Yesterday, Halo Infinite’s samurai-themed “Fracture: Tenrai” event returned for a third round, looking much like it did for its second outing. For some players, it’s another excuse to hop into a fun event with meaningful rewards. But for others, it’s an underbaked game spinning its wheels.
Developer 343 Industries has consistently switched up Halo Infinite’s offerings since its launch last November. The multiplayer shooter has time-limited events pop up roughly every other week alongside a slow trickle of new modes, and as is so often the case with live service games, the cacophony of complaints tends to come from a loud but vocal minority. Halo Infinite has, to date, been played by more than 20 million people, making it the biggest launch in series history and the first to feature a free-to-play multiplayer mode. Matchmaking is consistently flush with players, and relatively stable, especially compared to the competition. The community is buzzing on the daily with “Halo” regularly trending on social media platforms (well, save for Twitch). Halo Infinite is, by most metrics, a healthy game, but you needn’t look far to find the vitriol.
Key among the current complaints is the game’s lack of a publicly viewable plan for its direction. At launch, 343 Industries said it would release a roadmap for Halo Infinite in January, outlining everything from seasonal plans to the introduction of Forge, Halo’s longstanding creation mode. Check your calendars: As of about 48 hours ago, it’s no longer January.
Last night, Halo Infinite head of creative Joe Staten addressed the delay on Twitter, writing, “We need more time to finalize our plans so what we share is something you can rely on. This work is my top priority, and we’ll have an update as soon as we can.”
“Sorry to say this hasn’t happened yet, you didn’t miss it. The studio is still working to iron out details and updated plans for the year, which are taking longer to pin down than we anticipated. In the interim, we’re still working to deliver light touch weekly updates on work items in progress,” Halo community director Brian Jarrard said, in response to a semi-viral Reddit thread wondering where the update is. (Reason number 9,721 why I’m not fit to work in comms: I’d have simply said, “What? My calendar says January 32nd!”)
Though Halo Infinite’s second season, which starts the first week of May, will introduce support for cooperative campaign play, details about the future slate of content—right down to the timing of its roadmap—are otherwise scant. When reached for comment, a representative for Microsoft, Halo Infinite’s publisher, had nothing further to share.
Even when 343 Industries is clear about the future, some players are unhappy. Take, for example, the Attrition game mode, a brand-new-to-Halo deathmatch playlist where teams share pools of lives. For several weeks last month, Halo Infinite’s ‘80s-inspired “Cyber Showdown” event centered around matches of Attrition. Though it wasn’t perfect and certainly needed some tinkering (faster revives!), Attrition was generally well-liked among the playerbase. But once the event wrapped yesterday morning, poof, Attrition was no longer playable.
Last night, Halo Infinite lead multiplayer designer Andrew Witts confirmed in a tweet that Attrition would indeed make a comeback, either “as its own playlist or part of a new one down the road.” (Boo-yah, called it!) But despite the raft of players vocally expressing enthusiasm about its comeback, some aren’t grasping why Attrition needed to disappear in the first place. The mode works, it’s fun, and it’s popular. Why not keep it around and fine-tune things in real time in response to data and player feedback?
“I really don’t understand the logic behind removing new modes after events when the game needs all the content it can get right now,” one player said in response to Witts. Or, as another put it, “You don’t have time to sit on these modes.”
Generally speaking, Halo Infinite’s most hardcore fans seem disgruntled at a lack of content. Halo Infinite launched with 10 playable multiplayer maps, three of which are relegated to the perpetually dysfunctional Big Team Battle playlist. The range of available maps took a hit last month too when Behemoth, a widely disliked symmetrical map, was pulled from the Ranked playlist.
Earlier this year, a hit-or-miss Halo datamining account shared images of five forthcoming maps—including one named Bath Salts—but even if those rumored maps end up hitting the game, Infinite would still be short of prior entries. (Halo 5: Guardians launched in 2015 with 18 maps.)
“Halo Infinite is a blast but needs more maps,” reads the headline of a semi-viral Reddit post from December. Meanwhile, Ron Ducats, the creator of hit YouTube channel HaloFollower, lambasted the visual consistency of Infinite’s maps, noting how the majority are based on human architecture despite the wealth of rich sci-fi environments that exist in Halo canon.
Another major issue among the dedicated Halo player base is one you’ll see time and again for online multiplayer games: connectivity. For Halo Infinite, most of the feedback comes to matters of desync, what you’re seeing on your screen doesn’t quite line up with how the match is playing out, sometimes resulting in patently unfair losses. On Monday, popular Halo content creator Josiah “NadeGod” shared a video showing a particularly egregious instance, spurring followers to share clips of their own experiences, replete with reactions ranging from bemusement to downright outrage. But it feels like a new video or social media thread about Infinite’s dsync pops off on a weekly basis dating back to the game’s launch.
The price of cosmetic options has consistently been a sticking point for the Halo community, who bristled at having to pay top dollar for cosmetic options that, in some cases, were freely available in prior Halo games. Last month, 343 Industries lowered the credit cost of bundles and started to decouple certain items from bundles, making them available piecemeal.
Both are good moves, but then there’s this: For the return of Fracture: Tenrai, the Chonmage bundle—which includes a dramatic stance and an absolutely kickass EVA-adjacent helmet—is on sale again for 2,000 credits, or approximately $20. (You get a discount if you’re subscribed to Game Pass.) Those with elephant-like memories will recall that’s the same price Chonmage was listed at when it first released. “343 is just fooling us with those fake price cuts,” one person wrote. So what gives? Through a representative, 343 Industries declined to comment on the bundle’s pricing.
It’s not like the staff of 343 Industries has collectively kicked their feet up on their desks. Halo Infinite has already seen changes big and small over the past three months and will continue to see more. Last Friday, in a post on the Halo Waypoint forums, Halo senior community manager John Junyszek shared an update addressing minor issues fans have raised. Big Team Battle has been busted for some time; a fix is in the works, based on data sourced from a previous fix, which didn’t quite work. Cosmetic rewards included in the Cyber Showdown event were released ever-so-slightly off-center; though low on the list of 343’s priorities, those will be recentered in a future update.
My sense isn’t that Halo Infinite’s loudest critics hate the game—far from it. Where most players are happy to hop in for a few rounds a day, maybe chip away at their battle pass a few levels at a time, all while stomaching or possibly not even noticing Halo Infinite’s warts, the vocal minority sees a near-limitless potential in this vast, beautiful, thoroughly riveting game and want it to be nothing short of perfect. Were it so easy.