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Halo Infinite review (PC): Combat finally evolved
Delayed a year, the extra time in the oven for Halo Infinite has clearly resulted in a tastier offering.
Unfortunately, there’s still some all-too-familiar Halo chaff: some uninspired, samey level design; dopey friendly AI; and wonky car physics, to name a few. Long-running Halo fans will be faster to excuse these detractors, even if they reek of a missed opportunity to do something better. Still, the potent combination of a strong Master Chief-led Halo story, a much bigger sandbox to play in and, most importantly, the evolution of Chief into sci-fi Batman care of a host of some wonderful toys, makes for 343 Industries’ best series entry thus far.
Halo Infinite review
It’s tough being a Halo fan. The original game was the definitive killer app for the original Xbox, deserving of the legacy it enjoys today. Then Halo 2 tweaked the gameplay and bolstered the multiplayer, but the story left a lot to desire with an abrupt ending and the unnecessary inclusion of a faction leader for the parasitic Flood.
Halo 3 put a bow on the original storyline in a satisfying albeit not mind-blowing way, then Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach took Chief-less detours. By the time Halo 4 came around, the sandbox bit that played such a big part of the original Halo’s “Combat Evolved” subtitle was all but forgotten, then almost entirely abandoned for the corridor-like level design of Halo 5: Guardians. Halo Wars 2 proved to be a return to form for the series, but it’s a strategy game that wasn’t built for Halo’s core shooter fans. Suffice it to say, the quality of each subsequent game has been all over the place.
Interestingly, Halo Infinite’s setup is a combination of the fallout of Halo 5: Guardians conclusion and the main antagonists of Halo Wars 2, the Banished. These Brute-led ex-Covenant members are a great entry to Halo lore and a welcome threat for Master Chief in Halo Infinite. While the campaign starts with the typically cramped interiors that are very familiar to series fans, this soon turns out to be a clever 343 rope-a-dope that opens into an interconnected hub world.
Finally, a Halo developer has seemingly shunned an obsession with console-wars visual fidelity and prioritised scope and gameplay instead. Put simply, Halo Infinite is the sandbox evolution of the series that really should have been a bigger part of the Xbox 360 generation onwards. Sticking to the main path will transport you between the spacious hubs, but you’re free to explore them as you see fit.
There’s plenty to do, too, albeit not in the kind of way that can fast become intimidating in open-world shooters like Far Cry 6. Make no mistake, the core focus of Halo Infinite is banishing the Banished from this latest ring-world, and their armada is a mostly familiar threat save for a new foe or few as well as some new arsenal entries.
Admittedly, the arsenal is a mixed bag of death-dealers, and you’ll be tempted to hang onto your faves, which is even easier now thanks to a generous smattering of ammo refill spots. Still, there will be plenty of times when your weapon clicks dry and you’re forced to try something new. Depending on the gun, this ranges from frustrating to inspiring as you’re forced to unlock its intended purpose and specific strength.
The real star, though, is the new equipment, unlocked as you play through the story and upgradeable, with the North Star being the Grappleshot. Grappling hooks never get old in games, and Halo Infinite’s is the best since Dying Light. Sure, it’s handy to zip you to hard-to-reach places, but it can also be used to hijack vehicles, stun-and-punch foes, or snatch out-of-reach weapons and explosive cores. Mostly, I used it to exploit Tribes-like lateral movement momentum, which is incredibly satisfying for near-Spider-Man-like moments once you get the literal swing of it.
Using the Grappleshot never gets old, and it’s a feature that should absolutely remain a big part of the series moving forward, even if it does seem to have an inconsistent attachment length. Gameplay aside, I don’t want to get too much into the story for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say Chief is partnered up with a familiar but different AI companion who presents as a Cortana facsimile but helps add some great heart and tension to Chief’s story.
In fact, that “familiar but different” phrase neatly sums up Halo Infinite’s offering. It builds on the best bits of what came before, offers a lot of what’s familiar, but still manages to package it in new and exciting ways that should impress fans and leave plenty of hope for what’s to inevitably come next.
Halo Infinite multiplayer
At the time of writing, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer component was available as a free-to-play standalone product, separate from the main campaign. It was in beta and due to hit 1.0 to coincide with the release of Halo Infinite’s campaign on 9 December 2021. After more than a dozen hours of playing across big, small and the one limited-time mode (Fiesta), it’s clear that the bones of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer are in a very, very good place.
The core arena-style gameplay loop is buffed with the inclusion of collectable equipment, which includes everything from the campaign alongside the deflecting Repulsor (how was this not in the main game, 343?) as well as temporary health buff of the Overshield and short-lived invisibility of Active Camo. These items help to bolster the already improved movement speed and overall escapability which, coupled with the series-staple longer time to kill, means competent evaders can turn the tables on an enemy who gets the drop on them.
There are some issues with desync, particularly for PC players, which can make for frustrating moments of inconsistent damage. Still, the flaws are more distractors than detractors from a package that, at least in beta form, is a hell of a lot of fun to play with friends. There’s even a cool co-op-lite bot-match mode, which pits human players against bot foes to help encourage multiplayer-phobic players to see what Halo Infinite has to offer.
- Price: $99.95RRP
- Release date: 9/12/2021
- Genre: First-person shooter
- Platforms: XSX, XSS, XCloud, PC
- Halo Infinite length: 14 hours (Heroic difficulty with some side content)
What are the Halo Infinite PC requirements?
|Operating system||Windows 10 RS5 x64||Windows 10 19H2 x64|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 1600|
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700X|
|Memory||8GB RAM||16GB RAM|
|Graphics||AMD RX 570|
Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti
|Radeon RX 5700 XT|
Nvidia RTX 2070
|DirectX||Version 12||Version 12|
|Storage||50 GB available space||50 GB available space|
Halo Infinite price in Australia
You can nab Halo Infinite for PC on Steam for $89.95 or for $99.95 on the Microsoft Store. Alternatively, if you have an Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can download it and play it without any extra cost as part of the monthly sub.
Below is a table with the best Halo Infinite Xbox Series S/X prices at launch.