Halo Infinite (Campaign)
It’s been a long time since I really enjoyed a Halo Campaign – likely Halo 4 – so I was equal parts excited and skeptical about what 343 would have for us when the new campaign for Halo Infinite launches this week. I’ve been playing the campaign for a week now, and after about 30 hours covering the Zeta Halo ring, it’s probably my second favourite Halo campaign of all time.
Second favourite, you might ask? This is true. As a longtime fan of the series, I have an affinity for the very first Halo Campaign, and it will always be my favourite. That being said, Halo Infinite is easily the best on the paper, and is a technical marvel. While there are a few things holding it back from being a masterpiece, 343 has taken the core concepts and feel of a traditional Halo campaign experience and unleashed them on an open world. It just works.
The early moments of the game will feel very classic Halo-esque, as you make your way through the corridors and rooms of large ships, finding you AI companion, “The Weapon,” and exciting the location to begin exploring Zeta Halo. This is also a great place to teach you about your new weapon – the grappling hook. For those who have played games like Just Cause, using a hook will be second nature. For those who haven’t, this is a great place to learn. And this isn’t just a standard tutorial either, as there are a few fun bosses to fight throughout.
The second those bay doors open and you are unleashed on Zeta, it is something spectacular. You are given a fair amount of freedom to really explore this world, only being held out of certain areas until specific main quest events have happened. Still, I never felt confined to the regions intially provided, and by the time I was ready to move on – doing many of the side missions, exploring that area, etc. – the next area was ready to be unlocked and I just kept moving on.
So often we get wrapped up in worlds being immediately accessible from the get go. Remember when everyone was excited that you could instantly go fight Ganon in Breath of the Wild? That is a something a small fraction of people actually want to do, so having Halo lock you behind quest progression isn’t really a bad thing, even if it sounds like it.
As I trekked across the Halo ring, I kept looking for things that would bring the Halo campaign back down to earth. “I bet the various side missions will get repetitive and boring.” Nope. That didn’t happen – whether claiming Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) from which I could spawn vehicles and get weapons, taking down world bosses, or saving UNSC Marines, each side mission fight in Halo Infinite felt good and unique. World bosses are fairly varied, and are surrounded by different terrains to traverse and enemies to kill.
All of this praise isn’t to say Halo Infinite doesn’t have it’s issues. After the initial shock of how beautiful Zeta looks, you’ll being to realize that everything feels very much the same. If you were hoping to explore various biomes you are out of luck. You’ll see lots of rock and lots of trees. It’s a bit disappointing when you think about how much fun it would be to zip around as Master Chief through some snow, or perhaps work your way through a sandstorm, or something of the like.
I also had issues with the games draw distance when using the sniper rifle. The draw distance is quite impressive for world building, but when it comes to enemies I felt a little cheated. I found a nice vantage point about 200m away from FOB, took out my sniper rifle, and despite being able to see the details of the FOB platform, was unable to see a single enemy. I moved to 190m, 170m, 160m. Nothing. Then I pulled within 150m and all of a sudden enemies populated the screen like it was duck hunting season, and while using the sniper rilfe was good for picking a few off, the ability to surprise them from 200m was gone and they were ontop of me before you knew it.
Still, even these few hiccups were not enough to stop me from moving my way through the campaign, and enjoying every minute of it. Now if only there had been a cooperative option from the start, that would have made this even better.