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Halo Infinite is causing waves, both good and bad

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So Halo Infinite’s multiplayer “beta” has been out for a few weeks now, and we’re less than 48 hours away from launch. I intended to write a review shortly after we had the Multiplayer beta in our hands, but the launch has been turbulent.

There seems to be a schism within the community with many positive and negative feedback for 343 Industries on their latest Halo title.

What it boils down to, however, is this common theme: Everyone loves the gameplay, with little feedback, but everyone’s fuming over the progression system and what has been described as a “predatory” monetisation system.

Beyond progression, there’s been a lot of criticism around the game’s lack of content, lack of gameplay unlocks, forced crossplay and lack of core multiplayer playlists.

Progression System Backlash

Halo Infinite has been widely lauded for its gameplay, a return to form and an authentic Halo experience. Unfortunately, that positive reception has been equally met with staunch criticism of the games progression system or apparent lack thereof.

The game features no essential XP based rank progression system, synonymous with most modern Halo titles. In particular, Halo Reach, which many have referred to as a quintessential progression experience. Instead, users can only progress a battle pass which offers both a free and paid tier.

The only way to progress that battle pass is to complete challenges, these range from finishing a match to getting a certain number of assists or flag captures. These challenges have already undergone two significant changes as 343 Industries attempts to address criticism from the player base.

The Core Progression Issue

The criticism of the feedback system has centred predominately around the fact that players are not rewarded for playing the game; instead, they’re forced to play how the challenges dictate.

For example, a challenge may require a user to play five games of Capture the Flag in PvP. The issues are that this forces the player to play one game mode, and moreover: players can’t choose which game modes they would like to play.

These issues are amplified for challenges that require players to conduct particular tasks, hypothetically a task such as “Get 10 Wasp Kills in Big Team Battle.”.

Once you get into these more specific challenges, you kind of hit a brick wall. You either play just to grind challenges, or you play for fun. The game is fun, don’t get me wrong. That said, it’s becoming a common theme where players ignore playing the objectives to do challenges; to the detriment of their team.

343 Industries Response On Progression

The response initially was to install a system of 50xp per match challenges, which means to progress one battle pass tier, you would need to complete 20 matches without completing other challenges. They also doubled the duration of Double XP tokens to 1 hour.

The community regarded this as a bandaid solution and was clearly, and progression remained extremely slow. As a result, this system was changed again to accommodate additional XP for players first seven games each day.

But these additional XP grants don’t address the issues that matter to the community. For example, players don’t feel rewarded for their time or skill. In Halo Reach, you were given per match XP, XP for medals and random XP grants.

You felt rewarded for playing, and more so for playing well.

Lack Of Content

Players have been quick to point out that there’s a lack of game modes, maps, forge, and co-op for the launch of the campaign. This has left many people questioning what the development team has been doing for the last six years.

It’s a tired point, but it’s worth noting, we’ve been living in a pandemic, and the team has done an extensive overhaul of the games engine.

Custom Games

There have been many issues reported by players and prominent content creators online who have been trying to start and play game modes. Without blowing this article out too far, I’ll summarise the issues in one-liners:

Players report being unable to start a custom game without the game crashing.

Players report party leadership randomly changing and being unable to start a custom game.

Players report being unable to save their custom game modes to file share.

Limited Matchmaking Playlists

Halo Infinite’s multiplayer matchmaking offering is minimal. Players can choose from only four options:

Quick Play, offers CTF, Oddball, Strongholds and Slayer.

Bot Arena, offers the same modes as Quick Play, but in a PvE (Bots) mode.

Big Team Battle, offers Slayer, CTF, Stockpile and Total Control.

Ranked Arena, offers the same as Quick Play but with BR starts and no radar. Players may also choose to play in Open 4v4 matches or in closed, platform-specific solo or duo matches. It’s worth noting that this is even fewer options than Halo 5 launched with, which yielded universal criticism at the time.

When you compare this playlist offering to that of Halo Reach, it’s extremely woeful.

Event Playlist Trimming (Fiesta) & Specific Challanges

I want to touch on this quickly, it seems that Fiesta was deliberately cut for the “Fracture: Tenrai” event, which has an “event battle pass” that users need to progress in order to unlock the Tenrai armour. The catch however is that you can only progress this event battle pass by completing challenges specific to the event.

Moreover, the player is given the option to skip the queue by heading to the store and buying Tenrai armour components and shaders.

Ranked Playlists Controversy

There has been some controversy around the ranked playlist as the 4v4 Open matchmaking mode forces players to play crossplay. This has left many console players feeling out of place when faced with the prospect of cheaters playing on PC.

Cheaters are already becoming an issue in Halo Infinite, as with any free to play title on PC. John Junyszek tweeted about cheaters (below), stating that 343 is committed to preventing cheating through improvements to the game.

Though, most console players are arguing that they should simply be given the ability to turn off crossplay as is offered in most other Triple-A titles.

No Forge, No Co-Op (At Launch)

Whilst 343 Industries has been upfront about this, it’s disappointing, and it’s again been delayed. We were initially told by 343 Industries that Co-Op would be pushed to Season 2 and Forge to Season 3. Season 2’s start date has been pushed back to May.

The concern here is that a content vacuum will be detrimental for the games official launch. Unfortunately, it’s also bringing back many memories of Halo 5’s precarious launch cycle.

Some could argue that 343 has not released a complete Halo game since they took over the franchise, although I would say that Halo 4 came close.

Predatory Montetisation

It seems that the description of “millions of customisations” and “items you’ll unlock purely through gameplay” were just a little bit of marketing spin.

It’s been widely reported elsewhere that there are no free-to-play customisation items in Halo Infinite, none. Furthermore, a data miner has discovered it would cost players approximately $1035 (USD) or $1453 (AUD) to purchase every upcoming armour bundle from the in-game store.

r/Halo Closed

The extreme criticism of the game’s current multiplayer situation led to the r/Halo subreddit being closed over a weekend. Unfortunately, this followed threats of violence and a week of intense turmoil.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve only scratched the surface of some of the complaints aired by the community, and whilst 343 has made attempts to respond, those responses feel disingenuous.

It’s very clear that 343 is seeing the feedback. It’s clear that 343 is going to make changes. What’s not clear is what those changes will be and when we will see them.

This lack of clarity and a clearly defined roadmap leads to endless speculation and, thus the intense criticism online.

I will say this, though; the gameplay is excellent. But if 343 Industries doesn’t address these issues sooner rather than later, the multiplayer player could suffer an early death.

With the campaign launching tomorrow and the holiday period ahead, I don’t think we will hear too much until early next year.

Until then, see you in the Arena Spartan!

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