Halo Infinite’s Battle Pass Misses the Mark
Back in July, I spoke on the unrivaled prospects of the Halo Infinite Battle Pass. On Monday, November 15th, 343 shadow dropped Halo Infinite’s core multiplayer suite as the Halo Infinite Multiplayer Beta, and while the game has delivered flawlessly on being one of the best multiplayer experiences Halo has offered to date, it’s progression has missed the mark in some key ways.
Halo Infinite’s Multiplayer Beta has launched to overwhelmingly positive fan reception, but the progression has fans scratching their heads. Instead of earning experience points towards the progression of the $10 cosmetics-only Battle Pass on a per match basis, players are required to complete challenges to make progress towards the 160+ rewards that are tied to the “Heroes of Reach” season one Battle Pass, making progress slower than the Chief in Halo CE.
Frankly, the progression system is bad. Progression is broken up into Daily Challenges and Weekly Challenges towards each level of 1000 XP each. Daily Challenges reward a consistent XP stream, but the value of those challenges decreases the more you play the game, devaluing your time invested the more you play in a day. Practice Makes Perfect grants 100 XP for one match played at step 1, but by the time you reach step 9, it requires 4 matches played and only grants 150 XP. The flaw in this system alone is virtually impossible to miss. Players should be earning more XP per step of their daily challenges, not less.
Weekly Challenges are tiered, typically granting XP based on the assessed difficulty. For the Dodged Determination challenge, players are required to kill a single player with the Bulldog shotgun, and grants 200 XP. Power Purview grants 250 XP for winning 3 Total Control matches in PvP. Finally, Plasma Caster asks players to kill 20 players with the Wraith’s Plasma Mortar in PVP.
If this slow grind isn’t really your cup of tea, but you still want the cool cosmetics, players are also able to purchase levels in the Battle Pass for 200 Credits per level. That means players are welcome to spend $200 on the $10 Battle Pass in order to skip levels instead of working through them with the current set up. While this sounds outrageous, I’m not surprised to see people opting into the $25 fast tracked Battle Pass, where players spend an extra $15 up front to skip the first 25 levels.
On top of outright purchasing levels, players are given the opportunity to earn (and purchase) both XP Boosts, which grant double XP for 30 minutes, and Challenge Swaps, allowing players to select a challenge they might not see themselves wanting to work towards, or that might be too challenging. The XP Boosts are yet another miss in this game as the short 30 minute timer begins the second they’re activated and continue to tick down while in the game’s menus, while matchmaking, or while applying newly acquired cosmetics. The Challenge Swaps are another great option for players who might not want to play certain game modes, like BTB or an arena CTF game, but like the XP Boosts, they’re only unlocked via the Battle Pass or through purchasing with Credits, the in game currency acquired through purchasing with cold hard cash.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of this is the lack of matchmaking options available for the time being. Right now, it’s impossible to queue and be guaranteed matches that will help you make progress towards some of the mode- or weapon-specific challenges that players are dealt out of this deck of cards. Thankfully, the aforementioned Challenge Swaps help to alleviate that to a point, but again, without spending money on Swaps, you may have to work until much further into the Battle Pass to acquire them. This can potentially get you stuck with challenges you can’t or don’t want to complete until you’ve poured several hours into the disappointingly limited matchmaking offerings.
This isn’t to say that this system is unsalvageable. Remember, 343 has stated that the Battle Passes will never expire, allowing us to make progress on these Battle Passes for as long as the game has legs (not that this will be a problem at all given this season doesn’t end until May 2nd, 2022). The team has also been clear that they’re taking in everyone’s feedback, both back during the initial Technical Preview Outcomes report as well as via tweets from 343’s Community Director, Brian Jarrard and the Halo Infinite Head of Creative, Joe Staten.
In the meantime, I believe that implementation of a place-holder type of progression could make a huge difference. Our very own Doncabesa suggested something as “simple” as a 20 XP per match on top of the existing challenges, giving players a sense of progression, at least until something more substantial can be introduced.
Right now, Halo Infinite’s progression leaves a lot to be desired: a more traditional XP based progression system separate from the Battle Pass, Boosts and Swaps that aren’t as user and consumer friendly as they first appear, and an incredibly slow burn to making headway in the Battle Pass towards cool cosmetics are all things that need to be addressed. However, with 343’s own transparent acknowledgement of these problems and the promise for a fix, it’s hard to not enjoy their third entry in the Halo franchise for anything less than one of the best feeling Halo games ever made. Only time will tell if the Campaign manages to stick the same landing as it’s Multiplayer.