There are those who said this day would never come, but here we are: After a remarkably shaky launch last year, Halo Infinite just profoundly leveled up in one of the best ways possible. With a new/old map, a custom games browser, new customization options, and the proverbial more, the game feels more like Halo than it’s felt all year. Is it time to say “Halo’s back, baby”? I think so!
Today, Halo Infinite received its hotly anticipated December update. Building off the momentum the game gained when the Forge, its map creator, hit open beta a few months ago, there’s now a full custom games browser that lets you jump into user-made maps with other players. The limited customization options for your Spartan also improved, with all previously released types (cores, as the game refers to them) unlocked for everyone, and a boost to the color of various skins. And if you were a fan of Halo 3 maps, you have a nice surprise in store. There’re also a bunch of networking improvements, as well as some PC-specific updates.
If you want to read the full, nitty gritty details about each of the December update’s improvements, you can check the patch notes here. Let’s cover the highlights.
To start, the game has a brand new map. “Empyrean” is a remake of Halo 3’s classic “The Pit.” This time it’s got a cyberpunkish kinda vibe to it, and includes some weapon change-ups: The Bulldog is where the sword would usually be.UNSC turrets have been replaced with the new (and beastly) scrap cannon. But sniper rifles, battle rifles, needlers, and more all feel like they’re where they’re supposed to be. Jumping in here is an instant dose of nostalgia, and it works very well with Halo Infinite’s movement styles.
And speaking of maps, you can now check out all those Forge recreations of classic maps I told you about last week with real players, now, as a custom game browser, located under the Community tab, is there for all Spartans to enjoy. And while the list is small right now, it’s been impossible for me to get into a room since they’re all packed, slaying one another in maps like Peach’s Castle and a remake of Snowbound, to name two I saw in the list.
Is that all? Not yet, Snake. It’s not over yet. Halo Infinite’s player customization features were previously limited, tied up with a silly set of rules that meant that only certain colors and armor options could go on specific armor cores. While much of that is still in place, the walls are starting to crumble. All players now have access to the Mark V [B], Rakshasa, Yoroi, and Eagelstrike armor cores. Plus, these cores now all have access to the cadet color skins. Previously dull, these colors used to scream “I didn’t buy the battle pass!” But now they’re far more vibrant, with “less wear and tear,” and “polished silver” trim pieces.
The game also got some tunings under the hood. The notorious “desync” issue that’s plagued many players got some attention, and melee attacks, and the way they connect to moving players, are said to more consistently connect. Ongoing issues with reloading weapons and blank shots have also received attention.
Us PC players got some love, too. Finally we have access to red reticle indicators, whereby your reticle will light up red (or your chosen enemy color) when you’re within a particular gun’s effective range. This was previously shut off to mitigate common aimbots that used this info to execute inhuman reactions. Hopefully we won’t see a surge of cheaters. There’ve also been improvements to mouse aim and the scroll wheel.
Given that the custom games browser is also live, it’s also wonderful to see improvements for player reporting. The patch notes indicate that you can now “mute and report other players during multiplayer matches via the in-game scoreboard.” When reporting someone, you can choose from the following options:
- Inappropriate user generated content
- Discriminatory Language
- Harassment or Bullying
- Vulgar Language
- Team Killing or Self-Destruction
- Idling or Quitting
The idling and quitting one, I bet, is likely to get a lot of use. If you’ve played Halo Infinite at all lately, you know what I’m talking about.
Halo has not had it easy this past year. A lack of content, various technical issues, and a big delay for Season 3 have all made the game feel far more depressing to play than it should be. Hopefully this update dramatically improves the experience for those of us who keep coming back to this one-of-a-kind arena shooter experience, and sets the stage for better days ahead.