A galactic icon returns, a super-soldier with a habit of saving the day - play as Master Chief in Halo Infinite's campaign as he tries to placate an impulsive Cortana and stick a fight to the Banished.
‘We need a saviour, we need hope – we need Spartan 117.’
As I am sure you have heard, the Mjolnir armour suit has found a new spark of life in Halo Infinite, a game with some massive boots to fill. Being one of the most esteemed gaming series ever seen, I don’t need to tell you that Halo Infinite is a first-person role-playing shooter. You know already… you’ve always known. Infinite is again developed by 343 Industries, and in its entirety looks superb – the visuals in this game look insane, particularly when you can identify the quality in visuals compared to the game’s forerunners. The Halo series has admittedly fell off in the past few years, Infinite looks to break the curse. Since its announcement in 2019 at the E3 convention, wherein a trailer portrays The Pilot coming across a stranded Master Chief floating aimlessly in space, we know a considerable amount more about the Halo Infinite’s inner sanctum – let’s drop right on in.
Can you remind me of the game’s context?
Sporting the biggest campaign yet seen in the series, players are plunged back into a plot arc following Halo 5: Guardians. In 2561, the omnipotent and AWOL Cortana, the epitome of God at this point, has taken over the galaxy after she went astray after the battle against the Didact and the Prometheans. Three years later, the Pilot finds Chief – the Infinite flame ignites. Cortana, as it turns out, was erased, and not as intended by ‘The Weapon’, Master Chief’s new (and rather cavalier) AI companion. So, who was it? Well, it would be a bit of a tepid run-through if we knew spoilers of that degree already! Sure, it is likely that we are going to encounter Cortana in some way, we are likely to convince our former ally to not destroy everything in the universe, shielding her against practically everyone to secure her loyalty. Prepare yourselves for that one. Chief might be popular to us, but he isn’t in the grand scheme of things - we know the lad has done some important things before, saving the Earth and whatnot, but Xbox have alluded that Infinite will be his toughest mission yet.
Does Halo Infinite have a single-player campaign?
Infinite moves in a direction closer to what many fans have been yearning for in recent years; Chief is the hero, and this time around we get a good look into his personality. As we explore who Chief is, we are also able to venture around Zeta Halo on our own accord in a ‘mostly open-world experience’, mostly because the game takes us on staggered interstellar journey with Earth being where we look to conclude, though we can return to prior areas. Infinite’s exploratory freedom means the plot arc is far removed from linear storytelling, allowing us to air-hockey between objectives and carve our own route to a culmination in narrative. Negotiating the land is extraordinarily satisfying when using the game’s compelling physics; players can utilise Grapple Shots, Shield Cores and Thrusters among many other suit upgrades to further expand their means of transport. In sandbox style, players can procure Spartan Cores to upgrade Mjolnir, giving us new abilities or at minimum enhancing existing functionalities. Halo shooter mechanics are some of the most stable and robust I have seen, responding in a way a rifle made 500 years in the future would. Most importantly, going on the offensive is indefatigable – an assortment of gadgets, combat tactics, and equipment to exercise guarantee so.
Where is the game set?
The first Halo Infinite trailer ended with a dramatic shot of Zeta Halo, otherwise known as Installation 07, a ring planet severely mangled by war. Zeta Halo is a gorgeous setting, jagged mountains, forestry, ancient ruins and even deserts – the planet is a jumble of many different locales each with their own points of interest. A feature I love to see in video games, Zeta is peppered with secrets that we can access through tapes and letters, a system seen in huge archetypal open-world games like Skyrim, The Witcher and Fallout- that’s the quality we’re talking here. The bad news is that you won’t be able to experience Zeta raytraced as of day one release, but we can safely assume a later patch is in the offing. The good news? Naturally, Halo Infinite runs in 4K and 60FPS and, conforming to the status quo of the time, Zeta is a fully- functioning ecosystem; day, night, rain, sun, and other dynamic weather play an integral part in the atmosphere of the game. Though Infinite is not fully open-world, Master Chief still can’t negotiate terrain of this size or stature on foot, so we have been given an array of classic airborne and road-based vehicles; UNSC Mongoose, Wasp, and Warthog vehicles can be spawned in captured Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) and then zoomed around in whichever way you see fit. Meme culture has already embraced the freedom of Infinite’s vehicular modes, in one trailer Chief boldly declared that ‘you’re safe now’ and then proceeded to drive off a cliff-edge. All in a day’s work for the Chief.
Who are our enemies?
Halo Zeta is left in the disfigured state we see as we approach the planet due to a fierce war fought between the UNSC and the victor, a militia named the Banished who still occupy the planet. Led by bosses named Atriox, Jega ‘Rdomnai and Escharum, the Banished return all the way from 2004 Halo 2 this time to play the role of our primary antagonists. We are of course sure to encounter the bosses spearheading the bandits at some point, but the quotidian skirmishes with the Banished will be between Chief and the Grunts, Jackals, Elites, Brutes and Hunters; the latter being better skilled. In Far Cry style, we begin our journey tasked with infiltrating, capturing, and converting the Banished strongholds, but plenty more miscellaneous missions wait for us to put our hand to, turning the tide of battle back in the favour of the home side, the UNSC. The more you triumph in takeovers and offensives, the better empowered your marine allies are. Chief begins work earnestly, focusing on subverting enemy infrastructure and thus influence, eventually going full steam ahead to eliminate the ringleaders. Sure, the what we will be doing is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but the how is much more innovative a process.
The preview content already released has fans absurdly hyped, the reprisal of classic Halo musical scores has us already at fever pitch with a month still to wait until December 8th, the games official release. Despite what we do know, swathes of mystery still surround the game’s storyline; an entity named the Harbinger is thrown into the mix by the looks of things, an individual said to have allegiances with the Forerunners. Many questions arise: will we have to fight the Forerunners again? Will The Flood return too? Where does Cortana fit into this? We’ve seen defeated enemy types resurge before, Metroid Dread for example – nothing is quite as simple as it seems in intergalactic affairs. Either way, Xbox have hinted that this plot arc will be Chief’s greatest challenge yet, indicating that some pretty hefty stuff goes down. Will Halo Infinite wrap up the Reclaimer saga? It remains to be seen. We haven’t even touched upon the Infinite cross-play Multiplayer modes yet; a Battle Pass system refreshed every three months with its own rather rare narrative thread – could this feed into the next Halo entry? Time will tell, but it doesn’t hurt to ask! Chief returns to our gaming monitors on the 8th of December, don’t miss it!