In the year since it’s been publicly playable, the multiplayer shooter Halo Infinite hasn’t received a single new weapon. But if recent leaks are to be believed, a new gun—the so-called bandit rifle, which looks a lot like the DMR from prior Halo games—could join Infinite’s armory soon. Naturally, players are already up in arms over it.
Halo Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer mode, first launched with a series of betas and later in the fall as a full release, is based on a seasonal model, with new maps, modes, and cosmetics (some free, some paid) rotated in every few months. The game came out of the gate with 21 weapons. Some of these, like the assault rifle and the battle rifle, were updated versions of series staples. Others, like the divisive mangler sidearm, were completely new.
Over the past few weeks, following testing for Halo Infinite’s online co-op campaign, news about forthcoming additions to the game have been leaking like the water hydrant on my block. Some players have obtained access to the game’s Forge mode, which allows players to make customized maps and modes. But one of the most enticing discoveries among this recent wave of leaks was evidence of a fully functional bandit rifle, leaked footage of which has made the rounds this week. (Dataminers dug up imagery of the bandit rifle months ago, but this is the first time players are seeing it in action.)
Clips thus far have shown a semi-automatic firearm that strikes a near-identical silhouette as the Halo 4 and Halo 5 version of the DMR. Unlike those previous iterations, however, the bandit rifle does not have a scope. You can aim down the sights using your visor’s built-in zoom function, which means you can’t get “descoped” (Halo terminology: When you get shot while looking down a scope, you’ll go back to ironsights). According to testing conducted by some leakers, it takes four shots to break an enemy’s shields; you can then finish them off with a single headshot or three body shots. And the bandit rifle fires fast (think: the pistol from Halo 5).
For some players, like myself, this heralds the long-awaited return of a fan favorite gun. But others have some concerns. Halo Infinite pro player Tyler “Spartan” Ganza—who is now affiliated with Faze Clan’s pro team following a split earlier this summer from his previous org, eUnited—said it’s close to a “god tier” gun, but needs to “slow down [the] fire rate, remove bloom, [and] add descope.” This would, in theory, make the gun a bit more balanced. The DMR is historically a devastating weapon at long range; if you’re unable to descope a distant opponent, they automatically have a significant advantage.
Yes, but: It’s hard to gauge how a weapon feels before you actually play it.
“My brother in christ, no one has even used this weapon yet,” the anonymous Twitter account Shitty Halo Takes said. “Esports ruined gaming, and I will die on that hill,” another anonymous account added in a tweet that has since racked up 50,000 likes.
Folks on both sides of the debate keep blasting the same talking points in yet another instance of the rift that’s defined Halo Infinite. On one hand, you have top players, citing their expertise and thousands upon thousands of hours of playtime, suggesting minute tweaks on the holy quest for balance. On the other hand, you have casual players who just want the game to be fun.
We’ve seen this play out previously. During the launch window of Halo Infinite, the mangler sidearm was absolutely dominant. You could take out an opponent in two moves: one shot, one melee attack. It was even unofficially agreed upon that it would not be used in Halo Infinite’s professional circuit. In response, 343 Industries toned down its efficacy earlier this year. Now, no one uses the thing in casual play—it’s mostly useless these days—and the pros still frown upon its use in official games, effectively removing one of Halo Infinite’s 21 weapons from the pool. There’s some concern among casual players that the bandit rifle could get defanged before it even gets a chance to bite.
But all this is purely hypothetical, since, to be crystal clear here, no one knows for sure when the bandit rifle is coming to Halo Infinite—or if it even is at all. Representatives for 343 Industries did not respond to a request for comment.