April 15, 2024

I’m an uncompromising, loud-mouthed Halo apologist, however even I fell off of Halo Infinite. Regardless of 343 Industries’ newest sport feeling simply pretty much as good as a Halo sport ought to, its unusual, staccato launch and lack of latest maps surrounded it with an air of perpetual stagnation for practically two years. As such, I performed it on and off from its November 2021 launch till the tip of final yr, after which simply form of forgot about it.

Then, in February of this yr, 343 cleverly known as on its unbelievable group to assist spice issues up, providing a number of new maps in official playlists that gamers might simply discover and luxuriate in (moderately than having to make use of the customized sport browser to search out Forge-made maps). However it wasn’t till final month’s providing, a brand new playlist known as Squad Battle that mimics the Huge Staff Battle of yesteryear with maps that previous Halo heads will know, that Infinite actually began to sing.

You’ll be able to lead a horse to water, however you possibly can’t make them drink. Equally, you possibly can inform me that I ought to get again into Halo Infinite, however you possibly can’t make me do it when Overwatch 2 and the new Nicki Minaj Name of Responsibility operator are proper there. However in the event you’re my fiance and also you’re dogged sufficient, you possibly can not less than get me besides up Halo Infinite once more out of curiosity—particularly in the event you inform me there’s “extra previous maps.”

Halo Infinite Squad Battle bought me again into the sport

The Squad Battle playlist debuted in July 2023 and presents a contented medium between the chaotic 12v12 Huge Staff Battle matches and the much-less-forgiving 4v4 face-offs. The 8v8 video games are a mixture of conventional Slayer matches and a few objective-based modes, they usually’re all set on maps made by the Halo group. Extra importantly, all the maps are from previous Halo video games. Sure, which means Valhalla is again. Rejoice, Spartans.

I don’t even understand the legendary Halo 3 map is a part of the rotation till I queue up for a sport and see photographs of its evergreen timber, its ankle-deep water, and its hulking, futuristic constructions because the match hundreds up. Dazed, I stroll out onto the angled ramp on one finish of the huge, sunlit valley and am hit with a violent wave of nostalgia, adopted instantly by the cockpit of a Banshee. Increase, splattered.

What follows is a match that’s the most effective Halo Infinite has ever felt because of a mixture of its rock-solid gunplay and the near-faultless format of a traditional Halo 3 map. New weapons just like the Commando are good for the dimensions and scope of Valhalla, permitting me to select off gamers tenting in a faraway Forerunner construction whereas nonetheless serving a goal when one in all them drops out of the sky and onto my head.

Picture: 343 Industries

I spam grenades into the cave working alongside the aspect of the valley wall, similar to I did again in 2007. I soar a Warthog by the gravity cannon and flip end-over-end towards the hill within the middle of the map, similar to I did again in 2007. I snag a sniper rifle and creep alongside the sting of a rocky outcropping, popping heads with a maniacal giggle, similar to I did again in 2007. The Halo Gregorian chants are ringing in my ears, the bass drum is thrashing in my chest.

The subsequent match is on Exile, a Halo 4 map set on the website of a downed UNSC ship. As soon as once more, there are automobiles galore, and nooks and crannies for enemies to cover in, rifles in hand. I soar in a Banshee and streak straight as much as the sky, careening down towards a lone enemy Spartan like a peregrine falcon, swooping up and away from the bottom on the final potential second. I’m grinning ear-to-ear all through the match, unaware of the rating, unbothered by dying. Why does this really feel so a lot better than anything in Halo Infinite?

Certain, there have been sprawling open maps with enclosed areas dotting the terrain and automobiles simply ready to be ridden for the reason that sport launched. And positive, the weapons and motion mechanics, which expertly stability older Halo physics with extra trendy FPS expectations, have at all times been nice. Perhaps that is all one huge train within the energy of nostalgia, and I’m solely this gassed about Halo Infinite as a result of it gave me just a little Rat’s Nest as a deal with.

However perhaps, simply perhaps, Halo Infinite has at all times been this good. It simply wanted a well-recognized conduit, a recognizable face, to remind you of that.