Infinite is to Halo what Breath of the Wild was to Zelda, an insanely innovative game that entirely changes how gameplay works, but at the sacrifice of a well-told story. Don’t get me wrong, Halo Infinite might just be the most entertaining Halo of them all gameplay wise, it’s addictive. I constantly found myself wanting to try out new things, actually go explore the massive, and quite beautiful, map. There are quite a few objectives to complete, and the story is weaved through it all as you play. BUT, don’t expect a very heart-felt or engaging story experience out of this one.
You see, whenever a game changes up the formula entirely to meet the demands of a new generation, it typically lets go of something that originally made the game popular and loved. Halo Reach, to me, was the last very well told Halo story. It had fantastic character development, as far as Spartans go, one of the best settings, and an emotional impact that will last with Halo fans forever, just to go alongside the incredibly fun gameplay. With Halo 4 and 5, it just wasn’t there. The lack of interesting characters and impact on the world, it just didn’t have what the others did. In no way can you remotely compare a SINGLE character in 4 or 5 (besides Buck) to characters in the older games. Sergeant Johnson, Arbiter, Captain Keyes, Amanda, OG Cortana, even the prophets, are all very well developed character, and that’s just from the Master Chief side of things. Sadly, in Halo Infinite, the story is…very underwhelming, and the characters either boring, annoying, or just simply not fun to engage with.
In the MASSIVE and quite beautiful open world (and FIRST ever open world) of Zeta Halo, there is a huge lack of literally any other characters besides Master Chief, The Weapon (an AI) or a Stranded Marine who is just constantly complaining, crying, and has pretty much no character development. Most of the marines I drove with in my warthog, who eventually died, had more personality than this guy was, and were WAY more fun to rip around with. It’s a huge disappointment to see Halo story take such a backseat with this one as well, beyond the characters involved. The main enemies, the Banished, are a very interesting faction, but completely watered down to, I dunno, get a Teen rating or something, they feel un-threatening and weak. In Halo 2 and 3, you were going up against some enemies that made you felt terrified to fight because they had that threatening aura, but with Halo Infinite, (even though Halo 5 was rated T as well) I kinda wish they continued on with a more Mature feeling to the game.
What I mean by that, is there is such a lack of anything threatening at ALL in this alien infested world. None of the enemies feel brutal, none of the lore sounded intense, and the main brute enemy just skype calls you every now and again to say “I’M GONNA GETCHA” and then nothing. I get they want Halo more for all audiences, but man does this feel watered down, I just didn’t care about the story because it felt so misguided. There was no real course of action because there was so much trying to be explained, and in the end you just hear the brute yell at you a bunch, the Weapon beg for your trust, and the lone Marine whine about how he rescued you so you should do as he wants. In comparison to a masterpiece like the original story, this just wasn’t nearly as fun to play through.
That said, gameplay wise, THAT is where this game shines. And I mean it shines BRIGHT. It’s insanely creative new systems, like the grappling hook, add a TON of new ways to play the game, from going straight up mountains, hijacking enemy vehicles, snatching up bombs to throw or weapons to swap out with, it’s just got that inventive new feeling where you can play the game a new way each time.
The fights are incredibly fun and have a LOT of variety with enemies. They all are positioned so well, and patrol in a way that you can’t usually predict where they’ll all be when you arrive at an outpost. And enemies hit hard, they’re not super tough, but if the snipers lock you down, or even a couple grunts surround you, they’ll easily kill ya. The brutes are the toughest enemies for sure, and some of them can be real bullet sponges, especially this version that lands in a drop pod and chases you down relentlessly at stupid fast speeds.
The World of Zeta Halo is one of the first “region locked” open worlds I’ve thoroughly enjoyed BECAUSE it’s got such a great way of locking each area. You can do a ton of stuff in one region, and then a campaign missions that will unlock MORE of the world, and eventually the entire world comes together perfectly for you to travel over the entire place. And it’s HUGE. The world is definitely impressive with unique elements that only a Halo game could truly touch on. It’s a giant sandbox as well, constantly throwing enemies at you, patrols, and outposts, so it does feel lively, even in the moments when you’re just travelling from one place to the next.
I want to make it very clear, this is by no means a Far Cry or Skyrim in terms of open world game length. It isn’t an RPG, and it’s not meant to be dragged out for a mindless amount of hours. It still FEELS like a normal length Halo game, if you combine all the outposts and “side-quest” content together WITH the main campaign, so don’t expect anything too much longer.
Halo Infinite is by NO MEANS the best Halo Story, in fact, it could be my least favorite out of all of them, on par with 5. It just didn’t have the proper world building and character development to make it feel like a Halo story, and with other games able to create full on universes within a NEW game (Last of Us, for example), this campaign definitely feel more like a filler story rather than anything serious or groundbreaking.
The World and gameplay, however, is fantastic, and I will definitely jump into the game time and time again just BECAUSE it’s so dang fun. I can’t wait until they enable CO OP play for the campaign, it’s a shame they couldn’t have it ready in time for the games launch, but I look forward to doing some crazy stuff whenever that arrives.
Other than that, I think both Halo fans and new players of Halo alike will enjoy the game, there’s a lot to it, and it’s definitely just some crazy fun to end the year on.