A Welcomed Surprise
343 has launched Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta exactly one week ago on November 15th, as a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of both Halo and Xbox. The launch has been overall very welcomed and will go down as one of gaming’s most surprising moments in its history.
The reception of Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer beta has so far been rightfully positive. The gameplay mechanics are ever so addictive, the customization options are extremely appealing, the art style is incredibly appealing, and the maps -aside from Bazaar- are simply flawless to a certain extent.
Everything in this game screams Halo, and yet it still strikes that perfect balance where it appeals to both veteran fans as well as new players who are trying out a Halo game for the very first time.
While the multiplayer is still very much in beta, we have some initial thoughts regarding the overall experience that we would like to share and start a conversation with.
These are the 2 things about the Halo Infinite Multiplayer that concern us the most and hope they are addressed at some point in the future, if not at launch.
1. The Lack of Variety
The Halo Infinite MP so far has only introduced 3 playlists to play in as far as Arena gameplay is concerned. Quick Play offers a chance to play against real players without worrying too much about the outcome. Ranked offers a competitive PvP experience that is exciting and has consequences. Bots Matchmaking offers an excellent multiplayer experience against Marine Bots for those who either want to learn the ropes of the game or simply have a relaxed time killing bots and progressing in the Battle Pass.
What is most worrying so far, is the lack of game modes available. In all of the aforementioned playlists, there are only 4 modes to play and one of them really sucks. Slayer is where the team with the most kills wins, Capture the Flag is where players have to actively try and steal the enemy’s flag and bring it back to their base, Strongholds is where both teams are fighting over 3 bases to secure in order to gain points, and the dreadful Oddball where both teams have to fight over a ball and keep hold of it.
Strongholds is the perfect mode in the Halo Infinite Multiplayer, it keeps players on both teams rotating and fighting over the 3 bases constantly. On the other hand, Oddball always ends up being a camping fest where the team that holds the ball simply retreats to a point in the map, groups up, and simply never leaves that point. When the enemy team finally gets the ball they will have to do the same thing anyway, also grouping up and holding on to dear life at a single point on the map. This leads to boring and repetitive gameplay, which brings me to the question, what has changed? Oddball was never a major part of competitive gameplay, suddenly every 3rd match or so I get an Oddball game and let out a huge sigh.
Aside from that, why aren’t there any ranked or social playlists other than Team Arena so far? Where are the Slayer-only playlists, or Doubles, or even Free For All? Team Arena has always been extra grindy and objective-based, which is great, but also leaves a lot to be desired. 343 has not commented yet about any plans of bringing more game modes at launch, so here’s hoping they simply want to surprise us.
On the other hand, there is also the Big Team Battle mode that offers its own set of maps, but similar game modes. This is a 12 v 12 game mode that appeals to a large player base, so kudos to 343 for taking such better care of it in Halo Infinite than they did in Halo 5.
2. Progression System
Yeah, we are going there. 343 has focused so much on perfecting the gameplay and the maps that they apparently left the progression system in the hands of their interns at the office. The progression system was so bad that 343 had to listen to the community and slightly changed how it works within days of launch, removing some of the depressing weekly challenges, adding consistent XP per match and lowering its reward for that from 100 XP to 50 XP.
The most baffling issue with the progression system is that it entirely ignores the scores and medals achieved by the players in any game, leaving whatever you do inside of a game entirely pointless unless it has something to do with the weekly challenges. This led to countless players simply joining games and standing around waiting for the game to end in order to win the same 50xp that the top-performing players will receive as well.
Where It Went Wrong
343 has clearly designed this system to incentivize players to spend more on XP boosts and challenge swaps, which is more than fine given the fact that the game is free to play. Except for the fact that players are already paying for the battle pass, and making players grind for 20 matches to level up just once, is weird and even mean to a certain extent.
What is even more mind-boggling, once players complete the Weekly Challenges in the Halo Infinite Multiplayer, that is it. For the rest of the week players that have already finished the weekly challenges literally have no option but to win 50xp per match, doesn’t matter how they perform in-game, and doesn’t matter if they even win or lose. This is extremely punishing for the players that love Halo so much that they actually managed to get through all of their weekly challenges.
343 has already promised that it is watching how the progression system is performing and will be reworking the system entirely at some point in the future. However, it has been very surprising how this system was approved at all to begin with… Even after the initial concerns that were very vocal during the game’s technical preview.
Fantastic Start, But Needs Work
Personally, I would absolutely recommend Halo Infinite Multiplayer over Battlefield 2024 or Call of Duty: Vanguard for this Holiday season. It is a fun new game that offers unique gameplay and a breath of fresh air in the FPS gaming domain.
The battle pass’ offerings are worth the grind, the gameplay is great enough to keep players coming back, and the maps feel like Halo and work great in a competitive setting.
However, the progression system is not only unrewarding, it can also feel punishing at times, 343 needs to hash out a way to rework it entirely ahead of launch in order to not sway away new players. The lack of mode-specific playlists like slayer, or Doubles, or FFA, or fun ones like Infection and Super Fiesta is very disappointing and this should stay an issue at launch.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer beta is available for free download right now on Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Xbox One. Halo Infinite’s Campaign will be available on December 8, 2021, and coming to Game Pass, until then, feel free to check out our Halo Infinite Campaign Preview.