I’m still looking for a spark in the Halo Infinite campaign • Eurogamer.net

The Halo Infinite campaign is all about mid-spaces. Open worlds live or die in these intermediate spaces, don’t they? What is the value of an open world littered with objectives clearly displayed on a map screen, if there is nothing between the objectives to fall on, to stray you from the path of least resistance? What secrets will you discover about this broken ring, if there is no sense of mystery in their discovery?

I’ve been playing the Halo Infinite campaign for a handful of hours now, taking part in its first four missions and a generous dollop of exploration, and I’m always looking for that spark in the places in between. Not the Guilty Spark – that relentless chatter can make one. I mean the kind of spark that surprises and delights.

Because by moving to the open world, developer 343 opened a box of worms. Like a Pixies song, Halo campaigns have always been about swinging between loud and calm. 30 seconds of fun in a battle arena bowl, the golden triangle of shooting, melee and grenade in perfect harmony with the player and the controller – and then, relax. The Halo campaigns have also been a linear business with the illusion of an open world. Some of the most famous levels in the series feel open world, have that magic, but under the hood they’re classic first-person shooter-style missions, with a start, middle, and end , a strong and silent sign and with the beginning and the end of each fight.

Halo Infinite aims to capture that sensation, but spread it out over a piece of a Halo Ring. This time around, Master Chief – and 343 smartly made sure Master Chief is the playable character throughout the campaign after the backlash from Halo 5’s much-maligned Agent Locke – can go anywhere, anytime, and take secondary objectives in the order the player sees fit. As a Halo fan educated on how Halo was ™, it was an initially shocking experience.

Is it a good one? My time with Halo Infinite can be divided into two parts, much like Zeta Halo itself: what’s gained by this seismic shift to an open world, and what’s lost. As Master Chief’s new Cortana-like AI would undoubtedly say, let’s start with what’s earned.

Halo Infinite is quite clearly reminiscent of the Halo of yesteryear. Its color scheme and artistic style bring memories of Halo: Combat Evolved back to life. It begins with a fight against the Covenant – or a branch called The Banished – on an alien warship that orbits a mysterious Halo Ring. Eventually, you land in the ring and fight the banished forces – Grunts, Jackals (those bloody snipers!), Elites, and Brutes all show up on duty. Slip into a Warthog, UNSC soldiers marvel at your airtime – it truly is evolved combat. There’s even a moment when Master Chief watches the battlefield from inside a Pelican, ready for action. 343 might as well shout “remember the Silent Cartographer level everyone loves?” This game is like that! ‘ down your helmet.

This is not a criticism. On the contrary, I’m delighted that 343 has looked to the past as it reimagines the future of Halo. I think it’s fair to say that the studio’s work with the Halo campaigns so far has been divisive. Halo Infinite makes some big changes to the Halo campaign formula, yes, but it’s rooted in the familiar. It feels like home, the one you’ve been trying to come back to for quite some time.

The shooter is also reassuring and familiar. In fact, it’s better than that: it’s the best Halo fight since 343 took over from Bungie. It’s a return to basics, but with new tools that are fun to play with. Much has been said about Infinite’s grappling hook when it comes to the multiplayer side – it’s just as fun to use in the campaign and changes the way you view combat. Suppose you approach a forward operating base owned by outcast – you will do so often. The grappling hook means you can build your own entry point to combat. And in battle, no enemy is ever out of reach – use the grappling hook to grab a pesky sniper and rush over them for a quick melee kill. The Battle Rocks of Halo Infinite, I’m delighted to bring you back. It’s merry chaos, with Master Chief dealing death with the help of a super soldier even as the Grunts deliver their sometimes hilarious one-liners. See that Elite riding that Ghost over there? Hang on to it for a quick jack. Flip that switch and the disco ball descends for a quick bust – or a Brute’s mouth.

What else is earned? Halo Infinite has a hint of Ubisoft’s open world about it. I can feel some readers recoil in horror at this sentence. Yes, there is that sentiment looming over the icon map for Halo Infinite. I feel compelled to free the forward operating bases even though they are not essential to the progression of the main quest. After all, take a FOB again and you reveal more icons around the map. This is what I am trained to want to do. High-value targets – specially named banished enemies who have, hang on to shields and health bars on top of their character models – reward Valor upon death. The more Valor you earn, the more access you will have to vehicles and powerful UNSC soldiers in an FOB. There are banned outposts to take down and other icons indicating bits and bobs to “complete”. Between the main story missions, the Master Chief’s quest is to reduce the occupancy of the ring by the outcast, map icon by map icon.

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And, get this! Master Chief now has a skill tree. It’s pretty basic. Spartan Cores, which litter the world (they’re another map icon), are consumed to unlock upgrades to Master Chief’s combat abilities. For example, you can improve Master Chief’s grappling hook and shields. (Always choose the grapple!)

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All of this, all that Halo Infinite has earned, combine in the first five hours or so to form a sort of fun, but not spectacular enough, open-world Halo game. Infinite is sickly – it’s so nice, controller in hand – but it hasn’t impressed me yet. No main mission I’ve played so far has really caught me. The tower, the fourth main mission and the limit of what I’m allowed to talk about at this point before I review, offers a tantalizing tease of what Infinite can flesh out further into the countryside, with its innards spiraling towards the top and her boss tense. fight a welcome change of scenery and rhythm. But the silent cartographer can rest easy because an infinite height of countryside has not yet reached – for now.

Which brings me clearly to what is lost. In becoming something of an open world, Halo Infinite’s campaign doesn’t quite have the same personality as previous entries. Of course not ! FOBs are FOBs. Outposts are outposts. Infinite gets away with it because the combat is so much fun, but I can already feel that tinge of repetitiveness creeping in. Hope the campaign mixes things up as you dive into it.

I also hope for some variations in the landscapes. You can look up and the Halo ring is right there, soaring into the sky and curling up behind you. It’s a sight to see, but this classic Halo Ring scenery – beautiful, sweeping hills and streams, vast open areas littered with trees, and protruding Forerunner architecture – could be the subject of a revamp. at some point later in history. Hope it comes.

And, above all, I’m always looking for that spark between the spaces. So far I’ve run around the ring going goal to goal with only an occasional break. There are audio logs and Spartan cores to be found and some of them are cleverly hidden in the nooks and crannies of Zeta Halo, but I’m talking about stumbling upon a true alien sci-fi wonder here. This ring has breathtaking secrets – the story of Infinite revolves around their unearthing, it seems. I hope that some of them will be able to miss it, because it is in the risk of missing the magic which pushes us to seek it.

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