Halo Infinite has a pretty unique balance problem for Halo: the individual Spartan is too weak off spawn BUT the primary starting weapon is also too strong.
So the loadout does indeed need a buff, but the AR needs a nerf.
The individual player needs ranged capability off spawn to protect against the advantage of enemies who have gained more powerful weapons and position. I agree with the OP that it’s not fun running up a hill to fight a sniper you can’t shoot back against. That’s where a precision starting loadout comes into play. One with a fast optimal kill time but a slower average one.
The problem with the AR is that it doesn’t afford that nuance. It’s optimal and average kill times are very close. And since the gun doesn’t require much skill, when you buff it into a medium range gun it can be too oppressive to individual players by buffing enemy teams.
It’s not fun to be lasered down by 4 battle rifles at once, but at least then one of the four has to land a headshot. With ARs 4 players can kill you faster and they can do it with body shots. And the faster ROF of the gun makes missed shots more forgiven.
What Infinite needs is a precision utility. A jack of all trades but master of none gun. A gun capable of fighting off power weapons, but not one that’s as strong as them as a given.
Right now honestly the closest gun to fulfilling this role is perhaps the Commando, but I think it works better as a pickup. Getting teamshot by one can feel equally as oppressive and it’s magazine is to shallow to empower the individual player.
Unfortunately the AR’s loadout mate is forever demoted to sidearm–the sidekick needs a buff for casual 4v4 but I don’t think 343 will ever buff it into the magnum BTB or HCS would need it to be.
So that leaves the BR as logical precision starting weapon. But it kills far too slow compared to the rest of the sandbox. Even though it is capable at range, it’s slow ttk would make it feel even worse against some of the closer range map pickups.
But if we straight buff the BR it will still be a similar problem as the AR as it’s optimal and average kill times are too similar. So it needs a nerf to auto aim/bullet magnetism and perhaps it should require leading shots at extended ranges. The number of body shots to kill without headshots could also be increased. Right now the BR kills in 12 bullets (with a headshot) and 18 bullets without. That’s effectively 4 shots and 6 shots. One could be buffed and the other nerfed to add more nuance to the weapon. Maybe 11 bullets (with a headshot) and 19 without making it a more consistent 4 shot and weakening it to 7 body shots. That with a ROF buff to make its optimal kill in the 1-1.2 second range of alot of the rest of the sandbox should make for an acceptable precision utility for ranked and BTB.
The AR I would nerf by making bloom quicker to spread and slower to reset. Removing the headshot modifier. And potentially reverting it to a 32 round magazine if those changes weren’t enough.
To compensate I’d buff the Sidekick for casual play so that the combination of AR and Sidekick would provide for a pseudo utility for casual play but still allow for more AR engagements and less ranged gunplay.
For the Sidekick, I’d keep the ttk the same. Reduce to a 6sk instead of 7. Keep the body shots the same. Up the magazine size to 18 rounds. And remove bloom.
For across the board changes, I’d remove zoom from all the guns without a scope. Or add descope if scoping would be needed for balance. And (maybe unpopular opinion) add friendly fire to all modes to reduce spaming shots and grenades.
Honestly some amount of these changes are crucial for my continued involvement with the game. There are some glaring weapon balance issues with this game. But I think this would be a good foundation for changes moving forward.