One of the joys of Halo is its replayability. Ask any devotee and you’ll get some story about endlessly rerunning “The Library” in Halo: Combat Evolved, or replaying Halo 2’s “Delta Halo” to get out of bounds and explore that uncannily Canada-looking mountain range. Sadly, at least at launch, you can’t do any of that stuff in Halo Infinite.
Update, 9:15 am ET, 12/7/2021: Speaking to The Verge, 343 Industries’ Paul Crocker confirmed that a mission replay feature is in the works. “We haven’t announced a date but that is being worked on,” Crocker said. “We want to have replay that works well, and when you have a more open game, it gets a lot trickier.” Original story follows.
Halo Infinite, out Wednesday for Xbox and PC, is the seventh mainline Halo game and the first in six years since 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians. It’s also the first that bucks a linear design, with the bulk of the game transpiring in a widely open area you can explore at your own discretion. There’s no mission selection screen, in another deviation from series tradition, and no apparent way to replay any of the campaign missions (which are for the most part thrilling, I’ll note).
A representative for Microsoft, the game’s publisher, confirmed in a statement to Polygon that you in fact cannot replay campaign missions in Halo Infinite:
The postgame does give you the option to keep exploring the wider environment, but for missions like the first two, where you’re not on the ring yet, you can’t replay from the same save file. You’d be able to get any remaining FOBs, targets, [and] audio logs, but the main story missions would not repeat.
Initially, as I played through the campaign last week, I thought this was an oddity of the build made available for reviewers, which was totally bifurcated from the currently available, and free-to-play, multiplayer portion. When I’d asked about it at the time, a Microsoft representative said only that they were looking into it.
Halo Infinite’s campaign is loaded with awesome scenes and set pieces and, yes, plot twists. But the reason so many key moments from the original Halo games—the revelation of the Flood, the scene in which Chief leaves Cortana behind, the moment where Gravemind betrays Chief and the Arbiter—stick like glue is, at least in part, because you can easily retread them over and over and over again. Reinforced memories, and all that. Without an option to quickly replay Halo Infinite’s missions, they might not attain a similar staying power as the greatest hits.
There’s also the matter of skulls, gameplay modifiers usually make situations more difficult but sometimes just add hijinks for the heck of it. (The one that doubles the size of explosions is always a perennial favorite of mine.) Skulls are definitely in Halo Infinite. But, despite playing through the whole campaign and exploring a decent chunk of the open area, I didn’t find a single one. You can juggle four save files per account in Halo Infinite; a representative said they’re “fairly certain” skulls unlock on an account-wide level, and can be applied to any of the four save files associated with your account.
Like most open-world and open-ish games, Halo Infinite is flush with collectibles. After you finish campaign missions, you can freely explore most of the map to mop up any audio logs, Spartan cores, or whatnot you’ve missed. But the first two missions in the game are wholly inaccessible from the main game world. Once you’ve completed those missions, you won’t be able to return to the areas in which they’re set to search for items you may have missed therein.
It’s unclear why Halo Infinite is designed as such, or whether or not 343 Industries will add the ability to replay missions in the future, either by way of a level-selection menu or an option directly on the world map. Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment from Kotaku.