Halo Infinite wasn’t ready for launch. That much has become clear in the months since its release, with the game still waiting to be updated with important legacy features while the free-to-play live service multiplayer fails to capture a fraction of the audience possessed by its competitors. 343 Industries is having a rough time with Master Chief’s latest outing, but even the biggest of problems couldn’t sour my excitement for campaign co-op.
We still don’t have Forge Mode, the second season of multiplayer didn’t arrive for over six months, and the studio has been constantly putting out fires and attempting to appease players as it chases any semblance of relevance. Years ago Halo was on top of the world, and in many ways it still holds that power, but the medium has moved on without it. Fortnite, Apex Legends, Valorant, and countless others have established new trends that Halo has failed to keep up with, and now I’m unsure if it will ever have a chance to make amends.
But the fact remains that I and millions of others grew up with the Xbox mascot and will always stand by it, eager to see new stories told in this universe as the iconic gameplay formula is iterated upon time and time again. Halo Infinite is basically Combat Evolved 2, returning to an open world approach to level design and encouraging experimentation through gunplay that is the best Halo has ever seen. The grappling hook, plentiful gadgets, and a greater variety of enemies means each firefight is a joy even on your lonesome, and that magnificence will only be further amplified with another player joining the field.
343 Industries has always had a rocky relationship with campaign co-op. It was present in Halo 4 as expected, but was missing from Halo 5: Guardians unless you were willing to play online with strangers or friends. Given the narrative focused on two teams consisting of eight spartans in total, it was immediately bizarre that such an iconic feature was overlooked in favor of chasing trends at the time. Fans weren’t happy, and Halo Infinite missed its chance to make up for this absence by delaying the feature by almost a year. It wasn’t good enough, and some have yet to even touch the campaign because they’re waiting to do so in co-op.
Now it’s finally on the way, with a beta period set to begin later this month that will allow players to jump in and test the feature before it’s unleashed on the general population. The idea of running around Zeta Halo with a trio of other soldiers ready to murder aliens and cause chaos with the game’s oftentimes absurd physics system is so exciting. All its serious worldbuilding and characters aside, the series has always been a bit silly, and seeing it refuse to embrace that part of its identity for so long has really sucked.
I want to stuff all my buddies into a Warthog on the edge of a cliff before blasting a rocket up their asses as I watch them go flying. I want to scope out the largest enemy base on the entire map from all directions, plan a stealthy approach before it all goes wrong, and we’re forced to adapt on the fly to hordes of unexpected reinforcements. I want to play Halo with my friends in a way that hasn’t been realized properly for over a decade, and it feels like Infinite is soon set to deliver on that promise. Much of the magic will be lost because I’ve already seen the campaign through several times, but if even half of that nostalgic wonder is recaptured through this new update I’ll be more than satisfied.
We are entering a generation where Halo Infinite will be the first game in the series for many, hence why it approaches the lore and characters from a soft reboot perspective and doesn’t force us to ingest mountains of lore to understand the stakes we’re fighting for. Hardcore players will definitely get more out of it, but enough time has passed that 343 Industries needed to hit the rest button and start all over again. However, that meant it left behind so much that made the original trilogy so incredible, and without campaign co-op the memories that could have been made at launch are now lost forever. With co-op now on the horizon, part of me hopes that a whole new audience will pick this game up and understand our undying love for it.
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