Things Infinite Does Right, and Things the MCC Does Better, Things Infinite Can Do to Improve

This is going to be a longer post. The purpose of this post is to compare and contrast what Halo Infinite and Halo MCC do well. I am loving Halo Infinite so far, and I want to see it excel. I think with the right spit and polish, that it easily can be the best Halo title to date, and I think taking notes and inspiration from what already exists in the MCC is the best way for Infinite to grow.

A note before I begin: I initially wanted to forgo talking about the F2P model and the cosmetic system, as I feel that that has been talked (and shouted) to death already. But I came to realize that it was unavoidable when talking about Infinite. So I will discuss briefly about it at the end. In short, I’m actually glad that Halo went free to play, instead of requiring us to continue paying for Xbox Live subscriptions in order to enjoy online multiplayer with our friends, but I still think that the cosmetic system needs work. I will go into more detail about that in the appropriate section.

All right, to begin, let’s talk about the gameplay. My opinion is that the core gameplay loop of Halo Infinite is easily the best gameplay experience we’ve had in over a decade. The weapon design is tight, aiming is snappy, and the gunplay is genuinely fun. The addition of sprint, clamber, and slide makes the movement feel refreshingly natural. This all combines to make an incredibly satisfying combat experience. As much love and nostalgia that I have for the previous Halo titles, going back to MCC to play matchmaking really hammered home just how slow and clumsy the multiplayer experience used to be. I still enjoy the previous games, but I find that the Halo Infinite movement and gunplay system feels more responsive and more natural. Outside of the need to buff a couple of weapons to make them more usable in the sandbox (namely, the Ravager), the weapons are all incredibly fun to use, and incredibly well balanced. Most notably, the BR and the AR both feel great, and finally seem to be well balanced with each other.

However, Halo Infinite has a couple of glaring issues that need to be worked out.

First, the net code. Halo Infinite servers frequently have issues with high response time, which can result in gameplay issues such as: bullet hits not registering, melee hits not registering, bullets and melees registering late, and grenades disappearing from the game once thrown. This is not the fault of Halo Infinite’s game design, per se, but these are issues with the server code that need to be ironed out to ensure that the smooth and tight gameplay that I mentioned earlier continues to remain the highlight of the multiplayer experience.

Second, the lack of Friendly Fire in game types outside of Ranked causes some balancing issues. Halo is traditionally a game that bases itself around the trifecta of gunplay, grenades, and melee, for a complex and robust combat system. However, without Friendly Fire available, grenades become easy to abuse. As someone who loves the prevalence of grenades in this game, I still find it somewhat irritating that spamming grenades into a crowd of both teammates and enemies becomes the de facto strategy. The risk of hurting your teammates with explosion splash damage is supposed to balance out the liberal access to grenades that we enjoy in Halo multiplayer. The MCC games all knew this, and have Friendly Fire enabled by default in all the basic game types.

Third, and probably the most controversial, is crossplay. Crossplay is an amazing feature that allows friends who play on different hardware systems to enjoy Halo together. This is a great way to encourage more people to join the free to play sandbox, and helps people (myself included) who haven’t been able to play Halo with friends in a long time enjoy the series together once more. However, there is merit in allowing players to choose to opt out of crossplay. Giving players more choice in how they want to experience the game is a good thing. The MCC allows players to filter matchmaking by hardware platform and input type, and this is a feature that Infinite should implement as well. Whether it is justified or not, many players are frustrated that they are being “forced” to queue with people using different hardware. A simple toggle to allow them to find only people with similar hardware would be a quality of life feature that would make a lot of players happy.

Next, I’d like to talk about the weapons available in the sandbox. Halo Infinite’s sandbox feels very sparse, and there are a lot of weapons that are iconic to the Halo series that are missing from the game. I understand that one of the design goals was to make the game as balanced as possible, and the more weapons that there are, the harder it is to balance. And I would once again like to congratulate Infinite in just how well balanced their sandbox is. However, leaving out so many classic and iconic weapons leaves many players feeling disappointed. Obviously, not every gun can (or should) be available on every map. But as more maps get built out, it would be nice to see more weapons added in, and maybe retroactively added to some of the existing maps. Playing through the MCC again, I got to play with many of these weapons again, and it was a delight.

On a similar note, the maps in Halo Infinite are well designed, but also feel somewhat sparse. The maps feel good to play in. They’re balanced. But several maps seem too similar to each other. They are well balanced for the faster, smoother gunplay that Infinite provides, but many maps lack that spark, or even that iconic aesthetic that makes them feel like a Halo map. Going back through the MCC, it felt great to be able to revisit all of the classic maps that all had unique and memorable designs.

Halo Infinite should be a celebration of all that is new and old about the Halo series. And while the gameplay itself is magnificent, a lot feels like it’s missing from the gaming. Taking time to add back iconic weapons and remaster classic maps for the Halo Infinite sandbox would go along way to making sure that this game remains attractive to new and old players alike.

Now, let’s talk about the matchmaking menu. This is where the MCC excels greatly over Halo Infinite. Ignoring for a moment, that MCC contains far more available game types than Halo Infinite does at the moment, the menu for selecting and filtering game types is about as close to perfect as I can imagine. The MCC multiplayer menu allows the player to first select between Social Games, Competitive Games, Custom Games, and also includes a Custom Games browser. Inside the Social menu, the player may filter between any game size (4v4, 8v8, etc), and then any of the game types available to that size. This allows for so much more player choice than Infinite has. It’s wonderful. A player may choose only to queue for Slayer. They may choose to queue for both Slayer and SWAT, or they may choose to include some combination of objective game types without necessarily having to choose all of them. It’s just such a great system that let’s players play exactly the way they want to. The Competitive Games menu doesn’t have quite that level of freedom, for obvious reasons, but still has several great pre-made options to choose from. Halo Infinite would do well to all but copy this system exactly as it is.

As far as game types go, there isn’t much to say. Halo Infinite did not launch with many available game types. Classic games like Assault, King of the Hill, and Stockpile, are missing. As well as some of the more divergant game types like Grifball, Infection, and Regicide. In addition, it would be great to see Firefight return, and maybe Warzone could be reworked into some sort of Battle Royale game type. I’m sure that there is plenty more content to come in the next few years, but all Halo Infinite really needs to do is look at the MCC to see what fan-favorite game types are available there. I’ll always be happy to see a new game type added. Players love having more options available to them.

Now for the controversial section. I’m sure I’m making a lot of people upset by saying that I am ecstatic that Halo Infinite is free to play. Halo is my favorite game series by far, and Halo multiplayer is always a blast to play. But I cannot justify paying for Xbox Live subscriptions or Game Pass. Subscription based payment models do not work for my lifestyle. The MCC being made available for PC was a Godsend because I could finally play multiplayer without the Xbox Live subscription. I understand that server costs and development costs need to be met, and profits still need to be made. And the most customer friendly way to monetize an F2P game is to sell cosmetics. So I completely understand why the cosmetic system in Infinite is the way it is. But looking back at the sheer volume of options in the MCC, and how little we have available in Infinite, I think there needs to be a happy medium between the two. First of all, I think free players should have access to the base armors and the base colors. Plain blue Mk5 armor should bee a free player item. And I’d love to see some of the more complicated classic armors (like Reach or Halo 4 had) available to earn through gameplay. That being said, I wholly support the store, and I’m happy to see things like weapon and vehicle skins, specially crafted armor paints, cat ears, and pizza slice charms be made available for purchase. There is a way that we can make the players happy and also make sure that enough money is coming in through the store. This is going to take a long time to get right, but the perfect balance does exist, and we should work toward it.

All in all, I love Halo Infinite, despite the bugs and the missing pieces of the sandbox. I recognize the rough development cycle that this game went through, and how Covid impacted development even further, but I look forward to a bright future. What’s there today is loads of fun. And I’m excited to see what comes in future updates.