We’ve finally seen some of what Halo Infinite‘s first-player gameplay is going to look like, and even though we’re not directly told anything, there’s a lot we can figure out for ourselves. Here, in no particular order, are five of the things that most excited me after watching the six minutes and forty-six seconds (approximately) we got to see.
A NEW SIDEKICK
Uh, is that a new person to chat with us as we fight? A guy rescued Chief, and we know that “[he] won’t be going home” unless he and the Chief stop the Banished, so he’ll be around for most or all of the game. We didn’t really had a person alongside us in Halo 5, at least not one that I’ve liked. Teams are fine; Noble Team and the New Mombasa drop team—awesome. Blue Team and Osiris…not so much. Since we lost Cortana, there hasn’t really been anyone I’ve cared about working with me.
But this new guy could, could be an awesome new character, if the interaction between him and Chief is good. He doesn’t seem to like Chief too much from the cutscene, but Chief and the Arbiter obviously didn’t like each other when they first met, either. With some good storytelling, we could see him become an awesome side character, and if he dies, one I’ll feel the same as I did after the Keys (either) or Johnson deaths. Halo has always been a game full of characters, and I’m hoping Infinite does it right.
Halo 2 was the first time we saw the brutes, and it terms of gameplay, they sucked. Halo 2 has an amazing first half, and the community holds it in high regard for a reason. But personally, I find the second half a huge slog. First off you have the flood, which I never mind the first level or two they’re in, but quickly tire of. The same is true of the Halo 2 brutes, as all they are is massive damage sponges that shove crates around. I get that they need high health to offset their lack of an energy shield, but it wasn’t done very well. Later games fixed this—they had shields that could be shot off in addition to higher health—but they lost something else important: their design.
Halo 2‘s brutes we uuuuugly. Not only that, they were scary. Especially the leader, Tartarus. Here was this big, hairy, ape monster, with a giant, personal gravity hammer that put all the others to shame. And it was good. The brutes are, as Truth’s puppets, the drivers of the things that happened after Halo 2. They became the enemies of both the humans and the elites, and the spark of the de facto alliance between the two. They and the civil war Truth set in motion caused the Covenant to collapse, and probably saved humanity. Just like the flood is an enemy of every other side, the brutes are an enemy of every other side. The brutes you see on the battlefield, and especially the leader of the Banished, Atriox, finally look scary again. And it’s about time.
Ever single Halo games has new weapons, and it’s always really cool to try them out for the first time. Even if they suck, it’s fun to figure that out for yourself. Sometimes the new weapons make it, sometimes they don’t. We got to see Chief use a lot of new stuff in the trailer, and they all looked like fun. But…I think we got to see some old things, too. Halo: Reach had a lot of different weapons, which generally didn’t make it to the later games. Which is kind of weird in terms of canon, since Reach is the earliest game in the timeline, save for the non-FPS Halo Wars. It’s odd we don’t see so much again. One theory among the community is that they were all experimental weapons being produced on the Long Night of Solace, the Covenant supercarrier that Noble team destroys. The Covenant just used what they had left for the rest of the assault on Reach, and everything had run out by later games. But I think I see a plasma repeater! It’s called a ravager now, but it works basically the same. A large, two-handed plasma rifle capable of venting heat, we finally see an energy weapon again capable of reloading. Another, the pulse carbine, can vent as well. Does this mean we’ll see other one-time weapons? I want my needle rifle and brute plasma rifle back….
Every Halo game has new abilities to perform. Some people don’t want these, because they’re too much of a change. They say Halo was fine before. And you know what? They’re silly. If you want to play the old games, fine. Play the old games. But don’t ask the new games to be the same, or they wouldn’t be new. They’d just be the old games with a new story and a new coat of paint. Video games need to develop over time, or they’re not going to succeed. Halo 3’s equipment evolved into Reach and Halo 4‘s armor abilities, which evolved into Halo 5‘s Spartan abilities. While they’re not all great (looking at you, armor lock), I honestly think they’ve added a lot to the games, and made them better. The world of gaming has changed a lot since Halo: CE and Halo 2, and if games like those were produced in 2020, I don’t think they would do well. Gamers want more than just shooting and jumping. They want to climb, they want to throw, they want to backflip and hoola-hoop and bungee jump.
And in the Infinite trailer, I can see at least two new abilities. First: the grappling hook. Um, yes please! Or at least, maybe. Halo 5‘s movement abilities were great, but they were also only usable for a small area. Depending on how far you can grapple, is it going to be too much? In singleplayer it will probably be fine. Even if you use it as a last-ditch effort to get away from enemies, there’s going to be a dozen of them shooting at you, it could very likely be in vain. But in multiplayer, I’m a bit worried people will be able to use it to save their butts if they’re clearly going to lose a fight. Will it mess up balance? We’ll have to wait and see.
The second is picking things up. At one point we see Chief grapple an energy battery (I feel like that would pierce it, but whatev) and throw it at a turret. What else will be able to throw? Explosive stuff will be the most useful, but konking an enemy with something heavy will have its own benefits. And speaking of picking up explosive stuff, does that include grenades? In singleplayer, probably less so. The sticky energy grenades aren’t the smartest thing to touch, although there will be the spike grenade (can you pull it out of you now?). But in multiplayer, it could be great. Get a UNSC grenade tossed at your feet? Grab it, and toss it back. It’s going to be dangerous, normally you want to get away from grenades. Take too long to toss it, bye-bye. Even if you toss it away in time, it might be useless, and again, dangerous. Have a grenade explode in mid-air without getting back to its original thrower, and here you are wasting time grabbing and throwing for a second or two, while being shot at. It would probably be a lot easier to balance than a long grappling hook might be, because it’s a risk and reward scenario. So yeah, throwing is cool, and I hope there’s more to it than we see in the trailer.
AMAZING, BIG LOOKS
Okay, this one’s a bit of a cheat. New games look better. New consoles make games look better. Of course it’s going to look better. But…that doesn’t mean I can’t like it. And it’s not just the graphics themselves, man the map design is great. Silent Cartographer and Halo are my favourite levels from Combat Evolved. Regret and Delta Halo, my favourite from Halo 2. The Ark and the Covenant, my favourite from Halo 3. These levels have one thing in common: they’re all big, exploreable levels that let you run around to your heart’s content. Tighter levels aren’t bad, but Halo has always been a big level type of game, and it’s great to see that continue. There’s a reason they showed us a huge level, and looked around it as Chief went up a lift. The game looks amazing, and looks amazing all the way to the horizon—the far horizon.
Will Halo Infinite be a good game? We don’t know yet. We haven’t learned a whole lot about it, and even if we had, that’s not something we can even decide until we play. Maybe it will be bad—who knows? I’ve enjoyed all of the Halo games, even the ones I feel were a bit lower quality than the others, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy Infinite as well. And no matter how the game turns out, I can definitely be excited for it, and I’ll definitely be excited until launch.