Before I criticize Halo Infinite, I’ll preface this by proudly admitting I’m a longtime Halo fan. Two days after the original Xbox was released, I was already dozens of hours deep into Halo: Combat Evolved. In the months and years that followed, I’d sink hundreds of joy-soaked hours into the Halo CE campaign and the LAN-based multiplayer. Lugging the Xbox and my heavy Plasma TV to a friend’s house and playing amid a mass of ethernet and controller cables? Been there, done that. Those are among my best gaming memories.
But the core attraction of this franchise (at least the FPS variants) has always been the exceptional gunplay. It’s the weighted feeling of its imaginative weapons and the Spartans wielding them. The sustained firefights requiring strategy and map awareness. Or the comedic chaos that erupts in Big Team Battles.
Play Halo Infinite, Don’t Grind It
To put this bluntly: Halo Infinite is insanely fun to play. The keyword there is “play.” It’s the verb we’ve always used to describe video games, right? We shouldn’t be grinding. We should be playing.
By now you’re aware the
gaming community vocal minority has lashed out at 343 Industries, complaining about the unusually slow pace at which players rank up their Battlepass. (Some even threatened to abandon the game entirely, despite it still being technically a beta.)
Regardless of its cost of entry (in this case nothing), Halo Infinite is an outstanding multiplayer shooter. It doesn’t need the constant lure of new loot and armor enhancements and XP progression to remain fun as hell. I’ve been perfectly satisfied with the pacing of new unlocks. That’s probably because I’m too busy having fun to worry about what my Spartan looks like.
343 Giveth, and 343 Taketh Away
Having said all that, something unexpected happened to me over the weekend.
My weekly challenges dried up.
It ended on a high note, with the game asking me to get 5 Killing Sprees in Fiesta Slayer. I happily obliged, racking up kills with the Scorpion tank and Gravity Hammer.
The match ended, my Ultimate reward popped onscreen, and then… nothing. It was Sunday morning. I’d have to wait until Tuesday for the weeklies to reset.
Bear in mind that I’m not remotely a guy who’s playing Halo Infinite for 8 hours a day.
So, I put the controller down and searched my feelings. I was met with a confusing sense of emptiness. A slight lack of purpose.
Make no mistake. I would pay $40 to $60 just for the multiplayer portion of Halo Infinite. I didn’t need the Battlepass to augment the game’s fun factor. I’d been playing Halo multiplayer without all of that for 20 years.
But now that 343 had given me a taste, the game felt emptier without those challenges.
Forget about the rewards you get as you climb the level ladder. I wasn’t missing them.
It’s just that I got quickly addicted to having a sidequest or two to tackle during each match. Something off in my peripheral to strive for. Perhaps a task that pushed the limits of my skills, or challenged me to learn a new weapon or tactic.
And let’s be honest with each other, the daily “challenge” of simply playing a match? That’s going to happen anyway. There’s nothing interesting about it.
I’m well aware that Halo’s (hopefully) successful transition to the free-to-play model won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen without some scrapes and bruises along the way. But after we remove everything else involved in this discussion — the XP progression, the Battlepass, the various rewards — what remains is that Weekly Challenges shouldn’t simply dry up.
Greeting your accomplishment of finishing weeklies with the absence of more to do doesn’t feel like a reward. It feels like more of a punishment.