Challenges progression system is still awful + idea for solution

Like just about everybody it seems, I love nearly everything about Halo: Infinite so far… except for the challenges in the progression system. I hate these challenges and the system they’re a part of.

These challenges actively encourage poor play in order to optimize progression. Not only that, but the way the challenges award credit toward the goal is surprisingly rigid, punishing, and frustrating. Baffling even.

Here’s an example.

The new Tenrai event’s final weekly Ultimate Challenge for me was to get 5 Killing Sprees in Fiesta PvP. All right. Not the most interesting challenge and actually a pretty difficult task if you’re not a Halo god (I’m not). Also tough if you don’t have lots of time to play. But let’s set that aside. It’s hardly as bad as some other challenges. So what’s the problem?

Well, after playing several games, getting schooled, and always getting killed just before I could nab a 5th kill, I had only managed to get 1 killing spree for several hours of game time. So, 1 out of 5 on the progression for this challenge after all that. Ugh. Not fun. But whatever. Here’s the insane part.

Then I played a really great match where I got the scorpion tank and popped off. I got a killing spree (5 kills), kept going and got a killing frenzy (10 kills) and then a running riot (15 kills), and kept going all the way to a rampage (20 kills). At which point I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew. Thank god that was over with. That’s four sprees in one game! Nice! I’m done with that dumb challenge, finally. Right? Wrong.

When the post-game awards screen appeared to show my progress for the challenge, it progressed from 1 to 2. What? I only got credit for 1 spree? Huh? What? That’s right. As it turns out, only “Killing Sprees” count. Killing Frenzies, Running Riots, or any higher level spree doesn’t count. Cue the JonTron “What” freakout.

I couldn’t believe it. You’re telling me I performed above and beyond, got the equivalent of 4 sprees in a row without dying, and only the first one counted because it’s the only one officially labeled “killing spree”? I was livid.

But it gets worse. Because I realized I only get credit for killing sprees and nothing higher, on my next few games, as soon as I got a killing spree, I’d run off the map to kill myself so I could reset the spree counter. That’s not very nice to my team and not the way the game is supposed to be played. However, this is the optimal way to play in order to advance the challenge progression. You only get credit for killing sprees and nothing higher, so why keep going? You’re just wasting your time. Might as well get killed to reset the counter so you are actually making progress again.

This is a huge problem. The design of these challenges is such that you are punished for playing the game properly and rewarded for the sort of misbehavior (killing yourself) required to efficiently advance the challenge progress.

This challenge system is bad. Breathtakingly, frustratingly bad. Especially because the rest of the game is so ridiculously, earth-shatteringly good. OMG the sound design is the best in any game I’ve ever played. I sometimes fire the sentinel beam just to hear the sound it makes. Or ride a man cannon just for the whoosh noises. It’s soooo good. And that’s just the sound design! The rest of the game is just as amazing. Except the challenge system.

Here’s the thing I don’t understand. In the scoreboard for each game, there are several columns. One for kills, another for deaths, another for flag captures, and so on. And there is one column called “Score” which tracks points. This is an indicator of how well you are performing for your team. Why on earth isn’t THAT used for XP progression?!

That score is a faithful representation of your performance and gameplay in a match where a higher score means you played the game well, carried weight for your team, and played the game the way you are supposed to play. Forget this challenge nonsense, the scoreboard points should be the XP system. 343, just use that. It’s already in the game. Just switch to that for progressing XP. Better play gets more XP. It’s really that simple.

And it’s not tied to any game mode or niche behavior. You get rewarded for playing well no matter how you do it or which modes you do it in. You can even just do a one-to-one, score-to-xp conversion. If you play well and get a few thousand points, you should be rewarded with a bigger jump in progression and maybe even jump a couple levels at once. If that’s too much, then tweak the XP required per progression level. You can even still keep the monetized XP boosts. They’d work just the same, if not better and therefore be more valuable and encourage purchase.

If you want to keep challenges around, make them optional bonus XP. Or make each challenge tied to actually rewarding players for playing the game properly. And reward the player more challenge progression the better they do. Don’t punish the player for not doing exactly what was asked if the what they did was even better. That doesn’t make any sense. Giving a player credit for getting 5 kills in a row, but no credit at all for 10, 15, or 20 kills in a row is baffling and ridiculous.

Also get rid of any challenge related to a specific game mode. Stay off my Yard for example, which requires you to kill enemy Spartans attacking a friendly zone. As far as I can tell, you cannot progress this challenge in: Slayer, Capture the Flag, Stockpile, Oddball. You can only progress this challenge in: Strongholds, Total Control. So if you load into a game that’s Slayer, might as well leave, cause you can’t progress that challenge. CTF? Leave. Oddball? Leave. This is stupid.

Not only that, but even if you get that mode, the window of opportunity to progress the challenge is tiny, like 3 seconds. Here’s what I mean. Think about all the hurdles you have to jump over to even get the opportunity to progress with this Stay off my Yard challenge. First you need to matchmake into one of only two modes where progression is even possible, Strongholds or Total Control. Then you need your team to take control of a point. Then you need the enemy team to start to reclaim that point. Then you need the enemy team to attack that point. Then you need to kill an enemy Spartan BEFORE they flip the point to neutral or flip it to their side. And those points can flip from friendly to neutral extremely fast. Like 2 to 3 seconds fast. If you’re not in the point contesting it, that’s a 3-second window before the point flips from your color to neutral and you’ve missed your chance at progression… even if you end up killing the Spartan afterwards. And on top of all of that, if the enemy Spartan steps off the point when you kill them, it doesn’t count. It’s unreal.

And for this challenge I had to kill 10 Spartans this way (or maybe it was 15, I can’t remember). It took me hours. It was frustrating. I hated it. And, like the other challenge, it discouraged proper play. I had no incentive to go and capture other points. My only incentive was to capture one point and then hang out until the enemy team tried to retake it because that’s the only edgecase scenario in which I had the opportunity to progress the challenge. I was so relieved when I was done with the challenges because it was like this awful annoying chore that was ruining the game for me (and my teammates) was finally over. Now I could finally play the game properly as intended, just for fun.

This is frustrating enough that if this system isn’t completely scrapped and replaced with a new one by the time the campaign is out, I’m just going to stop playing multiplayer altogether. I bought the battle pass for this season, but it may already be my last because it’s just not worth getting invested in it. It’s just a miserable, frustrating experience.

And that itself is frustrating to say because, as I said earlier, I absolutely love and adore the rest of the game. It’s so good. Not perfect. Some of the sandbox needs a little tweaking (Scorpion tank is way too un-killable), but it’s still a joyous and incredibly triumphant return to form for Halo. Finally. The King has returned. I’m a fan who has been here since OG Halo: CE on Xbox with the Duke controllers, at the midnight launches for 2 and 3, and who eventually got burned by Halo 4 and left the series. And I can’t express how great it is to be back after all these years.

But this challenge and progression system is a horrendous experience. I really hate it.

One last complaint, please don’t have a special event with 30 levels of unlocks if the player can only actually unlock 7 of them during the event. Just hide the other 23 levels. Only show us what we can actually unlock right now. It is frustrating and feels terrible seeing 30 levels of unlockable stuff that is actually, literally impossible for you to unlock. The “this event will come back 6 more times” and you can unlock 7 more levels each time is confusing and not fun. It just feels terrible. “Here’s some cool stuff to unlock! Isn’t it great? Here, do these frustrating challenges and you can have access to a fifth of the cool stuff. You have to wait until next time for the rest. Or rather, for the next fifth, and then the time after that for the third fifth and so on.” That’s not nice.

All right. Rant over. I don’t mean to be negative. I’m just frustrated. I want Halo: Infinite to be the biggest and best Halo game ever made. I know 343 is trying hard. I know they are committed to making Halo: Infinite awesome. So that’s why I’m sharing my frustration. Because I also want this game to be better, to be the best Halo experience it can be.

You got this 343. I’m rooting for you.

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This is the most underrated post I have ever seen on the internet (9 views / no likes).

Here you describe completely and without prejudice some very tangible concerns. I was now about to write a longwinded post myself about this Challenge system but you already did all of the work.

The weekly challenges tied to getting the final reward pushed me to play counterproductively and against the objective in many game modes. I was running around like a fool trying to get bulldog kills when my team was off either playing the objective or doing their own challenges.

And it’s not fun.

Playing the objective is fun.

Really fun.

This is the best Halo I’ve played ( and I didn’t like Reach, or 4) and the game stands up on its own!

A few nights ago I had 8 (eight!) friends in a Fireteam playing the objective in BTB and we were having an absolute blast. I haven’t had fun playing an FPS like that in years. Do you know how lame it would be if we were all off doing our challenges instead of playing together? Yeah. Pretty lame.

Like OP says, either have the progression linked to XP and give XP boosts based off of some of these weekly challenges OR ensure that these Challenges do not interfere with the core objectives of the game.

Hear! Hear!

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Hey thanks for reading such a long-winded post and for your kind words about it. I went deep on this one. I guess I really needed to vent. Anyway, glad you could relate.

And 8 friends?! Nice. I can only imagine the hilarity and chaos that must’ve ensued that night. Challenges/progression aside, this game is absolutely bonkers fun.