Gaming

Thoughts on the Halo Infinite preview

At first I wasn’t sure if I would get into this first preview of Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer but when I did I was pleasantly surprised to find that for what is meant to be a tiny slice of the whole game it is pretty solid showing in terms of showing that this is above all else a Halo game.

Note: all my thoughts are based on playing the preview on the Xbox Series X so your own experience may differ.

Three maps were provided in the test. Initially it was just Live Fire and Recharge but Bazaar (from recent videos) would later appear and they nicely represent what the map design would be like in the full game. All are small with varying mixes of corridors and elevation to force players to keep moving and check angles. I think they’re a good demonstration to start with as these are the kinds of competitive maps that will be part of the regular rotation in the long term. Included in the preview is a shooting range that lets you test all the weapons out and it’s something I really hope they keep. I do like seeing that the bot targets on the range adjust to the weapon you’ve selected too – for example if you have the rocket launcher they tend to group up so you can test out splash damage.

During the games, which were all matches against bots, there were a couple of quality of life changes that I appreciated. Location damage is highlighted like your shot is splashing against a shield (and in a colour you can choose too) so that you get feedback on how successful your aim is which is also very useful in the academy shooting range. You also get indicators on your HUD of where your team mates are located and if they are in a fight which helps bring players together to map hotspots. The game seems much more active in letting you know your progress and when key items are respawning too so as to draw players together again either to keep fighting or have them battle over a power weapon. Coolest of all might be seeing how well the bots work in these maps. At least in my matches they felt like a fair match (I was bested a few times too!) and their behaviours had them teaming up which meant you didn’t always have the luxury of picking them off one at a time forcing you to rely on both guns and grenades.

The default controls feel like they are a mix of what you’ve used in prior Halo games and other shooters like Call of Duty where the triggers are for aim/shoot and the bumpers are for grenades/equipment. Aim down sights for me has always felt less necessary for most of Halo’s weapons (except the sniper and rocket launcher) so this seems more to help other shooter fans get comfortable but I may change my thoughts on it the more time I spend playing. Movement and feedback are pretty good – we’re not talking Call of Duty speeds here but your Spartans are still very agile. Most importantly though the weapons feel just like they should and retain enough of their character from past games that long time players can comfortably pick them up and know exactly what to expect.

After the furore raised about the the art style from Halo Infinite‘s original reveal I can say it’s changed a lot now with a look that’s more in line with previous games. Everything looks a little grittier and more beaten up than before but my impressions are many of the special effects like the location damage and speed lines (which you can turn off) were kept over from that prior iteration and would have complemented that style rather nicely… we just didn’t get to see it. The presentation also leans hard into eSports with your team being given their time before and after matches. I could imagine a lot of streamers will love that too.

I didn’t expect to say as much as I have but this preview has been a good introduction to what to expect when Halo Infinite eventually arrives and I’m really happy with it. There were a few teething issues at first for everyone as developer 343 Industries rushed out last minute updates but once it was live it’s been a solid run with no major issues from my perspective. Obviously there’s much more to come in future previews, like PvP matches (which apparently arrived right at the end?), but as an indication of what the future of the franchise will be it’s not a bad place to start. 🙂

Halo Infinite is coming soon to Xbox and PC.

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