Halo Infinite
Microsoft | 343 Industries

Microsoft Launches Halo Infinite Standalone Multiplayer Three Weeks Early

Halo is back! Microsoft dropped the full multiplayer mode for Halo Infinite three weeks ahead of schedule, surprising and delighting fans on the franchise's 20th anniversary. Spoiler alert: it's good.
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Halo Infinite is the blockbuster Xbox release of the holiday season. While fans expected to wait until December 8 to get their hands on the latest first-person shooter, Microsoft surprised fans by launching the game’s free-to-play, standalone multiplayer three weeks early. On the series’ 20th Anniversary yesterday, everyone was invited to join the fight.

Players on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC can all access the multiplayer mode now. Infinite’s campaign and the beloved Forge map editor will be made available at a later date, according to developer 343 Industries. One question remains: is it any good?

Everything Old is New Again

The new title has more in common with Halo: Reach than the most recent entry, Halo 5. That’s a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. Halo 5 is a mess of a video game. It’s unsure of whether to be Call of Duty in space or Halo with microtransactions. That’s to say nothing of Halo 5’s abysmal campaign, which squandered a potentially series-defining premise by throwing the player into dozens of identical boss fights.

Halo Infinite’s campaign is still a mystery but, after some hands-on time with the multiplayer, I can say that the new title is a stunning return to form for the series. Longtime fans will appreciate the feel of this game, with its weighty gunplay and measured pace. Battles are more thoughtful than twitch-based, testing both your aim and your tactical decisions.

Minor Complaints

Fan-favorite gameplay modes like Oddball and Capture the Flag have returned. Strangely, objective-based game modes are in the same playlist as the tried-and-true team deathmatch mode, Slayer. Hopefully, 343i breaks this mode out into a bespoke playlist at some point.

Players have also pointed out that the game’s premium battle pass is a slog. Just performing well in a match doesn’t reward you with experience points to unlock cosmetics. Instead, you will rely on daily and weekly challenges for the bulk of your XP. This decision makes the system feel like a grind, even though the core gameplay loop is satisfying and fun.

Halo to the Chief

With those minor quibbles aside, the game looks and feels excellent. Fans couldn’t ask for a more impressive love letter to the franchise. The three weeks between now and the release of the game’s campaign don’t seem so long now that we have the full multiplayer mode to help us pass the time!