Halo Infinite Season 3 Early Impressions

Over this last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the HCS 2023 Charlotte Major, where the top teams in Halo battled it out to claim victory in the first of five LAN tournaments this year. The event was great, full of triumphs, defeats, and nail-bitingly close games. But I didn’t just watch, I was also able to play a little under two hours of the upcoming Season 3 for Halo Infinite and I figured I’d share my impressions with all of you. So, without further ado, let’s dive a little into next week’s update for Halo Infinite.

New Toys

The very first thing fans will experience (other than the new loading/main menu screens) will be the new addition to the Halo Infinite weapon sandbox. Enter the Bandit, a weapon reminiscent of the DMR but without an optical zoom. Meaning that while you can’t use it to consistently headshot enemies across the map, you also don’t need to worry about being descoped when hit. The gun is large, and every shot has weight and impact to it. The stellar audio here helps bring that feeling to life along with the slower rate of fire. It has a very slight recoil, where even after I shot at the wall for a while, the bullets were only maybe an inch further up.

In terms of specific damage, the gun is a five-shot kill and a three-shot melee. Meaning it takes four shots to the body to open an enemy to a headshot, and you’ll be able to get a melee kill after three hits. This puts the weapon in an interesting place for the Halo Infinite sandbox. It’s not quite as powerful as the Battle Rifle but it’s a lot easier to use than the Commando. It’s also easier to weave around and try to dodge shots from this gun as you’re not dealing with a three-round burst. Ultimately, it remains to be seen exactly how well-received the weapon will be but I’d say if you’re a fan of the Halo 5 magnum, this gun should be familiar to you in a good way.

Along with the new weapon is also our first new equipment, the Shroud Screen. It’s activated similarly to the threat detector in that it’s thrown in the direction of your choice, but instead of revealing hostiles, it creates a fully opaque sphere and lasts for a few seconds. You can use it to hide from enemies or prevent them from seeing an area as it both disrupts game audio inside the sphere as well as blocks the threat sensor. Keep in mind that you can still shoot and grenade through it without any resistance.

Working as a holographic smokescreen of sorts, the Shroud Screen will certainly bring about some interesting plays at the higher level. Already I can see it being used to create choke points in tight areas, to hide team rotations, and even to mislead the other team into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not. We’ll see exactly how it plays out soon, but I’m excited to really learn the ins and outs of this one.

And New Places to Use Them

Season 3 launches with three developer made maps. Two arena: Chasm and Cliffhanger, and one Big Team Battle map: Oasis. Sadly we were unable to get a big team battle game going at the event, and considering I was only able to play a handful of games on each map, I’ll keep these impressions brief.

Chasm is a smaller 4v4 map that right away feels a little like Halo CE’s map, Boarding Action. Nowhere near as big of course, but Chasm has two long hallways on either end connected by various bridges through the center. The hallways have a second floor, which you can reach through smaller rooms/connections from behind, or through the use of various equipment like repulsor and grapple.

Before I played it, my first impression of the map was that it would only really work on fiesta or other social game types. And while yes, it’s definitely not a ranked map, it’s designed well enough even for more competitive game types like CTF. While it has two snipers on each end and plenty of places to fall to your death, Chasm is also the perfect map for the bandit. With a mix of mid and close-range combat, this new weapon is put to the test no matter where you encounter the other team. And finally, the map does look good too, even if it was pulled straight from the campaign. Halo Infinite’s mix of traditional and modern forerunner aesthetic fits right at home in the multiplayer too.

Moving on to Cliffhanger, this map is clearly designed to be more open and almost feels like it was made for 5v5 or 6v6 game modes. I only had a couple matches on this one so there’s not too much to say here. The map is big and has a mix of outdoor and indoor areas, it has various weaponry placed throughout, and in my matches in had a gravity hammer tucked away in a corner. The map has plenty of places to hide but also plenty of places to snipe. It reminded me of some of the larger Halo 3 maps, like Highground, but with places to fall to your death. Speaking of, if you see a large red glow and what looks like an elevator to a secret area; don’t take it. It leads to a very, very long fall.

Both of the above maps are social focused maps, meaning they won’t be coming to the ranked playlist. However, a remake of Halo 5’s Plaza is set to release during the season that will be ranked/HCS focused for those craving more maps there.

While Wearing New Gear and And Doing New Things

Season 3 marks the return of a fan-favourite game mode, Escalation Slayer. The mode is pretty simple, you use a set order of weaponry to kill others and the first to get a kill with the last weapon wins. When it launches next week though, you’ll also be able to queue for a team version of the mode alongside the traditional FFA one. This is the mode I played and I can tell you right away that it’s pure chaotic fun. While I don’t know the exact ins and outs, I know you work as a team to upgrade your gear and punching someone on the back still sends them back a weapon.  I recommend watching the community match played last Sunday with this mode to see how it works yourself.

And finally, the last things I played around with were the new customization options in Season 3. Of the two new armor cores, I was only able to explore Mirage, which looks similar to the old SPI suit. I went through the entire 100 tier battlepass and came away satisfied. It’s not particularly amazing but it’s not bad either and feels worth the 10 bucks for anyone who plays the game more than a little. If I had to rate it, I’d put it as about or a little better than Season 2’s pass. There are pictures of the entire thing online for anyone who wants to get an early look.

Season 3 also comes with new HCS bundles from the currently partnered teams. While 343 released an awesome trailer showcasing these skins, they don’t truly shine until you see them in the game itself. The amount of detail in each of the coatings is high and isn’t always super obvious, especially on a badly compressed YouTube video. From the bombastic looking like Faze’s to the more subdued design like Complexity’s, the teams went all out and I’m certainly going to get at least one or two. While it would have been nice to have the coatings, and not just the visors, be cross-core, they still look great on Mirage and the sniper skins they come with also look amazing.

A Good Step Forwards

And that’s it! Season 3 is shaping up to be a robust update for Halo Infinite, with new maps, customizations, modes and quality-of-life updates. While I don’t think it’ll completely revitalize the game, it’s certainly a large step in the right direction. With Season 4 scheduled to release only 15 weeks later, and assuming it keeps up or improves on this standard of quality, I think Halo Infinite has the potential for an absolutely stellar year two.

Aarsal "Soulblazerz" Masoodi

Like many, I started my Xbox journey with Halo CE and I've been a pretty big fan ever since. I don't know too much about the technical mumbo jumbo but I know that the future of Xbox looks bright and I'm happy to be along for the ride.

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