Over the weekend, 343 Industries ran a technical test for Halo Infinite, allowing the wider public a chance to go hands-on with one of the year’s anticipated shooters. By most measures, Infinite’s multiplayer component shows promise, somehow both capturing that Halo quintessence while also feeling like a totally new game. There’s just one thing wrong: The radar’s all messed up now.
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For years, Halo’s radar has followed a specific set of easily understood rules. If you walk or run, you show up on an enemy’s radar. If you crouch, you don’t. There have been some permutations over the years—including a loudly pilloried tweak to its effective range in Halo 5—but that’s the basic framework of how it’s worked.
In Halo Infinite, those two commandments are out the window. Now, you only show up on an enemy’s radar if you’re sprinting, shooting, or otherwise moving fast. (I took this to mean things like falling, or perhaps zipping somewhere with the new Grappleshot item). Put another way, you can walk at a totally normal Spartan walking speed and still not register on an enemy’s radar.
Against AI enemies, I didn’t really grasp the full breadth of changes. Though Infinite’s bots are savvier than expected, they didn’t appear to make use of human tools like the radar or having actual eyes. But for a few hours on Sunday evening, 343 Industries added Arena Slayer—a game mode that pits two teams of four human players against each other—to Halo Infinite’s beta. And while going up against real-life human players, the changes became immediately apparent.
With the new radar, it is far, far too easy to get overwhelmed by an entire enemy team now. You could see an enemy poking their head out of cover across the way, and want to head over, confident you could win in a one-on-one shootout. But if their other three teammates are simply moving around at base speed—with, again, no tactical disadvantage for doing so—you’ll have walked directly into a two-, three-, or four-on-one. You might be pretty good at Halo. You’re still probably losing that fight.
It also puts the active camo item more into the “OP” territory. With active camo turned on, you’re effectively invisible, provided you walk at the reasonable standard walking speed. In prior Halo games, active camo has been a tool, a thing skilled players could deploy effectively in tight situations. In Halo Infinite, thanks to the updated radar, it’s become a bona-fide power weapon, guaranteed to give you at least a kill or two.
Infinite’s crouch is also now a fundamentally useless action. It’s not like Halo maps have a bunch of waist-height cover. What does crouching really do? Make you move slower? Force you to angle up for headshots? Neither is ideal, and no other use for the crouch comes to mind.
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Over on the Halo Waypoint forums, reception to the new and not even remotely improved radar is mixed. Some seem to welcome the change, saying “it’s competitive go hard or go home.” Others, like me, abhor the changes, stating that the old radar was “way better” while decrying Infinite’s as “busted” and “a joke.” (We are correct, but I digress.) A scant few have put on their best Nancy Pelosi cosplay, stating their indecision and refusing to take a stance one way or the other.
I’m all for venerable series pushing the envelope, tweaking long-standing formulas to force players to develop new strategies. After a weekend messing around with the flight, there’s not a whole lot I’d change about Infinite’s core framework so far. Some of the new changes and additions—from the beefed-up assault rifle to the limited-use gadgets—are more than welcome, and indicative of the game’s willingness to challenge convention in positive ways. But the radar is one instance in which Halo Infinite needn’t and in fact shouldn’t reinvent the wheel.