But the biggest frustration is that, for as much as Infinite has been earmarked as a throwback to the series’ roots, 343 can’t shed the baggage the series’ lore has accrued over the last 20 years. It’s frustrating because at the root of the game is the relationship between Chief, the UNSC Pilot who rescues him at the game’s opening, and The Weapon-an AI modelled after Cortana after Cortana went all galactic dictator-god at the end of Halo 5.
Halo Infinite has been running fairly flawlessly on my 2070, and while I’ve had one or two sudden crashes on multiplayer, the same can’t be said of the campaign which remained rock-solid throughout. If you’re looking to squeeze a little extra juice out of the game, however, Infinite has a fairly robust set of graphics options, outlining how much VRAM each setting will demand of your hardware.
Special mention has to be made of Infinite’s suite of accessibility tools. On top of fully rebindable controls, there are dozens of settings for controlling everything from sensory effects like speed lines and screen shake, multiplayer team colours, the size and appearance of subtitles, and text-to-speech options both for multiplayer text chat and menu options.
At its heart, this dynamic works! Chief is starting to feel tired after all these years of being a videogame hero, but his constant need for heroics and duty creates a wonderful tension with a stranded Pilot who is at the absolute end of his tether. The Weapon often risks coming across rechte enkele dating site as gratingly naive and occasionally whedonesque in her quips, but she feels like a knowing throwback to Halo 1’s version of Cortana-a friendly voice to accompany you through ancient ruins and apocalyptic schemes. A family can be a big green man, his blue holographic partner and a nervous wreck at the helm of a 130-ton dropship, and that’s okay.
They’re a good foundation for a story, but unless you’re clued in on Halo 5 (and RTS spin-off Halo Wars 2) the story is a hot confusing mess. The Banished simply aren’t interesting baddies, a straight reskin of The Covenant only redder and meaner, but they soon share the stage with 343’s favourite trope. Halo’s established ancient aliens, The Forerunners, aren’t mysterious anymore, so we’re introduced to a new ancient alien who has a grudge against the Forerunners and, by proxy, humanity.
Any mystery Halo used to hold has been lost under a deluge of proper nouns and thousand-year machinations, and keeping track of it is exhausting. That’s likely why, when all is said and done, the story isn’t even really about The Banished, or The Harbinger, or The Endless. It’s about Master Chief and Cortana, a relationship that even with the latter’s absence, drives everything our big green man does throughout the game.
Infinite wants to kick off a new era of Halo by asking why we fell in love with it in the first place. In moments, even my jaded old heart can feel it. Exploring the open world after wrapping the campaign is a joy, exploring nooks and crannies for secrets, basking in the alien beauty of watching the sun set behind the ring and rising on the other side of it moments later. Wrapping up all those side missions I skipped and admitting that they probably were best left until now, when I’m done with the story but still hankering for some good Halo fights.
The Not-So-Silent Cartographer
Halo Infinite really is good Halo. For lapsed fans of the Bungie games like me, Halo Infinite is a strong return to form, and in the heat of battle it’s the best running and gunning the series has ever had. It’s painfully easy to imagine a world where Infinite could have easily been one of my favourite entries to date. But between an open world that feels largely redundant and a story that can’t shed the series’ baggage, Halo Infinite’s campaign falls just shy of being great Halo.
That grapple is also essential for exploring Halo Infinite’s open world. Introduced after two more traditionally linear missions, Infinite introduces you to the open-ish plains of Zeta Halo. But while your AI sidekick (more on her later) immediately floods your map screen with icons, don’t be fooled. This isn’t Far Cry: Ringworld-in fact, you’ll find the open world to be surprisingly small.