The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Halo

Halo Infinite: A Valentine’s Day Reflection on Overcoming Heartbreak and Defeating The Harbinger At The Finale

“I thought that I could do this on my own, but I forgot that the whole point of all this, the entire reason that I chose you in the first place, as that we were supposed to be a team. Perfectly suited. Perfectly matched. Perfectly… perfect. In these final moments, I know what my last mission is. I need to make sure you two learn from my mistakes. Become stronger because of them. I chose well, Master Chief. I really did. Now it’s up to you.” –Cortana

Upon exiting the portal the Weapon created, Master Chief and the Weapon end up at a location called the Repository, a Forerunner installation filled with fragments of Cortana. The Weapon begins to worry that she has the same weaknesses as Cortana and asks to be deleted, but Master Chief refuses, indicating there’s still a job to do and that he wants to be able to trust her. After fighting their way out of the Repository and returning to Zeta Halo’s surface, Master Chief boards a Scorpion tank and blasts his way to Escharum’s House of Reckoning, where Esparza is being held. Upon entering the House of Reckoning, Escharum deploys his troops to test the Master Chief’s mettle, and expresses that he is impressed after Master Chief survives each trial. Eventually, Master Chief reaches Jega ‘Rdomnai and fights him in a close-quarters battle, eventually killing him and reaching Esparza. Escharum finally appears to confront the Master Chief, demanding that he be given a memorable fight. While Escharum is a tough foe, Master Chief beats him, and in his dying moments, Escharum implores Master Chief to let the others know that he died well, with honour. Esparza is surprised to see Master Chief treating his foe with respect, but Master Chief replies that Escharum had been a soldier, fighting for what he figured was right. After Esparza secures a Pelican, he brings Master Chief to the Silent Auditorium. Fighting through the Silent Auditorium, Master Chief finally confronts the Harbinger of Truth. While he is able to kill her, he cannot prevent the Harbinger from sending one final message to an unknown recipient before she dies. In the aftermath, Master Chief and the Weapon learn that Atriox had captured Cortana, but she refused to help Atriox and damaged Zeta Halo to prevent him from using the ring as a weapon. It turns out Cortana had also prevented the Weapon’s deletion: in a final recorded message, Cortana implores Master Chief to work with the Weapon before they part ways. The Silent Auditorium begins to collapse, but Master Chief and the Weapon are able to escape and reunite with Esparza, while the Weapon decides she’s got a new name for herself. In a post credits scene, Atriox prepares to unleash the Endless. Halo Infinite‘s ending leaves the story open to future development, especially since the Endless pose a hitherto unparalleled threat to the universe, but for the present, with Halo Infinite‘s campaign in the books, there remains quite a bit to unpack, especially in Cortana’s final words to Master Chief, which marked the first since Valkyria Chronicles, some six years earlier, that a game brought on the waterworks, speaking to the strength of its emotional impact.

The biggest surprise in Halo Infinite was ultimately in how the game was able to resolve Master Chief and Cortana’s story: Halo 4 had left players with the impression that Cortana had “died” after stopping the Ur-Didact, and then returned in Halo 5: Guardians to wreck havoc on the galaxy, leaving the UNSC Infinity and Master Chief to an unknown fate. However, in writing Halo 5: Guardians, 343 Industries also left themselves against the wall. In choosing to have the threat of Cortana sorted out off-screen and allowing the Banished to rise far enough to destroy the UNSC Infinity, 343 Industries was able to give the series a soft reset and return Halo Infinite back to its roots. Nowhere else is this more apparent than with the dynamic between Master Chief and Cortana: throughout the whole of Halo Infinite, although Master Chief remains utterly devoted to his duty of protecting humanity, guilt over his failures continue to haunt him, limiting is willingness to trust the Weapon as an ally. Indeed, the way Cortana addresses Master Chief in her final recording, and Master Chief’s lingering regret both gave the impression that Master Chief and Cortana’s bond surpassed even those of lovers; the pair are separate halves of a whole, capable of great feats together. Thus, when Cortana was met with her fate, Master Chief becomes consumed with guilt at having failed his promise to Cortana, and it is only in the end, when Cortana is able to convey her thoughts freely, that Master Chief comes to an understanding with what happened. What happened in the aftermath of Halo 5: Guardians felt distinctly like a breakup in all but name, and Cortana’s choice of language, with its possessive tones, speaks strongly to these powerful bonds. It is unsurprising that in Halo 5: Guardians, Master Chief pushed himself forward on missions to blunt the pain of loss, and here in Halo Infinite, Master Chief is unwilling to trust the Weapon precisely because she is a reminder of what was lost. However, with Cortana’s final remarks, Master Chief is able to find peace in Cortana’s fate and ultimately, accept the Weapon as a partner. The analogues to a love story are numerous, and Halo Infinite does indeed feel like a tale of how one gets past their first love; although it is an immensely difficult journey, sharing experiences and making the most of the present, as well as accepting one’s past, appears to be integral in helping one to pick themselves back up. Cortana’s final recording was an immensely intense experience, reminding Master Chief that there’s always a way forward, but only if he is open to taking such a path. Hearing this from Cortana settles any lingering doubts he might’ve had about the Weapon, and in the end, Master Chief is able to move on past his regrets and guilt. Halo Infinite unexpectedly speaks to the idea that when healing from heartbreak, the process can take an exceedingly long time, but one should take as much time as they need, and moreover, one failure is not the end, so long as one is willing to keep their eyes and heart open. These are a fitting message for Valentine’s Day, and an encouraging thought all around.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Altogether, it took twenty four hours to beat Halo Infinite on normal difficulty from start to finish, spaced out over two months. Halo Infinite definitely brings back memories of Halo: Combat Evolved in its execution, featuring a smaller group of Marines, a crashed UNSC ship, and an ancient enemy even more terrifying than the visible foes that Master Chief must fend off. However, unlike the Covenant, which accidentally unleashed the Flood, the Banished deliberately seek out the Endless. The Endless are said to be even more horrifying than the Flood, but beyond their resilience to the Halo array, not much more is known about them.

  • Because there is so much that remains unexplored with the Endless, and with the revelation that Atroix is still alive, Halo Infinite does suggest that there is going to be more to the story than meets the eye. Halo Infinite combines the mood and aesthetic of Halo: Combat Evolved with the finesse and polish of Halo 2, urgency of Halo 3 and armour abilities that appeared in Halo: Reach to create an end result that is decisively Halo. Outside of the open world elements, Halo Infinite‘s interior missions were evocative of those in Halo: Combat Evolved – Forerunner structures are intricately designed, but in the end, are repetitive, labyrinthine corridors.

  • Engaging combat sequences serve to break things up, and this is where Halo Infinite truly excels. Gunplay here capitalises on some two decades of improvement to provide weapons that handle well and feel powerful. Most of the weapons in Halo Infinite are useful and have their own applications. The Sentinel Beam, in particular, is given a considerable update, and on missions where it is common, is able to make short work of Banished and Forerunner foes alike.

  • While I had fully intended to run the remainder of the game with the battle rifle, practically meant that I ultimately would carry the Commando as my weapon of choice – ammunition was surprisingly common for this weapon, and while it is an automatic, it is quite effective at range, being able to pick off Grunts and Jackals alike with a single headshot. One weapon that I missed was the Spartan Laser; this weapon spoke to the UNSC’s increasing effectiveness as the Human-Covenant War ended, and I imagine that this choice was meant to show how all of the confidence surrounding humanity by the time of Halo 4 was gone by Halo Infinite‘s events.

  • Daylight streams into a Forerunner corridor here as I moved deeper into the Repository. The aesthetic bring to mind the palatial, but empty feeling that some of the large homes in the fancier neighbourhoods north of my area have. The average house built in the 1980s was around 1700 square feet, but nowadays, the average house is around 2700 square feet, and upwards of a third of newly-built houses are 3000 square feet. I’ve not found any explanation for why this is, but some speculate that the size of one’s home is a status symbol, representing more space with which to store one’s possessions.

  • The larger houses would be a pleasant place to entertain guests and host parties, but outside of these events, they’d feel about as unoccupied as Zeta Halo’s cavernous interiors. I’ve always been more practically-minded: the larger houses are quite enviable (having a private library and reading nook would be nice), but said homes also command a higher property tax and have a larger utility bill. Further to this, there’d be more bathrooms to clean every week, more rooms to dust, and more floors to vacuum. Additional space also increases clutter. For these reasons, I have long preferred a homer that is sized appropriately to what I need.

  • My preferences differ greatly than most folks, who prefer their detached single-family homes with a large yard: in a survey, it was found that up to eighty-five percent of those polled were willing to endure a longer commute for their dream home. A look at discussions closer to home finds that the reason why is privacy and freedom. Condos are more densely packed, subject to condo fees, and offer far less options for customisation later down the line. Space is reduced, preventing people from having backyard barbeques or affording their children a private place to play ball.

  • However, condos also have their own benefits. When operating under a responsible and effective homeowners association and board, condos are secure, well-maintained and foster a sense of community. In my case, I have no qualms with ponying up for the HOA fees because it means my sidewalks are taken care of in winter, and my lawns are dealt with during the summer. I have access to a private gym, and I am within both walking and transit range of an incredible range of restaurants and stores. In the end, different things work for different people because of differing priorities, so I won’t presume to judge others on their choices – my choices work well enough for me, while other choices will suit others better.

  • The cavernous interiors of Zeta Halo have led me on a bit of a tangent, but now that we’re back out to the surface for a brief but intense mission, I’ll return my focus over to the mission at hand. The road to the House of Reckoning is one filled with enemies, and here, I stepped back out into the sunset. After watching other play-throughs of the game, I think that for these missions, the time of day is deliberately set to convey a specific message: that the endgame is near. Halo 4 had cleverly named its first and final missions “Dawn” and “Midnight”, respectively. This symbolised the missions’ place in the story. For “Dawn”, it also referred to the Forward Unto Dawn frigate that formed the level’s map, while in “Midnight”, the choice of name mirrors the idea that this is the time when disaster strikes (per the Doomsday Clock).

  • On my own play-through, I ended up picking off the Banished forces before coming across a Scorpion Tank. Suddenly, armed with the might of a 90 mm cannon, the Banished become fodder to be mercilessly blasted apart. Scorpions in Halo have traditionally used a high explosive armour piercing round that deals massive damage to vehicles (two to three shots will wipe a Wraith out) and also imparts blast damage, making it a universally powerful weapon against infantry and armour alike. Although the Scorpion is a ludicrously powerful weapon capable of levelling entire Banished units in moments, a slow rate of fire means that engaging foes from afar is the best way to run this tank: at close range, the turret’s angle of depression and low rotational rate allows enemies to evade the powerful 90 mm rounds.

  • Having operated Scorpions since my Halo: Combat Evolved days, I’ve seen the tank evolve over time. The original Scorpion was quite powerful, but eclipsed by its Halo 2 equivalent, which has both a higher rate of fire for its main cannon and a more accurate co-axial machine gun. From Halo 3 onward, drivers no longer have access to a machine gun, requiring a passenger to operate the turret instead – this was done to balance the vehicle out, but it also makes campaigns a little more tricky if one is going it alone.

  • Halo Infinite continues to follow tradition by having the Scorpion remain spectacularly lethal at long ranges, and so, I chose to drive slowly through the valley, hitting things from afar to ensure the tank wouldn’t sustain too much damage. While players can always call in Scorpions from forward operating bases, Halo tradition dictates that there be at least one mission where Master Chief is given a tank and truly allowed to deliver a serious onslaught against his foes. This mission screamed Halo, being every bit as enjoyable as using the Scorpion to blast my way across the bridge in New Mombasa.

  • There’s an achievement called “Bring Shiela Home Safely” that entails taking the Scorpion tank from the beginning of the mission, across the bridge right up to the House of Reckoning’s garage, in one piece. To complete this achievement, the tank cannot take so much damage that it explodes, and it must be taken into the garage. Once Master Chief reaches the entrance to the House of Reckoning, I reckon is time to be a force that is reckoned with. Owing to the House of Reckoning’s name, I anticipated that I’d be in for a difficult fight ahead.

  • Inside the House of Reckoning, I find a battle rifle and immediately switched back over to it. The “trials” that Escharum has planned out for Master Chief entail sending waves of enemies after him, and while these waves start out easy, the difficulty ramps up. The presence of heavier weapons like the Hydra missile launcher and rocket launcher speaks to the kinds of foes Master Chief ends up facing: Brutes and Hunters are brought to the table, and they can be trickier to defeat without the right weapons. However, even in a bind, use of Master Chief’s armour abilities can prove quite effective: I’ve killed Hunters by using the thrusters to get behind them, melee the armour off their backs and dumping a magazine into the exposed flesh.

  • All of the foes earlier, as challenging as they were, don’t hold a candle compared to what’s upcoming: Elite blademaster Jega ‘Rdomnai is a cut above even the infamous Serpent Hunters. After entering this trailer and opening a hologram detailing Esparza’s family, Jega ‘Rdomnai will strike. Jega ‘Rdomnai is the Spartan Killer who’d been responsible for the deaths of several Spartans on Zeta Halo, and in combat, he makes extensive use of active camouflage in conjunction with a Blood Blade, a souped up energy sword that allows for faster lunges.

  • The close quarters inside the trailer, coupled with Jega ‘Rdomnai’s weapon preferences and cloak, makes for a difficult fight. I ended up falling back on the tried-and-true plasma-ballistics combination to bring him down, using the pulse carbine to wear down his shields, and then strike the unshielded Jega ‘Rdomnai with the battle rifle. The fight is thrilling because Jega ‘Rdomnai remains cloaked for most of the battle, leading to suspenseful moments where one must keep moving lest they be ambushed. There are shock coils that can be used to stun-lock Jega ‘Rdomnai, and during my fight, I made use of the threat sensor to get a bead on his location.

  • Defeating Jega ‘Rdomnai allows Master Chief to loot the Blood Blade from his corpse, and in practise, this should be a fearsome weapon that makes short work of foes on the receiving end. However, after Jega ‘Rdomnai, the only foe left in the House of Reckoning is Escharum, whose armour is so tough that the Blood Blade won’t even scratch him. Escharum himself is a remarkably durable opponent, and the first phase of the fight simply entails hammering him until he brings up his shields. Using the rocket launcher and the various coils in the environment is the most efficient way of getting this done.

  • When Escharum sustains enough damage, he will activate energy shields that transfer all damage dealt towards Esparza. When the shields activate, they generate a prodigious amount of heat, and the power relays will become exposed. Destroying these will bring Escharum’s shields down momentarily, allowing Master Chief to keep attacking his foe. I have found that using the drop wall here is effective, as it prevents Master Chief from being damaged while attacking the relays. The sheer amount of health that Escharum has is staggering, and fortunately, there are weapons scattered around the arena that will be helpful.

  • Escharum will maintain his distance during the first two phases of the fight, preferring to use a scrap cannon to attack. However, once he’s down to a certain amount of health, he switches over to the Diminisher of Hope. This weapon is absolutely brutal and can one-shot Master Chief, so here, using the grapple shot and thrusters to keep distance is essential. Heavier weapons like the turrets won’t be too useful, although one can, in theory, deal some damage with close range weapons like the shotgun or Blood Blade before using their equipment to return to a safe distance.

  • When my ammunition reserves began running dry, I would end up switching over to the weapons found on racks scattered throughout the arena. There isn’t any one weapon that works better on Escharum than another, so the only strategy here is to keep one’s distance and, per the old suggestion from DOOM, shoot Escharum until he falls. The Shock Rifle, for instance, does some damage but won’t stun Escharum, and similarly, the grapple shot’s electrified stun has no effect on him.

  • In a poetic bit of symbolism, I ended up defeating Escharum using the Blood Blade: I’d dropped it earlier for a longer range weapon, but as the weapons became depleted, I ended up picking up the Blood Blade in a rush to switch over to another weapon. Although using a melee weapon is probably the last resort anyone should take whilst fighting Escharum, at this point in the fight, Escharum had been damaged enough so that a few swings was enough to finish him. In the aftermath, Escharum asks Master Chief to tell his allies that he’d died honourably after fighting well. Esparza is shocked that Master Chief treats Escharum with respect, but Master Chief sees himself in Escharum, fighting to uphold what he believes is right.

  • This sort of thing is what makes Halo Infinite so enjoyable; Escharum is an honourable foe whose presence simply encouraged players to face him in battle. After beating Escharum, Master Chief will gain access to the Diminisher of Hope. I had wished to use it against the Harbinger of Truth, but realities forced me to drop the weapon in favour of something with more ammunition left; a pair of Serpent Hunters will fight Master Chief, and I ended up expending the Diminisher of Hope’s energy reserves to beat them.

  • With most of the foes now eliminated, the Harbinger of Truth is the only enemy left to defeat. Halo Infinite gives players a small respite here, and as the Master Chief passes through the Silent Auditorium to seek out his last target, Halo Infinite fills in the gaps in the story, explaining that the UNSC ultimately caught up to Cortana and prepared her for deletion. Seeing what had happened, Cortana consented to this, but before deletion routine finished, Cortana sabotaged Zeta Halo to prevent the Banished from using the Ring, then overrode the Weapon’s deletion protocols, knowing that Master Chief was at his best when working with someone like her.

  • I found 343 Industries’ choice interesting, acting as a clean and elegant way to bring Cortana’s actions from Halo 5: Guardians to a resolution and open the floor for a new story, while at the same time, detailing the journey that Master Chief takes to come to terms with his grief and regret. Although Halo Infinite is certainly not a love story, the way things are portrayed means one cannot help but liken this to a story about overcoming a breakup or rejection. This unexpected piece to Halo Infinite made an already-enjoyable came even more profound and meaningful.

  • Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is my least favourite holiday of the year: the holiday was originally to pay respect to St. Valentine, whose exact story remains a mystery. What is known is that he was killed. The association of St. Valentine with romance comes in the middle ages, with poet Geoffrey Chaucer marking the date as a time to find a partner. For me, this time of year had long been characterised by exams, and I vividly remember one Valentine’s Day many years back. I had a physics midterm that evening, and although I performed very well on said exam, it had been a miserable evening all around.

  • While I’ve not a solution regarding the depression and feelings of emptiness that come about at this time of year even now, I have found that focusing on my work and responsibilities on Valentine’s Day allows me to get through what is, in effect, an ordinary day. For instance, this year, I fully intend to get my internet plan set up for the new place later today; in effect, I have a date with the local ISP, and the plan is to get set up with a gigabit connection to accommodate our usage patterns. Although for most users, 150 Mbps connection is more than enough, the reason why I’m going for a gigabit plan is because I will be working from home often enough: having the extra bandwidth will allow for simultaneous video calls and upload of large files.

  • The fact that one of the local ISPs in my area provides fibre means that gigabit internet is affordable. With this in mind, I have heard of people who’ve gone against advice and picked up a Gigabit plan even though they’re the only person on the net, and the most intensive thing they do is stream to Twitch. Because Twitch recommends an upload speed of 6 Mbps to give viewers a decent experience, a gigabit connection would not confer any additional advantages and simply be a waste of money. Conversely, because a major part of my decision is the fact that I’m working from home extensively, having the extra bandwidth will prove useful (especially if I’m trying to do a video call at the same time that other users on the network are uploading 60 GB simulation files to their cloud storage). In a curious turn of events, I actually will be having a hearty steak for dinner tonight, fulfilling a years-long ambition to celebrate singleness with a steak on Valentine’s Day.

  • After passing through the large door and entering a large chamber, I finally confront the Harbinger of Truth. The Harbinger of Truth has access to energy-based attacks and can teleport instantly, but once her shields are down, she’s particularly vulnerable to melee strikes: even a few solid blows from the stock of a battle rifle will be enough to take sizeable chunks of her health away. While she heads off to recharge, Banished will attempt to rush Master Chief. When this fight is compared with the Escharum fight, or Jega ‘Rdomnai, the Harbinger of Truth hasn’t the slightest bit of honour: both Jega ‘Rdomnai and Escharum fight Master Chief mano-a-mano.

  • Despite the Harbinger of Truth’s abilities being quite formidable, once her shields are down, Master Chief can easily punch her lights out, bringing this boss fight to an end. Halo Infinite proved exceedingly satisfying and opens the floor to plenty of prospective new directions, while at the same time, wrapping up loose ends from Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. With Halo Infinite in the books, I may return to play through the game again with the default audio set to Japanese so I can listen to anime Weapon/Cortana speak, but for now, my next major gaming goals are to reach level sixty in Battlefield 2042, after which I’ll unlock the NTW-50, and make enough headway into Project Wingman so that I can write about my experiences after the first quarter, both before the month is out.

Halo Infinite is a fantastic example of how less is more, and its campaign marks a return to form, focusing purely on Master Chief and the Weapon as they work to stop Escharum and the Harbinger from unleashing the Endless. Without a massive UNSC presence, players once again feel as though they’re the last individual left to oppose the Banished. However, with the Weapon and Esparza, what initially appeared to be an insurmountable task begins to feel doable, something that can be done one step at a time. Halo Infinite‘s ending is quite open, and lingering questions remain about what happens to humanity, what the Endless are, and whether or not Master Chief will need to confront Atriox again (it is only appropriate to give Master Chief a second chance at fighting Atroix, especially after Atriox had casually manhandled him earlier). While Halo Infinite‘s story was immensely satisfying and offers closure regarding Cortana, it also opens the floor to a new story, one that merits exploration. This would demand a continuation, and with 343 Industries suggesting that they plan on supporting Halo Infinite for the next decade, this does lead to the question of how they could continue the story. However, 343 Industries may have already shown their hand in how Halo Infinite‘s story could continue through The Master Chief Collection: bringing classic Halo games to PC allowed 343 Industries to implement a launcher for different Halo games, and this approach could be utilised in Halo Infinite, where additional campaigns are add-ons to the core game. In this way, 343 Industries can easily add instalments to the campaign, allowing the story to continue, but at the same time, continue to support the core multiplayer experience and provide players with the best possible game that they can. The possibilities are about as endless as the hitherto-unseen Endless, and having now completed Halo Infinite‘s campaign, I am curious to see where 343 Industries intends to go over the next ten years with what has been a pivotal achievement for the Halo franchise; having evidently learnt from their experiences since developing Halo 4, 343 Industries have found their footing and delivered a Halo game worthy of both old and new fans alike. With my story over for the present, I will spend some time exploring the multiplayer in the future as time allows; although my reflexes and skill are not what they were during the apex of my time as a Halo 2 Vista player, Halo Infinite does offer the option of squaring off against AI bots in multiplayer, and this could prove to be an immensely relaxing way of unwinding and getting to visit the maps without getting my face kicked in by MLG pro players.

Halo Infinite: Solving the Sequence and Entering The Command Spire At The ¾ Mark

“I regret to inform you that this will be our last encounter.” –Adjutant Resolution

After clearing out Zeta Halo’s surface of the Banished, Master Chief and the Weapon travel to four smaller energy beacons in order for the Weapon to reconstruct access codes. By reconstructing data from these beacons, the Weapon is able to figure out the code needed to enter the Nexus, a facility that directs Zeta Halo’s spires. Master Chief fights through the Banished forces within and reaches the terminal, but before the Weapon can deactivate the spires, the Harbinger appears and attempts to stop the process by taking over the Weapon. The Master Chief attempts to delete the Weapon to prevent this from happening, but the Weapon manages to throw the Harbinger off, and angrily asks why Master Chief doesn’t trust her before reluctantly continuing with him into the command spire. Here, they learn that the Harbinger is interested in bringing about something called the Reformation at a place called the Silent Auditorium, but beyond this, no records remain. Despite clearing out the Banished, Adjutant Resolution reappears in a bid to stop Master Chief and the Weapon, but is defeated a second time. Upon reaching the controls, a pair of Banished Phantoms confront the pair, but they too are destroyed. Master Chief and the Weapon shut down the spires and prepare for extraction, only for blademaster Jega ‘Rdomnai to appear inside Esparza’s Pelican and capture him. Faced with no other option, Master Chief reluctantly decides to trust the Weapon, who opens up a portal to Esparza’s location. Here at Halo Infinite‘s three-quarters mark, I’ve now crossed the point of no return, upon which it is no longer be possible to return back into then open world until the campaign is finished. From here on out, it’s a straight shot to the campaign’s finish, and this means I should be on track to finishing Halo Infinite shortly.

Having taken the time to explore Zeta Halo, I enter Halo Infinite‘s final quarter with the Mjolnir armour fully upgraded, and I found all of the Mjolnir lockers, which give me cosmetics for the multiplayer component. While I don’t have all of the propaganda towers destroyed, I can find the time to clear those out once I’ve had the chance to beat the campaign. Seeing the transition from Halo Infinite‘s open world back into a more conventional linear level shows just how smooth the experience is, and Halo Infinite has delivered a game that brings to life the sort of elements that Bungie had once envisioned for Halo: Combat Evolved. Originally, Halo: Combat Evolved was built as a third-person survival shooter, about the crew of a human star ship who wage a guerrilla war of survival in a world with deformable terrain, dynamic weather patterns and wildlife. While the end result was an iconic first-person shooter that raised the bar for what was possible, reading old development notes really served to remind players of how much Halo: Combat Evolved had been cut down. In spite of this, Halo: Combat Evolved remained a revolutionary game, and here in Halo Infinite, it is clear that some of the elements from Halo: Combat Evolved‘s original concept did end up making it. However, rather than completely alter the way Halo feels, classic elements are smoothly integrated into the game, and the combination of both open world and linear elements come together to yield a title that innovates on a successful franchise while simultaneously, remain faithful to its roots: the time and effort that 343 Industries have spent on making this title is mirrored in the gameplay, which is smooth and responsive. With the technology that is available today, the end result is an immensely satisfying game that serves to both tell a story and allow players to create their own stories. With the open world component in the books, all that’s left now is squaring off against Jega ‘Rdomnai, Escharum and the Harbinger herself.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My journey continues on with clearing out the remainder of Halo Infinite‘s high-value targets. Towards the later part of my journey, I ended up cheesing high value target missions with vehicles, making use of either the Scorpion Tank or Wasp to engage the Banished. Foes are surprisingly lethal even on normal difficulty, and against the tougher high value targets, one might sustain too much damage to their vehicles. However, they remain a viable way of softening targets up, and for weaker foes, it’s fun to simply wade right in.

  • Ultimately, the Wasp becomes the single game-changer in Halo Infinite‘s campaign: it is the most efficient way of travelling around Zeta Halo, and even the most far-flung area of interest can be reached with the Wasp. I did notice that there are several places in the campaign where the waypoint is not entirely correct, such as when the Spartan Core or Mjolnir locker is located underground, and on two instances, the locations for these wouldn’t even show up on the map, requiring some serious exploration to find. For the most part, however, taking to the skies with the Wasp and following waypoints will get one all of the Spartan Cores and Mjolnir lockers.

  • Here, I’m rocking the MA40 Longshot, an assault rifle variant that exchanges a smaller magazine for improved damage at range. Weapon variants are immensely fun, although since they are considered a different weapon, ammunition cannot be collected from standard weapons and can only be replenished through resupply crates. This mechanic balances the campaign out quite well, as some of the variants are straight upgrades from their more common counterparts, and allowing one to continuously top off improved weapons would make parts of the game a breeze.

  • Here, I come across the last of the Mjolnir lockers in a remote corner of Zeta Halo under a sunset. The multiplayer cosmetics are actually secondary to the game, but I decided to collect them, since they were along the way on my quest to acquire all the Spartan Cores. At the time of writing, all of my suit functions are fully upgraded: Master Chief can deal a massive shockwave upon meleeing an electrified foe, has shields capable of withstanding a sword lunge or plasma grenade stick, a threat sensor that displays enemy health on the HUD, a droppable wall that can electrify outgoing projectiles for extra damage, and a thruster that temporarily cloaks Master Chief.

  • The thruster is considered one of the most situational (i.e. least versatile) of the suit abilities, and for the most part, I kept to the Grapple Shot, although the Drop Wall did end up coming handy on more than one occasion. However, I did find that the thruster was most useful in situations with Hunters: one can use the thrusters to immediately side-step Hunters and cloak, buying precious time for knocking away their armour plates and shooting at the exposed weak points.

  • Three-quarters of the way into Halo Infinite, I find that the Grunts actually have the best lines of any foe in the game, and in particular, the propaganda Grunt has the best lines of any Grunt. This is the WiFi scene I had referred to in my previous post, and it turns out that the dialogue from propaganda towers will vary, so it is possible to hear some things again. Once I beat the campaign, I will likely go back through and clear out the propaganda towers, and when I go about this task, I am looking forwards to seeing for myself the lines that occur once I’ve dismantled the Banished more thoroughly.

  • Save exploration, there will be very little to do after Halo Infinite‘s campaign is beaten: at the time of writing, 343 Industries has not spoken about when replayable campaign missions will be implemented. While I understand the community disappointment and note that open world games like The Division have set the precedence for how mission replay could be implemented, I also am aware that 343 Industries’ modus operandi is not to release something until it is fully ready. I’m in no particular rush for replayable campaign missions or co-op just yet: for one, my best friend isn’t confident his desktop can handle Halo Infinite. While blasting the Banished in style and with a flair that would not be possible for a single player, neither of us are in any rush to do so just yet.

  • Previously with The Master Chief Collection, the both of us had a great time of smashing through the Covenant and Forerunners alike. Halo Infinite‘s open world would allow for some highly emergent and memorable moments. With this being said, I’m not too sure how well we’d be able to coordinate time for co-op – previously, my transition to working from home was the only reason we could co-op owing to general incompatibilities in our availability (I work nine-to-five hours on weekdays and have weekends to myself, and said friend has a stochastic schedule). In the near future, things will become more tricky, as I spend an increasing amount of time on other pursuits: the upcoming move and transition is, first and foremost, my main priority.

  • In fact, the move, coupled with uncertainties surrounding the global health crisis, is why this year, I’ve decided to stand down from volunteering at Otafest, the local anime convention. I’d actually been hoping to volunteer – besides it being a fantastic opportunity to see the scope of anime in the city, there’d also been a lovely young lady with a dazzling smile among the volunteers I’d been hoping to run into again. However, life is a game of prioritisation, and ensuring my move goes well is my main priority right now. – there will be time for matters of the heart once I’ve attended to everything else, and I will be much more confident in volunteering once the pandemic begins reaching an epidemiological stage.

  • As such, it is with a heavy heart to say that, at least for this year, I will not be volunteering at Otafest. On the flipside, I have accepted an invitation to judge a science fair virtually for a local private academy, and depending on how things unfold, I am open to volunteering at the city-wide science fair come April, as well. This is where things stand as the first month of 2022 draws to a close, and at least on my end, this year’s been off to a fair start so far, so I will return things back to Halo Infinite, where I encountered a pair of Hunters guarding the entrance to the Nexus.

  • Thus, before we return to the narrow corridors of Zeta Halo’s interior, I’ll leave readers with one final screenshot of the surface: I did end up clearing things out without too much difficulty at this point, and was treated to a stunning moment of sunlight glinting off the Nexus Spire’s metallic surface. Once Master Chief heads inside, it’s all dark hallways for a good while, and the sniper rifle I’ve brought with me will need to be replaced with a suitable close quarters weapon.

  • The Flood do not appear in Halo Infinite‘s campaign, and in the absence of combat forms, I find it quite unnecessary to carry a shotgun with me for the most part. The Bulldog lacks the same stopping power as its predecessor, but makes up for it with a much faster firing rate. I’ve never actually found much use for it, since in close quarters, using the grapple strike ability, I am able to hook onto a foe and follow up with a devastating melee attack that outright destroys weaker foes, and seriously weakens stronger ones. With the grapple shot fully upgraded, the shockwave will electrocute nearby foes and stun them.

  • On the surface of Zeta Halo, the Bulldog is only really effective against unshielded Brutes and Grunts, so where possible, I will prefer to use a precision weapon like the Commando or Battle Rifle and simply headshot foes instead. However, because Brutes have no qualms with the more primitive weapons, Bulldog ammunition is actually quite common, and when paired with the Pulse Carbine in closed-in levels, I’m actually left with a pretty viable setup where I can use the Pulse Carbine to deal with shielded and distant foes, then switch over to the Bulldog for instantly taking down a foe.

  • The cavernous interiors and bright lighting bring back memories of old LAN parties: while we’d spent almost all of our time on maps like Lockout and Midship, I did wonder if my friends enjoyed the campaign and story-driven aspects of Halo as much as they did the multiplayer piece. Halo 2 in particular is renowned for having some of the most balanced multiplayer, with a high skill ceiling, that made it infinitely replayable: even during university, whenever everyone got back together, Halo 2 was always the game we played the most during LAN parties.

  • Of the maps we played in Halo 2, Lockout and Midship wound up being timeless classics, and we ended up playing enough MLG Slayer and FFA Slayer on Lockout so that I memorised the map’s layout to the point where even now, I could draw out the map from memory. There’s only one other map from a video game I can do this for: the shipping container area of Battlefield 3 Noshahr Canals. It is not lost on me that nowadays, multiplayer games don’t have quite the same staying power as they used to, and this is why of late, I’ve stopped with multiplayer experiences.

  • While lacking human foes, campaigns are challenging in their own way, especially when games find ways of mixing things up by throwing different foes at players in different environments. Hunters and close-quarters engagements are always a bit of a challenge: there’s no room to manoeuvre, and being stuck beside some crates can become a death sentence. Outside, I capitalise on open spaces to get behind the Hunters, and I’ve found that using the thrusters in conjunction with the assault rifle actually works quite well. Inside, however, I ended up attempting to use the Skewer to blow the Hunters’ rear armour off before hitting them with the battle rifle after other approaches failed.

  • Lengthy gondola rides were a part of Halo 2, and Halo Infinite brings these elements back in full. More spatial awareness is required now than before: as tempting as it might be to use the grapple shot on a Sentinel, the fact that one is over a chasm means that if the Sentinel happens to be somewhere out over the platform, one would simply fall to their death after destroying said Sentinel. Instead, playing a little more conservatively with the Sentinel Beam and drop wall is more conducive towards survival. At this stage in Halo Infinite, Sentinels are capable of wielding both Sentinel Beams and Shock Rifles.

  • As such, players will always have access to a solid weapon against the Sentinels, and the Shock Rifle is a reasonable alternative for longer-range combat. I encountered some difficulty with the Shock Rifle’s mechanics during Halo Infinite‘s open flighting; while the weapon handles like a sniper rifle, every pull of the trigger fires off five-round bursts, all of which need to connect in order to maximise the weapon’s efficacy. The Shock Rifle also has one valuable property: it can stop vehicles cold in their tracks, giving one a chance to board or destroy them.

  • Because the Sentinel Beam can be found in such abundance, it would be a waste not to make full use of it: I previously used the Sentinel Beams primarily in campaign missions during Halo 2, but because my friends preferred MLG Slayer, they were totally absent from out matches during LAN parties. As such, I never made extensive use of the weapon, and found it surprisingly effective during Halo 2 Anniversary‘s multiplayer. As it turns out, the Sentinel Beam has always been effective, especially when wielded in the right situations.

  • One aspect about Halo Infinite‘s campaign that particularly stood out was Master Chief’s thoughts of Cortana even after she went rogue and took control of the Forerunner Guardians to subjugate the galaxy. Although I am fully aware that Master Chief and Cortana’s relationship was that of two professionals and friends, the way things are presented gave the lingering feeling of losing a first love, as well. This conclusion is likely unique to me because of my experiences, and so, it became meaningful to see how Master Chief responded after the events of Halo 4 to Cortana’s fate.

  • I do wish to expand on this part of Halo Infinite further once I’ve beaten the game, so for now, I return to my continued progress through the Spire: here, I prepare to board a gravity lift located in a room that brought back memories of Halo: Combat Evolved‘s Library mission. 343 Industries has learnt from the design choices that were considered a drawback about Halo: Combat Evolved‘s levels, and there’s enough variety in 343 Industries’ designs so interiors don’t ever feel too monotonous.

  • Having now reached the three-quarters mark of Halo Infinite, my thoughts do turn towards what happens next: typically, when I finish a game, one of two things happens. I am either inclined to set it aside and revisit it at a later date, or there’s an incentive to go back through and replay things anew so I can collect everything. Usually, the deciding factor is time. If I have a lot of time, I will go back and begin collecting things. I did this with Ace Combat 7, which allowed me to unlock the Strike Wyvern, and The Division 2, which let me amass a sizeable exotic collection despite my initial beliefs that such a collection would never come to fruition.

  • I’m always fond of seeing how far I can push the single player experience, even in a multiplayer game, so being able to end up with a decently fun build for speed-running missions was awesome, and looking back, this was one of the more fun aspects of The Division. Such an option is unavailable in Halo Infinite, but one way to incentivise players to revisit the campaign would be to create weekly or monthly challenges associated with completing different levels again. To this end, 343 Industries could do something similar to The Division 2‘s Invaded missions, where Black Tusk forces occupy previously cleared sites.

  • Halo Infinite could allow for Banished remnants to return to cleared sites, and completing associated challenge sets over a time period could unlock random cosmetics (to prevent their microtransaction system from failing outright, campaign cosmetics could simply be lower-rarity items). With the care that 343 Industries has directed towards their game, such a route is not off the table, and would greatly encourage replay of campaign missions. Of course, this would only be available to players who’ve actually completed the game at least once, and here, as I move further into the Nexus spire and its stunningly-rendered structures, I gaze upon a construct that fills the area with a warm glow reminiscent of sunlight.

  • Until such a time comes, when 343 Industries gets around to implementing and deploying the option of replaying campaign missions, I am going to spend a bit more time in Battlefield 2042: while the game has been widely regarded as a failure owing to performance issues, deviation from the tried-and-true class system, the absence of numerous essential features and poor map design, I’ve actually found the single-player options to be moderately entertaining, and at the time of writing, I’ve spent around 38 hours in-game, and have finally unlocked the AC-42, a burst-fire rifle.

  • Since I don’t play Battlefield 2042 for the PvP aspects, my aim in the game is simply to unlock all of the available weapons, vehicles and gadgets, as well as attachments, so that I have everything available to me in the sandbox environment that is Battlefield Portal. While I am aware of the game’s numerous shortcomings (performance in 128-players servers is so poor that on my 9-year-old desktop, it’s unplayable owing to lag and invisible characters), I picked the game up purely for the Portal experience. Here, I pass through what appears to be a manufacturing area separated by Forerunner force fields of some sort as I get closer to the top of the Nexus Spire.

  • Pushing through the Nexus Spire gives one an appreciation of just how vast Forerunner structures are. It is worth noting that since entering the spire, I’ve not actually left the structure or gone underground in any way. Halo has always excelled in conveying the scale of Forerunner constructs, from the vastness of an individual Halo ring in Halo: Combat Evolved, to exploring the interiors of gargantuan Forerunner towers in Halo 4. Beyond Banished-infested areas, there are moments where one can stop to admire the sights, as well. Of course, when things get too quiet, any veteran gamer will immediately spot the fact that something big is coming.

  • That “something big” turns out to be a rematch with Adjutant Resolution, who’s rocking an upgraded Sentinel mech. While his weapons are said to be more powerful in every way, in practise, Adjutant Resolution’s strategy actually remains unchanged, and this time around, I’ve got a fully upgraded drop wall along with a priori knowledge of how to beat him (aim for the arms, and then when he’s immobilised after an arm is destroyed, aim for his centre eye), this fight proved to be very cut-and-dried. I did enjoy the quips that Adjutant Resolution brings to the fight.

  • Having taken a look around, it turns out Kotaku’s article was about the second encounter with Adjutant Resolution, which makes the conclusion even more ludicrous: by this point in time, one is already supposed to have an idea of how Adjutant Resolution handles and therefore should have some strategy in mind. Although I’m getting up there in the years to have lightning-fast reflexes and unlimited time for gaming, even someone as time-strapped as myself can overcome Adjutant Resolution with a little bit of patience and strategy.

  • I’m no longer the Halo 2 Vista legend I was a decade earlier, where my skill with the battle rifle led the [SMG] Clan to create servers named after me, but I remain minimally competent in shooters such that I can have a good time. While Halo Infinite‘s biggest names, Jega ‘Rdomnai, Escharum and the Harbinger, still lie ahead, I am confident that I have what it takes. After surviving the assault from the Phantoms here and shutting the spires down, Jega ‘Rdomnai captures Esparza, prompting Master Chief to rescue him. This looks like it’s going to put Master Chief on a collision course with both Jega ‘Rdomnai and Escharum, so I’m excited to finally square off against these legendary foes after hearing about them all game.

Three quarters of the way into Halo Infinite, I have nothing but good experiences so far. In fact, even my aging desktop has managed to run the game in a satisfactory manner; I’ve encountered at most two crashes during my run up until this point, and even then, these crashes have only seen the game client crash to the desktop, rather than completely blue-screening my machine. Having now done most of the open-world activities to a satisfactory extent, my attention now turns fully towards the story: the main risk in a purely open-world game is that the story might be forgotten as one focuses purely on exploration, and Halo Infinite mitigates this by allowing players to complete objectives at their own pace, before locking them back into the story once a certain point in the story is reached. Having now begun the mission into the Nexus, I’ve learnt a great deal more about what ended up happening: after Cortana had overwhelmed the galaxy in the events of Halo 5 with the Forerunner Guardians, humanity and Covenant remnants scattered. Eventually, a group called the Banished formed, but in revenge, Cortana destroyed the Brutes’ home world. It is commendable that 343 Industries were able to write themselves out of the hole that Halo 5 had left, and through the combination of cutscenes, in-game dialogue and audio logs, much of the gaps have been filled. This leaves me clear to worry about Cortana’s fate, and what the Harbinger’s Endless are about in Halo Infinite‘s final quarter, which is looking very exciting from the build-up we’ve seen thus far: I am greatly looking forwards to proving my legend to the likes of Escharum, and here, I will note that it has been quite some time since I’ve respected a foe to this extent.

Halo Infinite: The Spire and Pelican Down at the Halfway Point

“We all fail. We all make mistakes. It’s what makes us human.” –Master Chief

Upon entering the Conservatory and fighting through the Banished forces within, Master Chief and The Weapon encounter Despondent Pyre, Zeta Halo’s Monitor. Despondent Pyre is destroyed whilst warning Master Chief of a new threat that Zeta Halo holds, and Master Chief encounters the Harbinger shortly after. She explains that her people, the Endless, were incarcerated on Zeta Halo, and the Banished have been working to rebuild a facility that will liberate them. Along the way, they are assisted by Adjutant Resolution, but upon learning that the Master Chief’s goal is to destroy Zeta Halo, outfits himself with a Sentinel battle mech and attempts to stop the Master Chief, who ultimately destroys his armour. After Master Chief deactivates the spire, it begins to collapse, and while he manages to escape thanks to Esparza’s arrival, their Pelican is shot down. Frustrated, Esparza expresses his want to escape by locating a functional slip-space drive. Master Chief reassures Esparza and promises that after he deals with the Banished anti-aircraft guns, they’ll look for a slip-space drive together. After the guns are disabled, Esparza reveals that all of the slip-space drives are non-operational, and moreover, he’s actually not a pilot: during the battle on board the Infinity, panic took him, and he stole a Pelican. Master Chief confides in Esparza that he was unable to stop Cortana, and the pair set off to destroy the remaining spires on Zeta Halo to stop its reconstruction. Having now spent an additional six hours since I last wrote about Halo Infinite, I am now a ways further into the campaign, and at the time of writing, I’ve now captured all of the forward operating bases. In addition, I’ve taken down all but one of the high value targets, and I’ve unlocked enough Valour points so that I’m able to call in the AV-49 Wasp, a UNSC VTOL that, alongside the Banished Banshee, allows for unparalleled ease of exploring Zeta Halo’s surface. Having access to the Wasp means one thing becomes apparent: before I continue on with the remainder of the campaign missions, it’s time to finish gathering Spartan Cores and Mjolnir cosmetics now that I’m able to freely fly around Zeta Halo.

One detail that became particularly enjoyable in Halo Infinite is the presence of weapon variants, which are modified versions of common weapons that cater to a specific play style. Some of the weapon variants are straight upgrades of their common counterparts, offering improved firepower, accuracy or firing rate, while others alter the base weapon’s functionality. The Volatile Skewer I picked up is a Skewer whose projectiles are explosive, while the M41 Tracker is able to lock onto vehicles. These weapon variants offer additional variety for Halo Infinite and allow players to play according to their preferences to a much greater extent than was previously possible. The incentive for unlocking weapon variants is built right into the heart and soul of Halo Infinite: Valour Points from completing secondary objectives will give access to most UNSC weapon variants, while high value targets provide the remainder. This gives players the encouragement they need to really explore Zeta Halo (as opposed to just blasting through the story missions) and those who take the time to check out every nook and cranny of Zeta Halo will get the most out of their experience, being rewarded for their troubles in a fair manner. In this way, Halo Infinite creates a highly immersive environment that brings the Halo franchise to new heights; exploration isn’t mandatory, and it doesn’t bloat Halo Infinite‘s runtime in any way, but instead, it provides a chance to really build up Master Chief’s arsenal, abilities and a bit of the backstory behind how things are since Cortana’s actions devastated the galaxy during the events of Halo 5: Guardians. Having now reached a point where I am able to explore freely, I find that Halo Infinite has absolutely lived up to expectations, and the open-world segments of the game have allowed me to play Halo in a way that advances the franchise in an impressive new direction.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Last I left off in Halo Infinite, it was New Year’s Eve, and I’d just finished clearing out the Excavation Site of Banished. I’d brought with me the Gravity Hammer and Ravager used to defeat Bassus into the labyrinthine interior of the Conservatory. Almost immediately, the silence inside the Conservatory overtook me, and it hit me that I’d not been inside a Forerunner structure in quite some time.Beyond the first set of doors, I find a deceased Spartan and a new armour ability, the drop wall, which can be deployed to provide cover from one direction.

  • The drop wall provides cover from enemy fire briefly, but adds the bonus of allowing Master Chief to continue shooting through them. In a pinch, deploying a drop wall can mean the difference between life and death, and I’ve managed to extricate myself out of deadly situations by making use of the drop wall when my shields had failed. At this point in Halo Infinite, I’d already fully upgraded my Grapple Shot and shields. The improved shields aren’t normally noticeable, especially if one comes under heavy fire, but when fully upgraded, it allows one to survive things that would otherwise be instant death. I’ve found that I can now escape being stuck with plasma grenades or a sword lunge now that my shields are maxed out.

  • 343 Industries did a phenomenal job of portraying Forerunner interiors: exploring the interior of the Conservatory brought back memories of playing Halo: Combat Evolved with classic visuals, and I’m especially fond of the lighting effects. Artificial lighting inside Zeta Halo’s interior gives the impression of sunlight streaming through windows into the cavernous hallways, and in these tight quarters, I swapped off my weapons for more mundane, but practical weapons. Halo Infinite generally does a fine job of balancing the weapons, and most of them have some utility. The Mangler is great as a hard-hitting pistol, and in fact, the only weapon I’ve found to be ineffective is the Disruptor.

  • When required, I’ve found that the classic Covenant weapons are actually quite effective in a fair range of scenarios. The Needler retains its ability to super-combine and instantly kill even shielded foes, but unlike its predecessors, the Halo Infinite Needler’s projectiles no longer home quite as aggressively on targets. The exception is the Pinpoint Needler, whose projectiles are a walking cheat-code and moreover, can lock onto multiple foes at once. On the other hand, the Banished Pulse Carbine is weakly homing and can eliminate shields quickly. Combined with the fact that one can recharge its battery now, this is actually a viable weapon to have around.

  • The energy sword, an iconic Elite weapon, retains all of its classic mechanics; it is a one-hit kill on all but the toughest foes, but the lunge distance is reduced. In multiplayer, this weapon is highly sought-after as a power weapon, but in Halo Infinite‘s campaign, it is less effective owing to the fact that every kill with the sword depletes its battery by ten percent, regardless of whether or not the kill was on a Grunt or a Brute. As such, while I will use the sword where my ammunition is depleted, I generally will not pick the weapon up.

  • The Bulldog is the UNSC’s go-to close quarters weapon in Halo Infinite, and it is devastating in narrow corridors and small rooms. A single pull of the trigger will put most foes on the floor, and speaking to its firepower, even the Brutes will be seen wielding the Bulldog despite their disdain for humanity. Conversely, in the wide-open areas of Zeta Halo, the Bulldog is next to useless. However, there is a variant of the Bulldog, the Convergence Bulldog, which has a choke that reduces spread. Together with a larger magazine, this Bulldog is a longer-range option that still retains the standard Bulldog’s traits.

  • As I make my way deeper into the Conservatory, I encounter Zeta Halo’s Monitor, Despondent Pyre. Although this Monitor appears helpful and desperate to stop the entity known as the Harbinger, it is promptly destroyed. Recalling that it took a Spartan Laser to permanently kill Guilty Spark, whatever killed and dismantled Despondent Pyre must be a foe to reckon with. Shortly after this revelation, Master Chief and the Weapon come under attack from the Gasgira, informally known as Skimmers. These foes are new to Halo – they share similar traits as the Harbinger’s species and functionally, are a cross between the Drones and Grunts.

  • After escaping the ambush, Master Chief pushes further into the facility in order to track down the Harbinger, and along the way, encounters another deceased Spartan. The mystery of who is killing Spartans with such brutality remains a mystery for now, although Master Chief assures the Weapon that he’ll be able to handle whatever comes their way. Every time, the Weapon’s analysis indicates that the Spartans were cut down by an unnaturally powerful energy blade, implying that it’s probably an Elite that’s been doing this, and cutscenes have shown that there is one Elite that Escharum respects: Jega ‘Rdomnai.

  • A pair of Brutes appear, and while the Weapon wonders if they’re the Spartan killers, Master Chief replies no. At this point, I’d been short of ammunition, but luckily, there was a cache of weapons in the large hall where this fight occurs. I ended up using the Cindershot to take one of the Brutes out, then picked the Scarp cannon off his body and used its firepower to take down the remaining Brute. The Scrap Cannon is a turret that fires large spikes, and the longer the trigger is depressed, the faster it will fire. On the other hand the Cindershot is a hard light grenade launcher of Forerunner origin, and while it is quite powerful, its bouncing projectiles do take some getting used to.

  • After Master Chief confronts the Harbinger, he is promptly defeated and thrown back onto the surface of Zeta Halo. The goal next is to reach the Spire and deactivate the Ring’s reconstruction mechanism. For the time being, I took a moment to enjoy the sunset here: more so than any Halo before it, Halo Infinite takes visual effects to an entirely new level. The first trailer for Halo Infinite was announced back during June 2018, and despite its short runtime, foreshadowed a gorgeous environment. It is not lost on me that during this time period, my first startup was on its last legs. I’d been working on both a mental health questionnaire app, and a generic app for pain reporting at the time, although the lack of clients meant funds were rapidly dwindling.

  • Halo Infinite thus fell from my mind: the 2018 trailer had been an impressive tech demo, it gave almost no hints of what the story was going to be about. Halo 5: Guardians had released to general disappointment owing to its disjointed story, and left players on a massive cliffhanger that had seemed as difficult to resolve as the cliffhanger Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi left viewers with. The games themselves won’t answer this directly – after Halo 5, the Infinity escapes, and Dr. Halsey managed to create a new AI that would be able to put an end to Cortana’s rampage. While this is somewhat successful, elsewhere in the galaxy, the Banished become a powerful threat. This ultimately leads to Atroix clashing with the Infinity at the beginning of Halo Infinite. There’s a great deal of lore, but using the timeframes allows 343 Industries to do a soft reset on things and focus on the most important elements: a clean story and consistently good gameplay.

  • Here, I square off against Adjutant Resolution after he goes rogue upon learning of Master Chief’s aim of destroying Zeta Halo. He dons a Sentinel suit that confers combat capabilities, but despite this suit’s firepower, there are several weak spots: shooting out the arms and central core will damage it. The fight was fairly straightforward for me, although I will note that Kotaku’s Ethan Gach struggled with the encounter. Games journalists encountering difficulty with even the most trivial of tasks in video games is not a new phenomenon, and it is no surprise that most gaming outlets have writers who would prefer to talk about things like representation and the narrative’s political statement rather than discuss things like game mechanics, map design and equipment balance. The end result is unsurprising, but for any moderately competent gamer, Adjutant Resolution will not be a challenge on normal difficulty.

  • By the time Halo Infinite‘s gameplay was shown, it was July 2020, and I had been working from home for a second startup amidst the global health crisis’ first wave. Halo Infinite had looked flatter than I’d expected, but the gameplay still looked solid. Indeed, once I reached the Pelican Down mission, the site of the 2020 E3 demo, I found that while everything looked much improved over what had been shown during the E3 demo, the gameplay was more or less identical. I had been sold on Halo Infinite after that demo – the Grapple Shot was a novel addition that revolutionises how movement in Halo worked, and the ability to reel in things like weapons and fusion coils increased the game’s pacing. Older Halo titles were very slow and clunky, having been designed for older consoles, but with advances in consoles, this is no longer a constraint.

  • I ended up walking around the valley, marvelling at all of the details here that had been first portrayed during the E3 demo. Unlike the demo, which started Master Chief off with the assault rifle and pistol, I had a Commando and Sentinel Beam from my last mission. However, I was similarly playing at sunset, and upon ascending the elevator to the first of the guns, I ended up using my drop wall to similarly stop a Brute with the Ravager, before riding it up to the Banished camp near the gun. The Halo Infinite E3 trailer is another example of where the finished product actually ends up surpassing what was shown – DOOM Eternal had previously done this, and in retrospect, I’m glad that 343 Industries ended up taking the extra year to really polish the title.

  • From the sounds of it, the core mechanics and story were already in place by the time of the E3 conference, but other aspects were not fully ready yet. An extra year ended up being the right amount of time for 343 Industries: they were able to completely improve lighting and textures with this time, and by the time Halo Infinite‘s open beta was available, the game was in a satisfactory state from a technical standpoint, more than ready to be released. The missing features, specifically co-op mode and the ability to replay missions, was somewhat disappointing; considering that Halo Infinite handles more like The Division than earlier Halo games, there is precedence for how these elements can be implemented, but on the flipside, I have heard that both functions are technically working – like the remainder of Halo Infinite, 343 isn’t releasing them until they’re confident it works as expected.

  • I ended up commandeering a Ghost and rode it up to the power core for the first AA gun. Upon reaching this area for the first time, I was treated to Escharum’s iconic speech. In addition to portraying the Brutes as a glory-seeking, but honourable species, Escharum’s first speech also acts as 343 Industry’s challenge to the players, to experience a legend in the making that will push them to their limits. Escharum’s remaining speeches aren’t quite as rousing, but they do portray the Brutes as being a much more fleshed out species than Bungie had ever done: in this area, 343 Industries has done very well, and admittedly, Escharum’s speech was actually one of the main reasons why I’d considered Halo Infinite as something to pick up shortly after launch.

  • Halo Infinite‘s Hunters are tougher than their predecessors: they’re now completely covered by armour plates, and like their predecessors, can deal as much damage as they can take. Careless players will burn through their entire ammunition supply without scratching one, so a bit of strategy is involved wherever Hunters are concerned. The easiest approach is to blast them with power weapons like the rocket launcher, or else focus fire on a specific spot to knock the armour plates off, then shoot the exposed areas. Players with vehicles can also deal damage to Hunters effectively, and making use of fusion cores in the area, in conjunction with the thrusters and grapple shot to get behind them, is also a viable trick.

  • The 2020 E3 demo portrayed Master Chief preparing to knock out one of the AA guns, but here in Halo Infinite‘s completed campaign, players will have a chance to go through all three of them. Because of the distances that separate the AA guns, walking between them can be a bit of a lengthy process. A vehicle makes all the difference here, and it is helpful to remember where one left their ride for this part of the campaign. Here, I take off in pursuit of an Elite major, whose dialogue can be seen on-screen: the enemies of Halo Infinite lack the menace they conveyed in Halo: Reach and Halo 4. In the earlier games, foes spoke their own tongues, but here in Halo Infinite, enemy dialogue is all rendered in English. Elites and Brutes have great lines, as do the Marines.

  • The dialogue from the Jackals is passable: they’re obsessed with whatever bonus money they’ll get from a job well done, but the lines do extend on their personalities. On the other hand, the Grunts are hilarious. Halo Infinite will gently mock players for dying to Grunts with comedic lines (“I’m alive and he’s not? It’s a miracle!”). However, the best line in the entire game comes from the propaganda towers: the Grunt running the show will ask about the WiFi password (implying the Banished have WiFi), and as the Master Chief destroys more towers, the Grunt will even try to plead with Master Chief about not destroying any more towers.

  • If it turns out that Halo Infinite was delayed so they could get these Grunt lines into the game, I’d be completely okay with that. Here, I’ve finished taking out all of the AA gun right as the morning sunrise allows light to fill the valley and glint off a large hexagonal construct in the distance. Hexagonal pillars dominate the landscape of Zeta Halo, and while the folks of Reddit are struggling to understand their significance, a little lore suggests that they’re the result of reconstructing Zeta Halo’s structure. These are placed first, and then terrain and vegetation is overlaid on top of it to create a natural environment. Their jutting appearance stands in stark contrast with the wilderness and serve to remind players that the Halo rings are artificial constructs.

  • Once all three guns are destroyed, Master Chief must face Tovarus and Hyperius, two Brutes bearing the Spartan Killer moniker will appear. Fighting one boss at a time is already challenging enough, so two seems outright impossible. However, I was able to survive this fight because Hyperius enters the fight on a Brute Chopper, and boss or not, it is possible to hijack his vehicle using the Grapple Shot. I thus seized the Chopper and used it to annihilate him, as well as his entourage, before focusing fire on Tovarus. Tovarus is armed with a scrap cannon and is lethal up close, but at a range, one can dodge his attacks while returning fire.

  • In the end, I used the Skewer to drop his shields, and then whittled his health down using the battle rifle. I’m not sure if it was a bug, or luck, but Tovarus used his jetpack and took refuge in the crashed wreckage of what appears to be a UNSC ship. After reaching the platform here, he remained there for the remainder of the match, and I ended up using the drop wall to create cover while hammering him with the battle rifle. Once the Spartan Killers are dealt with, Master Chief will speak with Esparza, who admits he’s no pilot, and compared to Master Chief, he’s a failure. Master Chief demonstrates the extent of his humanity and compassion here by talking to Esparza, who regains enough of his composure to decide that he’s willing to help Master Chief achieve their goals.

  • Once the anti-air guns are down, Master Chief will turn his attention to the second spire. However, the Harbinger has locked it down, and the Weapon must recreate the data sequence from Forerunner signals in order to decrypt its code in order to override the lockdown. My gut feeling told me that this was the best time to now focus on going around the open world and collect anything of value. For me, the main goal here was simply to finish all of the outposts, take down every last high value target, acquire all of the Spartan Cores and as much Valour as I could before pushing onwards with the missions.

  • While this task can seem quite daunting, the combination of air vehicles and fast travel actually makes things a lot smoother – I simply fast travel to a forward operating base, pick out a Wasp, and in moments, I’m in the skies, flying over streams, boulders and forests to the site of interest. When the Wasp isn’t available, a Banshee will also do in a pinch. The Banshee is faster than a Wasp and can be boosted, while the Wasp has better manoeuvrability and is easier to control. Both vehicles are great for taking players from point A to point B, but the Wasp’s ability to hover, and the fact it can be freely spawned at forward operating bases, makes it the vehicle of choice for me.

  • Because completing side quests like high value targets and outposts provides access to stronger gear, Halo Infinite appears to gently guide players down a path where the focus is to reach Pelican Down first, then take some time exploring the open world, before continuing on with the actual campaign itself. Players who choose to focus on the campaign and skip the open world aspects won’t necessarily be punished for it: the armour abilities are great, but at the end of the day, Halo Infinite is a first person shooter, and that means the skill that matters most is a steady aim and a well-practised trigger finger. I don’t imagine that having boosted shields or the best possible drop wall will be too helpful against Escharum or the Harbinger of Truth if one can’t even shoot straight.

  • Moments like these are why Halo Infinite absolutely excels in its single player experience: I’d just finished off a high value target in a field of red flowers and was left with one foe, standing in the middle of the clearing. A few rounds from the battle rifle was enough to wrap this mission up, and I’ve found that it is possible to take down a lower-ranking Brute in as little as one burst if one’s aim is true. Throughout the campaign, I’ve found the battle rifle to be my go-to weapon for almost any situation: one burst will finish a Grunt and any unshielded foe, and when paired in conjunction with a faster-firing weapon like the pulse carbine, players can be ready for most situations.

  • There’s actually an achievement for reaching the highest point available to Master Chief on Zeta Halo called “Nosebleed”, and I actually ended up unlocking it while exploring around for Mjolnir lockers near forward operating base delta. The fact that players can ascend the hills and cliffs speaks volumes to what’s possible, and I will note that even on my nine-year-old desktop, the fact that Halo Infinite looks as gorgeous as it does is an impressive feat, speaking volumes to the optimisations that went into making the game run well on a variety of hardware. Being nine years old, my desktop has been with me through many things, and to be honest, I’m surprised it continues to run as well as it does. With this being said, I have noticed that the CPU heats up a lot more quickly now than it did even two years ago, even with regular cleaning.

  • As such, while nothing is set in stone just yet, I do plan on building a new PC once I’ve had the chance to settle in to my new place. With the Intel twelfth generation CPUs out now, and motherboards becoming available, I’ll probably start shopping around for parts shortly after the move. The criteria for this machine is simple: it needs to beat out a machine with the Ryzen 9 3900X and the RTX 2070, all the while staying under 1700 CAD (prior to warranty for mission critical components and the OS itself). I’ll elaborate on why this is the minimum I am building against in a later post and return to Halo Infinite: for the last outpost, I ended up calling in a Scorpion so I could dispense an unparalleled amount of destruction using the tank’s main cannon, making the outpost trivially easy to sort out.

  • While vehicles in Halo Infinite are powerful, they’re not invincible: here, I took the Wasp on over to the Myriad, a pair of Hunters with firepower far surpassing those of ordinary Hunters. Guides suggest using a Scorpion to deal with them, and while this is the most feasible way I can think of, I ended up improvising. My original goal was to use the Wasp’s rockets to whittle them down, and while this allowed me to take down one of the Hunters, I’d sustained a little too much damage and was forced to bail. Vehicles do make it clear when they’re about to explode, so I was able to escape in time, and with Master Chief’s luck, I managed to pick a rocket launcher from a dead Brute, using it to finish off the second of the Hunters.

  • The prize for defeating what are probably the toughest of the high value targets is a Backdraft Cindershot: this variant allows the Cindershot’s projectile to break down into explosive submunitions, making it great for clearing rooms out. I stopped to admire the jaw-dropping scenery of Zeta Halo before continuing on with my quest to upgrade my abilities and open up as many options as possible before heading into the next act of Halo Infinite. Having just passed the halfway point, I’m quite excited to see where everything is headed, and knowing that I have spent the time to earn a small edge means once I do continue, I’ll have the confidence in being prepared enough for whatever lies ahead in Halo Infinite.

At this point in time, the only things I have left to do in the open world is to deal with the remaining handful of high value targets, collect enough Spartan Cores to fully upgrade all abilities, and amass as many Mjolnir cosmetic upgrades as I can. Once this is done, I will continue with finishing off the story missions of Halo Infinite and consider both the latest instalment’s contributions to the franchise, as well as what this means for Halo. So far, the game has proven to be superb in all regards. The gameplay feels responsive, crisp and fresh. Movement is smooth, and the gunplay is visceral. Moreover, Halo Infinite runs well even on my aging desktop. During my time in Halo Infinite, I only experienced one crash, and this merely sent me back to my desktop, as opposed to blue-screening my computer. The optimisations that went into Halo Infinite are impressive; the game looks amazing, but it also runs extremely well on hardware that’s almost a decade old. With a more recent configuration, Halo Infinite would likely run even better. Quite simply, the game has been worth the cost of admissions, and I anticipate that altogether, I’ll get a grand total of around thirty hours out of Halo Infinite by the time I finish the campaign missions. While the lack of an ability to replay missions or co-op with friends, something that was possible in earlier Halo games, is a noticeable omission, I now fully appreciate why 343 Industries was not able include these features during launch. Halo Infinite‘s open world is vast, and tracking player positions for a smooth co-op experience would entail additional work, while the intrinsic open world approach in Halo Infinite similarly means that additional thought would need to be given towards how to best allow players to revisit missions they’ve previously completed. There is a great deal of precedence out there (e.g. The Division, Far Cry) for how to approach this, but owing to 343’s focus on delivering the best possible experience in the base game, one cannot fault them for wanting to leave these additional features on the “would be nice to have” list: I would much prefer to have a responsive movement system and good weapon handling available now, as opposed to a scenario where Halo Infinite had shipped with co-op and replayable missions that came at the expense of core mechanics like movement and weapons.

Halo Infinite: Reconquering Zeta Halo, Ascending the Tower and Entering the Conservatory

“I am the Harbinger. All that you know shall be undone.” –The Harbinger

After Outpost Tremonius is captured, Master Chief makes his way over to other regions of the Banished-held surface, clearing out local commanders and assisting groups of surviving UNSC marines along the way. Upon receiving a signal from Spartan Griffith, Master Chief heads to the Tower, where he defeats Elite Chak’lok in combat to rescue Griffith. In doing so, Master Chief learns that the Banished have successfully excavated a Forerunner facility referred to as the Conservatory. Master Chief makes his way over to the excavation site and shuts down a Banished mining laser before entering the Conservatory itself. This is where I stand in Halo Infinite after ten hours of play: while there is a story to be experienced, I’ve found myself enraptured by Halo Infinite‘s open world: Zeta Halo is beautifully crafted, and attention paid to details is impressive. Open areas are vividly portrayed, from the most distant mountain right down to the flowers at one’s feet. Day and night cycles completely change both the aesthetic and the combat style one requires to adopt: by day, enemies are awake and will patrol their facilities actively, but by night, guard is doubled as some foes sleep. Foes will taunt the Master Chief, and allies will express excitement at the player’s arrival. Levels themselves are intricately designed, and the campaign missions set within the open world are seamless: after I cleared out a nearby fuel depot, I headed on over to Chak’lok’s tower where, after neutralising all of the patrolling Banished, I simply went inside to fight Chak’lok and liberate Spartan Griffith, without once encountering a loading screen. While my aging PC encountered a few frame drops, performance on high settings has been generally smooth, and moreover, firefights themselves feel immensely satisfying. Having now made some satisfactory progress into Halo Infinite, I enter the Conservatory, ready to see what the next step of Master Chief’s adventure entails.

Overall, Halo Infinite‘s open world aspects feels a great deal like Far Cry: there are forward operating bases to capture, and scattered throughout the world are collectables, combat encounters and upgrade points that confer bonuses to the Master Chief’s armour. These aspects are simple in their implementation, but in practise, Halo Infinite provides a fantastic chance for players to simply explore Zeta Halo and blow things up as they are encountered. Completing tasks also confers Valour Points, which unlock additional options at forward operating bases. Players can initially call in Mongooses and recover the MA40, but as they complete tasks, more powerful options can be called in, as well; at the time of writing, I have access to the Battle Rifle and Commando, as well as the standard Warthog and marines that can accompany Master Chief. Altogether, the fact that the UNSC is on the backfoot here, in conjunction with an open world, should create a lonely experience, of overwhelming odds to overcome, and convey the sense that the former UNSC Infinity’s soldiers are waging desperate war of resistance. However, this actually doesn’t happen in practise, and Master Chief never feels alone in this game. Wildlife can be encountered. Esparza is always on station to drop things off for Master Chief, and The Weapon herself feels distinctly like a younger, more naïve version of Cortana: still competent and knowledgable, uninformed in some things but otherwise retains Cortana’s sense of humour. Marines will loyally accompany Master Chief to objective, manning guns and providing cover fire, as well as make the occasional amusing quip (especially if Master Chief swaps out one of their guns for a sidearm). Similarly, while the Banished are presented as a powerful foe, in combat, they will taunt the Master Chief and exchange trash talk with the Marines. Halo Infinite is a rich experience that shows how much effort was placed into creating an immersive, novel experience that is still Halo: in fact, I have heard that 343 Industries had intended Halo Infinite to be a reimagining of what Bungie had originally wanted to do with Halo: Combat Evolved after the game transformed from an RTS into an FPS, and by all counts, 343 Industries have succeeded in bringing an old vision to life.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Whereas Halo 4 wasn’t even set on a Halo Ring, 343 Industries returns Halo Infinite to its roots by having Zeta Halo play a much more prominent role in things. Here, I gaze out at the curvature of the Halo ring – when I saw this for the first time in Halo: Combat Evolved, it was a sight to behold: other games of the time had a flat horizon or were otherwise set in narrow corridors, so seeing something of this scale had been breathtaking. In that time, I dabbled in some game design as a part of learning game engines for my thesis, and nowadays, I am aware that Halo: Combat Evolved simply had made very creative use of skyboxes to create what would be an iconic part of gaming.

  • With this being said, Halo Infinite‘s return to a Halo bring brought back all of that wonder and amazement to me in full – I may know how skyboxes work now, but the fact that Halo Infinite recreates all of the feelings I had when stepping out onto Installation 04 for the first time as a secondary school student. Here, I prepare to rappel down a cliff sheer: thanks to advancements in Master Chief’s Mjolnir Armour, falling damage is no longer a concern, although since fall damage is a factor in other games, I usually don’t like jumping down great distances.

  • After taking Outpost Tremonius, Zeta Halo opens up to players immediately, and to guide things along, Master Chief will be asked to take out Ransom Keep, a chop-shop of sorts where the Banished are salvaging parts from UNSC vehicles for their own ends. Taking on these areas entails clearing them out of Banished, destroying their assets (such as these fuel tanks), and then fending off any reinforcements that show up. Hidden away around these locations, and Zeta Halo in general, are audio logs, Spartan Cores and Mjolnir lockers: while the initial goal surrounding an objective might be simple enough, searching for everything before clearing an area can take some time.

  • Red markers indicate the arrival of Banished drop pods: everything from Elites and Grunts can arrive to reinforce existing forces, but most challenging of all to deal with are the Brute berserkers, who will rush straight for Master Chief after deploying. They possess no ranged weapons, but are immensely durable and can pummel Master Chief to death if allowed to close the distance. There isn’t any one strategy to use against these foes: circumstances dictate what works best, and I’ve found that chucking fusion cores or making use of grenades, in conjunction with the upgraded Grapple shot’s ability to stun ensnared foes and melee attacks, can make short work of these foes.

  • I ended up finding a Scorpion Tank at Ransom Keep and used its massive firepower to make short work of the Banished foes to secure the site, before wandering off to see if I could find a Spartan Core on the nearby hill. I ended up finding a VK78 Commando, an automatic rifle that is a solid precision weapon. I’ve found that weapons like these are actually better for dealing with the weaker enemies like Grunts and Jackals: a single shot will knock them out. Unshielded Brutes also go down fairly quickly, but against shielded foes, it’s better to use these semi-automatic weapons in conjunction with a plasma weapon. The Pulse Carbine has become a reliable weapon in this area, having the advantage of being a relatively common weapon.

  • The Halo Infinite Scorpion handles very similarly to its Halo 4 and Halo 3 iterations, where players only have access to M512 90 mm cannon. Previous Halos gave players a coaxial machine gun, as well, but this made tank drivers overpowered against infantry and vehicles alike. Instead, to fully use a Scorpion’s power, two operators are needed. One touch I particularly liked about Halo Infinite is the fact that, after every shot, the Scorpion will spit out the spent shell casing before the autoloader prepares a new one for firing.

  • After I cleared Ransom Keep, I ended up capturing another forward operating base right as the sun began setting. The fact there’s a day-night cycle in Halo Infinite is impressive, and it adds considerable character to the game. 343 Industries had indicated that they were looking to add dynamic weather, as well: players would’ve experienced overcast skies, fog and even rain during their trek across Zeta Halo’s surface. I do not believe this was ever implemented, since I’ve only ever seen stunningly gorgeous daytime weather, and a nighttime sky that is at once exotic and breathtaking; even without additional weather, Zeta Halo looks amazing.

  • Here, I’ve finally picked up the BR75 Battle Rifle, an iconic weapon that debuted in Halo 2. The original BR55 was as burst-fire weapon that required a modicum of skill to use, standing in contrast with the fully-automatic assault rifle, and in multiplayer, the Battle Rifle became the tool to become familiar with. The Battle Rifle has changed over the years in terms of performance and appearance, but in Halo Infinite, it most closely resembles its Halo 2 iteration, being a powerful medium range weapon. This weapon pairs very well with the Pulse Carbine or Assault Rifle, giving players plenty of options at different ranges.

  • When Master Chief rescues squads of marines pinned down by Banished forces, Valour points will be earned. I initially thought that these would be a currency that I could then put towards certain unlocks, but as it turns out, Valour points handle more like experience points, and accumulating a certain amount will automatically unlock weapon and vehicle call-ins. In the time I’ve put in, I’m able to call in the Battle Rifle and what’s called a “Gungoose”, a Mongoose armed with a pair of forward-facing, slow firing cannons that can deal massive damage.

  • Some folks have suggested calling in Sentinel Beams and handing those to marines, then calling in a Razorback and drive around with five marines around. The result is supposed to make playing Halo Infinite trivially easy, but I’ve found that doing things like this takes the fun out of the game. As it was, I am more than content to stick to my style of play: while I’ve got a Sentinel Beam variant and the Razorback unlocked, I’d much rather stick with my usual method of picking foes off from a distance before switching over to CQC.

  • After clearing out the forward operating bases and collecting as much stuff as I could in the first area, I finally turned my attention towards Chak’lok’s tower. The campaign missions set in the open world are surprisingly smooth; switching over from the open world to the tower’s cavernous interior was seamless, as was the firefight leading up to the confrontation against Chak’lok, an Elite warlord with an arrogant attitude, a cloak and an energy sword. I will note here that watching TheRadBrad’s playthrough of this mission was ultimately what cemented my decision to get Halo Infinite.

  • I had already been quite confident that I would be picking up Halo Infinite at launch, but wanted to get a measure of how the game handled and see what the missions were before diving in for myself. Watching TheRadBrad cleared up some questions I had, and also showed me that Halo Infinite was going to be fun; in his playthrough, TheRadBrad manages to kill Chak’lok, but an exploding shock barrel kills him after, sending him back to do the fight over. I was fortunate in that I only needed one attempt: I made extensive use of shock coils to lower his shields, and then hammered him with the assault rifle and battle rifle to finish the fight. Despite Master Chief’s efforts, Spartan Griffith cannot be saved, but he learns of something called the Conservatory, leading Master Chief to the next area of Halo Infinite.

  • During the mission at Chak’lok’s tower, I ended up coming across the shock rifle for the first time: this weapon is a long-range electrolaser and is effective against both shields and vehicles. However, during my play through, there were few targets to use this weapon against, so I’ve not really had much of an opportunity to really try it out: at present, it’s the basic weapons like the assault rifle, battle rifle and pulse carbine that have proven to be most versatile.

  • I’m a little ashamed to admit that in the beginning, I didn’t have any idea how to get over to the next area: a gap leading into space separates the area with Chak’lok’s tower from the next, and I initially thought that I could build up some speed using a Mongoose, then exit said Mongoose and attempt to use the grapple-shot to latch onto the  other side. In the end, I just needed to approach a bridge, fight off the Banished guarding things, and that was sufficient to open up the new area. Here, I’m rocking the S7 Sniper Rifle: like its older counterparts, the sniper rifle is a powerful weapon for long-range combat, being balanced out by a small magazine capacity and rare ammunition.

  • Once in the new area, I set about clearing out forward operating bases so that I could fast travel more readily. Once forward operating bases are captured, nearby points of interest are also revealed on the map, so it makes the most sense to secure those first and then decide how to best tackle everything. Here, I enjoy another sunrise en route to rescuing a squad of marines; Halo Infinite looks jaw-dropping with its visuals, and speaking freely, I’m surprised my machine can run the game as well as it does. This moment really highlights the incredible detail paid to lighting, and under the first light of day, my battle rifle’s textures are thrown into sharp relief, making the weapon’s resemblance to its Halo 2 counterpart all the more evident.

  • Amidst a field of yellow flowers, I fend off all of the Banished forces attacking the UNSC marines, earning myself some additional Valour points in the process. Throughout the course of Halo Infinite, I’ve found that the default assault rifle has actually proven itself to be an excellent all-around weapon, and it has taken some time for me to get past my initial thoughts on it: the Halo: Combat Evolved assault rifle handled more like a submachine gun, while the pistol behaved like a marksman rifle, and in most Halo games, I’ve actually swapped off the assault rifle for something else at first convenience because of my original experience. On the other hand, Halo Infinite‘s assault rifle feels like a proper weapon that hits hard at close to medium ranges.

  • During one high value target hunt, I ended up picking up the Volatile Skewer, a variant of the Skewer whose projectiles explode on impact. Weapon variations in Halo Infinite add variety to the gameplay, ranging from altering a weapon’s functionality to simply improving its overall performance. Completing high value target hunts reward Banished weapon variants, while Valour points are needed for unlocking UNSC weapon variants. The Volatile Skewer is particularly fun, since it can be used to eliminate entire squads at once if one picks their targets well; common Skewers are a one hit kill on most enemies, so if one were to aim for a Brute commander standing among a squad of Grunts and Jackals, a single shot could conceivably take everyone out.

  • Here, I switch over to the Stalker Rifle, a cross between the Covenant Carbine and Beam Rifle that I grew up around. This weapon is primarily found with Jackal Snipers, but unlike Halo 2‘s Jackal Snipers, who were armed with Beam Rifles that could one-shot players, the Stalker Rifle requires three headshots to kill, and wielders give away their position when aiming down sights: the weapon emits a laser sight of sorts. For most combat situations, I scavenge weapons off defeated Banished forces, use them to achieve a goal and then return to pick up the weapon I’d dropped for it.

  • This approach allows me to conserve on kinetic ammunition for my UNSC weapons: while weapon resupply is possible thanks to ammo crates scattered throughout the world, I’ve not tested to see if they’re one-use only, and as such, during my play-through, I’ve only used them to top off before a boss fight or campaign mission. For everything else, I end to run UNSC weapons until I run dry, then I switch over to whatever weapons I can scavenge from the world. The plus side is that Banished weapons are quite effective, and there are instances where the Banished will swallow their pride and utilise scavenged UNSC weapons, too.

  • The fight against Balkarus was particularly challenging, since he’s accompanied by Brutes and Elites wielding the Ravenger. This weapon handles most similarly to a grenade launcher, firing rounds of incendiary plasma in an arc and dousing an area of impact with hot, damaging plasma. I was actually at quite the disadvantage, since I was using UNSC weapons that were better suited for engaging common enemies, but fortunately for me, there was a weapons locker nearby with a few Ravengers. I subsequently utilised this with the grapple-shot to end the fight, earning me another weapon variant.

  • Today is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2021. From a personal standpoint, 2021 was a fair year for myself; I’ve not hung out with many friends in person, and my physical fitness isn’t what it was before because all the gyms are closed, but on the flipside, I also was able to better my career and finances, and in the process, became a homeowner, too. During this past year, I also achieved the impossible by going through the whole of Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny; this is something I wouldn’t have thought possible, but thanks to encouragement from friends in real life, and the anime community I’ve become a part of, I was able to finish the Cosmic Era in whole.

  • Being able to do something like this means finishing a journey that was some fifteen years in the making, leaving me in a position where I’m able to both keep up with my friend in discussions surrounding the Cosmic Era, and be ready for the upcoming Gundam SEED film. Encouraged by this, one of my anime related goals for 2022 is to make my way through Ah! My Goddess in full, as well as Love Hina, and on the topic of finishing things from my childhood that I never finished back then, I also managed to get set up with Ace Combat 5, allowing me to go back and check out something I’d thought I’d never be able to experience.

  • After picking up some patches to disable deinterlacing, tuning the video settings and getting the controller bindings configured, I powered on the emulator and entered the game. At this point in time, I have a working emulator: things run at a smooth 60 FPS, and everything looks sharp. The controls are a little tight, and I don’t have the same level of finesse as I did in Ace Combat 7, but after an hour’s worth of setup, I can finally begin my journey through a game I’ve been curious about for the past fifteen years. I still vividly recall borrowing an Ace Combat 5 strategy guide from my library back in the day, and during university, I remember spending time watching YouTube videos of Ace Combat 5‘s final missions when I should’ve been studying for organic chemistry.

  • It does feel like there are unlimited possibilities now as I go through something that, a decade earlier, I only could’ve dreamt of trying for myself. I have plans to write about my Ace Combat 5 experiences in the future, but for now, I’ll return to Halo Infinite, where I’d just found a Forerunner Artefact and sent it back for decoding. The night sky can be seen here, and it is stunning. The skybox designs remind me of star-forming nebulae seen in astronomy books, making the night skies feel a lot more exotic, worthy of Halo.

  • The final mission I’ll highlight in this post is the dig site. The goals for this mission are simple enough: stop the Banished mining laser, which is powerful enough to cut through Forerunner metal. While the goal itself appears straightforward, Master Chief is faced with an entire Banished armada, and it’s going to take some creative thinking, spatial awareness and a steady aim in order to come out triumphant. With that being said, this mission was absolutely fun, and I had a blast shooting at everything that stood between me and the objective.

  • During the course of my travels through the open world, I found and defeated Thav ‘Sebarim to unlock the Arcane Sentinel Beam. This weapon is deals more damage than a standard Sentinel Beam at the expense of consuming ammo faster and having a smaller ammo pool to begin with. After attempting to deactivate the laser, The Weapon finds that there are two regulators that must be destroyed first, and unsurprisingly, destroying the exposed regulators will cause Banished reinforcements to appear. It is here that the Sentinel Beam shines: a short burst will vapourise foes and thin out crowds.

  • Once all of the regulators are destroyed, Master Chief must return into the tower and deactivate things again. However, Bassus makes a sudden appearance. He is counted to be one of the hardest in the whole of Halo Infinite because of the fact that this fight takes place at extreme close quarters, the range that Brutes excel in. Bassus prefers to rush players with his Gravity Hammer, and this leaves players with very little space to make use of more powerful ranged weapons. Guides suggest that there is only one viable way of beating Bassus: use the Pulse Carbine and Needler.

  • On my first encounter, I was completely unprepared; I came to the fight wielding the battle rifle and Commando, and unsurprisingly, because neither weapon is suited for damaging shields, I got wiped. I subsequently switched on over to a Ravenger and a Rushdown Hammer in anticipation of close quarters combat. This approach differs greatly from what is suggested, but since I’m playing on normal difficulty, I am afforded with a little more creative freedom. I utilised shock grenades to slow him down so that I could use the Ravager and drop his shields.

  • Once Bassus’ shields fall, a few strokes of the Gravity Hammer are enough to finish the fight. With Bassus done, I returned my attention to disabling the mining laser, and subsequently finished this mission off. Before returning here, I explored the mission area to ensure I’d found all of the items of note: in a given mission, my priority is to locate all of the Mjolnir lockers and Spartan Cores, with the audio logs being a “nice to have”. Thus, with the mission done, I headed for the waypoint on my screen and prepared to continue on with Halo Infinite.

  • I thus pass through the Forerunner wall that the Banished were trying to drill through with their mining laser, and entered the Conservatory. I didn’t bother swapping out my weapons, so it appears that as I continue, I am going to have to change out my weapons for something a little more appropriate. With this post in the books, I’m quite excited to continue: Halo Infinite has completely modernised the Halo experience, and I’ve had zero complaints with the campaign so far. This is my last post of 2021, and I look forwards to seeing what lies ahead in 2022, both for myself and this here blog.

At this point in time, I’ve fully upgraded my grapple-shot and shields with the various Spartan Cores I’ve found throughout the world, found several interesting Banished weapon variants as a result of taking out high value targets and have spent nearly eight hours in the open world of Zeta Halo just exploring the superbly detailed, West Coast-like environment. The openness of Halo Infinite has meant that there is no shortage of things to do or check out, and while this makes for an unparalleled experience, of providing players with the near-total freedom to play as they wish, that Halo Infinite has an open world component to it has also meant that I’m getting distracted by just how gorgeous Zeta Halo is. I could be content just running around Zeta Halo with a Battle Rifle and Skewer, ruining the lives of all Banished that cross my path, as I search for every last weapon variant and Spartan Core available to me. The fact that Halo Infinite has created this compelling of an experience speaks volumes to the effort that went into bringing Halo into the modern age, and it is saying something that a part of me wants to just stay in this open world forever. However, being a Halo game, complete with a lore and the need to unearth whatever the Banished’s machinations are, I do need to push ahead and continue on with the story. Having now entered the Conservatory, I saw my first loading screen since the first few missions: Halo Infinite has done a fine job of breaking things up, and given what I’ve seen, I am expecting that the Conservatory will be a more traditional, linear mission. After about ten hours of Halo Infinite, then, I can say with confidence that 343 Industries has stricken a great balance between the open world and linear missions to give players a hitherto unmatched experience. Having found a good amount of the collectibles and upgrades, it’s time for me to continue on with the story and see what about the Conservatory makes it so valuable to the Banished. Halo: Combat Evolved had presented players with the Flood as an expected surprise, and a part of me can’t help but wonder what game-changing experience lies ahead, in the labyrinthine interiors of Zeta Halo.

Halo Infinite: Initial Impressions, The Banished, A New Weapon and Setting Foot on Zeta Halo

“The missions change. They always do.” –Master Chief

In the chaos resulting from Cortana’s actions in Halo 5: Guardians, a former faction of the Covenant known as the Banished attack the UNSC Infinity, led by the warlord Atroix, attacks and destroys the UNSC Infinity. Atroix defeats the Master Chief and casts him out into space, where a UNSC pilot, Fernando Esparza, locates him. Their Pelican is captured by a Banished warship, prompting Master Chief to board the warship and disable it. While the Master Chief is working to take out the warship, a beacon is received, hinting at the presence of a “weapon”. Making his way through the cavernous interior of Zeta Halo’s massive interior, Master Chief locates the source of the signal and finds a Cortana-like AI calling herself The Weapon. She explains that her original directive was to delete Cortana and then herself, but somehow managed to survive the process. The Master Chief retrieves her and fights his way to Zeta Halo’s surface, defeating the warlord Tremonius in the process. After clearing out a Banished camp, The Weapon explains that the Banished have taken over UNSC outposts on the surface of Zeta Halo and suggests that clearing them out will give them an advantage as they make to ascertain how many survivors remain from the UNSC Infinity’s destruction. This is Halo Infinite‘s campaign after two-and-a-half hours of gameplay, marking the first time a new Halo’s been available on PC at launch since Halo: Combat Evolved was released, and while 343 Industries’ previous instalment, Halo 5: Guardians, was met with cool reception for introducing a meandering, convoluted story, Halo Infinite makes a bold effort in returning the franchise to its roots. The end result, coming six years after Halo 5: Guardians, shows that for their part, 343 Industries had been successful; the story continues on with the dynamic between Cortana and Master Chief that Halo 4 had portrayed, while at the same time, placing the events on a Halo ring that the series is named after. With a promising new narrative and a return to an iconic setting, Halo Infinite‘s campaign is off to a strong start; everything about Halo Infinite is faithful to the original aesthetic, while at the same time, properly bringing Halo into the modern era.

At the heart of Halo Infinite is a responsive and smooth movement system. In earlier Halo games, movement felt sluggish and slower. Players were limited to walking and jumping. By Halo: Reach, sprinting was added as an armour ability, and this subsequently became an integral part of the game in Halo 4. However, contemporary shooters have very evolved movement systems: Titanfall seamlessly combines wall-running with standard movement, and Battlefield introduced the idea of being able to vault over fences by jumping near them. DOOM similarly implemented a ledge-grabbing feature, where players could automatically catch onto and pull themselves up a ledge if their jumps landed them nearby, and DOOM Eternal further improved this mechanic, making it possible to move around a map in a creative manner. Halo Infinite enters this realm by introducing the grappling hook, which allows Master Chief to latch into and pull himself towards a surface quickly. In addition, Master Chief can also grab onto an enemy with the grappling hook and rappel in for a quick kill, or else pull nearby items close. The grappling hook of Halo Infinite is an upgrade over DOOM Eternal‘s meat hook, which similarly extended gameplay options. A more versatile movement system in Halo Infinite means that map designs can be more creative, allowing keen-eyed players to fully utilise their environment in order to be successful. Together with a visceral and tactile combat system, Halo Infinite is a winner in gameplay: firefights feel immensely satisfying, and the game makes every effort to communicate the results of a player’s actions clearly. Red hit markers are used to let players know when they’ve scored a kill, allowing for attention to be redirected to a new target. The firearms are diverse and unique, creating an environment where picking one’s weapons matter again. Halo Infinite also marks the first time the series deals with boss fights in a traditional manner: before Master Chief can exit Zeta Halo’s tunnels, he must first fight Tremonius, who has a larger health pool and stronger energy shields than standard enemies. The introduction of proper boss fights in Halo adds variety to the game and punctuates moments of exploration and classic firefights with with platforming and strategy. Mechanically, Halo Infinite is built on solid foundations, adding enough new features to modernise gameplay while at the same time, making the core elements of a high standard. In the knowledge that the basics in Halo Infinite are nailed, I can focus my attention on exploration and progression into the story.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Whereas Halo 4 presented a humanity filled with a newfound confidence, Halo Infinite‘s humanity is scattered, hunted and defeated. This is emphasised for the player’s benefit right at the beginning: the UNSC Infinity, mightiest of humanity’s vessels, is under siege, and Master Chief himself is being ragdolled by Atriox despite putting up an impressive showing. The atmosphere Halo Infinite conveys, of humanity being forced onto the backfoot, is consistent with the feeling that originally accompanied the original Halo games.

  • The first mission is set inside a Brute warship, and right out of the gates, I am reminded of Destiny‘s Cabal, whose gargantuan frames and utilitarian ships share parallels with the Brutes’ designs seen in Halo Infinite. Long characterised as a barbaric, war-like species, Brutes favour aggression and strength over finesse, and while Brutes tend to look down on humanity, they aren’t above picking up human weapons off their foes on the battlefield. Here, I wield the Mangler, a mainstay Brute sidearm that fires massive spikes at foes. The weapon is extremely powerful and handles similarly to a slower-firing version of the Halo: Combat Evolved pistol, but with a lower firing rate and projectile drop to balance things out.

  • The UNSC assault rifle in Halo Infinite is the MA40, an evolution of the MA37 seen in Halo 5: Guardians, which is itself a successor to the assault rifles seen in earlier games. An all-around performer, the MA40 is a fast firing weapon with less spread than its predecessors. It is able to hit targets further away with greater reliability than its predecessors, and carries enough ammunition to, in conjunction with grenades, make short work of a crowd of Grunts and Jackals. During this first mission, the entire setting is in the narrow corridors of a Brute warship, bringing to mind how Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 both started in claustrophobic spaces (the Pillar of Autumn and Cairo Station, respectively).

  • The tradition was broken in Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, but Halo 4 has players start in side the Forward Unto Dawn. I actually enjoy these missions because Halo has always excelled in presenting wide-open environments, and coming from the narrow confines of a starship, or the vast caverns Forerunners had built, into a pristine bit of wilderness has always been the most breath-taking moments of a Halo game. Halo Infinite is touted as being a ways more open than any of its predecessors, allowing the game to capitalise on the wonderous setting, but for players beginning their journey, one must get through the first two missions.

  • While this can feel a little arduous, the first two missions actually act as an opportunity to familiarise oneself with Halo‘s newest toy: the grappling hook. This versatile tool has multiple applications, ranging from reaching hard-to-reach places to being able to pull distant items closer. One particularly amusing feature is the fact that the grappling hook can actually latch onto enemies and stun them, leaving them open to attack. When used in conjunction with closing distance, the grappling hook behaves a great deal like DOOM Eternal‘s meathook.

  • The Revenger is a new weapon that fires searing plasma bolts over short distances: projectiles arc and are affected by gravity. This weapon is powerful but cumbersome, and I found its utility to be in softening up groups of enemies before finishing them off. Unlike earlier games, plasma now deals damage to players for a few moments after it is discharged, and it takes a few moments for the plasma to evaporate. This shows how far Halo‘s come: small details like these bring Halo Infinite to life, and also alters the ways players approach the game in subtle ways.

  • The Needler makes a welcome return, and like its predecessors, it is capable of super-combining to create devastating explosions that can kill even Brutes. Once Master Chief reaches the warship’s control room and finds that he is unable to cleanly disable the tractor beams holding Esparza’s Pelican in place, he decides to destroy the ship instead by overloading its engines. The Brute warship begins disintegrating, but the Banish seem unfazed. In the end, Master Chief cannot make it back to Esparza, but fortunately, Esparza is around to pick up up outside the warship’s wreckage.

  • Halo Infinite doesn’t allow players to replay completed campaign levels, and while this decision does seem strange, it appears that 343 Industries was focused on making the core experience solid first, before adding back long-standing features. Like co-op, 343 Industries is suggesting that being able to replay campaign missions to completely collect audio logs, Spartan Cores and other items will be added later on. For me, this is perfectly okay, since I do not expect I’ll be finishing Halo Infinite‘s campaign so quickly that I’ll be replaying missions again for completeness’ sake.

  • After Master Chief retrieves a new communique, Esparza consents to drop him off on Zeta Halo, feeling that whatever weapon Master Chief might be able to acquire could be helpful in getting them both home. Contrasting the utilitarian interiors of the Brute warship, Forerunner architecture is angular, smooth and features plenty of clean lines. In this second missions, Elites are encountered for the first time, and like their classic incarnations, equip energy shields and side-strafe to evade attacks. Classic techniques like the plasma pistol overcharge and any headshot will quickly dispatch them, as will seven Needler rounds.

  • During the open beta, I was a little underwhelmed by the Pulse Carbine: this weapon is basically the Storm Rifle from Halo 4, but fires in four-round bursts rather than on full automatic. The burst properties were quite unknown to me in the beta, but now that I’ve had a chance to get into the campaign, I’ve found that it handles like the Battle Rifle: a single burst at close range will kill weaker enemies, and a burst will also disable a Jackal’s shields. Three bursts will drop an Elite’s shields. The weapon initially appears tricky to use, but the weapon has a very unique property: the plasma rounds travel faster the further they are allowed to travel and the plasma rounds weakly lock onto targets, making it a superb medium range weapon.

  • This past weekend marks the halfway point from the start of December to Christmas, and this past weekend, I enjoyed my first-ever day off since 2017. I ended up using that time to fully finish the Master Grade Kyrios, a process that took five hours from start to finish, and altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed the build. The kit is incredibly detailed, feels solid and looks amazing. Yesterday, I spent most of the morning waiting for new beds and mattresses to arrive, and then by evening, I attended the company Christmas party at a local Italian restaurant. Dinner started with Arancini (stuffed rice balls), Tuscan Bruschetta (a flatbread with tomato, basil, olive oil and a dash of vingear), and a Caprese Salad. The centrepiece was grilled Chicken Parmesan with seasonal vegetables and potatoes, which was superb.

  • After dinner and a desert Saltinbocca, there was a live show, as well. I didn’t arrive home until half an hour to midnight; while I’d been quite exhausted from a longer day, it was also a great chance to get out and celebrate with the team: I had the chance to converse with people I’d not met in-person previously, since we’d been working from home, and the food was fantastic: Italian food is something I don’t have often, and when done well, different dishes have completely different, vivid flavour profiles. With this Christmas party in the books, I only have one more week of work left before my winter vacation begins. I anticipate spending this time handling the remainder of the furniture delivery and assembly, as well as hitting IKEA to pick up any smaller items we’ll need for the new place.

  • In the spare time I have, I’ll aim to continue on with my blogging and wrap up what remains to be written about. This naturally will extend to include Halo Infinite: I am hoping to make a bit of headway into the open world and check out Zeta Halo for myself. Here, I’ve found the Stalker Rifle, a cross between the Beam Rifle and Covenant Carbine from earlier Halo games. This weapon is actually a joy to use, being a highly reliable solution for longer ranges than the automatics and burst fire weapons. In earlier Halo games, I always carried a good medium range weapon and then paired it with whatever the situation demanded. For now, I am holding onto the assault rifle and pulse carbine to fulfil the role of a solid medium range solution.

  • As Master Chief progresses through Zeta Halo, armour upgrades and Spartan Cores will be found. The latter unlock acccess to different abilities that augment the Mjolnir armour’s functionality, while the latter improves an ability’s functions. The approach taken in Halo Infinite brings to mind the likes of Far Cry, which has similar mechanics. For now, I’ve found that the grappling hook to be an ability I am making extensive use of, so I’ll probably focus on getting this one fully upgraded before looking at the other abilities.

  • A few weekends ago, shortly before Halo Infinite was due to launch, uncivilised and counterproductive discussions were occurring on social media, to the point where people were issuing threats against those who disagreed with them, led moderators to temporarily put a hold on all discussion. It was actually shocking to see people defending this level of negativity: someone actually went so far as to claim that excessive negativity is a “human right” because it’s supposedly the “the only mechanism by which people can campaign for, and achieve change and improvement”. This is soundly untrue: change and improvement comes from people acquiring the skills needed to make a tangible difference, and then working hard to reach a point where said change and improvement can be implemented.

  • As it stands, excessively negative individuals have no inherent value to society. This holds true for those who tear down game developers, and it certainly holds true of those who pull anime apart pixel-by-pixel. Criticism is only valuable if it offers a course of action, such as a suggestion for improvement, and in their absence, defenders of negativity are not meritorious of consideration for the simple fact that their aim isn’t to be constructive, but rather, to gain notoriety. Here, I square off against Tremonius: the two Jackals accompanying him can be a distraction, so I finished them off first, before using the Skewer against him. The presence of boss fights in Halo Infinite is a first, but I found this first one to be most enjoyable, a change of pace from the usual firefights.

  • Once Tremonius is beaten, Master Chief will board the elevator and ascend to the surface of Zeta Halo. Players will be greeted with a verdant evergreen forest and blue skies, but there’s little time to enjoy the scenery. This forward operating base is crawling with Banished, and Master Chief must clear them out. However, even if one is short on ammunition after the fight with Tremonius, there’s a plasma turret up on the cliff overlooking the Banished-held territories below. This turret handles similarly to the turrets of older Halo games and will make short work of foes, at the expense of reducing mobility and forcing one into third person mode.

  • After clearing out the first group of enemies, I came under fire from more Banished on the cliff above. They’re standing closely to a bunch of fusion coils, so I ended up burst-firing the assault rifle to set these off, allowing me to easily clear them out without needing to close the distance. This area is meant as an introduction to the sort of world Halo Infinite offers players, suggesting that for a given problem, there are always several solutions one can utilise to complete their goal. The only thing that Halo doesn’t do well is stealth, but beyond this, having a semi-sandbox is going to be quite exciting.

  • After realising the power that amassed fusion coils can provide as a force multiplier, I ended up reaching the platform, waited for the Banished to arrive, and then detonated one of the fusion coils. Upon exploding, these created a chain reaction that cleared out the entire launch pad, leaving a handful of stragglers that could then be mopped up without much effort. In this way, I ended up taking this forward operating base, which, according to in-game documentation, is an area where players can fast travel to, resupply and link up with allied forces.

  • While the possibilities are quite varied, I think that my approach now will be to finish off the side quests and unlock as much of the map as I can before pursuing the story missions. This way, I will have the best possible amount of armour abilities unlocked for the campaign ahead. Here, I’m wielding the Hydra Launcher I picked off Tremonius; this weapon was introduced in Halo 5 and is described as a multiple missile launcher. I’ve only used it to one-shot Brutes, since it handles more like a shotgun than an anti-armour solution. However, unlocking a forward operating base does mean I gain access to more weapons, and this means I’ll be able to kit myself out with my preferred weapons before attempting whatever lies ahead for me in Halo Infinite.

From my two and half hours of time spent in Halo Infinite, it is early to say what themes and motifs Halo Infinite covers. However, I can say that what I’ve experienced has been fun so far, and as such, 343 Industries’ decision to delay Halo Infinite by a full year was a decision that proved wise and appropriate. When the game was showcased in June 2020, it was met with mixed reactions: on one hand, the gameplay and mechanics looked amazing. However, the visuals proved to be a point of contention: Halo Infinite did not particularly look like a modern game, and while the world assets and the lighting looked sharp, textures were still quite lacking. Realising the potential for disaster on account of all the memes that followed, 343 Industries astutely took Halo Infinite back for additional work rather than insisting on a 2020 launch. The end result speaks for itself; Halo Infinite is the smoothest-playing and best-looking Halo game made to date. Textures are more detailed, character models are less uncanny, and overall, Halo Infinite feels precisely what one would expect Halo to be. While the game does have a few flaws (the inability to replay campaign missions, absence of co-op mode and a poorly thought-out progression system for the multiplayer come to mind), overall, once I set foot on Zeta Halo and captured Tremonius as a forward operating base, all of these issues melted away as I began considering what my next actions should be: I can continue to clear out areas of the map and make travel easier by finishing the side missions, or I can press forward with the story and see how The Weapon and Master Chief’s experiences unfold, delving deeper into the secrets that Zeta Halo contain. One thing is for sure; seeing the distinctive curvature of the Halo ring on the horizon, rendered using modern game engines, is an absolutely astounding sight to behold.