Halo Infinite is hard to recognize as Halo. It does many things right, but not all of these things are what make Halo right. The first two levels are very much like linear Halo. Full of long Forerunner environments and, Grunts, Brutes, etc., these levels help you in using the Grapplershot and introduce you to new weapons, which is great. After that, the actual campaign starts, and you find yourself on Zeta Halo which is entirely open world.
Introduction to Halo Infinite’s Open World
Halo Infinite‘s open world map is simple and notably sparse. Often, you will only find a few Brutes and other enemies as you explore. This is not to say that Zeta is barren, but the large expanses will frequently leave you looking for what to do next.
Now, you can find bases and enemies, but unless you like exploring, you will not find waves of Elites charging you. Without intentionally searching for enemies, your gameplay experience will likely be calm and quiet. This is where Halo infinite can make it or break it for you. The game itself is nice, but you no longer have that linear action the prior games had. In some ways, its rewarding; in others, it’s a slog.
The game captivates you with new sights and secrets to discover, and gear like the Grapplershot only makes exploration more intuitive and fun. The problem is, the game begins feeling less like Halo around and maybe more akin to Breath of the Wild. You can still attack enemy bases while you hijack vehicles to more, which is great. It’s in these self-driven moments of pseudo-linear action that the game feels the most alive.
New Gear and Upgrades
Although I might be using the Grapplershot all the time, it is not the only new addition. You now can upgrade and level up Masterchief’s armor. From his shield, to the Grapplershot, and more, you can advance and personalize as you play through the campaign. The way you go about leveling and upgrading your armor is by doing missions to save Marines and fellow Spartans. You can also hunt bounties for new weapons and also explore the many vistas of Zeta Halo for Spartan Cores. There are even a a few minor accessories and customizations for the multiplayer discoverable in the campaign.
These kinds of missions make exploring Zeta Halo much more engaging, and the graphics and lovely landscapes will catch your eye with ease.
The Story’s Focus
Halo Infinite does not feel as intense as the prior games in regards to your goals. It has more of a focus on the character of Masterchief and those around him as you play through the game. You get to see some good development from Chief and how he feels about those around him in subtle ways. He doesn’t say much, but what he says and does is enough to enjoy.
Even when you see Chief lending an ear to dying Spartans or stressed out Soldiers, he only does what he can. The story often shows instead of tells, to great effect. This sort of character study shifts the focus away from the grand plot and more towards Chief, which admittedly makes the grand plot less important to me. That being said, I do see more strength in the character development behind Chief, overall a positive element.
All I can say is that Halo Infinite trying new things is great, but the new things don’t feel like Halo. Linearity never was a weakness to the franchise, and having a open world doesn’t feel like it was needed. Halo 3 ODST had a nice sandbox map in New Mombasa that worked fantastic. It felt alive, dangerous, had much to explore, and kept up with the action and thrills. And that was all in a MUCH smaller map. Zeta Halo simply doesn’t have as much going for it.
Although it has fantastic sights that had me staring, loving being able to see and explore the world, I never found Halo’s environments uninteresting before. I don’t think Halo Infinite needed Zeta Halo the way that it is. Some changes aren’t always improvements.
With all that being said, I suggest trying Halo Infinite if you are up for trying an open-world Halo game or like the concept of it. Halo Infinite doesn’t quite feel like Halo, but it is still a solid game that’s likely worth your time.
Finally, if you’re interested in Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer experience, you can see my first impressions of the multiplayer here.