Halo is the series that started it all. It literally launched Xbox as we know it, and also was the first series that I fell in love with. Before I considered myself a gamer, I considered myself a Halo player. The series has been with me almost my entire life. I love the original trilogy and Halo:Reach is a game that I still love even though it had, looking back – serious issues.
When 343 took over, it signified a shift in not only who was developing the game, but what the games would look and feel like. While Halo 4 and 5 have interesting ideas and are not ‘bad games’ per se, they just never captured my attention like the original Bungie developed games did.
Of course, times have changed. Halo doesn’t have the same grasp on the industry that it used to, and new releases haven’t felt like an event in a while.
With Halo Infinite, 343 Industries has a perfect opportunity to change things up. Halo Infinite will once again be a launch title for the next iteration in Xbox hardware and is the first Halo to launch with a new console since the original Xbox back in 2001. With over five years of development time, Halo Infinite has a chance to be something truly special, but there are some things that I feel they have to do in order to make sure they stick the landing and bring the world the next great Halo game.
Halo is known for it’s incredibly distinctive art style and music. The art style, which accentuates expansive, colorful, and wonderful alien worlds, is part of the reason why Halo became such a powerhouse in the mid 2000’s.
When 343 Industries took over with Halo 4, the art style changed and it brought mixed reactions to say the least. It became more realistic, a bit too power rangers or transformers. The game in terms of its fidelity looked great, as did Halo 5. Both games took complete advantage of the consoles they were on and were some of the best looking games available. But as a lifelong fan, they didn’t look like Halo games, and is something other fans have been asking about ever since 343 took over.
Halo 4 and 5 also missed the music that defined the series. The 5 Halo games made under Bungie were well known and well loved for their scores. Under the supervision of Marty O’Donnell, those games featured some of the best scores ever created. Under 343 industries, the music and score lacked the themes from the original trilogy, or worse became generic Hollywood style bombast. Yes, there are some notable tracks in both games, but they simply can’t hold a candle to what was made under Bungie. It may be a hard ask for Infinite to match what the original games achieved. Marty O’ Donnell is a legend and made some of the most memorable songs in video game history. Replicating what he did is an uphill battle and may prove to difficult to achieve.
The Future Looks Like Halo
Luckily, what we have seen and heard so far from the little we have been shown of Infinite is promising. In the two trailers we have seen since the game was announced at E3 in 2018, we have seen a return to form in both art style and score.
Aesthetically the game looks like a mix of the original Halo trilogy, and Master Chief arguably looks better than he ever has. From the music we have heard, old favorites like Finish the Fight and Luck, both from Halo 3’s soundtrack, have made prominent appearances in the trailers. So far so good, but we will have to wait and see what the product looks and sounds like when the game launches in late 2020.
And now for something completely different?
Halo 1–3, which were released from 2001–2007, paved the way for console multiplayer shooters. They defined a generation of console arena shooters and are still popular classics to this day.
However, that was over a decade ago, and shooters are radically different in 2019. Class based shooters like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege, Battle Royales like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG, and a mix of other types of shooters dominate the market.
Arena shooters are somewhat a relic of the past, but still hold a cult following and could easily see a resurgence with the right game. With 343s most recent game Halo 5, they attempted a kind of hybrid arena shooter. It featured some elements of an arena shooter, but still had abilities that made it a hybridization of ideas. Halo 5’s multiplayer is solid, but it wasn’t able to captivate an audience like Halo used to.
Personally, I believe this is because Halo 5 tried to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. It wanted to re-engage fans of the original, while also making fans of the everyday multiplayer shooter happy as well.
For Infinite, I strongly believe 343 needs to return to Halo’s roots. Go back to what made the original games so captivating and addicting. Halo Infinite could be the next great ‘old-school’ arena shooter and thrive in a market almost entirely devoid of them.
If 343 isn’t willing to do that, then I believe Infinite needs to be something completely new. Not a hybrid like Halo 5, nor following the newest Battle Royale or Class Shooter trends. Something new and fresh, like Halo 1, 2, and 3 provided. If Halo Infinite is built off of Halo 5 and is just a continuation of the hybridization of a mix and match of shooters, or simply following today’s trends, then Infinite won’t succeed in the way I would like. It’s too early to tell exactly what kind of game Infinite ends up being, but whatever becomes of its final form, I hope it is confident in what it is, and not a game that tries to please everyone.
Dude, you just need to…
Halo Infinite needs to have crowd pleasing, well designed, engaging multiplayer arenas. The original triology in particular is known for a series of timeless multiplayer maps – from Blood Gulch, Midship, Hang ‘em High, Guardian, Warlock, Narrows, Beaver Creek, and more. If you made a list of the greatest multiplayer maps of all time, it would be a safe bet that more than a few Halo maps would make an appearance.
Conversely, I don’t feel the same is true for either of the most recent mainline Halo games. A lot of the maps in both Halo 4 and 5 are uninspired, remakes of older maps to fit the newer games, retreads, or just maps that really don’t play well. As a series, Halo has a long and storied history of great maps that can be played repeatedly, without wearing out their welcome.
If Halo Infinite is to be successful, having well designed and engaging arenas that can be played and appreciated for years to come is a must. Again, no easy task, but with five years development and an expanded team with a new engine to deliver great content, hopes are high.
Were it so easy….
Halo Infinite has a lot to live up to – it will be the first Halo on the newest hardware, and the first new Halo game in half a decade, and will be simultaneously be releasing on PC. Fans will be expecting, and like me, demanding greatness – anything short of that after 5 years of waiting may prove disappointing to say the least.
From the little we have seen from Infinite, things look to be promising. A new art style reminiscent of the original trilogy, musical cues that play on the nostalgia of Halo 3 – it suggests that if anything, 343 are acutely aware of what fans want. Infinite isn’t expected until Holiday 2020, and we don’t know what the final game will look like. Maybe what we have seen is just to draw nostalgia and create hype, or maybe 343 is just going to knock Infinite out of the park and create a game worthy of the series gold standard. We won’t know until the game is out, but here’s to hoping Infinite is the next great game in the series.