Impressions: The Halo Infinite Multiplayer Flight

Halo News

Hello Spartans! I hope that all of the readers here were able to partake in the 343 Halo Infinite multiplayer limited-time flight that occurred over the weekend. Although, I know that is probably not the case. I almost missed out on this opportunity myself. My account was not gifted with the invite. Luckily, my wife’s account was. Neither one of us can remember when she signed up for the preview program. It was straight-up lucky that we even checked her account. We both loved the flight and cannot wait to be able to play the new Halo multiplayer experience together.  We had a lot of fun learning the new weapons and maps together side-by-side.  It was even better than having your own personalized AI assistant.  For example, I do not believe my AI assistant once provided motivation or criticism with phrases like, “move your ass,” or “try not dying this time”. I will forward all e-sports coaching requests to my wife. Thanks!

Bot Slayer

What Halo fan worth their salt would have ever thought that the Halo community would be enamored with a game mode titled Bot Slayer? To take that further, who could possibly imagine that said bots would actually be this functional?  This franchise is notorious for laughably bad AI in the campaigns.  Adding them to multiplayer would have been a hysterical notion not so long ago.  I mentioned that the AI must be vastly improved in my last Halo article after this was showcased in the Halo Infinite Multiplayer reveal earlier this summer. I just did not expect for them to be so well done, nor for them to be so lethal.  

The flight started off with these bots on their lowest difficulty and they increased in difficulty until they reached the hardest Spartan class.  The community was already discussing how formidable the bots were on the lower difficulties in the first few days.  After players were able to play through all the various bot difficulties, we were gifted with a short PVP social slayer experience.  I think I had better luck with taking down human players at times than I did against the Spartan bots.  I’ve been playing Halo now for almost half my lifetime.  It’s not too hard to predict how people will respond to an attack.  Bots on the other hand seemed to sometimes be more strategic in those “one-shot” or “absolute” moments. 

These Spartan bots were no joke.  There were several times where I would be fighting a bot around a power weapon spawn like the sniper rifle or the impaler.  The bot would be camping the pad. As soon as it spawned, I would be no scoped at the last possible second and immediately once the weapon was obtained.  I also had bots do some really aggressive flanks, grenade bounces, and they were much more reserved and would disengage when vulnerable much more often than a human player would.  In other words, they would not peak a corner with no shields.  I found myself waiting for this typical human-like behavior only to push the corner and the bot was nowhere to be found. I quickly learned not to push two bots alone.  The team shooting on these bad boys/girls is not to be underestimated. 

The Weapons

The weapons featured in the flight were well balanced and they felt fresh.  Even the Assault Rifle felt like a viable option.  The Sidekick pistol somehow immediately found its place among the legendary Halo pistols of yore. I noticed some of my old Halo friends opting to lead with the pistol, while some would lead with the AR.  These both were starting weapons over the weekend. Both styles of play seemed rewarding when I implemented them.  The new weapons were really fun and easy to learn.  I think that my favorite new weapon is the Commando which at first glance seems like a DMR variant. However, this weapon should be thought of as more of a blend of the Assualt Rifle and the Battle Rifle. It fires automatically, but slower than the AR and has a bit more range.  It is not quite as precise as the BR if the fire is sustained.

By the way, the Halo 2 styled Battle Rifle felt really good as well.  The gun feels really powerful.  That is mostly due to the amazing sound tech that really brings the weapon to life. I did not get near enough time with the shotgun variants as I would have liked.  I hope to revisit these in the next flight. 

I was not much of a fan of the newly-styled pulse carbine rifle.  Maybe it will grow on me. I know of some people who like it. I did not really care for the slow tracking of the plasma burst.  I was really looking for a faster version without the auto-tracking that I could pair with the Sidekick for a quick headshot after dropping shields with the former energy weapon.  The Heat Wave was a really fun close-range weapon.  It is an energy-based weapon that shoots a line horizontal line of heated plasma or energy. It also features an alternate fire mode which is a more powerful verticle line that uses up more energy.  Power weapons like the sniper, rocket launcher, and hammer are back.  I will say that the hammer paired with a grapple hook is probably the most epic combo ever. Still, I eagerly await getting my hands on a sword and Invisibility shield when the game does finally launch. 

Equipment Makes A Come-Back  

Halo 3 styled equipment is back, but in a more viable and fun way than ever before.  The various equipment feels well implemented and thought through.  The grappling hook is by far the most interesting.  Although, I believe that the earlier trailers oversold the reach of this pick-up or it has been dialed back in the range department since its earlier debut.  I specifically remember trying to grapple up to the ceiling from a similar spot in the trailer to get the drop on an enemy on a ledge and the grapple just would not reach the ceiling on Recharge in the main room.  Perhaps it was a user error, but I really thought that it would have more range on it. 

Another mentionable is the drop shield wall, I really like that this shield is a one-way shielding tech.  I was able to fire from behind the cover and have a bit more time to finish off a spartan.  These were great for holding down a hallway or an objective where they may not be another cover available.  The wall would deplete in sectional squares.  This still provided some remaining cover but allowed for enemy fire to pass through too. This forced me to use the shield wall more strategically over the life of the shield battery.  This equipment comes in twos and I had a good laugh watching a teammate use both in tandem to effectively create a shield bubble from H3.

Armor Mods

This equipment has been improved in its functionality.  For the most part, the overshield and invisibility shield works the same way.  Except one significant change has been implemented.  These can now be picked up as equipment and they can be utilized at will. Historically, when these armor mods were obtained then they have applied automatically at that moment.  Be warned, if you are killed without using it then the enemy team can loot it from your cold dead fingers.  I was able to time using my invisibility shield to drop in behind several bots and take them out easily using this new feature.  Similarly, I was able to use the Over Shield more strategically by conserving it for the application while in cover after my shields had been damaged or for ambushing two Spartans at once.

The Maps

Over the weekend three maps were shown; Bazaar, Live Fire, and Recharge.  Each map possessed its own theme and was rather fun.  I will say that Bazaar felt a bit underwhelming in the visuals department. Functionally, it played well.  It looks like it was ripped right out of a Call of Duty game and it is absent of many Halo elements that one would expect to find.  Halo maps are known to be iconic and this one just seems bland, but functional.  The map’s description references Mombasa, which was glassed during the events of Halo 3 and ODST.  I would have rather seen more of the ODST aesthetic or spiritual inspiration come from there. 

The East African Protectorate’s plan to rebuild the glassed urban core of Mombasa was ambitious and expensive, but Project Rebirth investment by the UEG and UNSC activity at the nearby Voi Excession has revitalized some sections of the metropolis.

Recharge

This was my favorite map.  I love the lines of sight on it and the verticality.  This is the one that features the grapple hook and hammer combo. It is also the one that provides a good opportunity to launch the hammer off the spawn plate with a sticky grenade. It features some well-positioned vantage points to secure and hold. Be sure to utilize the clamber to get to the high ground and shoot down on your enemies from above. The only downside to this map is that at first glance it does not seem to have any lore or easily recognizable inspiration for the theme.  This map could be featured in the upcoming campaign and that would make it more significant.

Resource infrastructure facilities such as those run by Axys’ hydroelectric division help maintain stable energy grids for colony worlds throughout the UEG.

Live Fire

I like the aesthetic and the lore that surrounds this map.  Although it seemed rather large to me for 4v4 slayer. There were times were there some lulls in the gunfights or even “hide and seek” moments. I think that it could easily feature some of the smaller vehicles to utilize the external areas of the map. While the map features rather large outside areas; it does have some nicely laid out interiors as well. This is particularly the case for the middle of the map, which allows for some close-quartered gunfights and a way to traverse the map without being out in the open. The best part about this map is that it is dedicated to our favorite Sarge!  I can’t wait to play some capture the flag on this map.  It seems well laid out for some objective game modes that were not featured in the flight.  

Instructors at the Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science ensure their Spartans are prepared for any challenge that a hostile galaxy throws at them.

Marching Orders

Even if the chance was missed to play in the initial flight; stay tuned to MHG for upcoming flight details.  Be sure to sign up for the upcoming flights on Halo Waypoint via the Insider Program.  Check out this spartan company if you’re looking for a fireteam! We’re a casual group of players that are very inclusive and new players are welcome!

I’m Hooked 

Ultimately, how could one not be motivated to play the newest installment?  The flight has been a helluva good time and that is taking into account the frame drops, bugs, and sound glitching.  That is not to mention that 343 only provided us with a sampling of the weapons, modes, maps, and battle pass content.  The multiplayer portion of Halo is what will carry the game into the future. I am excited to see this much positivity around the first flight.  I think that 343 and Microsoft have finally crafted a Halo experience, built for fans, that somehow manages to walk the balancing beam that includes both nostalgia, a modern multiplayer experience, and a return to a more classic Halo PVP gunfight.  I do not think that I have nor can I adequately describe how difficult it must have been to nail that very precise target, but 343 seems to have been successful.  That is coming from my standpoint as well as the communities initial feedback of the resounding, “Give us more Halo,” on Monday when the flight ended. 

 

Josh is a husband and a father to a family that loves to game together. He first experienced video games on the SNES. He is a strong believer that video games are best enjoyed with good company and a strong brew of coffee.

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