Ranked is never for the weak at heart, but usually, that’s because you have to contend with a bunch of tryhards just like you. In Halo Infinite, however, I don’t rage at my teammates or my performance nearly as much as I do the actual mode itself.
For whatever reason, it’s not unusual for me to join a ranked match that is completely lopsided. If I’m lucky, it’ll be 3v4. If god hates me that day, it’ll be a 2v4, with me on the smaller team of course. And, unlike quick play, ranked doesn’t just fill the spot in with a bot or another player. You’re stuck with what the game gave you. It’s possible that sometimes, you end up in an unfilled match because someone left along the way. But as far as I can tell, there’s no way to rejoin a ranked match, regardless of whether you disconnected on purpose or by accident. And the game seemingly makes no effort to fill those empty slots with other players, leaving you to play a hopeless match.
For most modes, this unbalanced reality is completely unworkable. You can’t reasonably expect to score in Stronghold, the mode where you have to capture and hold multiple bases, without a full team, for example. Slayer, the mode that comes down to getting the most kills, could theoretically fly—there are fewer people on your team for the enemy to kill, meaning that it will be hard for them to score. At least, if you’re being careful.
But for the most part, an unfilled ranked match is completely depressing and demoralizing. It’s not enough that you’re about to get stomped, no: You’re going to get punished while never standing a chance in the first place. Things actually count in this mode, after all, and the game tries to place you in an ecosystem full of people of your approximate skill level. What’s worse is that there’s no actual way there aren’t enough people to fill those slots. Halo Infinite is the shooter of the moment; you can’t possibly tell me there aren’t enough people playing it to fill one or two slots.
Technically, what we’re all playing right now is being called a “beta” by 343 Industries. The “full” thing drops on Wednesday, which is soon, though the game has been able to take your credit card info even in its current state. Based on what the developer has said in the past, it’s sounding like there are a number of multiplayer improvements coming down the pike, such as extended playlists with more modes. And in this case, 343 is indeed aware that there’s a problem.
Just a couple of days ago, head of design Jerry Hook said the devs would look into some fine-tuning, and lead multiplayer designer Andrew Witts confirmed that said process was already underway. We don’t yet know if the Wednesday launch will helped ranked specifically, but here’s hoping. Kotaku has reached out to Microsoft for details, but did not hear immediately back in time for publication.