Vehicles also feel more vital than ever, and skirmishes in the open world come with a degree of freedom and creativity that’s both new to Halo and feels very much at home. The story may be esoteric, but it’s still engaging thanks in no small part to returning voice actors Steve Downes and Jen Taylor in the key roles, very much reviving their fun dynamic from the very first game.
Infinite is set on a mystical ring-shaped world, with lush forests and fauna on top of ancient technological installations, and the entire thing evokes “Arriving on Halo”, the second mission of the original game which was responsible for blowing a generation of young gamers’ minds.
Following the objectives from place to place gets you a classic Halo experience. You play as Master Chief — a saviour of humankind and Earth’s greatest supersoldier — as he unravels the mysteries of the ring and prevents an alien force from using it to commit galactic genocide. But as the areas of the ring become available you’re free to go exploring. You can rescue allied soldiers, disvoer secrets and audio logs, take down alien infrastructure, or assassinate “high value targets” to win operating bases and unlock powerful custom weapons.
“All the missions on the surface of the ring are non-linear, so you don’t have to engage with any of them in order to complete the areas,” Crocker said.
“Part of it is encouraging you to come back once you’ve engaged with more of the game, and take them out later if they become too challenging.”
This was certainly the case with my playthrough, where my repeated attempts to assassinate an invisible Elite were frustrated at every turn, until I collected a threat sensor upgrade that let me keep tabs on him. Another target was a sniper nestled in the top of a mountain, where he could easily pick me off as I approached; until I stole a flying Banshee and came back to crush him from behind.
After playing for 11 hours and completing the story I’ve only worked through 30 per cent of the total content, with the world littered with objectives, upgrades and even cheat-mode-enabling skulls to find. And the more you do in the open world, the more weapons and vehicles you can summon on demand from your captured bases, which in turn gives you more tools for the harder assassinations.
I may be a bit disappointed that the story and open world are two very distinct parts of the game, but that doesn’t prevent both from being an enormous amount of fun. And taken together with the stellar competitive multiplayer experience that’s free to play and has already been live for a few weeks, this feels like the most relevant a new Halo game has been for a decade.
Halo Infinite’s campaign is out on Thursday for PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
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