I’ve sunk a few hours into Halo Infinite this week. It’s good. I like some Halo. And this may be the Haloiest Halo we’ve ever Haloed. But ultimately it’s still just… more Halo. Which is simultaneously my highest praise and biggest criticism.
I have a lot of fond Halo memories. Dragging my massive Xbox over to a friend’s house for some system-link Blood Gulch until 3am, a big 4-Xbox-4-TV Lan party I threw for the launch of Halo 2… my interest in the franchise did wane some after Halo 3, (I touristed around OSDT and Reach a bit) but it’s always been a franchise I enjoyed the feel of.
And I find Halo definitely does have a feel. The pace, the shoot-grenade-punch trifecta, the announcer… Halo is a whole vibe. While a lot of people out there can probably name a few dozen mechanics tweaks from game to game leading to what makes “good Halo” or “bad Halo”, I still feel like the overall feel of the game remains consistent from game to game. Halo evolves laterally, not forward. It refines, it does not reinvent.
For instance, I’ve fired up some games and thought “this is trying to be Halo,” but I’ve never fired up a Halo game and thought “this feels like Call of Duty.”
There’s a comfort in that, for sure. After all, if you order a pizza, you kind of want a pizza to show up at your door. Tacos are good, too, but… if I order pizza, give me pizza dammit. In a sort of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” way, Halo stays in its lane and you can tend to count on that to a degree.
Halo Infinite feels like good Halo. All of the mechanics and weight of the movement and weapons vibrate together in perfect Halo harmony. The match and menu options are robust, the cosmetic unlocks (though currently barred behind an atrociously stingy battlepass or real money) look cool as hell, and the matches are quick, and tight and balanced. It’s great fun. And yet…
It’s still just more Halo. In that as much as I enjoy playing it, it definitely feels like I’ve done it before. And by before I mean intermittently for two decades. It’s all very familiar. I’m not suggesting they reinvent the wheel here, Halo is Halo. I don’t necessarily want it turned into something else. But neither can I ignore that I’ve eaten a lot of this pizza over the years, and while delicious, it’s certainly reminding me why I like tacos.