I Played 400 Hours of Halo Infinite Multiplayer – Here’s Why I Quit
Last year I was really excited to play Halo Infinite on PC when it launched. I’ve never had the opportunity to play a new game in the series with a keyboard and mouse, as the game was an Xbox exclusive during my peak Halo years. But while Halo Infinite is currently the most played multiplayer shooter in my Steam library, clocking in around 400 hours, I’ve barely touched it in three months and counting.
As much as I’ve now moved on from Halo Infinite, the core gameplay is still the most fun I’ve had with an FPS game since Halo Reach. There’s just something that clicks with its simple gameplay loop, but difficult to master skill set. One of my friends, who I will refer to as a “dedicated Spartan”, used to play competitively and soon I asked him how to improve my game and improve my K/D ratio. With his advice, a new skill ceiling felt attainable, and it was exciting.
I soon knew the maps like the back of my hand. The first group was mostly good, although Recharge has the bug of having line of sight from points B and C. Any fight that takes place in Streets or Behemoth is usually a good time, provided the team is on the same page.
After the first few weeks, however, cracks appeared. My group started moving on to newer games. It happens, especially with free-to-play PC games, but the beginning of the exodus coincided with the launch of the campaign. In a truly bizarre set of circumstances, the campaign’s launch broke Big Team modes for the entire Christmas season. Also, the weekly challenges still required players to achieve feats that were only feasible in Big Team. Soon it was just me and the dedicated Spartan leaving. At that point he was still having some fun, but it wouldn’t last as the cheaters reared their ugly heads.
Aimbots, which automatically place the crosshairs on enemies, are thankfully rare in Halo Infinite, but wall-hacking is not. For those not in the loop, it gives the user X-ray vision, which shows if someone is coming around a corner, so you know exactly where and when to shoot. Of course, pros lead players into corners and have their finger on the trigger at all times, but with enough exposure, it’s easy to see if the player who just eliminated you before you could react hacked, compared to just being a sharp shot.
The worst part of it all is that when I played, there was no way to report cheaters. Community feedback is valuable for exposing wrong ‘uns, but it also has more positive in-game implementations, such as singing the praises of teammates who save your bacon with a quick like. The fact that nothing exists here is disturbing.
I was willing to forgive these shortcomings if the second season was good. It began during the summer and was heavily focused on free-for-all modes: a big mistake. These were always the least popular modes in Halo, and rumor has it that they were featured as a testing ground for an attempt at Battle Royale games in the future. My dedicated friend didn’t bother to buy the season pass, and frankly, I’m not sure why I did either. I quit three weeks later, clocking in at just under the 400 hour mark.
It was for a few months, but in recent weeks the campaign collaboration was made available to everyone. I’ve since returned, and while it’s still brilliant fun (there’s nothing more fun than confusing a blundering boss with a big hammer by standing on top of various doorways), I’m not surprised to report that it’s packed with bugs, such as being unable to spend Spartan Core points on upgrades or sound issues interfering with Discord calls that otherwise work perfectly with all other games. The mid-season multiplayer update didn’t impress much either.
To fix things, first of all, some time should be spent stripping the game of the internal anti-cheat function that is not working, and just spend some money to use Easy Anti-Cheat. I realize this means giving more money to Epic Games as games like Fortnite are competitors in the free-to-play market that Halo Infinite multiplayer is going for. However, the Easy Anti-Cheat website lists Xbox Game Studios, the Halo Infinite publisher, as one of the partners. It’s clear that Microsoft has a partnership with Epic Games, and if it means getting rid of aimbots, wall-hacks and other prolific cheaters running amok, then it’s worth the investment.
When a proper and robust anti-cheat solution is implemented, we also need fun game modes to go back. There’s so much potential with Halo Infinite’s upcoming Forge mode that I’ll probably stay away from this game mode until it launches, when I can jump in properly for game nights. I mentioned earlier that Halo Reach was a formative part of my gaming habits in my 20s. You’d think most of it was used in Big Team, but actually it was messing around with wacky game types. Grif Ball, where two teams of hammers play a mix of football and hockey, will always be simple and chaotic fun. Picture that with the grapple shot and you can see why I want it back.
It’s not all Grif Ball though, and luckily it looks like Forge Mode may be reviving some familiar faces. My favorites include Rocket Race, where you and a buddy race through courses on a Mongoose while the other player makes the vehicle jump holes by shooting rockets. Creators also experimented with obstacle courses, where people race to the finish line to avoid picking up letters that spell HORSE. Maybe Halo Infinite will put these in a playlist with the ability to keep score.
So brighter times may be on the horizon, and it’s not too late for 343 Industries to address the main issues I have with Halo Infinite. Will the game restore player count back to the 250,000+ players on Steam? No, of course not. But by fixing things that are broken and returning to the fun, silly modes that make Halo games of old so well remembered, it has a chance to at least improve its popularity if it embraces its more creative side.