As much as I enjoyed my time with Halo Infinite at release, the Xbox-exclusive FPS wasn’t without its flaws – big ones, at that. Developer 343 had finally nailed the gameplay fans had been clamoring for – arguably the hardest part of making a modern sequel to a classic series – yet it fell flat when it came to the simplest aspects of a multiplayer FPS. Content was slim, yet its weak progression system and poor customization options hurt the most. However, in 2024, Halo Infinite is a completely different game. It’s on a trajectory to be the best Halo game yet and, hopefully, take its rightful place in the FPS Hall of Fame.
When Halo Infinite’s multiplayer was released on Xbox in late 2021, I was beyond excited to finally get some good PvP action after Halo Reach. After sinking in hours and hours into its various multiplayer modes, however, I put it down for over a year. The lack of a true progression system outside of its incredibly restrictive (often to the point of distracting from the fun) battle pass challenge system and the abundance of missing features caused me to put down what was otherwise a blast: gunplay and movement were as smooth as ever, somehow capturing the essence of classic Halo but with the modern flair it needs to hold up against the best FPS games of today.
However, returning to the FPS in late 2023, I was immediately struck by just how much Halo Infinite has improved – and how little that improvement has been discussed and celebrated. As one of the most high-profile and best Xbox games out there, how did the many overhauls and new features go so under the radar? Needless to say, I got stuck right in.
Since 2021, there have been well over ten new maps to enjoy across a handful of great new modes and playlists, including Halo 3 Refueled which features remastered maps from this iconic entry. Most importantly though, these brand-new maps are some of the best yet, with the expansive sandbox of Infinite firing on all cylinders to provide the perfect balance between order and chaos that makes Halo PvP as good as it is. Speaking of, there are also new weapons, including the readily-available Bandit (which feels so good) and new equipment, such as the Quantum Translocator that lets you quickly teleport between two points, opening the door for some remarkably clever plays in the right hands.
The addition of Forge – what in hindsight would have saved Infinite from so much of its early criticism, had it been present at launch – has also changed the game. Added in late 2022, the iconic Forge mode returned better than ever, with a great set of tools to allow creatively-minded players to flex their muscles and create something brand-new. From new maps to entirely fresh modes and even absurd experiences like Toy Story, Mario Kart, a Call of Duty Zombies Forge map, and a Halo RPG, Halo Infinite’s Forge is exceptional. User-generated content has seen the popularity of sandbox titles like Fortnite and Roblox explode, and it should really be doing the same amount of legwork for Infinite, given how good it is.
More recently, in December 2023, Firefight also made its way into Infinite, adding a unique wave-based mode that puts all your skills to the test. Both new modes, despite going under the radar to seemingly everyone except active players, were met with great reception, adding to the now-excellent package that is Halo Infinite.
It’s not all about the new content either, as Halo Infinite’s biggest flaws were arguably the most simple aspects – progression and customization. While battle passes never expiring was and still is a welcome feature, the frankly terrible battle pass challenges of the launch period are no more. Instead of forcing you into Fiesta seemingly forever or tasking you with getting kills with the worst weapons imaginable, you can now mostly play whatever mode you want, how you want, and still progress. Likewise, the restrictive Armor Core system has also been reworked allowing you to equip any colour palette and helmet you like – being a Spartan has never looked so good.
Seeing just how much progress and improvements have been made to Halo Infinite is remarkable, and I’m now finally seeing the FPS reach the standards we all expected from the game at launch. Going into 2024, however, I’m eagerly awaiting even more. Now that the trifecta of Halo modes are now all available in-game – PvP, Firefight, and Forge – 343 Industries can now look to overhauling the remaining systems and creating even more great content. For example, I’d love for Armor Cores to be removed entirely, letting you mix and match any and all armor items, similarly to Reach. I think the sandbox could be expanded even further, particularly with a number of the Guardian weapons from Halo 5 that have seemingly vanished.
The solid groundwork has now been laid, leaving 2024 open to even more successes for those willing to stick around – and hopefully return. If you’re yet to pick up or return to Halo Infinite after its rather gut-punching release, I don’t blame you – Microsoft has dropped the ball when it comes to showcasing and shouting about all these massive improvements – though there’s no better time than now. With just how much has changed and been added, especially Forge and Firefight, it’s a little disturbing that Microsoft hasn’t made a bigger push for its flagship shooter. Starting 2024 in a strong position and with much to look forward to on the horizon, it’s time Xbox sent in reinforcements. With a re-release or a fresh marketing push to get the word out, Halo could once again be the FPS titan it deserves to be on Xbox and PC – a reason for PS5 players to consider the jump across.
Yes, Xbox has a fairly strong and busy slate this year – Avowed, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, and Hellblade 2 are just three of the excellent exclusives it has lined up. However, it’s Halo Infinite I’m most excited to play this year, and that’s only the case because I randomly decided to return and experience the improvements myself. Microsoft should absolutely be shouting more about the fact it (now) has one of the best Xbox FPS games of all time.