Last week, I dropped a new preview of Halo Infinite, focusing on the first few missions and the first couple of hours of Master Chief’s latest adventure. My conclusion was that while some people might be disappointed that the game’s year-long delay hasn’t led to a huge graphical uplift, this is a return to form for the Halo series – and I was having the most fun with it I’ve had with a Halo game since the Halo 3 and ODST, a pairing which I somewhat consider a golden age.
I still can’t talk about anything beyond that first little chunk of the game, but even after I was done with the preview, I carried on tooling around Zeta Halo, the modestly-sized open world that’s used to string the story missions and optional side content together. The more I played, the more acutely I began to understand the rules of this open world… and I started the campaign over a couple of times to experience those first few missions and early moments as the world unfurls before you again.
I did this over the course of the weekend, after publishing my preview, until yesterday morning. At that point, Microsoft did something that is pretty common with early builds like this: they revoked access to it, so the team at 343 Industries can push final tweaks and changes before critics return for the ‘review’ phase of things. Usually when this happens I’m just bemused: I go off and play something else. But to Halo Infinite’s credit… something is different this time out.
The main thing that’s different is, just, well – I can’t stop thinking about this game. It’s got that unique property where it really lingers in the mind, like an impossibly hummable song. Ever since the open world ‘clicked’ for me after about three story missions and a few pieces of side content, it’s been hanging out at the edges of my mind, refusing to be sidelined. I know, I know – first world problems. Boo-hoo, I got to play Halo early and now I have to wait. I know. But, seriously – I take this to be a serious indicator of serious quality.
I keep replaying cool combat moments in my head – instances when new mechanics like the grappling hook and age old ones like Halo’s insistence on only letting you carry two weapons combine to magical effect. That example: running out of ammo right as the enemy is charging me, seeing an energy sword just past them in the distance, and grappling it into my grasp just in time to slice them as they get within melee range.
I’ve still been playing Halo Infinite’s free-to-play ‘beta’ multiplayer release, too, so it’s not just about the quality of the mechanics – it’s something about that campaign structure that is calling to me, begging for me to play it more. My mind is racing with the thoughts of the possibilities of a Legendary run, for instance.
This is one of the best compliments I can pay to Halo Infinite – the campaign has gotten into my head and I can’t wait to play more of it. That’s the best thing you can hope for from a video game, right? Usually, how busy I am with other games means I don’t have time to let these sorts of feelings percolate – but even with everything else going on, my brain is all Halo, all the time now. I can’t wait for the final release.