We’re finally there and it’s about time. Well, nearly there. If you missed Xbox’s 20th Birthday bash, then you may not have realised that in a move that was almost surprising (thank you leakers), the multiplayer for Halo: Infinite was immediately released after the show. I must confess, it was an emotional moment for me; what with having been a fan of the armor clad spartan since the very beginning with Halo: Combat Evolved

It was a welcome move, especially since the game has been beset by delays and other development issues (I’m sure you’ve met Craig by now). It may also just be enough to keep us all entertained until the full campaign is finally launched on December 8th. Time will certainly tell.

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Anyway, back to the multiplayer. You can begin by jumping into Bot Bootcamp to hone your skills against a team of moderately skilled AIs. If you feel ready, you can then branch out into Quick Match, Big Team Battles and Ranked Matches. Game rules are randomised however, so if you want to play by a particular set of rules you’ll have to set up a custom game.

Instantly, I knew my favourite way to play was Big Team Battle. These are 12 Vs 12 encounters set on large scale maps that also chuck vehicles into the mix. You can play in a number of ways, including deathmatch and zone captures, but everything feels dialled up thanks to the sheer scale of your environments and extra firepower.

In terms of the gameplay, I can’t quite explain why, but it just works. It works well too, is tight and more importantly, loads of fun. The action is fast, bouncy and over the top. The weapons feel varied and unique (bar a couple of new ones I’m not such a fan of). However the new versions of the assault rifle and sniper handle like they did back in the good old days and are better for it.

It’s a positive early sign for claims that Halo: Infinite is going back to the series’ roots, because the multiplayer prioritises being fun over all else, just what the Halo experience should be. By the time we got to Halo 5: Guardians the gameplay felt more like a generic, soulless FPS so I’m glad things have been rolled back a bit.

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The biggest addition is that of the grapple attachment, which is heavily featured in the trailer(s) for the game. It’s a welcome addition to the Master Chief’s arsenal, and offers up all sorts of mouth-watering combat abilities. Fancy grabbing onto a hornet from the ground, zipping up and chucking the pilot out? How about grappling onto the pillar next to the flag carrier and swooping down on them from above? You got it.

As with every online multiplayer FPS these days, there are a plethora of progression options that come with earning XP and levelling up. This is done by achieving various daily and weekly challenges. Although cosmetic, new gear is a tried and tested way of players bragging about their shooting skills. 343 Industries have already made some tweaks to the Battle Pass to prevent it from feeling like too much of a grind, although the jury’s currently out on that one for me. If you fancy shelling out for the Premium Pass, you’ll earn even more goodies as you progress through the ranks.

I jumped on to play as soon as the game was up and running (there were some teething issues) and the servers were immediately bustling. Matchmaking is quick and easy and ran smoothly across the numerous games I played. 

I’m so pleased to say that Halo: Infinite looks great. The extra year of development time has paid dividends, and will go down in hindsight as a very wise decision. Perhaps most importantly though it all runs super smoothly, in case you were concerned. 

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I must admit, I have been very concerned about Halo: Infinite up to now. After the extremely disappointing Halo 5: Guardians, and much development drama, it’s very reassuring to have a playable build which is widely available and more importantly, an absolute blast. Add to this the fact that Joseph Staten has been on board for some time now, and I am allowing myself to get very excited about the full release on December 8th.

In the immortal words of John 117, I think we’re just getting started with Halo Infinite.

You can grab Halo Infinite through the Xbox Store. It helps that it’s available on Game Pass.

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