Game review: Halo Infinite Campaign (Xbox Series X)
It has been exactly 20 years since the first Halo game made the original Xbox console famous in 2001. While the original developer Bungie left the franchise to make Destiny a few years ago, the last few games have now been made by 343 Industries.
Halo 5: Guardians was the last mainline Halo game to be released, and it came in 2015 for the Xbox One console. The game added some new features to the gameplay, such as a sprint button and a booster to make your character move faster than ever before. While the sprint button changed the way multiplayer games were handled, I appreciated its addition to the campaign. Halo Infinite is pretty much more of the same, although in this game Master Chief has access to some newer abilities thanks to a few neat new gadgets.
Probably the biggest and most drastic new ability that Master Chief has is a cool grappling hook-like Batman. The grappling hook adds more verticality to the game design allowing you to access higher ledges than ever before. The grappling hook is a vital tool, especially with the new open-world map that you will have to explore.
There are several other neat gadgets that Master Chief has that assists him during the many battles that he will have to endure. The aforementioned thrusters or booster returns, and there's also a helpful shield he can use as well. Another cool gadget is the Threat Sensor that allows you to locate enemies on your radar for a brief amount of time. You can also upgrade the gadgets in the game by finding Spartan Cores around the map.
Usually, dead Spartans allow you to get the new cores and you can find them all over the place. I only attained a few cores during my playthrough, so there's a lot more to be found after finishing the main campaign. Aside from the gadgets, another new feature of Halo Infinite is the level design itself. Instead of playing and visiting different and separate levels, the whole game takes place inside one huge open-world map.
This is the first time in Halo history that the single-player campaign is on one map. The semi-open world design allows Master Chief to explore different ways to defeat enemy bases. You can kill everything in sight using tanks and vehicles, or you can try to fight from afar using sniper rifles.
The variety of ways you can approach fire-fights makes the combat feel less repetitive. Don't worry if you hate large open-world maps because the environment in Halo Infinite isn't as big as other sandbox titles. A good portion of the campaign takes place inside interior levels, so you don't have to worry too much about travelling long distances. The interior levels are mostly linear and feel like older Halo games.
In terms of its story, Halo Infinite takes place shortly after the events of Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Wars 2. There is a bit of a time skip because Atriox and Cortana aren't the main antagonists of the story anymore. Master Chief will now have to face up against a new brute called Escharum and a female villain named The Harbinger.
To aid Master Chief on the ring world called Zeta Halo, he teams up with a new Cortana-like AI system named Weapon. He is also accompanied by a pilot that goes by the name of Echo-216. The pilot is helpful because he drives the Pelican to allow Master Chief to go to new locations. Many of the same enemy types are on Zeta Halo including the usual Grunts, Brutes and Elites.
There are only a few new enemy types and guns that Master Chief has access to in this game. Thankfully, Master Chief does not have to deal with the annoying Flood as he did in the original Halo trilogy of games. Boss battles are more epic in Halo Infinite as most of them have shields and a life bar that you have to deplete. Sometimes the bosses can be cheap though, because they can spawn minor enemies to attack you at all times. That being said, I didn't find the boss fights to be as annoying as facing the Hunters in this game!
Instead of individual levels, you are free to tackle any sidequests that come your way in Halo Infinite. You can free captured humans or you can take over enemy FOBs. By capturing FOBs, you can use this as a base of operations. FOBs allow you to fast travel across the large map and spawn vehicles and weapons. Due to the open-world nature of the game, you sadly cannot replay missions in Halo Infinite.
After you have finished the main campaign, Master Chief is outside on the map and the only thing that he can do is complete any side quests that you may have missed. If you want to replay missions, you'll just have to load up a new game and start from the beginning again..
Another missing feature of Halo Infinite's campaign right now is co-op gameplay. Sadly co-op isn't available at launch, but thankfully 343 Industries has already announced it's a feature that will be released soon.
As for the length of the campaign, I managed to finish the game in around 9 and 10 hours on the Normal difficulty setting. The gameplay length can be longer if you do all the sidequests or play on a higher difficulty. I was hoping the game would have been longer since it takes place on a larger map. Graphically, Halo Infinite is the best looking Halo game released to date.
The open-world environment looks beautiful, and the game runs smoothly most of the time. However, I did notice some trees popping in and out at a distance during my playthrough. Not to mention the game's graphics are not as realistic and gorgeous when compared to the recently released Forza Horizon 5. Overall, Halo Infinite may have the best campaign compared to 343 Industries' other Halo games.
The open-world environment and improved gameplay make this experience very enjoyable. Some people may dislike a few of the new changes, although the game is mostly as fun as the other Halo games from the past.