Halo Infinite Multiplayer Review: A Fun But Buggy and Laggy Time
Even though it is November 16 at the time of writing this, Halo Infinite is out right now, or at least the multiplayer is. Available in a beta format, the entire multiplayer experience is available on all platforms around the world a few weeks early. But is it worth playing right now? Read on for our Halo Infinite multiplayer review to find out.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Review: A Troubled Return to the Roots of Fun
When writing the Halo Infinite multiplayer review, I was troubled by the fact that I really enjoy this game but it is currently in a state that is problematic. With the launch of the multiplayer beta, players on Xbox and PC (including Steam!) can jump in right now and see what the sixth mainline entry is all about.
Following up on my preview of the technical preview in the past, I can admit that my time with Halo Infinite in its full release thus far has been troubled. The game is not in a great place when it comes to performance and bugs, but at the same time, when it works, it is a return to the roots of Halo that I loved.
It brings me back to the Halo 2 and a bit of Halo 3 days when I adored playing the bigger maps, running around in a Mongoose, honking at everyone along the way, sneaking into the enemy base, stealing the flag, and hoping to escape to my home base with my helmet intact.
Halo Infinite also takes me back to those halcyon days of finally receiving internet for my home in time for the launch of Halo 4 and spending an obscene amount of hours in Slayer, but minus the mostly iconic Arena maps that made it so good to play.
Overall, I would say that my time with Halo Infinite was ultimately positive, but barely when there were so many moments of frustration and issues that hindered what has the chance to be the return to the peaks of the Halo series that I think happened with Halo 2 and its multiplayer.
It is worth mentioning, of course, that it is still in the beta at the time of writing this, but the dozens of hours that I’ve put into the multiplayer so far is telling enough to show me that it will be hard for the game to fix all of these major issues in time for release. That is why it is worth mentioning as some may even prevail when the full game releases on December 8, 2021.
When it comes to the gameplay, Halo Infinite stands out as the best in the series to date. The movement feels just right, the guns are exactly what I remember them to be, and the graphics are stellar. Again, when the game works right, I have little to say about the gameplay other than gushing about how good it is.
Fan-favorite game modes like Oddball, CTF, and the like are fast and furious in Halo Infinite, at least compared to what I remember in the series. Matches are quick, typically over in a matter of minutes, with the action always being there for you to jump into.
The various guns that you are able to use in battle, ranging from the classics of the BR, the Needler, and so on to the new additions like the silky smooth VK47 Commando and my personal new favorite in the Shock Rifle are all worth using in battle.
Each weapon, from new to old, pays reverence to what came before it, feeling different from one another and each warranting use from the players who appreciate them. There really is a weapon for every type of player in the game, further reminding me why I love the Halo gameplay.
Then there are the new abilities that you can equip, like the game-changing grappling hook that adds a new layer of fun into the mix. I do wish that some of the movement-based abilities like the thrusters and hook were something that everyone had in the game to use at all times, but it is still better to have them in a limited way than not at all.
Be it objective-based game modes or just slaying one another in a free-for-all match, everything that I did in Halo Infinite was enjoyable, even when the actual locations that I was zipping across were not the best.
Maps Are Just Fine, Few Standouts Overall
When it comes to the gameplay part of my Halo Infinite multiplayer review, the most disappointing part of the game are the maps. In all honesty, I do think that Halo Infinite has one of the weakest selections of multiplayer maps at this time when compared to the rest of the series.
Even games that I (perhaps controversially) did not like at the time, like Halo Reach, had a solid group of maps that made the game still somewhat worth playing. This is even the case for something like Halo 5: Guardians that I, admittedly, spent the least amount of time with but appreciated a decent number of locations.
Unfortunately, the maps in Halo Infinite did not change my opinion at all from the technical preview in that I do not love most of them. In fact, I groan every time I get some of the 10 base maps, especially the Arena ones like Live Fire and Launch Site.
Fortunately, the rest of the maps are not bad like those but they are mostly not great, either. Aquarius is one that I disliked at first but grew on me, but still teeters on dislike. Bazaar was my favorite Arena of the preview but still is only a barely good map overall.
Lastly in the Arena section, there is Recharge, which has grown on me to be a good map and Streets, which is my favorite of the Arena locations. It is tiny, though, which makes it not great for modes like Capture the Flag, but I do appreciate it in Slayer and Oddball.
Behemoth is the weakest of the BTB maps and also only decent, while Recharge teeters on being pretty good almost. From there, the rest of the maps are actually ones that I like, but only a couple of them stand out as the maps that I willingly want to play on.
Fortunately, with the exception of the just okay Behemoth, the three other BTB maps are great and are the best part of the Halo Infinite multiplayer. I really enjoy Fragmentation, Highpower, and Deadlock alike. Highpower is probably the weaker of the three, but even if it is a solid area with enough variation and paths.
Fragmentation and Deadlock, though, are the only true examples of the classic Halo gameplay and map marrying together into one masterful package that made everything else all worth it in the end. Fragmentation is a true evolution of maps like Valhalla and others, feeling new and different at the same time.
Deadlock, on the other hand, occupies a unique place as a nighttime BTB map, which is fairly different in this group and offers something more strategic in a way. I feel pushed to play differently and slower at times on this map than on something like Fragmentation or Highpower, which gave a different type of match feel and is probably my second-favorite out of the group after the excellent Fragmentation.
Bugs Are Plentiful at This Time
Though my time with Halo Infinite has been instantly memorable, some of it has not been for the best. Given that this is a beta, there are bugs that are to be expected in the game but some of them were a lot more challenging to overcome than I expected.
I expected the random moments and sometimes hilarious features like the announcer repeating the same phrase like “Capture the Flag” over and over at the start of the match about 10 times, or the AI companion’s audio lines overlapping on top of one another, but then there were more serious issues.
Like the fact that I was unable to play multiplayer for about a solid hour straight at one point, even though it was the middle of the night and long past the crazy launch that the beta had. I tried jumping into some multiplayer matches, it would search for players, and load the map for us.
Or, at least that is what the game told me while I was in the lobby. After loading the map and mode, the matchmaking would freeze on the other players loading and stay there indefinitely. Sadly, there was no way to leave the matchmaking at this point, so I had to just close out the game on my Xbox Series X.
This happened about seven times in total back-to-back with the game not loading the match no matter what playlist I tried and forcing me to close the game before I finally gave up and played some custom games with bots until it started working properly again about an hour later. Others experienced more, different, and worse bugs than me, but I was, fortunately, saved from dealing with those at least.
Frequent Lag Makes True Competition Not Viable
If the bugs mentioned just a moment ago in our Halo Infinite multiplayer review were not enough, then there was the frequent lag. To be clear, the bugs were at least temporary or just annoying, not really affecting the gameplay too much outside of getting into a match for that window of time.
However, the lag was a far more egregious affair as it negatively affected my enjoyment with the game immensely. I could not play an online multiplayer match without experiencing some level of lag rather frequently at times and having little to do with my internet.
In fact, I went from playing and reviewing another FPS game online to playing Halo Infinite at one point to test it out and experienced no lag in the previous game, but plenty of it in Halo. It severely dampened the experience for me and made it difficult to enjoy competing against others.
I played a single ranked match and then never touched it again because I could not sufficiently play the game in a fair way to have a decent chance of doing well there. The lag was so bad and frequent that I could not tell you how many fights I lost due to it.
It does not help that the lag did not usually do the standard problem of seeing the enemy player and then they jump to another spot because of lag, but they would actually keep running in that direction as if the game was working correctly, only to find out they did not go that way at all.
Take, for example, one Slayer fight I had on Aquarius where the player was about to enter a doorway with their back to me. I saw them first and started shooting and the game showed them still running into the doorway into the next room and I thought I would have them for sure before I suddenly was dead with no warning.
Watching the player after dying, I realized that the lag was showing them running into the next room while they actually turned around and started fighting back. Since I was still shooting where they formerly were, they took me out in the end. This sort of problematic lag happened in, if I had to guess, 90% of matches that I did. There were objectives lost in Stronghold because of this, numerous fights I could and should have won, and so on.
Is It Recommended?
I am not giving a score in this Halo Infinite multiplayer review for the reason that this is the beta form of the game. If 343 was billing this as the final, full release but early, that would be a different story, but since it is the beta, these issues are expected to happen.
That said, if I were to give it a review score, it would not be that great right now. Despite returning the series to its roots and offering some of the best FPS gameplay around, the very poor performance at times due to frequent lag and the numerous bugs make it a mixed experience overall.
It does not help that the overall content is a bit lackluster with only a handful of playlists at this time. The ranked playlist is definitely welcome, as it ensures a competitive focus and paves the way for really fun-to-watch esports, but only having just Arena and BTB other than that ranked playlist is unfortunate. At least dividing up some of the modes, like a Slayer playlist, a free-for-all one, and an objectives-based one would have helped.
Then there is the progression system. Having the battle pass progression almost solely be tied to challenges that you complete is unfortunate and can mean that you could be the best player in a match and not progress at all in the season 1 battle pass if you did not do any of the challenges at the same time.
But because the Halo Infinite multiplayer is so fun to play when it works right and the fact that it is technically free-to-play on all platforms, I can still recommend it since this is something that is not necessarily charging you to experience it. That said, if you do experience issues like I did, I might recommend for you to wait until some fixes are issued in the future, which hopefully happens soon.