• Matthew Rondina

Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview Impressions

The Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview offered the first hands-on experience for the blockbuster title, my full impressions.

It’s a special time for both Halo and the Xbox platform as they celebrate their 20-year anniversary.


Here we are two decades later, and both have just gotten better with age. They’ve each faced their trials and tribulations but, in the end, have come out stronger – case in point, Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer Technical Test.

"Here we are two decades later, and both have just gotten better with age."

Last summer saw a tumultuous debut with Halo Infinite’s gameplay. Considering this, Microsoft made the difficult decision to delay the release of their flagship title to late 2021. Fast-forward to the conclusion of this weekend’s Multiplayer Technical Preview and it was the right decision.


This short sampling of Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer mode is some of the most fun I’ve ever had with the series. The decision to delay and finetune was the right one, the game plays and feels excellent.

"The decision to delay and finetune was the right one, the game plays and feels excellent.

Any worries about the online component of the game have been completely dispelled. After going hands-on all weekend with Halo Infinite Multiplayer, I came away extremely impressed. The vintage Halo experience is back, bringing with it many exciting new changes.

Boarding the Halo Infinite Multiplayer Test Flight


The technical flight was available to those who were selected through the Halo Waypoint website. The preview featured two modes: Arena Slayer vs. Bots and Academy Weapon Drills. The multiplayer team slayer component had 4 real-life players face off against bots. The Academy offered a series of weapon-based challenges on a firing range allowing players to rack up points for skillful efficient kills. It offered a look at new weapons like the ultra-powerful Skewer.

Academy Weapon Drills


One of the key components in Halo’s signature gameplay has always been the series’ well-balanced, precision weapons. The Tech Test included the Academy Weapon Drills which gave players the chance to practice with each of Halo Infinite’s weapons. The mode appears to be an extension of a larger training mode for players. It provided a great way to experiment with armaments. The mode lines up bots on a firing range so you can test out how each weapon functions.


From classic weapons like the MA40 AR to the Pulse Carbine the armoury was fully stocked. Here’s a full list of weapons that I was able to experiment within the Weapon Drills mode:

  • MA40 AR

  • BR75

  • MK50 Sidekick

  • CQS48 Bulldog

  • Needler

  • VK78 Commando

  • S7 Sniper

  • Plasma Pistol

  • Pulse Carbine

  • Ravager

  • Heatwave

  • Skewer

Mainstay weapons were not included in the flight's Weapon Drills, like the rocket launcher so it’s fair to assume more are coming. The overall feeling of the arsenal was fantastic offering that signature Halo precision from weapons like the MA40 Automatic Rifle. One of the stars of the Tech Test for me was the BR75 Battle Rifle, the balancing and accuracy was excellent. It was hand downs the best version of the BR I have ever used in the Halo series, let’s hope its stellar balancing carries through to the final game.

"The overall feeling of the arsenal was fantastic offering that signature Halo precision from weapons like the MA40 Automatic Rifle."

Arena Slayer vs. Bots


Beta testers were taking on AI-driven bots that had gradually increasing difficulty as the Tech Test progressed. The first wave of bots were on the easy, or “Marine” difficulty, followed by more challenging ODST bots, then finally the toughest of the lot - Spartan AI. In the final day of the test 343 also allowed 4v4 player vs. player slayer for a brief window of play.


The bots themselves were extremely impressive with excellent battlefield I.Q. At times they even exhibited human-like behaviour in their tactics. I found that they worked as a group and would often flank player positions. They certainly weren’t slouches on the battlefield and I hope they made into the final game as a multiplayer option.

"The bots themselves were extremely impressive with excellent battlefield I.Q. At times they even exhibited human-like behaviour in their tactics."

Three Maps Introduced


The Technical Preview featured three well designed small-scale maps in Live Fire, Recharge and Bazaar. Each offered a plethora of unique paths to battle and were designed to keep the action constant. Let’s look at what each map has to offer:

Live Fire


During the first phase of the Tech Test players did battle on a map called “Live Fire” with Marine difficulty level bots. The map itself pays homage to legendary Halo character Sgt. Johnson. The training facility is aptly named the “Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science” the UNSC clearly putting some respect on Johnson’s name (as it should!) Here Spartan candidates are prepared for any challenge that a hostile galaxy throws at them.


The map is small enough that it keeps the action constant, while providing plenty of unique paths and skill jump opportunities. It also is a multi-tier map which provides great potential perches for long range weapon battles. I noticed through my multiple matches with the map that different weapon variants load in. One set would have the S7 Sniper and the other the Heatwave shotgun-style weapon. It’s great to see this variety to keep players guessing what’s coming next and not always spawn camping weapons.

Recharge


The second map that arrived was a hydroelectric dam facility called Recharge. As 343 describes the setting, “A resource infrastructure facilities such as those run by Axys' hydroelectric division help maintain stable energy grids for colony worlds throughout the UEG.” The map plays right into the Halo lore with mentions of human colony worlds.


At this point in the flight newer, more difficult bots dropped with the “ODST” difficulty. I noticed right away they were far more cunning and resourceful, often making charges for power weapons on the map. This map offered a more open central area with multiple catwalks and hidden pathways.

Bazaar


The final, and in my opinion, best map of the Tech Test was Bazaar. Many veteran Halo players will be familiar with this map as it takes place in Halo 2’s New Mombasa region. As 343 explains, this map, like others ties deeply into other Halo games lore, "The East African Protectorate's plan to rebuild the glassed urban core of Mombasa was ambitious and expensive, but Project Rebirth investment by the UEG and UNSC activity at the nearby Voi Excession has revitalized some sections of the metropolis."


Along with the new map Spartan level difficulty level bots were rolled out. This was the top tier enemy difficultly and they put up a great fight. They were highly aggressive and vigorously defended power weapon spawn points.

Armour, AI & Weapon customization options


Outside of the superb gameplay, there was a lot to uncover and unlock. In the flight player were given access to the “Armour Hall” where you could customize the look of your Spartan. The options were plentiful with different helmets, visor tints and beyond. 343 really looks to be doubling down on armour permutation combinations so everyone is looking unique on the battlefield.

Halo’s Infinite possibilities


As both Halo and Xbox are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, I found the Tech Test special in many ways to mark the occasion. I’ve been playing Halo since the OG Xbox and for me, I felt this early sampling was a return to greatness. 343i has found a way to return the Halo multiplayer experience to its roots while offering new and modern twists to the formula.


Halo Infinite will arrive on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC sometime during the Holiday 2021 season. All the old school weapons feel excellent and more like they did in Halo 2. The new map designs kept the action at a high tempo and the new weapon spawning is a clever way to keep each round feeling new and different. I am extremely excited to play more when Halo Infinite lands at the end of the year.


Did you get selected for the Tech Test? Let me know in the comments below what your favourite part of experience was.


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