Halo Infinite has a seasonal event starting today. Like Infinite’s prior event, a ton of cosmetic options are up for grabs, some of which are cool, all of which are free. This event, however, is more of a time commitment than anything else from the popular multiplayer shooter thus far, requiring you to play at least one match per day for 10 out of the next 14 days.
The “Winter Contingency” event runs from today through early January. (Fun fact: “Winter Contingency” is the name of an early level from Halo: Reach.) The event’s official end date is Monday, January 3. But a representative for Microsoft, Halo Infinite’s publisher, confirmed to Kotaku that it’ll be active until 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 4.
Winter Contingency works much like the previous event, “Fracture: Tenrai,” in that it has a separate battle pass you can progress through in tandem with Infinite’s standard battle pass. By completing weekly challenges, you can unlock new levels on the pass—not based on accumulating XP, as with the standard one, but merely by completing individual challenges. Unlike Fracture: Tenrai, where you could only earn progress by completing event-affiliated challenges, it appears any challenge from any playlist can go toward knocking out tiers in Winter Contingency’s battle pass. (I knocked out the first tier by simply winning one match of Fiesta, the random-gear mode.) But here’s the catch: You can only unlock one tier per day.
Beyond a handful of winter-themed emblems and backgrounds, you can nab some gear for your Spartan player avatar:
- At tier two you unlock the “peppermint laughter” armor coating, which looks like a Spartan fell into a vat of whatever abominable concoction they use to make candy canes. (It’s pictured at the top of this post.)
- At tiers three and four you earn shoulder pads for the Mark VII armor kit.
- Tiers five and eight unlock the “peppermint laugher” coating for your assault rifle and pistol, respectively.
- Tier nine gives you a little ammo for the Mark VII armor kit. It affixes to your left thigh.
- Finally, tier 10 grants the “sunset contessa” armor coating, a caramel-hued brown with tan accents on the shoulder pads and gloves.
The Winter Contingency battle pass does not appear to include a Santa hat.
For the most part, criticism of Halo Infinite’s customization is broadly of the belief that none of the available armor kits are flush with options. The Mark VII armor kit, the one you get for free, has more color options, unlockable via the battle pass, the campaign, or via purchase from Infinite’s in-game store. But the Mark V [B], the kit you can only earn by paying for the premium battle pass, has all the accoutrements—shoulder pads and accessories and helmet options. Winter Contingency is the first time we’re seeing a meaningful slew of accessories for the Mark VII kit. In lieu of cross-kit customization, it’s the next best thing.
But by gating off rewards on a daily basis, kind of like an advent calendar, 343 Industries has limited who can earn what. For some, the holidays are an elongated period of downtime. For others, they’re crushingly busy. It’s no stretch of the imagination to picture a scenario in which someone is only able to play literally three days between now and the new year, thus unlocking the left-side shoulder pad but not the corresponding right-side one. And those unable to play 10 total days remain gated out of the “sunset contessa” armor coating. Among the sea of grays and bland primary colors that dominate Halo Infinite’s free armor coatings, a non-gray—one available for free, at that—is a coveted wardrobe addition.
Of course, given the concerning spike of covid cases as a result of the omicron variant, travel is inadvisable at the moment. So people very well may stay at home en masse. But it’s nevertheless a tall order to ask players to log in nearly every day during one of the busiest times of the year, especially when those rewards may not ever be available again.
When asked whether or not the event—or, more specifically, the event’s rewards—would return at some point in the future, a representative for Microsoft did not immediately have that information on hand.