Battle (BTB), so there is much more Spartan slaying action to look forward to.
Words by Kristian Bayford