Before I begin, I’ll say that my Halo Infinite play time is limited, and my opinions are based on that play time (around 7 hours.)
Gunplay overall is satisfying. Headshots have a great click to them and most of the hit registration is pretty decent. Having said that, there are times when the Sidekick feels like it has some hit reg issues on enemies without shields, this goes for the VK as well. Both weapons feel a little off occasionally when it comes to cleaning up kills, while the BR feels extremely solid; it is easily the weapon the best feel in the game at the moment, and all other weapons should veer closer to it in terms of hit registration and overall feel, in my opinion.
One major issue that I, and many others, have noticed during the Infinite flight is that scoping feels mostly redundant. Not only that, but it feels objectively worse accuracy-wise to be scoped in versus unscoped. This is a design oddity, as long range fights in BtB and other game modes are often reliant on scoping to help players score far away kills, and right now, the scoping feels like it has some issues with extra gun bounce and sensitivity shifting that make it uncomfortable to use.
Sniping is also more challenging due to this, and it makes no-scoping more of a go-to for those comfortable with it. I have been favouring no-scoping over using the scope for the entirety of the preview, and have certainly not bothered to use the scope on the Skewer.
The Skewer is in a particularly odd place. No-scoping can net some nice, instant kills, if you are quick with it, but the lack of projectile and feedback on the weapon means that not only is it not particularly satisfying to use, it is a real challenge to understand where your shots are likely to go. On top of that, its slow reload time, giant profile that takes up much of the screen, and incredibly awkward scope, mean that it is not a very desirable power weapon to pick up. Perhaps it functions better as an anti-vehicle weapon? It could certainly use some tweaking in terms of general usability, in my opinion.
The general sandbox of weapons feels very ‘Halo.’ This does come with the caveat that, once again, the plasma weapons feel like they struggle to have a true niche in competitive play. The Needler is incredibly powerful (bots absolutely shred you with it on occasion,) but weapons like the Ravager and Pulse Carbine feel like they don’t really have a specific role to play in the Halo multiplayer jigsaw.
The Ravager has the potential to be powerful in certain CQC situations, where you can blanket an area with plasma easily, but it’s niche is small. The Pulse Carbine feels incredibly hard to use, as the amount of hits required to drop shields seems a little low. The Plasma Pistol feels comparatively weak in Infinite, and there is some odd tracking on the plasma ball and limited feedback upon hitting a player compared to previous titles.
The Bulldog needs a significant buff if it is to be useful, the effective range is so low as to make it feel unusable in most chasing situations, which will either relegate it to the ‘don’t pick up’ pile, or promote a camping playstyle reliant on incredibly close-quarters kills.
The maps available in the technical preview gave a decent glimpse at the design choices 343 are going with for the game’s multiplayer, and verticality seems to play an important role here. While this makes for some odd downward-angles in many scenarios, the maps generally play well. There is a tendency for players to gravitate towards the centre of the maps (mostly Bazaar and Recharge,) most likely due to power weapon spawns, and ability to hold down hallways and spawn positions. Live Fire easily has the most natural movement flow of any of the maps, with spawns forcing intelligent movement and sight-lines feeling nice.
The design of the maps feels a little uninspired compared to previous Halo titles. Live Fire and Recharge feel very similar in terms of aesthetic, though if the style of ‘UNSC facility’ is relegated to these two maps, that would be reasonable. Bazaar feels a bit too generic. This is a setting that is incredibly common for FPS games: Call of Duty titles often have a map with this theme, as do Battlefield titles. My hope is that this small sample isn’t reflective of the whole, and that we can expect more inspired designs that iterate on Halo’s vast array of different themes (Forerunner, Covenant, Earth, UNSC facilities etc.) rather than more basic FPS maps.
Having said all of that, the maps for PVP feel good gameplay-wise. Most of the critiques are with regards to thematic elements and some minor sight-line issues. I’d also hazard that heatmaps would show the vast majority of players are only using the centre of Recharge and Bazaar, with little combat happening in the side-halls.
Equipment is in an interesting place. The shield is likely the least interesting of the currently available equipment and feels like it is a challenge to use effectively, requiring some specific spatial requirements for it to be useful. Overshield and Active Camo could be borderline broken in a competitive environment, with good timing, and the Grapple is absolutely incredible. I’d be tempted to recommend allowing the Grapple to be a part of the basic kit, because it makes gameplay so much more dynamic, however, that would be a huge change.
UI and Features
The UI is mostly really good. Many might complain about the generic style of it, being the usual grey boxy UIs we have become accustomed to in recent years, but realistically, it gets the job done. It does some small things well, like allowing you to customize your Spartan and nameplate while searching for a match (which many games do not allow you to do) as well as allowing you to edit settings and explore options menus. The in-game UI is also great, it feels like Halo and is incredibly intuitive. Also the accessibility options are welcome for those that need them, always love seeing more features like this in games.
The ability to choose your own AI is fantastic, it ties the lore of the games into the multiplayer in a wonderful way, and the voice acting is really good. It is also a much more exciting unlock than a simple piece of armour, for the most part, with the AI really adding a bit of flair to the gameplay. One of my favourite additions to the game. The Academy is also an incredible feature, and the addition of bots to the game means that there will be some fantastic ways to warm up your play before jumping into actual multiplayer, as well as a lot of fun little challenges, I’m sure. For a lover of Halo’s PVE, this will likely be a great feature for me specifically, and will hopefully add to any Firefight or Forge modes planned for Infinite.
I did run into a particularly annoying bug where my settings were completely reset after a crash, exit via alt-f4, or update, and have submitted a ticket for it.
General thoughts are that it feels like a modern Halo game, which for the most part, is a good thing. It certainly feels somewhere in between Halo 4 and 5 in terms of gunplay and movement, with some Reach elements thrown in for good measure. I think many players had hoped for some elements from Halo 2 Anniversary to make it into the gameplay, however, this does not really feel like it’s the case; at least with regards to the technical preview. Overall I have had a ton of fun with it, and I love that Halo is back!