The Major is back in Halo Infinite, an all-new adventure optimized for Xbox Series X / S. This component, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the license, is it an accomplishment for Microsoft?
On November 15, Microsoft celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Xbox console and its Halo franchise at the same time, with the broadcast of a very special conference. Only a handful of days later came out Halo Infinite, the first license game to be released on the new generation of consoles. An opus which marks the blow because of its nostalgic side but also because of its impact on the Xbox sphere in general.
After the events of Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Infinite transports us to Zeta Halo, a whole new environment enabled by Cortana before her vanishes. Upon awakening, the Major finds himself in a world he knows nothing about, devoid of weapons and knowledge of the current state of the world, and with the duty to save humanity from extraterrestrial Pariahs.
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“The most ambitious opus of the license”
Ah yes, there is ambition. Halo Infinite offers us a large and dense open world, coupled with many gameplay possibilities and which makes it, from the outset, a candidate for the place of the best game in the franchise. We find in this opus all the recipes that characterize a good Halo.
First, an old-fashioned narration, which puts the splendid Major 117 back in his heart. This time he is helped by a new artificial intelligence following the disappearance of Cortana, which can therefore be likened to a new one. starting more than a conclusion for the franchise. Without saying too much, it is a triumphant return that convinced us from start to finish, we were so absorbed by the narrative.
This is expressed more through the map than the main quest system and side quests which normally structure this type of adventure. Instead, we find points to capture, others to explore, and some other areas (marked in yellow) that move us forward in the narrative. So you can take on the game in any order you want, which gives us a sense of freedom unheard of in the Halo franchise.
Exploration, in addition to being encouraged, is also rewarded thanks to the various Spartan upgrades scattered here and there. They allow us to perfect our armor as we advance, which gives us a real feeling of progress. We can then choose which ones are worth using according to our style of play thanks to the improvement points to be awarded.
The sound design was also particularly successful in getting us in the mood. In addition, we note that the dialogues are so well constructed that we enjoy following the story through the words of the main characters. This is a little less true with regard to the secondary characters, mainly the “common” enemies that we meet. The latter have very simplistic behaviors, which go hand in hand with a poorly developed personality.
A world at war for one savior
This brings us to the question of the AI in the game. No, we are not talking about our new Cortana, but about what guides the behavior of the characters in the title, especially during the action phases. This is sometimes absurd. The enemies, in certain places of the map, do not move from their spot, even after combat is engaged. They patiently wait for us to approach a few meters from them to move. At that moment, three options: either they run away, or they end up attacking, or they start looking for us, even though we are in front of them.
Far from being isolated, this kind of situation frequently punctuates the fights, which quickly take a humorous turn. Fortunately, we rather quickly ignore this when we find ourselves facing an army, even a stupid one, and that we are all alone. On the other hand, we regret the absence of scripted fights, which could have structured the story.
When we arrive in an objective zone (example: recover a battery to open the door), we can very often accomplish this one while ignoring the enemies around us, even when the zone is closed. It would have made more sense to have the area cleaned up before moving on, which is not the case here. Through these “mistakes” we simply feel the counterweight of the open world, ambitious, but visibly lacking in experience.
The phases of action that we preferred ultimately come down to boss fights, which follow the capture of an enemy outpost. These are of a balanced difficulty (compared to the one you chose at the start of the game), and always have a particular challenge. At the end of these clashes, we harvest our opponent’s weapon, which turns out to be an excellent tool to overcome the fiercest enemies.
For other weapons, we collect them on the ground or in the chests here and there. Although there are many available, we would have liked a fixed weapon system, which we could have improved, especially for the rarer ones. That said, we have an excellent shooting feel and good handling for all the weapons present in-game.
Still wobbly gameplay
In addition to the nostalgic side, we find ourselves controller in hand with a game that leaves us more than perplexed. As much as we enjoyed playing it, many aspects turned out to be disappointing, or at least to be reworked for the future. For starters, we’re definitely not dealing with next-gen graphics. They are certainly modern, but sorely lacking in textures, colors, and life in general. Zeta Halo’s environment is beautiful but drab and way too smooth.
In terms of gameplay, we find dynamic sensations and some good additions that make this Halo one of the best for 20 years. Special mention for the grapple, which makes it possible to be faster and to reach areas that are difficult to access, while not distorting the movements in the game. As regards the vehicles, however, it is another matter. .
These are a horror to handle during the first hour of play. Obviously, like everything, you can eventually get used to them, but it is undoubtedly an aspect that we would have liked to be intuitive from the start, especially for an open world. The sensations of weight and speed are quite good, except when you consider that there is absolutely no fall damage, even when jumping from the highest cliffs. We want to hear that the Major is equipped with a high-performance exoskeleton, but all the same.
We find more or less the same sensations on the multiplayer mode ofHalo Infinite, which has been available to him for free since November 15. On December 14th, 343 Industries added new playlists that complemented the somewhat skinny game mode at launch (in beta). On our side, we found the multiplayer to be good, without breaking a duck’s three legs. The time to get used to the aim and voila.
It will be enough to catch up a little the fiasco around Battlefield 2042, which had finished disgusting some players of the FPS released in 2021. From our experience, we still find some things to be reworked, in particular at the level of the character, which is at the same time very heavy, but also very agile.
This is because the Spartans are forced to wear massive armor lined with an once again very effective exoskeleton. If this goes in the direction of the narrative, in multiplayer, the experience deserves to be more nuanced and rebalanced to suit the standards of any good FPS. We nevertheless salute the originality of the studio, which wishes to stand out more in its gameplay than in its universe.
Be careful though, your opponents in multiplayer are much tougher than any alien. The sturdiness of the armor forces you to aim for your upper body so you can take out your opponent in less than two clips. Finally, we have to mention the sensitivity as a black point of this game mode (even after adjusting it in the settings), which requires a much faster reaction speed than in campaign mode.
Pricing and availability
As a reminder, Halo Infinite is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and PC since December 8 for € 69.99. It is also available to all Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
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