Here it is: Halo Infinite's multiplayer. Microsoft talked Halo in a short segment during its E3 press conference today, with more details popping up immediately after on the Halo blog. After poring over the clip and everything else developer 343 Industries has said about the multiplayer so far, here's what we thought.
Nat: So! We've finally got our first look at Halo Infinite's multiplayer. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Infinite as a whole is leaning hard into nostalgia, but people really seem to rate what 343 did with multiplayer in Halo 5.
But Infinite really is trying to hit that Halo 3 nostalgia hard, isn't it. We've got vibrant, throwback armour sets like CQB, and Valhalla's back (even if it's looking a bit more complex). But the big thing, mechanically speaking, is that one-shot equipment items are back, and they're just as powerful and weird as ever. As far as Halo games to aim for, that's great! There's a reason I'm still playing Halo 3 over a decade on—it's the best one, no question.
Equipment is back and the grappling hook looks great
Wes: For a terrified moment during the multiplayer montage I thought armor abilities were back, but no! It's equipment, like Halo 3's bubble shield, but reimagined as powers your Spartan shoots out of a gauntlet. I don't know what to think of the "Threat Sensor" as some kind of enhanced radar, but I really dig the "Repulsor" which can reflect enemy attacks back in their faces.
Before I start really talking about the nitty gritty stuff, I want to say my reaction to that multiplayer reveal is… complete excitement? It looks really fun. It looks like Halo.
Nat: It does look like Halo, aye. And while I'm absolutely the kind of stodgy old Halo 3 fan who grumbles at any kind of change, I love the look of some of these new toys. A deployable shield that shatters in segments is cool as hell. The moment they showed someone hijacking a flyer with a grappling hook, my DMs exploded with my regular Halo crew excited to finally end my Banshee terror.
Wes: The grappling hook looks rad. I loved the bit where someone used it to grab a power weapon off the ground. I hope it's as fun to use as it looks (and doesn't totally throw off the game's balance).
Nat: I'm not all the way on board quite yet. For one, what's the deal with that second announcer telling the flag carrier to haul their ass? What's wrong with the "Slayer" guy?
How much is Infinite taking from Halo 5?
Wes: That was a weird flourish that I hope was just for the trailer? Or maybe it's part of Infinite's new training mode, which I think is a welcome addition. Halo's always had a pretty high skill curve, going back to shit like the BXR combo in Halo 2 that pro players would use. And now that Infinite is going to be F2P, the potential audience is huge; I wonder if adding bots and the training mode (even if it does involve some AI shouting orders at you) is actually a way for Infinite to feel more like classic Halo, which would feel pretty strange to new players who've only played Fortnite and Call of Duty.
I didn't stick with Halo 5 multiplayer for that long, but I played enough to have thoughts on how Infinite is an evolution of what 343 did with that game. Halo 4 was a real misfire—it tried to play to Halo purists while also being a bit more Call of Duty, and it really didn't make anyone happy. Halo 5 was a strong return to form: it ditched crappy lopsided armor abilities and gave all the Spartans some really fun mobility tools, like a little thrust move and mantling ledges. I think I still prefer the slower pace of classic Halo multiplayer, which could still get plenty chaotic, but I'm mostly resigned to the fact that people want sprint in a modern shooter.
Nat: Tragically, I've accepted that spartans in any new Halo won't move like the low-gravity bricks of games past. Ultimately, better mobility probably does make for more interesting fights, and I'm totally on board for a training mode to onboard folks who haven't spent the last 20 years with Master Chief and pals.
Will Halo Infinite be overstuffed?
Wes: I think your comment about it being noisy raises my one big question about the sandbox: Will Halo Infinite have too many weapons? Halo 4 and Halo 5 just had too much stuff, with Human and Covenant and Promethean weapons. Some of the Promethean weapons were actually quite fun, but I think culling the field would be a smart move.
Nat: My thoughts exactly. Halo 3 struck such a balance, that even later games like Reach would feel a bit much. Promethean weapons felt superfluous in my brief dives into 4, and now Infinite has a fresh split of Covenant and "Banished" tools. Rewatching this trailer is a lot… I think someone just called in a Pelican to summon a Banshee? That's wild.
Even so, there's still something special going on here. There's enough of the Halo I like here to get me excited, showing off all the creative, unexpected nonsense that comes from throwing a pile of unique weapons, vehicles and abilities into a blender together. It just remains to be seen whether 343 can restrain themselves—too many plasma rifles spoil the broth, and such.
F2P multiplayer is great for purists and newcomers
Wes: Honestly, my favorite part of that reveal is how prominently it features Capture the Flag. I am a CTF and Assault player 'til I die, but sadly the community (really, FPS players in general) always seem to gravitate towards Slayer as the default. With this multiplayer going F2P, I'm pretty excited about the idea of there being a vibrant CTF population for years.
With Halo 4 and 5, I was always torn between appreciating the new stuff and wanting a new game to better capture what made Halo 3 multiplayer so great. But you know, I'm not so worried about that anymore—now that the Master Chief Collection is finally great, and finally on PC, I can just go play Halo 3 when I want to.
Nat: Being free, I know that my regular Halo crew is absolutely going to give this thing a shot. And hey, maybe 343 really can pull it off. Perhaps we'll find a brand new playground to mess around in every weekend, creating our own wacky gamemodes with a whole new suite of options.
If not? As you said. Halo 3's still right there, grand as ever.