Halo Infinite finally launched late last year, after a protracted development period. The game's launch reception was fantastic with many, including us, lauding 343's gameplay improvements that struck a lovely balance between classic Halo and modern, contemporary shooters. However, that honeymoon period now seems short-lived, with many beginning to lament the speed of Halo Infinite updates and the amount of content coming to the game after launch. Well, I'm here to say let's calm down, lower expectations, and give 343 the time it needs to build on Halo Infinite's fantastic foundations.
Live service has become the norm with multiplayer games — and even some single-player offerings — over the last few years. Games need to have a seemingly endless stream of content available post-launch to be classed as 'relevant', and it seems Halo Infinite is no exception. We've seen playlist updates, new game modes and event battle passes in the four months since launch, but that simply isn't enough by current live service standards. Standards that, for the most part, seem unsustainable.
Look at the other big shooters from last year. Call of Duty: Vanguard's launch wasn't up to that series' ridiculous commercial standards and post-launch hasn't been plain sailing either. It's been a rough ride — especially for Call of Duty — that resulted in a delay to one of the game's live service 'seasons' and has maybe even prompted Activision to bring this year's entry a few months forward.
Then there's Battlefield 2042. Oh boy there's 2042. This one launched in a much worse state than Halo and CoD last year, and things have hardly improved since launch. No seasons, no real events, no proper game mode updates. In fact, 2042 only just got a fully functioning scoreboard, almost five months after release. Voice chat is coming next month though!
Halo Infinite — when compared to these two — looks like the smoothest launch ever. Its core gameplay loop is top notch, its weapon sandbox is unrivalled, its performance across most machines is brilliant. I've got to say it: why isn't this enough just four months after launch? Not too long ago it took six months for multiplayer map packs to drop, with basically nothing arriving before that. This constant appetite for new content seems unsustainable, especially in a COVID-ridden world where game development, amongst many other industries, has taken a huge hit.
I'd imagine that final year of Infinite development, from when the delay decision was made, was a tough one for 343. A December release date alone tells you this one went right to the wire, but you know what, it turned out fantastic. Even so, this team probably needs a break, after six long years of development that ended in the midst of a pandemic. I know it's not our job as consumers to care about the 'behind-the-scenes' stuff, but I do, and developer burnout is all too real.
I'm fully aware that I sound like I'm making excuses up for 343, and maybe I am. I'm just tired of this constant thirst for 'content', the never-ending need for updates. I'll take new Halo Infinite content when it comes, but in the meantime I'll continue to enjoy Halo Infinite just as it is. After all, isn't that why we're here? We've waited more than a decade for 343 to make a Halo that feels like Halo - I'm cool with waiting another few months for some new maps.
Halo Infinite's content problems do run deeper than a few maps though. Campaign co-op still isn't here, along with the series' iconic Forge mode. And yet, I think even this deserves a bit of slack. We've transitioned to an open world here, which basically means those two modes need to be completely re-worked from previous games. Sure, they could of delayed Infinite for them but... why? The campaign is a blast in single player, and co-op is still coming for those that, understandably, must play Halo with a buddy.
At the end of the day, we should all look at a product as it launches, and judge it in that state. If you're not happy with a game at launch, just... wait to play it? There's an absolute ton of stuff to play on Xbox, especially when Game Pass is involved, and Halo Infinite will still be around in six months. Me? I happen to love Infinite as it is, so I'll continue to pop Spartan heads with my trusty BR right now, and well into the future.
How do you feel about the current state of Halo Infinite? Let us know in the comments.