At this juncture it’s almost comical that Halo was once upon a time treated as second fiddle on PC. These days, it’s an undeniable juggernaut. Case in point: Earlier this week, Microsoft surprise-released a beta for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode on Xbox and PC. It instantly rocketed up the Steam charts, topping more than 270,000 concurrent players at one point.
Halo Infinite’s runaway success can be attributed to a number of factors. For one, its multiplayer is based on a free-to-play model. For another, it’s the first wholly new release from developer 343 Industries in more than half a decade. A trio of successful technical tests over the summer gave the game no shortage of positive buzz for launch. And it no doubt received a surge of interest in the wake of a surprise announcement that, while heavily rumored the prior weekend, was genuinely exciting. (Halo Infinite’s full release, including the definitely-not-free-to-play campaign, is slated for a December 8 release.)
So, now that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is actually in the hands of Steam players, what’s the consensus? As of this writing, purely by the numbers, 17,000 out of the nearly 23,000 reviews are marked positive, which Steam characterizes as “Mostly Positive.” But dig into the details, and a different story emerges.
Much of the criticism is levied at the game’s glacial, unsatisfying battle pass. See, you can only level up the pass by completing challenges, some of which are maddeningly elusive (i.e., “Kill 10 enemies with this weapon that simply refuses to spawn.”) The devs at 343 Industries quickly shifted course, instituting daily challenges that give you XP simply for completing matches and easing the requirements for weeklies. But first impressions are what matter most for a game—especially an online one aiming to reach millions of players. Steam players said the battle pass makes them “so angry,” called it “a serious pain,” and “[string of keyboard characters that indicate someone flipping a table].”
On the other hand, this is Halo we’re talking about. Most players are gonna love it for, well, being “Halo, dude.” The surprise release indeed garnered praise—a business decision that one player described as a “chad move.” Others said playing Halo Infinite was “just like old times,” in that they procrastinated from an assignment to play a round and then burned 10 hours without realizing it. (Same.) And, naturally, someone merely gave a positive review with what I think is supposed to be a vocalization of the Halo theme.
Here, as told by the reliably fascinating realm of Steam’s review page, is Halo Infinite.