Halo Infinite Campaign Review
The Master Chief returns after a 6-year hiatus in Halo Infinite. Does the latest intergalactic adventure reignite the epic saga? My full review.
As both the Xbox platform and Halo franchise reach 20-year milestones, gamers have a new chapter in Halo Infinite to celebrate with. It’s quite fitting, as both have been integral to the other’s success. The Xbox platform has always been synonymous with Halo, far and away the brand’s biggest game. You could argue that without Halo, Xbox might not enjoy the global appeal it has today.
"You could argue that without Halo, Xbox might not enjoy the global appeal it has today."
I’ve been there since day one, circa 2001 with the Master Chief. Halo: Combat Evolved was the first game I fired up on my original Xbox and I’ve played every Halo game since. I dove into every piece of media related to the game I could find; reading the novels, comics, animated shorts absorbing all the lore around the franchise. I have been ready and waiting for the Halo Infinite experience the moment it was announced, and finally here we are.
The road to the latest installment in the franchise has been fraught with challenges and a long delay to get things just right. That time was very well spent, with Halo Infinite emerging with new, sharper visuals and a host of technical improvements. 343 Industries doubled down on their vision and delivered an experience that fans old and new will love.
After spending well over 25 hours with the latest installment from finishing the campaign, to thoroughly exploring the open world of Zeta Halo 343i has returned the franchise to its highest pedigree yet.
"343i has returned the franchise to its highest pedigree yet."
Halo Infinite stays true to its unique first-person shooter roots, while modernizing gameplay in extremely satisfying ways. It adds the new Grapple Shot and Thruster to increase player mobility, ratcheting up the action. The story is clear and engaging with better enemy backstories that go a lot deeper than in past entries. After a long development cycle, Halo Infinite has returned climbing to the top of my “Game of the Year” list.
Let’s touchdown on Zeta Halo and explore what makes this 343i’s best Halo experience yet.
Halo Infinite details
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series S | X and Windows PC
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Genre: First-person shooter
Modes: Single player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Story – A love letter to Halo fans
The game puts you into the cybernetic boots of Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. It's all Master Chief, all the time – an adventure that rests squarely on the shoulders of the futuristic Spartan.
"It's all Master Chief, all the time"
In Halo Infinite Chief is facing down his most brutal opponent yet with The Banished. This faction of mercenaries returns from Halo Wars 2, and is formed primarily from former Covenant fighters. If you are long-time Halo fan, they are the “perfect” foe, as their ranks include classic enemies like grunts, hunters, elites, jackals and brutes. I won’t spoil anything, but there are other enemy types that also join the fray...
"...they are the “perfect” foe, as their ranks include classic enemies like grunts, hunters, elites, jackals and brutes."
Our last hope
Humanity finds itself in the throes of defeat against the ruthless Banished, a foe I found to be far more emotionally driven than past baddies in the series. Their true motivation and deeper drive to exterminate humankind becomes clearer toward the end of the game and strikes a chord. I found The Banished to be the most compelling foe in a Halo game yet. Chief and The Banished aren’t alone on the ring, again no spoilers, but you’ll face-off against new enemies that add to the variety of action.
"I found The Banished to be the most compelling foe in a Halo game yet."
I need a weapon
Rescued by a marooned UNSC pilot, you now need to pick up the pieces of your scattered forces and mount an attack. Against all odds it is up to you to drop onto Zeta Halo's surface and retrieve a new artificial intelligence (AI). Known only by codename "The Weapon," she is your best chance against the throngs of enemies hell bent on your destruction. Masterfully voiced by Jen Taylor, this new AI is very endearing, with limited knowledge of the past, she has an almost child-like innocence. The Weapon also asks questions throughout the campaign that help to fill in the story gaps for newer players and provide Halo vets a refresher on past events.
The portrayal of the always stoic Master Chief has been given a new level of emotion thanks to an excellent performance from Steve Downes. Between The Weapon, the unnamed "UNSC pilot" and Master Chief, the characters have an excellent dynamic as they face off against the challenges the new Halo throws at them.
The entire campaign takes place on a single Halo ring (Installation 07) with a very brief space-based sortie at the start of the game. Although it’s a single installation, this is the largest Halo yet, bigger than the campaigns of both Halo 4 and 5 combined.
"Although it’s a single installation, this is the largest Halo yet, bigger than the campaigns of both Halo 4 and 5 combined."
The open world map features smaller side missions and secrets to unlock and discover, but the campaign experience is tightly woven into this massive area. At first, I was apprehensive about the open world approach with Halo. After all, the series has always been about massive set pieces that unfold via a linear path. Infinite offers the best of both worlds, with a tight narrative experience and a Halo sandbox to explore long after the credits roll.
Visual presentation – A stunning experience
The art style and level design in Halo Infinite is fantastic, it pays homage to the past while delivering a modern style for the new era of Halo. Thanks to the power of the Xbox Series X | S this is hands down the best-looking game in the franchise. The level of detail in the environments is stunning; from cold, sterile structures to the beautiful flora and fauna found around the ring world.
"Thanks to the power of the Xbox Series X | S this is hands down the best-looking game in the franchise."
A more dynamic alien world
The skyboxes and dynamic day/night cycles are absolutely breathtaking. I often found myself climbing to the highest nearby peak to watch the sun rise and set. This, in combination with different forms of wildlife like birds, fireflies and rodents scurrying around make Zeta feel truly alive. Currently, there are some weather elements such as wind and fog but there is no snow or rain.
"I often found myself climbing to the highest nearby peak to watch the sun rise and set."
A lack of environmental variety
One thing that is sorely missing from the experience is a wider variety of biomes. My most fond memories from Halo: Combat Evolved is ripping through the snow in a Scorpion Tank in Assault on the Control Room. Halo Infinite’s open world features very green sub-biomes and scorched Earth areas called "Deadlands.” Outside of those there isn't much else, they are beautiful to behold but jungles, deserts and snowscapes would have been ideal.
Aside from that, the vistas are stunning, with plenty of details and animations that make the ring come alive.
Gameplay – The Halo experience perfected
Halo Infinite’s gameplay is quite simply perfection. 343i has found a way to fuse classic and modern gameplay elements together and they work flawlessly in tandem. This is mostly attributed to the inclusion of the new Grapple Shot, which stands out as the biggest change to the overall formula.
"Halo Infinite’s gameplay is quite simply perfection."
As a Halo purist, I wasn’t sure about the new mobility device when it was first introduced. After playing through the campaign and using it in dozens of multiplayer games, this is the addition the series has needed for a long time. It modernizes the Halo experience for a new generation providing more speed while still maintaining the classic gameplay loop.
There’s nothing like climbing a cliff face on Zeta Halo, or zip lining to hijack a Ghost from a hapless foe. You can also cover a ton of ground zipping through trees and across the landscape. Bungie, the franchises original developer, focused on an ethos of "30 seconds of fun" to keep players constantly engaged. 343i not only followed this philosophy but slapped a grappling hook on it, modernizing the formula to produce the most responsive gameplay yet.
Halo Infinite is the best gameplay aspects of the series synthesized into FPS bliss. The core gameplay loop is extremely addictive, and exceeded my expectations at every turn.
Final thoughts – A new era of Halo has arrived
Halo Infinite’s campaign is the grand opus that fans have been waiting for, it's new, yet very familiar at the same time. The wait was long, but it was well worth it, introducing new elements to the series that will ensure its spot alongside other FPS behemoths for years to come. The story plays things a little too safe, but overall provides a satisfying conclusion leaving me excited for what comes next.
The gameplay is very addictive making it hard to put down and with all the hidden easter eggs on Zeta Halo, you won't want to stop playing. There is more to explore in this campaign than any other in the series. The new mobility options paired with perfectly balanced weapons keep gameplay fresh after hours of battles. The new era of Halo has arrived, and it’s something fans new and old need to experience.
Halo Infinite Campaign PROS
+The game has a stunning visual design
+Massive sprawling open world with plenty to explore and unlock
+Refined combat feels incredible
Halo Infinite Campaign CONS
-Story plays it a little too “safe”
-Open world Zeta Halo has a lot of potential but needs a greater variety of activities
-Lack of different biomes hurts long term appeal
Overall Rating: 36/40 (90%)
A copy of the game was provided by Xbox for the purpose of this review.