Yesterday, Microsoft surprise-released Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode on Xbox and PC—albeit in a beta state—weeks ahead of its planned December 8 target. Feedback thus far is largely in lockstep: Hot damn, this shooter is fun to play, but, um, what’s up with the more-withholding-than-a-rich-parent battle pass? And why are the menus such a maze?
To wit: Last night, a group of friends and I spent far too long stumped over what should’ve been an easy quandary in Halo Infinite: We couldn’t figure out how to set up a custom free-for-all slayer game (that’s Halo-speak for “deathmatch”) in Halo Infinite. You could chalk it up to our collective ignorance. But it’s hard to believe that seven people, all of whom have years of familiarity with Halo, would struggle with setting up a simple match.
For instance, here are the steps—there are steps! Steps!—you need to go through to set up a custom free-for-all slayer match:
- See that mode selection option at the top? By default, it should be set to “Arena: Slayer,” which you’d rightfully think would be adjustable to include options for a free-for-all slayer game. Click on it.
- Click on “343 Industries.”
- Flip through the pages until you find “Arena: FFA Slayer.”
It’s not a terribly complicated process, sure—once you crack it. But it’s a far cry from the way it’s set up in previous Halo games, like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, in which you simply toggle an option in the match settings.
There are other oddities throughout. Wondering how to change your voice in Halo Infinite? It’s in the customization menu, but not under the “Body & AI” submenu, where you’ll find the option to change the voice of your AI companion, the voice you hear more than anyone else in multiplayer matches. It’s under “Spartan ID.”
Oh, how about your armor color? First, also in the customization menu, click on “Armor Hall.” Select the suit of armor you want to wear, then hit “mod.” Tab over to the armor coating option (the second one) and choose from one of the unlocked colors. Don’t press A, as years of gaming instincts would tell you! Press X.
The fireteam menu is also somewhat befuddling. From the multiplayer lobby, you can’t see your full complement of party members in a neat list. Not much to do about that. But there are some quick fixes: Click on the little plus sign (which pulls up a brief menu). Or look at the number above your nameplate and make sure it squares with how many folks are in your party. Or—and this is neat—you’ll see you and your party members loafing around in the background against all those boxes. (You can also tap the View button. But if one of your local party members tries to pull that menu up, they’ll “assume control of menu navigation,” sparking another series of menus and...yeah, not a big deal, but still kind of annoying.)
Of course, minor hiccups are totally to be expected: Halo Infinite isn’t even out yet! And credit where it’s due to the team at 343 Industries for releasing this massive production with minimal turbulence; after playing for five hours last night, my team and I encountered minimal hiccups like lag or rubberbanding. Seems to be the case across the board, seeing as there’s no widespread uproar regarding disconnects and excruciatingly long queues, as is so common with initial rollouts of online games. All this, despite an influx of 200,000 concurrent players at launch on Steam alone. For a multiplayer game to “launch” early with reliable infrastructure in 2021 is an unexpected gift from the Prophets.
Plus, 343 Industries has already indicated a clear intention to tweak things. Between the prior betas, the dev team updated that initially busted motion sensor to work as butter-smooth as it has in previous games. Just today, Halo comms director Brian Jarrard said on Twitter that 343 is looking into how it can possibly update the battle pass so every player feels like they’re progressing at a fair rate. And let’s not forget those statements from last summer saying that Halo Infinite will be a decade-long endeavor.
Given the steady start and the flush roadmap on the horizon, it’s clear we’re not finishing this fight any time soon. But hopefully we’ll at least get some clean menus before it’s over.