It’s been six long years since the last FPS entry in the Halo franchise, so suffice to say Halo Infinite has a lot to live up to, not to mention make up for after the, shall we say, decisive Halo 5: Guardians. Thankfully 343 Industries definitely know what they’re doing, as, right from the opening cutscenes, Halo Infinite feels like a love letter to Halo both new and old.
As you’ll likely have heard already, Halo Infinite is a little bit different to its predecessors’ thanks to its mostly open-world setting of Zeta Halo. This whole new world may sound frightening at first, but you’re not just plonked down and let loose in it right from the word go. Instead, you’ve got a few linear missions to complete first, so there’s no denying that this latest entry into the franchise is definitely a Halo game, just one with its own unique flare.
After those opening few typical Halo missions you’re set free into Halo Infinite’s expansive open world that’s littered with collectables and activities for you to enjoy, so long as you don’t mind the walk to get there. With the new Grapple Shot on your arm from the start of the game, however, it’s not like you’ll not really be walking too much anymore as grappling your way around the environment is often faster, more useful, and a hell of a lot more fun than walking.
As fun as it is to slingshot your way around Zeta Halo with the Grapple Shot, you’ll some come to realize through your adventuring that the portion of the ring we’re given isn’t the most varied map out there. The terrain may only be a choice between rolling hills mixed with the Giant’s Causeway and clean forerunner architecture, but there’s no denying that it looks spectacular, especially at the right time of day.
When you’re not just admiring the view, there’s a whole lot for you to do in Halo Infinite as you’re leading the charge in the war effort against the Banished. With propaganda towers to destroy, marine squads to rescue, and Banished outposts to clear out, you’re never far from the action and earning some Valor to upgrade your Forward Operating Base’s (FOB’s) and unlocking new vehicles, weapons, or marines to help in the fight.
Halo Infinite’s open-world may come with all the usual trimmings that you’d expect from an open-world game such as oodles of collectables, upgrades, and audio logs, but its campaign is an unmistakable reminder that you’re playing a Halo game.
For fans who are worried about what 343 Industries might do next after the ending of Halo 5: Guardians, you needn’t be concerned, as Halo Infinite’s story is a compelling personal adventure that harkens back to the adored Halo games of yesteryear. While short, the campaign is simply spectacular, packed full of intrigue and pathos that’ll have you hooked and distracted from the open-world content on offer.
Being caught up isn’t all too hard, as, rather disappointingly, the open world is almost entirely ignorable if you only care about the main story. While the different halves of Halo Infinite feel like they should link together, there’s barely a connection between Master Chief’s story, and your own as you lead the war effort on Zeta Halo. That’s not to say that your own war stories are disappointing in any way, as quite the opposite is true.
Halo Infinite’s open world feels like an engine for the cool moments that the franchise has always been able to make in set-piece fights and multiplayer. Thanks to iconic Halo level design, no matter how you approach a Banished patrol or outpost in the open world, you’ll always come out with a story or two to tell, as 343 Industries has made sure that you get involved in every fight.
Unlike the majority of open-world games that let you snipe at enemies from a mountaintop, Halo Infinite forces you to get into the action as ammo is seriously scarce. This scarcity brings you right into the fray, scavenging for weapons and tossing fusion coils aplenty as you grapple around the environment, and it’s incredible unmistakably Halo action.
Alongside superb level design, Halo’s spectacular score similarly goes a long way in making moments feel special outside of the story. When the familiar riffs appear as you’re storming an outpost, you can’t help but get immersed in the action, truly becoming the spartan in your own story.
Unfortunately, while Halo Infinite does celebrate the Halo games of old through its mechanics and adorably talking grunts there is one core piece of its DNA that’s missing, namely a co-op campaign. This feature is due to be added in May of next year, but we can’t help but think that Halo Infinite is missing a bit of itself until then, as the spectacular action almost demands someone else to share and revel in it with.
At £50, Halo Infinite may not be the easiest sell at face value due to the only 10-20 hours of content on offer, but it’s well worth the price. Not just for the next thrilling chapter in Master Chief’s story, but also for the spectacular open world which doesn’t dilute the games iconic experience in its expansive breadth. It may have taken six years, but Halo Infinite is well worth the wait.