Halo Infinite Multiplayer Beta: All The Important Things We Learned
The first Halo Infinite multiplayer beta has come and gone--here's what we learned.
For the first time, Microsoft invited the public to play Halo Infinite's multiplayer through a beta test. Over three days of action, we sank our teeth into the multiplayer preview offering and came away very impressed with what developer 343 Industries has in store for later this year. In a new video you can watch below, Persia runs through her impressions of the beta and talks about what the game has in store.
The game delivers a number of new innovations for the Halo series, including a grappling hook piece of equipment called the Grappleshot, new weapons like the Skewer, and a variety of new maps. Bearing in mind that it was an early version of Halo Infinite, the beta had a number of issues, oddities, and hiccups that are likely to be addressed for launch. But that said, we still learned a lot about what Halo Infinite has to offer and how it mixes things up from Halo 5.
Halo Infinite has a Call of Duty-style mini-map that helps you get a jump on enemies. Based on our experience with the beta, enemies only tended to show up when they were sprinting and shooting, even though the mini-map is visible at all times. In the past, crouching was a good way to avoid being detected, but now you can also walk and stay hidden. Sprinting, shooting, or taking damage will expose your location on the map. As a result, if you're used to using the mini-map to sneak up on enemies, it might not be so easy in Halo Infinite.
Borrowing from systems made popular in games like Apex Legends, Halo Infinite also has a "ping" system. This allows teammates to quickly communicate key information about where to go and what to do next. You can even get points and assists in Halo Infinite for pings, so you're encouraged to use the system. Of note, the ping system is tied to the d-pad, which makes it a little more difficult to use than in Apex Legends and other games. We also found that AI callouts and pings were surprisingly adept and helpful.
From our experience in the Halo Infinite beta, it appears the ratio of shields to health has been redistributed. It appears that you have slightly more health once losing shields than before. This could lead to longer time-to-kill and allow you to stay alive in hot situations. Again, since this is a beta--and an early version that is months behind where the game is at with developers, it's possible these values could change as we get closer to launch. But in any event, we found that marksman-type weapons are the best to finish off an opponent with no shields. It also bears mentioning that 343 has subsequently acknowledged that Halo Infinite's visual indications for when someone's shields are down could be more pronounced, and the studio is now addressing this.
Lens flare comes to Halo Infinite, though you might not have noticed it playing against bot enemies. When human-to-human multiplayer was turned on during the beta, we noticed it more. Lens flare helps you see when someone is down range with a scoped weapon, and this can prove to be critical in staying alive and spotting enemies who might have you pinned down.
Halo Infinite brings back equipment, and we got our first look and feel for this in the Halo Infinite beta. Pick-ups happen automatically if you don't already have equipment. And similar to older Halo games, if you come across another piece of equipment, you'll need to manually replace it if you're already holding one. This seems like it'll add a further element of strategy.
One of the new abilities in Halo Infinite is the Threat Sensor, which reveals nearby enemies. When activated, it allows players to see enemies even through walls, which can help you get the upper hand on an opponent who might be hiding out of sight.
The Deployable Shield, meanwhile, is exactly what it sounds like. Putting the shield out on the battlefield protects you and anyone else who stands behind it, though it's only front-facing, unlike Halo 3's bubble shield that created a circular dome. The shield in Halo Infinite can be destroyed in chunks instead of all at once, so it will deteriorate with enough fire. Also of note is that it takes more than a second to deploy, so you'll find it most useful if you're able to set it down before a firefight begins instead of during one.
Perhaps the most notable new piece of equipment in Halo Infinite is the Grappleshot, which is a grappling hook that lets you traverse the map in new ways and even grab items. This ability, perhaps more than any other, has the potential to mix up Halo Infinite's tried-and-true formula in the most significant way, given the variety of ways it can be used for offense and defense. It has a limited number of uses, so that's something else to keep in mind when using the item.
Halo Infinite also brings back Active Camo and the Overshield, which will be familiar to Halo fans. Unlike in older Halo games, you pick up Camo and the Overshield and must trigger them to use.
Halo Infinite's beta had three maps: Live Fire, Recharge, and Bazaar. The maps include interior and exterior sections, along with long sightlines for snipers and close-quarters areas that lead to melee kills. The maps also contain a variety of routes to discover, and, like in Halo 5, clambering allows players to get to climb up walls and onto structures. With the Grappleshot, it's possible to jump even higher and get the jump on someone who might not have seen you coming.
Power weapons and marksman weapons rotate on each map, so you never know exactly what you're going to get in any given match or where on the map the particular weapon may spawn.
Halo Infinite also has a Big Team Battle mode with much larger maps, but this was not included in the latest beta, so we'll have to wait to learn more about those new environments.
The general speed of movement in Halo Infinite appears to match up with Halo 5, though there are some key changes to sprinting. Specifically, you can reload while sprinting and your shields will recharge when sprinting (which wasn't possible in Halo 5). Halo Infinite also brings back Halo 5's sliding (and there are advanced techniques to be discovered), while the Grappleshot--as mentioned above--opens up all manner of new and exciting ways to move around the map. Another thing to note is that Halo Infinite does away with the Thrust ability from Halo 5, so you can no longer escape an oncoming grenade so easily.
Halo is synonymous with weapons, and Halo Infinite ups the ante with new ones like the Skewer and the VK78 Commando, which is effective at range and up close. We found the Commando to be challenging to control with its significant recoil, but it is highly effective when burst-fired.
The Skewer is a new power weapon in Halo Infinite that is incredibly dangerous and deadly. Sure to be a favorite, the Skewer is a one-hit kill weapon capable of turning the tide if used effectively and efficiently.
Halo Infinite also brings back the battle rifle, of course, and it's every bit as deadly and precise as you remember from past games. Yes, four-shot kills are back. The assault rifle returns as well, and it's a tried-and-true way to keep enemies back.
The pistol, meanwhile, could end up returning to prominence in Halo Infinite, as it packs a punch and can stop enemies in their tracks with well-placed shots. It can also be frustrating and unforgiving, though, if you're missing shots.
Grenades are back, too, and they are powerful. We found ourselves missing Halo 5's thrust ability to quickly dodge an oncoming grenade. But not being able to do so is a back-to-basics move that requires players to better consider their options when jumping into a firefight.
The Gravity Hammer returns as well, and it is as deadly as ever. You don't want to find yourself on the receiving end of it, that's for sure. And finally, another new weapon in Halo Infinite is the Ravager, which is a directed-energy weapon that is useful up close and at range.
Be sure to watch the full video above to see more of Halo Infinite multiplayer in action and hear directly from Persia about what's new and exciting about the game.
It's still early days for Halo Infinite, but we've enjoyed what we've played so far. As mentioned, these impressions are based on the game in its beta state, so everything from weapon damage values, map design, movement speed, and elements of the items and abilities could change. A second beta test is coming up, and you can sign up for Halo Insider for a chance to get in.
Halo Infinite launches later this year for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. The multiplayer is free for everyone, while the campaign is included with Xbox Game Pass.
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