Halo Infinite’s First Year Has Been An Unsurprising Mess

When was the last time you heard someone say something nice about Halo Infinite? Let me rephrase that actually – when was the last time you heard someone say anything about Halo Infinite? Since its explosive launch last December, this new chapter in Master Chief’s space-faring adventure has fallen off in a big way, failing to capture the attention of even hardcore fans (read: that’s me!) with its lethargic live-service model and unwillingness to change with the times. Right now, I’m struggling to see a future where it can stick around.

In the months since its overlong first season wrapped, the headlines have been dominated by a delayed campaign co-op mode, delayed Forge mode, high profile departures, and a mix of seasonal events that are far too dependent on grinding and challenges than offering experiences that push the gameplay formula forward. Infinite is old school Halo, for better and for worse, and I’m unsure its tried-and-true approach can cut it in the modern era.

I was all over Halo Infinite at first. My review for the campaign was glowing, given how it soft rebooted the existing trilogy and introduced us to new and existing characters before setting a foundation for stories to come. None of those are yet to materialise or even be teased, meaning we’ve been given little more than a prologue to this universe and no communication about the future. Can we expect a new game? A full expansion? Narrative woven into each new multiplayer season? There are no answers, and an increasingly large pile of questions.

From a distance, it feels like Halo Infinite wasn’t quite ready for launch, or the roadmap for its future was thrown together in a slapdash manner since after delaying the game for a full year following a six-year wait, you could hardly do it again. So the campaign was cut down for size and the multiplayer was thrown out as a free-to-play experiment that is yet to pay off.

Many of those who helped steer the course in its closing months have now jumped ship, leaving the game in new, unprepared hands as Microsoft remains silent. 343 Industries keeps us updated on the Waypoint Blog sometimes, but compared to its competitors this cadence isn’t enough. I’m not cheering for crunch or more content pumped out to satiate my gamer needs, but a blunt conversation needs to be had about where Halo Infinite went wrong and what needs to change in order for it to become sustainable.

Regular updates introducing small nuggets of lore and intel that build out the larger universe are all well and good, and cosmetics outside the regular battle pass are welcome, but a single glimpse at Fortnite or Apex Legends makes Halo Infinite look prehistoric. Its armour system is dull and lifeless, its game modes are fading classics, and much too focused on certain niches instead of seeking to draw in a new audience.

Campaign co-op and Forge Mode should have been here in the first place, so their late arrival and communication with an existing community instead of a vested interest in attracting new players has allowed Infinite to fade into the background, becoming a rare subject of conversation often met with disappointment and pity. I want it to be better, and know it can be, but right now it doesn’t ignite any passion nor inspire me to jump back in.

There is no seasonal hook, no big story development or features designed for lapsed players to stumble upon new trailers or screenshots on Twitter to realise they might be missing out. I know it’s going to be the same old Halo doing the same old thing with no desire to change, and that dedication to its own legacy might be its eventual undoing. 12 months ago I was ready for Halo Infinite to take over the world, but its first anniversary will be marked by little more than apathy as those who once had so much faith in it have long walked away. 2023 could be better, but only if the fundamentals are uprooted and tough choices are made.

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