You may have spent the past month playing Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode, but the campaign, out now for Xbox and PC, is a wholly different beast. As in previous Halo games, your ostensible goal is to aim your gun and shoot at a zealous battalion of aliens. But Halo Infinite bucks precedent by throwing an open(ish) world and a snazzy kit of inspired gadgets into the mix. Here are the 27 best tips, tricks, and secrets you should know before diving in.
Halo games have historically been playable in four difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary. In that regard, Halo Infinite is no different, but this is the first Halo game in which Normal, rather than Heroic, is considered the standard difficulty—the challenge level designers had in mind when developing the game.
You can’t change the difficulty on the fly. Instead, you have to quit out to the main menu, hit “load game” (not “continue”), and choose your save file. From there, you’ll get the option to change the difficulty. From this menu you can also activate or deactivate any skulls—discoverable gameplay modifiers that tend to ramp up the challenge. Fair warning: Skulls are rare AF in Halo Infinite. After running through the campaign and exploring about a third of the map, I hadn’t found a single one.
I’ve always initially played through Halo games on Heroic, seeing as that’s the baseline every campaign was designed for, so take my word for it: Developer 343 Industries wasn’t joking in saying that Normal is the standard for this one. Halo Infinite isn’t exactly a gauntlet, but it’s no cakewalk either, even on the standard difficulty. You’ll still get your ass kicked periodically. You’ll still get one-shot by a brute with a gravity hammer. Grunts will still stick you with instant-kill plasma grenades.
Setting the difficulty on Normal simply means you won’t get murdered instantly by an invisible elite with an energy sword, or by a sniper across the way. Save the higher difficulty tiers for when co-op comes out and death doesn’t mean restarting the same section ad infinitum.
If you see a glint in the distance, that means a sniper has you in their sights. What’s more, the color of the glint can tell you what long-range weapon they’re using, with dark red indicating a stalker rifle, whitish-yellow indicating a skewer, and electric blue indicating a shock rifle. (Bonus tip: Seeing blue while you’re in a vehicle means it’s time to get out immediately. The shock rifle can cause vehicles to short out for a few seconds, leaving you wide open.)
Alongside a dozen-odd returning weapons, Halo Infinite features 11 new guns. Some are obvious replacements for guns that would be clearly unbalanced with Chief’s zippy new grappling hook. (Ex: The bulldog is essentially an old-school Halo shotgun that packs less punch but fires faster.) Others are drastically different.
Thanks to a universal zoom function (more on that in a bit), the assault rifle is a bona fide headshot machine. The battle rifle is a bit weaker, now requiring four rather than three burst shots to kill a shielded enemy. The rocket launcher—which is now called, hilariously, the spanker—is pretty much only effective if you land a direct hit, as its splash damage has been seriously minimized.
The sentinel beam, improbably, is now one of the best weapons in the game. Whereas it used to run on an exhaustible well of energy, it now runs on clips of ammo. Its effective range is on the level of any other mid-range weapon. It can kill sentinels in one shot, brutes in two (one for the shield or helmet, one for the face), and drains the health bars of Infinite’s maddening bosses faster than any other weapon in the game. If there’s one previously useless Halo weapon you shouldn’t sleep on in Infinite, it’s the sentinel beam.
Longtime Halo fans will recall how, in the first game, the pistol (tiny, unimposing) was more or less a cheat code for killing hunters (huge, very imposing). You’d strafe around a hunter, pop a few shots into its unarmored back, and voila! Scariest enemies in the game, dealt with. The skewer—a new sniper-styled weapon that fires harpoons—is essentially the cheat code in Halo Infinite. Two shots anywhere, at least on Normal difficulty, and they’re done for.
Plus, the skewer demolishes vehicles.
You’ll deal more or less damage with your melee attacks depending on the gun you’re holding. Generally speaking, the brute-affiliated weapons—the mangler, the skewer, the ravager, the...jeez, brutes really stick with a theme, huh?—tend to be stronger, thanks to the whole “spikes affixed to the end of the barrel” thing. But not every spiked weapon is necessarily ideal for a brawl: If the needler deals out extra melee damage, as it has in Halos past, I didn’t notice it in Halo Infinite.
Halo games let you pick up ammo for equipped guns by simply walking over a gun of the same kind. This makes sense, and streamlines a process that could easily become tedium. For melee weapons, however, you couldn’t refill your ammo. That’s not how it works in Halo Infinite. Walk over, say, a fresh energy sword while holding a partially depleted energy sword, and you’ll fully refill your ammo. (Same goes for gravity hammers.)
Halo has always had various forms of ammunition, but it’s formalized in Halo Infinite, which explicitly filters every weapon into one of five ammo categories. They are:
- Kinetic: Kinetic weapons (aka “bullets”) aren’t terribly effective against shields but will wreck unshielded enemies. Most human weapons fall into this classification, but some oddities do, too—like the needler, for instance.
- Plasma: Plasma weapons, like the pulse carbine, fit the opposite bill of kinetic weapons, in that they drain shields instantly but barely wound unshielded enemies. (The classic Halo trick of draining a shield with a plasma weapon then quickly swapping to a kinetic weapon for a headshot is present as ever in Halo Infinite.)
- Shock: Shock weapons, new to the series, are effective against shields, stun enemies, deal stacked damage over time, and stun vehicles in place.
- Hardlight: Hardlight weapons fire purple projectiles, and seem to make short work of any robotic foe. Bonus: Kill someone with a hardlight weapon and they’ll disintegrate. No tangible gameplay benefit...save for the fact that the associated visual effect looks really, really cool whenever it happens.
- Power: Short for “best guns in the game,” like the skewer, gravity hammer, rocket launcher, and so on.
Ammo classifications wouldn’t matter much in Halo Infinite were it not for the game’s ammo containers. You can restore all of your ammo of a certain type at type-specific ammo boxes—color-coded cylinders—set up at integral points in any given mission. Note, however, that each canister runs out of juice after one use. To get the most bang for your buck, make sure to reload before using one.
There are no ammo containers for power weapons. To re-up, you’ll have to find another of the same weapon.
Well, kind of.
Forward operating bases (FOBs) are Covenant-occupied bases strewn around the open-world area. Any you’ve captured will serve a multitude of needs—a fast-travel location, a safe house, a place to swap out your loadout—in addition to revealing nearby activities, Spartan cores, and cosmetic caches. Once captured, a FOB is yours for good.
Each FOB features four lockers that you can interact with to spawn new gear. For whatever reason, whenever you call up a new weapon, it won’t come fully loaded. But there’s an easy workaround: Just spawn one at each weapon locker to walk away with a full stock of ammo.
Halo Infinite features 15 so-called “high-value targets” (HVTs), optional mini-bosses posted up around the open-world segments. HVTs cart around remixed versions of weapons from Halo Infinite’s arsenal. Defeat one, and you’ll add their weapon to the list of potential loadout gear you can choose at your FOBs.
Of those I unlocked, I didn’t notice any tangible differences between the altered and standard models. Still, many of the weapons equipped by HVTs are of makes that you can’t unlock through traditional leveling at your FOB. The ability to customize your loadout to include Covenant weapons, for instance, is entirely contingent on taking out HVTs.
Halo Infinite has two types of zooms. On scoped weapons—everything from the battle rifle and the commando to the stalker rifle and the skewer—you can zoom by clicking in the right thumbstick (on Xbox). If you take damage while readying a scope, though, you’ll get kicked back to an iron-sights view. For non-scoped weapons, you can also ready a 2x zoom (also by clicking in the right thumbstick). Taking damage won’t kick you out of your zoomed view.
Easy tell here: If you can still see your ammo readout and motion tracker on the screen, you’ll be able to maintain that zoom even while taking enemy fire.
It’s a neat design trick, and it works even if you’re not currently aiming at that enemy. It’s particularly helpful to indicate you’ve taken out an enemy from distance—with grenades, with explosive barrels, with a damage-over-time shock weapon—but turned away before you could see for sure whether or not they’re actually down.
On a similar note, if the music stops after a fight, you’ve cleared the room.
In short order, Halo Infinite adds a suite of gadgets, like a grappling hook, to your toolkit. You’ll unlock them all automatically by just playing the campaign, but you can upgrade them further by allocating Spartan cores, found either by exploring the map or by revealing their location with every captured FOB. (You’ll also get a decent number just by staying on the critical path of the main campaign.)
Before anything else, set aside three Spartan cores to nab the first two ranks of your grappleshot. For the first level (one core), you’ll add an electric component to it. Though its effect is useless against some higher-level shielded enemies, it’s reliably effective against most cannon fodder, and will stun them in place for a few seconds. For the second level (two cores), you’ll significantly reduce its cooldown, essential for constantly staying on your toes in some of the hairier encounters that show up more frequently during the back half of the game.
It’s fairly useless in multiplayer (too slow to deploy) but the drop wall—an energy field that protects you from incoming fire—is invaluable in the campaign, particularly if you invest in it. Increasing the thing’s cooldown and strength is fine, sure. But the real benefit is the beefed-up wall size (the third rank, six total Spartan cores). In the more frenetic levels, when you’re on the fritz, you can back into a corner and place the wall, creating a bona fide bubble around yourself that lasts juuust long enough for you to recharge your shields. At the standard width, it’s not really large enough for that trick to work.
Yes, the threat sensor is enormously helpful for revealing the exact location of invisible enemies in unlit rooms—a specific type of engagement that happens, oh, maybe four or five times throughout the main campaign. Boosting its effective range is a fine enough upgrade, since it’s moderately helpful and costs just one Spartan core. But boosting its cooldown and number of charges is just a needless allocation of points that could be better used on the gear that works in all situations.
Using your grappleshot on a vehicle will have you immediately zip to and board it—enormously helpful for trying to commandeer fast vehicles like banshees and ghosts. That said, if you try to board a wraith tank that has an enemy in the ancillary turret, you’re done for. They have a direct, point-blank line on you when you’re boarding, and since you’re stuck in an animation, you have no way of defending yourself.
No, you don’t earn any unique multiplayer cosmetic for beating Halo Infinite’s campaign. But you can find some minor cosmetic options by exploring. After trawling much of the open-ish area, I’ve seen emblems, name plates, armor coatings, weapon skins, vehicle paint jobs, and one post-match stance—nothing on the scale of whole armor kits or even pieces of armor. (Mind, I don’t know what any of these cosmetics actually look like, since Microsoft provided Kotaku with a review build of Halo Infinite that’s totally separated from the currently available multiplayer portion. Also, my save data got automatically obliterated after Infinite’s review embargo lifted.)
Fly, you fool.
If you want to check your location, see your progress on the FOB not-a-battle-pass, allot Spartan cores to your skills, or do...whatever it is that you want to do in the menus, make sure no one’s around you. Even if you’re playing solo, opening the menu doesn’t pause the game. Your safest bet here is to open the menu at captured forward operating bases, where Covenant forces can’t attack, or in areas you’ve literally just cleared.
In case you were worried doing so would skip the scene.
Checkpointing in Halo Infinite is frequent but fickle. In the open-world area, they come at a rapid clip; you’ll rarely if ever find yourself set back far. In missions, they happen frequently, too, typically at least once per encounter. But if you close the game in the middle of a mission, you’ll find that reloading your save file could send you all the way back to the start of the mission—and no easy sign for when you are or aren’t clear to quit. I got screwed over by this a few times throughout the campaign, and asked a representative for Microsoft, Halo Infinite’s publisher, to clarify how it worked.
“In most dungeon missions, these tend to coincide with a main objective being completed or a narrative scene completing,” the representative said. “If you have not done this in a dungeon and you quit, you will start at the beginning.”
Some open-ended shooters, like Far Cry 6, let you maintain collectibles even if you die. So there’s a semi-busted strategy of sprinting through a battlefield to the nearest collectible, purposefully dying, then moving on. This trick doesn’t work in Halo Infinite, mind. You only keep your spoils—mostly, audio logs—if you successfully make it to the next checkpoint.
At the moment, there’s no way to replay campaign missions in Halo Infinite. You can’t choose missions from a level-selection screen. You don’t have the option to re-run them from the main world map. Once you’re done, you’re done.
That wouldn’t be too much of an issue if Halo Infinite’s mission weren’t rife with collectible items, like audio logs and Spartan cores. You can retread your steps to explore some areas where missions occur, but others, including the first two, are totally gated off after you complete them. (And that’s to say nothing of the fact that it’s quite fun to re-run Halo missions.)
“We will be implementing the ability to replay [missions] in a post-launch update,” a Microsoft representative told Kotaku, but did not provide a timeline. In the meantime, if you want to replay campaign missions, you’ll have to start a new save file. On the plus side, once you find a skull or audio log on one save file, it’s unlocked across all of them associated with your account. (You can juggle four Halo Infinite save files per Xbox account.)
Some minor spoilers for Halo Infinite’s final act follow...
No boss fight in Halo Infinite is a bullet sponge; every single one features a unique strategy. You might die a few times before you figure it out. Key here is that, in most cases (save for one extremely frustrating late-game fight against an invisible enemy), the room probably has the ideal tool for the job.
A fight against a hammer-wielding brute might feature turrets on the far wall, for instance. An encounter with a raging sentinel could have droves of shock weapons tucked away in the corner. In boss fights, before you shoot, spend a minute or two surveilling your surroundings.
And no, the game doesn’t give you a heads up first. It’s not an absolute end (you’ll find yourself back in the open-world area after the credits) but the entire third act prevents you from freely exploring. Partway through the game, there’s a mission called “The Sequence” that sends you all over the southern region. It’s by no means close to the end, but before you wrap it up, you should mop up any optional content—missing Spartan cores, remaining HVTs, and so on—before you finish the fight.